Located on the border of California and Arizona, Lake Havasu is a picturesque, human-made reservoir on the banks of the mighty Colorado River.
This is a serene area of natural beauty, where you can find hiking trails, mountain biking routes, and plenty of watersports activities to enjoy.
Lake Havasu City, on the eastern bank of the river in Arizona, is the main base for excursions out onto the reservoir and the surrounding nature reserves; it has even taken the nickname of Arizona’s Playground.
To inspire your trip, here are the top things to do in Lake Havasu!
15 Best Things to do in Lake Havasu, AZ
Table of Contents
1. Lake Havasu State Park
Lake Havasu State Park is located on the Colorado River’s eastern shore and protects much of the lake and the surrounding areas of natural beauty.
The state park is focused along the shoreline. It’s the perfect place to enjoy the sunshine and make the most of the many beaches along the lakefront.
The state park is easily accessible, located close to Lake Havasu City itself. There are ramps for launching boats onto the lake. You can hire kayaks, canoes, or paddleboards nearby or hike along the shore, searching for quiet spots away from the crowds.
2. London Bridge
When you see London Bridge, you’re not in England – but you do know that you’re in Lake Havasu City. This iconic bridge spans the Colorado River and allows access to the large island in the middle of the lake, where you’ll find parks, restaurants, and beautiful vistas.
The bridge is one of the most famous in the west, as it dates back to the 1830s. In fact, the bridge was built long before Lake Havasu even existed, and originally spanned the River Thames in London.
In the 1960s, Lake Havasu City’s founder decided to purchase the bridge. He had it dismantled and reassembled brick by brick on the Colorado River.
It was a marketing scheme like no other. The extravagance of the move (from London to Arizona!) quickly brought tourists to the new city creating a trend which hasn’t stopped since!
3. London Bridge Beach
The bridge’s new location on the banks of the Colorado River is somewhat sunnier and cleaner than its previous position on the River Thames in England.
One of the best places to see the bridge in all its glory is from the London Bridge Beach (there aren’t many beaches back in London…).
London Bridge Beach has some great swimming areas. There’s plenty of space to relax on the sand while you look out over the canal and enjoy fine views of Arizona’s most unique architectural project.
4. Lake Havasu Museum of History
Lake Havasu was only created in the 1930s when parts of the Colorado River were dammed. The city was founded in 1958 and incorporated in 1978. Despite being relatively young, the area still has a fascinating history.
The area was traditionally the land of the Mohave Indians. Before that, there was a millennia’s worth of natural history. Take a trip to the Lake Havasu Museum of History to learn more about the area’s intriguing past.
5. Havasu National Wildlife Refuge
You can learn and see firsthand all about the area’s natural history and biodiversity by visiting the beautiful Havasu National Wildlife Refuge, one of the best things to do in Lake Havasu.
The wildlife refuge is focused around Topcock Gorge, where the Colorado River has plowed a deep canyon through the rocks. You can join a boat tour to really experience the gorge as you travel along the mighty Colorado River in search of wildlife.
Some of the species you could spot in the refuge include the rare Bighorn Sheep, falcons, roadrunners, etc.
6. Cattail Cove State Park
One of the best things to do in Lake Havasu is to explore the local state parks, and you’ll soon realize there are a lot of them nearby.
One of the best is Cattail Cove State Park, which can be accessed around 15 miles downstream of Lake Havasu City. The state park is wonderfully quiet compared to the city’s waterfront area. You’ll find boat ramps, hiking trails, secluded beaches, and plenty of wildlife.
Cattail Cove State Park has over 60 camping spots available, making this a great place to spend the night under the stars.
7. Bill Williams National Wildlife Refuge
Another fantastic outdoor area to visit when you’re in Lake Havasu is the Bill Williams National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge begins around 25 miles downstream of Lake Havasu, where the Colorado River splits into a smaller tributary called the Bill Williams River.
The refuge protects parts of the Bill Williams River, while the Colorado River roars around a huge bend. The refuge is a favorite for birdwatchers as the area is home to cuckoos, flycatchers, and plenty more species.
The calm, tranquil waters of the Bill Williams River also make for a great kayaking destination.
8. Dead Mountains Wilderness Area
Head north of Lake Havasu, cross over the river and border into California, and you’ll find a wilderness area far removed from the tranquil waterways you’ve been enjoying previously.
Dead Mountains Wilderness Area is part of the Mojave Desert, where a range of mountains rises well over 3000 feet high. Brave the dry heat, and you can head out hiking in search of local wildlife, including bighorn sheep and coyotes.
Watch out, though, the area is home to plenty of snakes and reptiles, including rattlesnakes and even the endangered desert tortoise.
9. Mudshark Brewery
Take a break from all the outdoor action and natural scenery and relax with a beer at the Mudshark Brewery. This is easily one of the best things to do in Lake Havasu City if you’re looking to enjoy some downtime.
The brewery serves up local craft beers and plenty of great dishes to accompany the cold brews. You can eat and drink while enjoying great views over Lake Havasu.
10. ATV or UTV Adventure
If you’re ready for some action-packed adventures rather than a relaxing cold beer, one of the best things to do in Lake Havasu is an off-road ATV or UTV tour.
The long coastline, dunes, and sandy beaches make this the perfect territory for an ATV ride. Join a tour and crash over creeks, churn up sand on the lakefront, and enjoy the cool wind in your hair as you race off-road.
11. Visit Oatman on Route 66
Just an hour’s drive north of Lake Havasu, you can find the quirky tourist town of Oatman, otherwise known as Arizona’s most popular abandoned gold mining town.
Oatman was at the heart of the western gold rushes in the 19th century, but its fortunes faded when the gold ran dry. It was mostly abandoned but has found a new lease of life as a stop on the historic Route 66.
You can watch gunslinging actors shoot it out on the main street, take a tour of an old gold mine, and eat out at the supposedly haunted Oatman Hotel. Oh, and watch out for the donkeys!
12. Explore the city of Kingman
The nearby city of Kingman can also be visited easily on a day trip from Lake Havasu. You can visit Oatman and Kingman in the same trip, even.
Kingman is far from abandoned, though, and is home to some great tourist attractions. Visit the Historic Route 66 Museum, where you can find classic cars and Route 66 memorabilia.
Check out the Desert Diamond Distillery for a taste of the local brews, or delve into the local history and culture at the excellent Mohave Museum of History and Arts.
13. Desert Stargazing
One of the best things to do in Lake Havasu is a spot of desert stargazing. This part of Arizona enjoys some of the clearest, darkest night skies in the country. The city was originally designed without any streetlamps to cut down on light pollution.
Head just a few miles outside of the city with a pair of binoculars or a telescope, and you’ll be able to see the constellations like never before.
14. Water Sports on Lake Havasu
Lake Havasu isn’t called Arizona’s Playground for any old reason! Much of the fun can be had on the water, where you’ll find all sorts of water-based activities underway throughout the year.
Go paddleboarding, canoeing, or kayaking on the still waters of the lake. Venture further up the Colorado River on boat tours or charters. Go fishing, birdwatching, and so much more on the water.
15. Take a balloon ride
It’s great seeing the lake from the shoreline or the water, but to really appreciate the scale of the reservoir and the Colorado River, you need to take to the skies.
One of the most popular tourist activities in Lake Havasu is a balloon ride. Get up early and watch the sunrise as you slowly climb into the clear skies above the lake.
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