One Fine Day: Idyllwild, CA

One Fine Day: Idyllwild, CA

Summer in the desert is intense so we are always looking for a getaway to cool us down. One of our favorites is right in front of us, albeit up 5,400 feet! If you haven't yet, it is time to discover Idylwild!!

It took me many years of living in the Coachella Valley to make the trip up the mountain. Before I was enamored by the actual place, I fell in love with the name. Idyllwild is such a perfect moiker for a destiantion so calm yet wild.  A place where you can do so much, or so little.

Temperatures are easily 30 degrees cooler than the lower valley. This means that it is the perfect place to have a white Christmas!

As the crow flies, Idyllwild is not even 10 miles from the Coachella Valley. You can get there a couple of ways in just about an hour. For the outdoor adventurer, you can hike there from the top of the Aerial Tram.

The other option is taking 74 up the mountain. This route is stunning, but the hairpin turns up the mountain are not everyone's cup of tea. If you do take this route, make sure to stop at the overlook halfway up 74 to get an exceptional and unadultered view of the Coachella Valley.

Driving up 74 is stunning. You traverse through the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument. On the way, there is a greasy spoon diner Paradise Valley Cafe that is a perfect place to stop for brunch or a late lunch. 

The less curvy way up the mountain is to take the 10 to Banning then take the 243 up the mountain. Along this route you will pass Lake Fulmor, a tiny little mountain lake where you can picnic, fish, or enjoy the views.

Our first stop is usually the Idyllwild Nature Center. This is a perfect place to learn about the native creatures and critters. This also serves as a trailhead for hikes of all different skill levels.

I love that both the rocks and pine cones are JUMBO on top of the mountain!

Along the way you will see stunning foliage. Our favorite is the Manzanita plant. The bark is smooth and rich like polished mahogany. You often find lichen growing around it. The chartreuse of the lichen with the deep, red of the Manzanita is a striking combination. Sadly, we failed miserably when we tried to plant this spectacular specimin in the low desert.

The jumbo rocks are the perfect place to stop and contemplate your place in the universe.

Apres hiking is all about good food and drink. Our favorites are FERRO for world class Italian and Idyllwild Brewpub for burgers and beers nestled right into the mountain. Often there will be pop-up vendors in the town center where we have enjoyed Dick's Dogs.

Take a walk around the tiny little town for a dose of nostalgia and the candy store and ice cream parlour.

If you are lucky you will catch a spectacular sunset as you head down the mountain.



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