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Lake Havasu City

Fun, boating and a medieval bridge welcome adventurers

Lake Havasu is a reservoir formed when the Parker Dam was built in the path of the Colorado River in western Arizona in 1939. As the lake was formed, developers began to realize the area’s potential as a prime destination for recreation-seekers. The town has since lived up to its promise. From a historic bridge to rollicking boat rides to a fun downtown area that bustles with shopping, restaurants and festivals, Lake Havasu delivers ample adventure and relaxation to visitors.

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London Bridge

The Arizona desert is an uncanny place to see a British historical landmark. In 1967, the British government decided to put out feelers for potential buyers for the “old” London Bridge, which, having put up a good show for more than 130 years, was on its last legs. Many versions of the London Bridge have spanned the River Thames for nearly 2,000 years. Built by Peter of Colechurch between 1176 and 1209, the original London Bridge bore witness to seminal events in Britain’s history.

It was Lake Havasu City’s founder and entrepreneur Robert P. McCulloch who placed the winning bid of nearly $2.5 million in 1968 and had the bridge dismantled piece by piece and shipped 10,000 miles to Long Beach, California, then trucked to Lake Havasu City. Builders numbered each block, ensuring that the pieces could be reassembled properly. The 930-foot-long bridge’s grand reopening occurred in 1971 when, rather bizarrely, the bridge was not built over water; it just linked desert to more desert on a Lake Havasu peninsula. To help justify the bridge, a mile-long channel dredged through the peninsula created an island offshore from Lake Havasu City. English Village, which sits at the base, is a whimsical caricature of jovial English style with a handful of period shops and restaurants juxtaposed against raucous themed bars that cater to tourists.

During January, colorful hot-air balloons ascend over the bridge during the Havasu Balloon Festival.

On the Beach

Sports enthusiasts flock to the 45-mile-long Lake Havasu (also known as the “Personal Watercraft Capital of the World”) to chill out on sandy beaches and to dabble in the lake’s renowned watersports including swimming, canoeing, kayaking, pedal-boating, pontoon rides (boats available for rent), parasailing and water-skiing. Some 2 miles north of London Bridge, Lake Havasu State Park’s shoreline is dotted with pretty beaches, nature trails, boat ramps and campsites. Affording sweeping mountain views, London Bridge’s sandy shore, fringed with palm trees and equipped with picnic tables and a snack bar, is the most popular beach in town.

Just south of the London Bridge, the lush and expansive Rotary Community Park, linked to the bridge by a waterside path, features walkways, a swimming area, a jogging/walking path, volleyball and bocce ball courts, and three children’s playgrounds. Next to the park, Lake Havasu Aquatic Center is a great place for kids to let off steam with an outdoor splash area, two heated pools, a wave pool, a 254-foot water slide and a lap pool. In the spring, accomplished anglers and their heavy tackle converge on Lake Havasu to tap the lake’s prodigious stores of striped bass, which often top the scales at 60 pounds.

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Topock Gorge

Several outfitters offer scenic canoe tours along the Colorado River. With its sheer, terracotta-hued rock walls, natural arch formations, rocky mesas, sheltered beaches and hirsute cacti, Topock Gorge is the crowning glory of Havasu National Wildlife Refuge. Spanning California and Arizona, the 37,515-acre refuge was established in 1941, primarily as a migratory bird habitat. The lush river bottoms of this pristine expanse of the lower Colorado River (known as the “Baby Grand”) supports a wide diversity of plant species.

This placid section of the Colorado River is easy to navigate with a sluggish current that moves at a leisurely 2 to 3 miles per hour.

Golf, Food and Shopping

Some of Arizona’s most scenic golf courses lie within easy reach of Havasu City. Hailed as the top course in Havasu, London Bridge Golf Club boasts two 18-hole courses. Something of a local institution, the Island Golf Club at the Nautical Beachfront Resort is a 4,211-yard, par-62 executive course designed by Red Lawrence in 1964.

Encircled by the Mohave Mountains and with stunning views of Lake Havasu, golfers round out their day on the greens with light fare and libations at the convivial Bogey’s Bar & Grill at the 19th hole.

Downtown Lake Havasu City opens its doors to visitors with a slew of watering holes and restaurants that will make you want to extend your stay. Try Lotz on the Rocks, which mixes up neon-color cocktails, and Cha-Bones Steakhouse & Tapas Bar, which invites customers to belly up for drinks and tapas. Round out your visit with a trip to local shops for clothing and souvenirs.

For More Information

Lake Havasu Convention & Visitors Bureau

800-242-8278

www.golakehavasu.com

 

Arizona Office of Tourism

866-275-5816

www.arizonaguide.com