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We’ve Got Your Next Trip to Idyllwild Covered

Written By: Keri Bridgwater
Photographed By: John Pacheco What to do Idyllwild

Get a taste of the seasons in Idyllwild! Nestled in the San Jacinto Mountains just over an hour from Palm Springs, this quintessential California mountain town is big on charm and makes a perfect day trip destination. Nicknamed the “Yosemite of the South”—and with a mile-high altitude of over 5,400 feet—Idyllwild’s alpine forests and hiking trails are popular with outdoorsy types. But with a thriving downtown, arts-and-culture-minded visitors have plenty of exploring to do, from locally-owned galleries and boutiques to wine tasting and delectable dining.


9 a.m. What to do Idyllwild

Hidden Oasis 

Bordered by impossibly tall pines, scenic Lake Fulmor is 10 miles south of Idyllwild on State Route 243. The one-mile lakeside loop, wooden fishing pier and birdlife here make it well worth a stop. 

Lake Fulmor


10 a.m. What to do Idyllwild

Into the Wild

With hiking opportunities galore, hit the Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail, a comfortable 5.2 miles out-and-back just north of town that crisscrosses peaceful streams and rewards visitors with postcard-worthy views of Strawberry Valley and Tahquitz Rock. 

Mount San Jacinto State Park


Noon What to do Idyllwild

Post-Hike Refuel

Head back into town for lunch. This cheery spot does a great bottomless “Bubbles and Brunch” on weekends, or try hearty cheese plates, flatbreads and soups during the week (plus wine and beer tastings). 

Leanna’s Idyllawhile Wine Shoppe & Bistro


1:30 p.m. What to do Idyllwild

Treasure Hunt

There’s an eclectic assortment of curiosities and cool finds, including first editions, old vinyls and even unopened VHS tapes straight from the ’80s waiting to be discovered at this mecca for all things vintage.

The Funky Bazaar


2:30 p.m. What to do Idyllwild

Carnivore Candy

Idyllwild’s go-to gourmet grocery store stocks a wide range of take-home treats, including all-natural elk, venison and wild boar jerky, alongside a variety of specialty food items from hot sauces and preserves to Amish popcorn.

Coyote Red’s Jerky & Specialty Foods


3 p.m.

Sideways Sips

Make time for a tasting at this buzzy boutique winery with a gallery that showcases local art. Specializing in Bordeaux varietals, don’t miss their special reserve reds, which are produced in small 25 to 50-case lots. 

Middle Ridge Winery


4 p.m.

Buon Appetito

A long-standing favorite local hangout, swing by for happy hour or an early bird dinner (the traditional and specialty pasta dishes are standouts). Then enjoy live music and another glass of wine on the patio. 

Cafe Aroma


5:30 p.m.

Something Sweet

One of the oldest family-run businesses in town does a mean shaved ice (they have a wide range of flavors!) and stocks vintage candy such as Pop Rocks and Turkish Taffy. They have handmade chocolates and treats like frozen bananas, too. 

Candy Cupboard


6 p.m.

Catch a Flick

This charming 1950s-era movie theater has comfy seats and blankets, freshly-made popcorn and features all the latest Hollywood releases. Tickets cost $5 on Monday through Thursday and $10 on weekends. 

The Rustic Theatre