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Explore Idyllwild: an Artsy Mountain Community in Southern California

Tonya Prater, Owner

Idyllwild is a popular getaway for Californians seeking refuge from their hectic lives. It was only a matter of time before the rest of the U.S. discovered this serene sanctuary town located on the western slope of the San Jacinto mountains about an hour’s drive from Palm Springs.

View of the mountains driving from Idyllwild

Idyllwild is surrounded by national forest lands, and the scenic area has been a favorite locale for filming television shows and movies for many decades. The opening scene of the popular TV show “Bonanza” was filmed in and around the San Bernardino National Forest. If you look closely, you can picture the Cartwright family riding into the show’s opening scene.

Elvis fans recognize the community as a stop on a sacred mecca to find the king. From his birthplace in Tupelo, Mississippi, to the mountains of California, tour buses rock and roll following in his footsteps as fans seek out the filming location of “Kid Galahad”, one of the 31 movies Elvis made. You can learn more about the filming of that movie and some of the many other movies filmed in this locale at the Idyllwild Historical Society Museum.

Movie Deer in Idyllwild

The small cabin is a short walk from downtown. It includes exhibits pertaining to the history of the community as well as a large exhibit devoted to Tahquitz Rock featuring the progression from vintage to modern day climbing tools and equipment. Tahquitz Rock is challenging, to say the least, and is considered one of the best free climbs in Southern California.

historical museum in idyllwild

The mountain setting naturally lends itself to an array of outdoor activities. In addition to rock climbing- camping, hiking, mountain biking and bouldering are all popular pastimes in Idyllwild. If you’re looking to get away from it all, you can do so in the many parks, trails and scenic vistas in this quiet town.

Mayor Max of Idyllwild, California

You won’t find big box stores or chain restaurants here. This quiet, mountainside community is home to locally owned shops, boutiques and restaurants. Locals and visitors alike relax at Higher Grounds, the locally owned coffee shop. While you’re there, you can wave hello to Max, the unusual mayor, whose paws-itive outlook has served the community well. Mayor Max II and his two deputies can be seen making the rounds, especially where treats like pizza and ice cream are involved.

Gastronome Restaurant in Idyllwild

Enjoy an excellent meal at one of the bistros- Restaurant Gastronome is our favorite. The establishment offers rustic mountain elegance and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. The wine list allows you to find the perfect complement to your meal whether you’re dining indoors or out. No need to worry about the calories you ingest. After lunch, you can tour the nature center and historical museum before tackling one of the trails for some recreational exercise.


If you have a day to explore, grab a coffee and spend time meandering through the eclectic mix of shops where you’ll find anything from antiques, to clothing. Or browse among the many galleries for handcrafted pieces of art.

Deer in Idyllwild

If you can stay longer, you can fully immerse yourself in the artsy, outdoorsy culture of Idyllwild. Accommodations range from camping to comfortable B & B’s to exquisite vacation homes with stunning views. I’ll warn you though, if you’re anything like me, one visit to Idyllwild won’t be enough.

Shopping in Idyllwild

Have you been to Idyllwild? If not, what do you think you’d enjoy most?

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Spend a day in southern California exploring the shops, restaurants and trails of Idyllwild, California.



Sunday 12th of November 2017

There is a great art school in Idyllwild, too. I spent a week up there one Christmas holiday with friends and kids. It is a quaint town, but I had no problem keeping myself occupied there. Great little ceramic shop in the center of town that lets you bring your own wine or beer. Makes for a great afternoon for friends. There is also a little coffee shop (sorry I don't remember the name) that makes delicious London Fogs.

Chubskulit Rose

Tuesday 7th of November 2017

We love outdoor adventure and this fit right into our alley. I'm not sure about California weather but around here in WV, outdoor is always fun.

Kita Bryant

Tuesday 7th of November 2017

I don't even know how to pronounce that town name! ha! It sounds like an adorable and fun place though.


Tuesday 7th of November 2017

As someone who tends to gravitate to No Cal over So Cal, this places has definitely captured my interest. Going to add it to my travel list!

Sandy N Vyjay

Tuesday 7th of November 2017

Idyllwild seems to hold the promise of some thrilling times in the outdoors. Rock climbing is something I would love to do. A great place to get away from the cities. Protection Status
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