Last Updated on August 6, 2023
“The mountains are calling and I must go” John Muir, renowned American naturalist, said. Fortunate are those who harken the tranquil call of Idyllwild.
Set among the tall fragment pines and sweet-smelling cedars of the San Jacinto Mountains in Southern California, the idyllic mountain village so aptly named Idyllwild beckons all who want to escape the hustle and bustle of a busy life.
Voted one of the “100 Best Art Towns in America,” this charming, picturesque mountain hamlet has maintained its small town, rustic atmosphere in a distinctive way. Because it’s off most people’s travel grid, a visit to Idyllwild proves as soothing respite from the chaos of modern living.
Stunning views, towering trees and rolling alpine meadows all painted with the colors of nature make this two-hour journey from Los Angeles or San Diego, or a one-hour trek from Palm Springs, a perfect weekend destination.
On my husband and my first-ever weekend getaway to Idyllwild, we quickly noticed the town has no stoplights, fast food restaurants, chain merchants or franchises – an absolute treasure and throwback to a simpler life.
Part of this spectacular area’s charm is that Idyllwild really does live up to its name, whether you escape there to be “idle” and relax, refresh and rejuvenate, or explore its “wild” side by hiking, rock climbing, or mountain biking in the surrounding hills and peaks.
Staying at the Grand Idyllwild Lodge
While Idyllwild has several lodging choices for travelers looking for an “escape ordinary” experience including rustic inns, vintage cabins, and vacation rentals, our favorite place to stay is The Grand Idyllwild Lodge. This is the place to treat the one you love to a spectacular getaway.
Located at the “top of the town” at an elevation of 5,600 feet, The Lodge is a spectacular, yet relaxing, Zen-like boutique mountain bed and breakfast. Painstakingly designed and built by its owners, Brad and Jacki Rechtfertig, the stunning mountain masterpiece opened in 2013 captures the perfect blend of luxury and nature in true Craftsman style.
A welcoming wrap-around porch entrance next to a small waterfall welcomes guests to the property. The interior of the lodge is impressive yet extremely comfortable and laid-back with large seating areas and a large fireplace.
Back doors lead to a picturesque deck surrounded by nature and the backdrop of the San Jacinto Mountains. It’s the perfect place for breakfast or to share a glass of wine in the afternoon or evening. We also loved the large window seat overlooking the massive trees and the library with its blend of art and literature.
Strategically situated on two acres of wooded land, Grand Idyllwild Lodge features panoramic views of pine-covered peaks. Deer can often be seen grazing contentedly on the hillsides of the property. Lively, bushy-tailed squirrels scamper all about the grounds.
Ten suites range from queen and king beds to deluxe rooms with spa baths and even an entire 1,400-square-foot, two-bedroom villa. Some offer a patio or balcony with mountain views and others feature a fireplace. All are surrounded by the property’s plethora of majestic California Black Oak, Live Oak, Ponderosa and Sugar Pine trees.
Though each room is unique, all are tastefully decorated with special touches celebrating the natural elements of wood and stone with craftsman-style elegance and richly-hued fabrics.
We stayed in the 500-square-foot king Suite Dream with its own exterior entrance through French doors from a wrap-around porch. The spacious bathroom features a walk-in-shower and stunning blend of marble, glass and porcelain elements.
The bed is likely the most comfortable we’ve ever slept in, not to mention the softness of the 600-thread cotton sheets and authentic down duvet covers.
Guests staying at the Lodge receive a complimentary breakfast – full gourmet on weekends and deluxe continental on the weekdays with both indoor and outdoor dining options.
Rooms include a Keurig coffeemaker with Starbucks coffees, teas and plush robes. The lodge also includes a 9-hole putting green, nature trail, outdoor water features and even an on-site gym and dry sauna.
The Spa at the Grand offers a variety of body care treatments, including a very relaxing couple’s massage.
Idyllwild is a nature-lover’s paradise. There are over 200 miles of hiking trails suitable for all activity levels, and mountain biking here is extremely popular, as is camping.
Nearby Lake Hemet is stocked with trout, bass, bluegill and catfish – a dream for fishing enthusiasts. A variety of boats are also available for rent. Lake Fulmor, another pristine lough, offers picturesque nature trails around its two-acre lake which is stocked with rainbow trout. It’s also the ideal place for a picnic lunch.
We are in love with the rustic, artsy, walkable village of Idyllwild, host to numerous art galleries and shops featuring the work of its talented local artisans. Art walks, wine tastings, and live music events sponsored several times a year by the Art Alliance of Idyllwild, bring thousands to this quaint hamlet for a weekend of true-blue artistic immersion.
For a small town, Idyllwild has numerous places to dine, many offering stunning views along with amazing cuisine. Many restaurants offer live music performed by some “Kool Kat” local and visiting jazz musicians.
Though we’ve been to Idyllwild numerous times, our hearts always skip a beat when we talk about a return visit. There’s something special about this wonderful mountain hamlet, and a stay at The Grand Idyllwild Lodge feels like we’re coming back home.luxurymountainssmall town