The perfect finale to America’s definition of Summer: a lakeside getaway in the mountains with best friends from college. I say “America’s definition” because the actual season of summer continues for almost three more weeks after Labor Day, and it stays incredibly hot in Southern California until around mid October. So for us, it’s basically still summer, even if our cultural calendar says Pumpkin Spice and ankle booties.
And the ideal transition from warm sunshine and long days outside by the water, into crisper weather and hikes through the trees? Spending Labor Day weekend in a mountain lodge at a lake. In my group of best friends from college, a few families have vacation homes in Lake Arrowhead. I got super lucky, right?
Lake Arrowhead is a quick escape from LA, Orange County & San Diego. In a couple short hours, you’re transported to a picturesque highland, immersed in sky-high evergreens and storybook cabins, by a deep blue, placid lake.We started our road trip to the mountain in San Diego. I didn’t want to pack a lot (per usual), and even still, I ended up overpacking. I’m going to make a super short packing list, but here’s a preview of what I wore (nothing exciting, which is kind of awesome in itself… this trip was SO low maintenance) – just so you can get an idea of what to bring if you’re heading there soon. I also realize posting this after labor day is somewhat unhelpful, so I’ll revisit this when Memorial Day is coming up.
The drive up was super easy (save the twisty, winding roads up the mountain that could give the stablest of stomachs a bit of carsickness); our friends stopped at Costco at the bottom of the mountain to stock up for the weekend, so we cooked all our meals at the house – including an oreo cream pie and a few batches of cookies (necessities) 🍪
And that honestly was the tone of the entire trip – no fuss, no stress, no big plans… just hanging out and enjoying time together, especially since it’s become so limited and precious post-college.
Between boating, wake boarding, laying in the sun, hanging out on the rafts, catching pieces of college football games, grilling burgers, eating s’mores, and playing a few too many rounds of card games (read: a few too many hard ciders), we got to head to Arrowhead Village to see – and I’m not making this up – pretend Carrie Underwood and pretend Tim McGraw. We were unable to secure autographs.
Because it’s such a laid-back place (but with seriously high-quality entertainment on offer), I ended up only wearing a few things of what I packed:
- White tee (mine from Target is amazing, and under $10)
- Jean Shorts (got mine at J Crew, they’re on sale now here)
- Sandals, worn on occasion when not barefoot (this staple style from Sam Edelman has lasted me years)
- Crewneck sweatshirt (the group favorite right now is Wildfox – we all had one with us. This cute one is on sale… keep your eye out for sales on Haute Look; they’re SO worth it)
- One bikini (my favorite brand is not yet available in the U.S… stay tuned! Here’s the top I’m wearing from Sofia)
- Sweatpants (for on the boat/over bikini… mine are just my college sweatpants that I got from the kids’ section)
I wore one additional outfit when we went into town for our exclusive concert – floral printed shorts and a sky blue knit sweater… didn’t get a pic, but the idea here is to just bring one additional outfit (that is sliiiightly dressier) if you want to go into town. But you don’t have to. Tbh, my favorite look of the night was a shirt that said “Navy Seals: 1, Bin Laden: 0,” complemented by a camouflage bandana.
Additional essentials were sunglasses, a beach towel, sunscreen, lip balm and lotion (super dry skin with the high altitude). Pack a pair of sneakers if you want to hike, and something comfy to travel in (I opted for leggings + the same tee/sweatshirt I’d wear all weekend).
It’s a beautiful place to go enjoy nature, and such a casual, stress-free option for a weekend getaway. Leave the makeup at home, forget the dinner reservations and just enjoy friends, family, and nature. Try to enjoy it despite limited cell service. I did!
Hope you had a beautiful Labor Day weekend, and are planning some exciting trips for this Fall and Holiday Season with your friends. Thanks for reading today!