Destination Lake Havasu City: Celebrating the London Bridge’s Golden Anniversary

Izabella HernandezOctober 15, 2021
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As a born-and-bred Arizonan, I have frequented a fair amount of hotspots throughout the state. However, Lake Havasu City is one I had never experienced. Imagine my excitement when I was recently invited to check out the charming burg for the 50th anniversary of its most famous landmark: the London Bridge. Lake Havasu City is a three-hour drive from Downtown Phoenix and is located on the border of Arizona and California, just south of Las Vegas. While the trip down to the lake is not an exciting one, the adventure that awaits inside the city limits is worth the tedious trek.

Thursday
Hotel Check-In
I arrived in Lake Havasu City at 3:30 p.m. and checked into the brand-new Holiday Inn Express and Suites off London Bridge Road, which offers daily complimentary breakfast, a pool that oversees the London Bridge and a mini market to purchase snacks.


Photo by Izabella Hernandez

Friday
London Bridge 50th Anniversary Kick-Off Event
Departing from my hotel room, I made a short walk down to the tourist plaza which is built like a small town with a few buildings occupied by a visitors’ center, shops and restaurants. Before I entered the mainland bridge area for the kick-off of a month-long celebration, I was greeted by kind locals, who offered me a sweet, iced coffee for National Coffee Day. It was a balmy morning – one of the nicest days one can experience in the middle of the desert. The kick-off started with a few words from the individuals that run the city: Mayor Cal Sheehy, Terence Concannon, president and CEO of Go Lake Havasu, Jan Kassies, director of visitor services at Go Lake Havasu and Hannah Rangel, the Lake Havasu Museum of History’s director. The first event ended with a celebratory ribbon cutting.


Photo by Izabella Hernandez

Lake Havasu Museum of History
Lake Havasu City is home to nearly 57,000 residents. The city also takes great pride in being home to the first largest antique to be sold in the world, the London Bridge. The London Bridge attracts millions of travelers every year to sightsee or walk across to the other side to Pittsburg Point, a manmade island that holds hotels, homes and restaurants. Lake Havasu’s founder, Robert P. McCulloch, bought the bridge in 1968. Famously constructed in the 1830s in London, the bridge was later reassembled stone by stone in Lake Havasu City in the 1960s. McCulloch was an engineer known for designing chainsaws and outboard motors. Unfortunately, in 1977 McCulloch passed away and did not get to see his city grow into the oasis it is today. At this intimate local institution, visitors can learn personal facts about McCulloch, the history of the London Bridge and the animals that live in the area.


Photo by Izabella Hernandez

Sunset Charter and Tour Co.
Climb aboard the Kon Tiki Canyon Cruiser, on which Captains Kenny and Janene will regale you with fun facts about the region, such as details about the swallows that migrate to Lake Havasu City to build nests on the bridge. We swung around Copper Canyon and passed numerous lighthouses that were built to illuminate the channel of Lake Havasu. Our sunset tour ended at Pittsburg Point as the sun was nearly beyond the flattest part of the horizon. We then gazed upon the London Bridge bathed in an indigo glow. For the entire month of October, the bridge dons purple lights for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.


Photo by Izabella Hernandez

Saturday
Mudshark Brewery 
Grab a crispy, doughy pie and a cold craft beer at Mudshark Brewery Co., where every item on the menu is thoughtfully created. Owners Scott and Tina Stocking use solar panels to run this brewery and pizza joint, which has three locations across Lake Havasu City. During my visit to the brewery, that is wildly loved by the residents of Lake Havasu City, I enjoyed a margherita pizza and their famous tasty antipasti salad. During my tour of the restaurant, I learned that their beer is carefully curated and packaged by just a handful of individuals in the distillery located in the rear of the building and shipped around Arizona.


Photo by Izabella Hernandez

Streetside Coffee Company
Streetside coffee is a local coffee shop located off Swanson Avenue and University Way a short walk from Arizona State University Lake Havasu City campus. Walk down a steep set of stairs to enter a cozy, calming coffee shop that slings everything from lattes to freshly baked pastries.

Royal Candlelit Feast and Ball
In celebration of The London Bridge 50th Anniversary, the Lake Havasu Museum of History hosted a feast and ball under the bridge to raise money for the community museum. It was truly a feast, serving every guest a four-course meal that included chicken, bread, salad and more. Attendees dressed in their best renaissance attire, a theatrical duel broke out during the royal feast and belly dancers provided more entertainment.


Photo by Izabella Hernandez

Sunday
Brunch and Tea
Before departing back to Phoenix, I walked to the main area under the bridge for one last hurrah.  I sipped on tea in a china teacup thanks to the Lake Havasu Museum of History, which provided antique vessels from around the world to make the event feel more authentic. This event was peaceful and a great end to the first week of the month-long celebratory events in honor of the London Bridge 50th anniversary.

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