Live Laugh Lake: The Ultimate Lake Elsinore, CA Bucket List


Residing in Southern California, outside of Los Angeles, lies one of California’s hidden gems: Lake Elsinore. With its serene waters, stunning mountains, and community spirit, this is the perfect place for both adventurers and leisure lovers alike. 

In this Redfin article, you’ll find something to add to your Lake Elsinore bucket list whether you’ve lived in Lake Elsinore for years or are seeking to buy a home or rent an apartment here. After all, like the city itself, Lake Elsinore is truly full of best-kept secrets, whether it’s in the lush outdoors, charming city culture, a fun food spot, or something in between.

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1. Get your steps in at the McVicker Stairs

One of the main draws to Lake Elsinore is by far the nature with several incredible hikes close by. Blogger Dina DeLeon recommends the McVicker Stairs, especially if you’re new to Lake Elsinore and on the hunt for a great view. “This moderate trail offers a 180-degree view of the surrounding area. Following this path along the town covers 1.3 miles, serving as both a workout and an ideal spot to catch the sunrise or sunset while enjoying a view of the lake. It also provides a glimpse into the local community of Lake Elsinore from a different viewpoint,” describes Dina. With the stunning view, this hike is at the top of our bucket list and we’re hoping it’ll make it to the top of yours too.

2. See Lake Elsinore from above

Embarking on an aerial tour is the closest thing we humans can get to flying and experiencing landscapes from a bird’s eye view. Whether it’s a helicopter tour or hot air balloon ride that piques your fancy, Aerial Tours offers a special way to observe Lake Elsinore’s immaculate scenery and “check out views of the Temecula Valley and the mountains near Joshua Tree.” Whether you’re taking a trip for an anniversary, proposal, or just to spice up from the mundane, the panoramic vistas are sure to satisfy that craving for adventure while also providing breathtaking sights.

Hot air balloons in Lake Elinsore-an item on the ultimate Lake Elsinore bucket list
Photo courtesy of Aerial Tours

3. Visit local vineyards

A little over 20 minutes away from the heart of Lake Elsinore lies the Temecula Valley, home to over 15 prominent wineries. With the picturesque landscapes and delectable tastings, winery and brewery hopping is a must (if you’re of age of course). One great way to tour safety is through Temecula Limo Party Tours, a local tour and limousine service. 

Since they take care of transportation and know the best routes and top wineries, you won’t have to worry about driving responsibly and can simply enjoy the viticulture while traveling in style. Great for parties or just for a fun weekend experience, this is truly a premier wine tour between the great party atmosphere, luxurious limousine interiors, and amazing wineries and breweries.

4. Indulge in a spa day

For a blissful escape, why not indulge yourself with a spa day? Glen Ivy is a wellness experience only 20 minutes northwest of Lake Elsinore and a favorite destination of SoCalFamilyFun’s April. “If you’re looking for the perfect place to sit back and relax, Glen Ivy is it! This charming day spa has it all! Pools, spas, fitness classes and even California’s only red clay spring. It’s truly a unique experience in sunny Southern California!” says April.

The day spa offers several services like massages and facials, but the natural hot springs are especially unique to the area and “provide the perfect place to pamper yourself,” April praises. With luxurious treatments and soothing massages, investing in a self-care day to rejuvenate the body and relax the mind is always a great idea.

5. Sip coffee at local events

For one-of-a-kind events and pop-up experiences, we recommend following Good Coffee Co. on social media to keep up with SoCal events. Good Coffee Co. is a mobile espresso bar that covers both public and private events like festivals, trade shows, weddings, and corporate events. Just peeping at their Instagram page, you can find the cool events they’ll be next, whether they’re serving tasty drinks at a wintertime small business bazaar or inside a local climbing gym. Finding out about events through local companies’ social media pages is a great way to be in the know about unique experiences for opportunities to get involved with and connect with the community. 

Good Coffee Co.'s white mobile cart, the ultimate Lake Elsinore bucket list notes following them to find local events
Photo courtesy of Good Coffee Co.

6. Have a spooky fun Halloweekend

For the perfect spooky weekend, mark your calendar off in October for the annual Storm Halloween Festival. Perfect for all ages, this event “features a carnival midway, local vendors, amazing food and entertainment,” says Shannon Lee, of the female-owned event management company that organizes the event. This festival really has it all from carnival rides and games, a petting zoo, full bar, fortune tellers, live music, safe trick-or-treating, and even a slime lab — there’s really something for everyone to enjoy. Held at The Storm Stadium at the end of every October, this Halloween festival is truly a must.

7. Explore nature’s hidden gems

If you’re looking for a trail off the beaten path or have a sort of Robert Frost “road less traveled” desire, we recommend taking time to find and explore some of Lake Elsinore’s hidden gems. Jacq, blogger of The Bubbly Mermaid, loves exploring California with her dog Lemon, and recommends hiking to Ortega Falls. 

“Ortega Falls provides outdoor enthusiasts with a very short and steep hike to an impressive hidden waterfall. Visit after a good rain, as this is when the falls will be most impressive. Make sure to pack some snacks and enjoy lunch waterside!” details Jacq. Located off Highway 74, Ortega Falls is for sure one of Lake Elsinore’s best hidden gems and the perfect spot for those chasing waterfalls.

Rocks and white streams of water at Ortega Falls, an item on the ultimate Lake Elsinore bucket list
Photo courtesy of The Bubbly Mermaid

8. Savor bites dining out

Hungry? One of the premier restaurants in Lake Elsinore is none other than Canyon Cowboy. This spot offers comfort food made from scratch, craft cocktails, and live entertainment like acoustic music on the weekends. With signature dishes, nightly specials, and a large bar, there is sure to be something on the menu for everyone. The beautiful view, ambiance, and focus on scratch entrees and shared appetizers make it perfect for a dinner date, birthday lunch, or just a dining out experience. 

9. Bask in the wildflowers

It wouldn’t be a Lake Elsinore bucket list without mentioning the California wildflowers. Several flock to Walker Canyon yearly to witness the flowers in hopes of another “super bloom” like in 2017. If there isn’t a drought, the canyon fills up with gorgeous poppies and other wildflowers for the most beautiful spring scene, typically from early March to late June. Although there are a variety of hiking trails to venture on, this time at the canyon is often quite packed. 

As recommended by Lake Elsinore officials, please prioritize personal safety and environment preservation alongside exploring the scene and taking in the stunning views. With the chance to immerse yourself in a Monet-type landscape, we can’t recommend visiting enough. 

10. Embrace the spirit of mariachi

For a unique opportunity to connect with the local community and immerse yourself in culture, we recommend adding Lake Elsinore Mariachi Fest to your bucket list. Happening in September, this festival features local food, crafts, tequila and mezcal vendors, and of course live music. Manager Justin Jett Pickard notes that this festival “has been accomplished through the support of our local community, incredible performances from increasingly culturally relevant artists, and a growing list of activations in and around the stadium on the day of the event.” A true celebration of culture, the Mariachi Fest will entertain everyone whether you’re “a die-hard mariachi fan or just looking for a fun and exciting event to attend.”



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