London Bridge and other great things to see at Lake Havasu in Arizona USA
300 days of sunshine a year, over 640 kms (400mi) of stunning coastline, 97km (60mi) of navigable waterways is the claim of Lake Havasu in sunny Arizona. It is also the home of hours upon hours of fun and excitement, while relaxing and enjoying the scenery. There is also a lot to see and do in this area, so much so that tourists and snowbirds (people in RVs and with holiday homes in the area) flock here en masse each year. Over 65,000 people call Lake Havasu home, and this doubles during winter when people temporarily reside here to escape the cold winters up north.
Back in 1958, businessman Robert McCullough wanted to attract tourists to the town he had created in Lake Havasu, Arizona, USA. What better way than to go to England and buy the London Bridge, then transport it all the way to Lake Havasu and rebuilt it! This would get the tourists coming he thought, and it certainly did. There are many events during the year that also get people involved. An international jet ski race held each year attracts people from over sixty countries. A balloon festival, fishing competitions, custom boat regattas, university student spring breaks, boating and a Winterfest carnival all attract thousands of visitors to the city each year.
In 1958, businessman McCullough (1911-1977) bought 13.57 km2 (3,353 acres) of land that is now the island here. Four years later, he purchased another 5,300ha (13,000 acres) of surrounding land. It was the perfect spot for his watercraft manufacturing plant. The location was close to Southern California and Las Vegas, as well as having water access.
London Bridge was built over the river Thames in London in 1830. It was built during the time when horse and buggies would traverse the bridge. But when heavy modern vehicles started to travel over it, the bridge started to sink into the soft sands of the Thames.
In 1968, it was bought by McCullough for $USD3 million dollars. It cost $USD7 million to demolish, transport and reassemble the bridge. All 10,276 exterior granite blocks were taken apart brick by brick, carefully numbered and loaded onto a barge. Passing through the Panama Canal, it made its way to California USA. It was then trucked the 500kms (300 miles) to Lake Havasu. Its numbered blocks were reassembled upon arrival at their final destination, like a very large 3D jigsaw puzzle. It was finished in 1971. The bridge you see today has a purpose-built steel framework with reinforced concrete underneath the replaced stones. Fun fact: The lamps on the bridge are actually vintage. They were repurposed metal from the Napoleon Bonepartes army's cannons. There are still shell holes visible in the bridge blocks from shots fired at the bridge during wars when it was in England.
A village was built in faux-English style at the same time, but has since been changed to include the visitor centre and restaurants. There are still a few symbols of the past here starting with wrought iron commemorative gates that visitors pass through upon arrival. I am not sure why the gate has the year 1862 engraved above it. Maybe because it was the year that Queen Victoria of England's second daughter, Princess Alice, married Prince Ludwig of Hesse and by Rhine. (I am happy to correct this, if proven wrong!)
The two plinths inside the village, near the fountain, are each topped with a dragon statue. In England, there are fourteen dragon statues that mark the boundary of the City of London. The dragons at Lake Havasu are painted the same as the English ones, silver with details of their wings and tongue picked out in red. The shield against his left foreleg bears the City of London's coat of arms, painted in red and white.
During summer, boats and barbeques are the big theme on the lake. People on the boats can order food from restaurants on shore and get a boat delivery of food. Cabanas can be rented by people who don't have their own. Drive through the main thoroughfares of the town, and the yards selling boats, pontoons and cabanas become too numerous to count.
Novices are well catered to on the water. As a complete watercraft beginner myself, I took a two-and-a-half-hour guided boat tour of the lake with the awesome company Rubba Duck Safari. After a quick tutorial, our group set off and were able to enjoy this fabulous spot, with no prior sailing experience. It was a lot of fun skimming across the water at a top speed of 48kph (30mph).
For visitors who want a more leisurely way to get out on the water, with someone else steering, they can experience the Dixie Belle paddle wheeler that can accommodate 131 passengers.
The city has a hot desert climate, which is perfect for winter visitors with a typical winter day having a temperate of between 16-26°C (60-80°F). However, in summer it averages around 43°C (110°F). This is the perfect weather to take advantage of the lake. It only rains around 2 days per month in the wettest season (winter). The average annual rainfall is just over 100mm (4in).
Away from the water, the popular past times are golfing, hiking, off-roading and cycling.
As a history fan, it was nice to see in the paving stones around the English village and along the foreshore, stories dedicated to various branches and members of the military.
One of my favorite memories of Lake Havasu is their annual festival of boat parade of lights. The shorelines were packed with friends and families who had brought chairs, barbeques, food and firepits. All settled in to watch the parade of over seventy water vessels sail by after dusk one night in December each year.
London Bridge is lit up with Christmas trees, wreaths and lights changing from reds to greens. It looked spectacular. There was a feeling of welcoming. It was truly heartwarming to be here on this evening. It was chilly (around14C, 57F), but not the snowy cold of up north. Jackets were required, but no hats or gloves were necessary.
All along the shore, hotels and restaurants were also well lit up for the festive Christmas season. It certainly brought cheer to everyone who was there. I spoke to a lot of visitors who had traveled to the lake just for the parade.
With plenty of hotels to choose from in Lake Havasu, visitors are spoilt for choice. Wherever you stay in town, the sunset is always a glorious sight. The yellows, pinks, blues and mauves of the setting sun silhouette the palm trees and distant Arizona mountains. Ah, it is a great time of day to just relax and sit with a cold drink, watching the glorious sunset. This makes Lake Havasu a place to remember and to revisit again and again.
#maturesolotraveler #usa #solotravel #solotraveler #solotraveller #nationalgeographic #lakehavasu #havasu #lakehavasucity #arizona #lakelife #golakehavasu #rubbaducksafari #lakefun #lake #nature #boat #usa #water #shore #rocks