Idyllwild – A Small Town with Edge

Idyllwild – A Small Town with Edge

A mile high in the San Jacinto National Forest is the small town of Idyllwild, California. Famous for old movies and Jazz this town still holds its small town charm even though it’s a popular tourist destination.


There’s quirky art, not one single chain restaurant and (my personal favorite) the tiny retro theater!

rustic theatre

The Rustic Theatre has been showing films since before 1950. It’s the teenage hangout on Friday nights and if you’re not into movies, they also host live local theater. Its old Hollywood meets off Broadway meets small town.


Now of course you know our favorite way to get to know a place is to eat our way through it, and this small town did not disappoint. Our first stop was for brunch at the Gnome which serves up a special menu with fresh food and we opted in for the unlimited Champagne!

the gnome

Next up was coffee and desert at Café Aroma which was so good; we decided to come back for dinner (and the live music).

cafe aroma

After being complete gluttons our next task: find a way to work it all off. Luckily the town is surrounded by National Forest with loads of trails and some very serious rock climbing. We hit the trails for a day hike and while we didn’t have the proper climbing gear, it didn’t stop us from trying our own death defying acts!

San Jacinto National Forest

We were falling in love with the town and at the same time we also fell in love with our campground!

It might have had something to do with the fact it’s mid-March and early in the season so we were (almost) the only ones there. It was like our own private forest! The hiking trails from the park lead into the national forest, there’s horseback riding on site and there must be something crazy in the soil because the pine cones are ridiculously (potentially dangerously) large!


This was a hard campground to say goodbye to and we could have happily stayed for weeks. If you don’t believe us just ask the cats!


In case you didn’t catch it the first time…we love everything about this small town.  The peace and quiet, being surrounded by Mother Nature and the jazzy culture.  It’s definitly worth the gas to get up the mountain.

Have you been to Idyllwild? Got a story to share? If so, please tell us in the comments below.

A cautionary note: If your RV is over 32 feet you might want to head up the mountain through Palm Springs, yes this may be way out of your way if you’re travelling from Wilderness Lakes (Temecula Area) but the CA-74 is restricted 30’ kingpin to rear axle. Also when descending from Idyllwild if you do not have an engine brake you may want to plan a rest half way down the mountain at the pullout overlooking the Coachella Valley. This is a rapid descent and you can lose your brakes if you’re not careful.

Disclaimer:  While we were compensated to film the campground (thanks Encore!)…all of our experiences and opinions are not purchased and are still our own.