Idyllwild at the elevation of 5500 feet, is a unique little town located in the San Jacinto Mountains, filled with large oaks, tall pines and sweet smelling cedar trees. It’s set apart from any other place you’ve probably ever visited and is one the most charming small resort towns to visit.

For those unfamiliar with area, the San Jacinto Mountains are located in Riverside County, California, about two hours drive east of Los Angeles. Idyllwild indulges the art lovers and foodies, yet caters to those inspired by outdoor activities. It is a well established stop on the Pacific Coast Trail. Having a little of something for everyone.

All the shops and restaurants are locally owned, which adds to the uniqueness of every shop and restaurant. For a town with a population under 4,000, it is quite amazing the number of fantastic restaurants and artists that are in this small area. Seriously, you would think you were in a much bigger city with the number of galleries and quality of dishes being served up in Idyllwild.

With each pine-scented breeze, Idyllwild weaves a tapestry of pure enchantment


You have many options to choose from and I’m listing some of my preferred. The lodging below are all within a five-minute drive to Amore Retreat. I’ve experienced many of them first-hand. When you make your reservation, let them know Dr. M.P. Wylie, at Amore Retreat recommended them. Some are generous enough to offer our clients discounts, so be sure to inquire when making your reservations.

Tahquitz Pines  951-659-2934 Escape into the forest. Tahquitz Pines Retreat Lodging is recently renovated and landscaped in 2023. It’s an event and lodging space (and the only of its kind in Idyllwild) located in the mile-high San Jacinto Mountains. Includes 71 charming cabins and rooms, 2 auditoriums, an outdoor theatre, flexible meeting spaces, and a chapel along with a swimming pool, spa, gym, sports courts, BBQ areas, fire pits and several inclusive amenities ensure memorable experiences for all. Pet and family friendly, walking trails, peaceful and inviting. 

Blue Bird Cottages 951-659-2696 Small and rustic, many cottages have small kitchens. Prices fairly reasonable.

Creekstone Inn

951-659-3342 Enjoy the modern-rustic luxury of the Creekstone Inn. Recently renovated and remodeled in 2021. The inn doesn’t serve meals, yet easy walking distance to a few Idyllwild’s finest restaurants. With call in reservations, a 20% discount is offered, when you mention you’re attending a retreat with Dr. M.P. Wylie at Amore Retreat

The Fireside Inn 951-659-2966 Small kitchens are provided in many of their cabins. You can bring along Fido, as this is one of the few Idyllwild lodgings welcoming pets (please confirm). This is most likely the most reasonable lodging in Idyllwild. Keep in mind it’s also one of the most rustic, yet still comfortable.

The Grand Idyllwild Lodge B&B 951-659-2383. Grand luxury at a mountain boutique lodge. Morning breakfast, spa services, fitness room, sauna, unique suites. With call in reservations, a 10% discount is offered, when you mention you’re attending a retreat with Dr. M.P. Wylie at Amore Retreat.

Idyllwild Inn 951-659-2552 One of the first original lodgings in Idyllwild. Recently remodeled in 2022. Sits right in the middle of town and walking distance to restaurants, shops, art galleries and the only theater in town. Rooms and cabins with small kitchens.

New Spirit Vacation Homes 951-659-3100. Experience some of the finest homes and cabins in Idyllwild. Let Monica know your needs and she’ll be happy to match you with the right home for your stay in one of our quiet woodsy neighborhoods.

Silver Pines Lodge, Village & Homes 951-659-4335  It’s worth exploring their website to see all their amazing and unique options; from a small room to luxury suites and cabins

Strawberry Creek Inn B&B 951-659-3202 Delicious breakfasts, with fresh, organic food including eggs from their own chickens, and you’ll want to purchase their cookbook. Even though the B&B is located on the 243 Hwy, you never know it once you check in. You’re only steps from Strawberry Creek and walking paths to the village. You’ll find hammocks and patio settings under the well-shaded pine and cedar trees.

Woodland Park Manor 951-659-2657 Nestled on 5 acres in the beautiful Fern Valley, just a few minutes from the village. The forested Woodland Park Manor property includes gardens, gazebo, ping pong, quiet spots to picnic, and during summer months, a swimming pool in the pines as well! Woodland Park Cottages are family and pet friendly.

Quiet Creek Inn 951-468-4208. Sits on seven beautiful quiet acres, along Strawberry Creek, with walking trails. Each little cabin is a suite, with very small kitchenettes and a short drive to town. You won’t be disappointed. (Temporarily Closed – Check Website for Reopening)

VRBO and AirB&B

are other options to consider, especially if you’re seeking a private cabin in the woods. Many of our couples are happy going in this direction, since their stays are extended.



Idyllwild is one of the few destinations to travel to where the meal budget may be the biggest part. In Idyllwild, eating is recreation! I’m not sure what drives so many great chiefs here, but it sure makes for the yummiest of small towns you’ll ever visit. The hardest part about visiting Idyllwild is taking time to discover your inner gourmand. Listed are some of my favored.

Café Aroma

Cafe Aroma 951-659-5212 Café Aroma is a long time popular on the Hill. Especially with the recent remodel to provide more covered outdoor seating and it provides a cozy living room vibe, comforting Italian cuisine and live music. It has a very small main dining room, so reservations are necessary on busy nights. Plus, if you’re a garlic lover, this is the place for you, along with their home baked breads. Dinner everyday of the week except Tuesday’s. (D)


Ferro’s is one of the most recent additions to Idyllwild’s culinary culture and is a modern Italian style restaurant. And was rated one of the Top 100 Dinner’s Choice Award by Open Table in 2016 and 2017. Ferro restaurant has an amazing outdoor patio with a huge wood burning pizza oven, surrounding bar and outdoor concert area. If you visit, the star of the show is of course the brick oven pizzas. My first choice is the Formaggio Di Capra with Goat cheese, leeks, scallions, garlic confit and Neuske’s bacon, and it’s fantastic. Also, recommend their Caesar salad, Lasagne made with wild bore and beef, thick yummy pork chop with apple chutney. Save room for their fresh baked desserts, lovingly made by Lori Ferro. Full bar, often live music under the pines and numerous awesome entrees and deserts. (D) 951-659-0700


Fratello’s 951-659-3900 Ristorante & Pizzeria is another new Italian restaurant in town and also has a wood burning pizza oven.The atmosphere is warm, inviting and very romantic. Every dish is authentic and delicious! My chosen best is the Butternut Squash Raviolis. And you wouldn’t believe the length of the dessert menu, so save room to explore your many options. (L&D)


Gastronome is a classic and one of the first restaurants to open in Idyllwild. Providing, many choices from salads to sandwiches and endless entrees. Nature art and big stone fireplace complete the cozy lodge vibe and an outdoor patio. Full bar and usually a very quiet restaurant with no music. Open for lunch and dinner. (L&D) 951-659-5055.


Idyology is really funky, but at the same time bizarrely elegant. The eclectic décor of steer horns, crystals, candles, carpets, and Victorian furniture complement the fun flair on country favorites. Their buffalo burgers are awesome along with their onion rings a BBQ sauce. Serving organic, fresh food with a unique hillbilly mountain loving twist. Consider the outdoor patio over-looking Strawberry Creek. Full cocktail bar and a pool table off the dining room. (D) 951-659-5962. (check hours and days open)

Alpaca Coffee Tea and Café

Alpaca Coffee Tea and Café What started with a tiny coffee and tea shop in 2020 has expanded into full service breakfast, grab-and-go kitchen, and community hub. It’s an unexpected surprise to find in the mountains! (B&L)

Additional Eateries,

Wine Bar and Brew Pub

Idyllwild Brew Pub

Idyllwild Brew Pub is new in Idyllwild and is awesome – possibly one of the best brew pubs in America. They also offer wine, a full bar, and amazing dishes.

Idyllwild Ice Cream and Jerky

Idyllwild Ice Cream and Jerky you name it they’ve got it.

Pure Bean Cafe and Coffee Shop

Pure Bean is a specialty boutique air roaster. They specialize in small batch roasting to highlight each origins unique profile. You will notice the enhanced flavor nuances and low acidity with your very first taste. 951-659-1379

Idyllwild Pizza Company

Order in or take back to your cabin for one of the grandest gourmet pizzas. If you can’t decide which one, I recommend trying the Tahquitz pizza. This is also a sports bar, so don’t expect it to be quiet. (L&D) 951-659-5900


Wine and beer tasting and one of the best selection in town. Neighborhood hot spot, plus a tourist favorite. No one under 21 permitted. I love their hot artichoke dip and skillet s’mores.

Middle Ridge Winery Tasting Gallery

Where wine, art and friends meet.

Mountain Center Fork & Spoon Cafe

Very well known to the locals and a short five minute drive to Mountain Center. Basically, good home cooking. (B&L)

La Casita

This is the real deal when it comes to Mexican food. Don’t miss Monday and Thursday $2 Taco Night and enjoy the outside deck. Nothing fancy about this location and it’s been around for a long time and super busy at times, yet you can order in and take out. (B,L&D)

Lumber Mill Bar & Grill

I get the message that several restaurants’ claim to fame is their hamburger, yet this one certainly has variety, including buffalo burgers. I love their sliders and fish tacos. (L,D)

The Red Kettle

Is a busy place in town for breakfast and justifiably so. (B,L)

The Sunflower Bakery & Cafe

Come visit us! We are located in Idyllwild, California, a bit past the center of town behind Idyllwild Garden Center! We’d love to see you and feed you! Food IS love. Known to many of the locals, but off the beaten path for coffee, breakfast and lunch. Closed Tuesday & Wednesday. (B&L)

Tommy's Kitchen

Salad bar, plus other goodies like tuna salad and homemade waffle fries. (B,L) (currently closed for dinning and offering meals to take-out – order ahead) 951-468-4200

Eating Out


Most of the restaurants in town are either breakfast & lunch, or lunch & dinner. Here are some of my recommendations:

Breakfast: The Red Kettle and Alpaca Coffee & Cafe, Mountain Center Fork & Spoon as well as The Town Bakery.

Lunch: La Casita for Mexican food. Fratello, Alpaca Coffee & Cafe, Idyllwild Pizza Company, Idyllwild Brew Pub and Lumber Mill Bar & Grill all offer a relaxing lunch and all serve salads, sandwiches and entrees.

Dinner: My most loved is the amazing Ferro Italian Restaurant (on Cedar St), reservations highly recommended and closed on Wednesdays. Cafe Aroma is very intimate and trendy and you can often hear live music, reservations recommended, and they are closed on Tuesdays. The food is great, and they stay open later than most places. Fratello also scores high in my book.

Art Lovers

Named one of the 100 Best Small Art Towns in America by the popular book of the same name (by John Villani), and that’s an amazing feat considering its size. Idyllwild is a town made up of many eclectic artists with offerings in pottery, glass works, spiritual arts, jewelry, and everything in between.

The juxtaposition of small town, but big art community is exemplified in the art of film. Idyllwild has only one Movie Theater that’s only big enough to show one movie at a time and often new features changing weekly, and Idyllwild is also home to the annual Idyllwild International Festival of Cinema.

Then there is the Idyllwild Art Alliance, a non-profit organization with the goal of enhancing Idyllwild national art reputation. They offer support for local artists by helping them find opportunities to display their art and holding numerous events throughout the year.

If you love art, it is a bit overwhelming the variety of mediums displayed all over town. There are mineral galleries, fine art galleries and more. However, there is one gallery that happens to be my favorite, and no doubt inspires many of the artists in town, the beauty of Idyllwild natural landscape.

The support of this art community is extensive in Idyllwild. Local artists’ work is not only proudly displayed in art galleries, but in various businesses throughout the town. For instance, at many of the restaurants in town the two worlds, art and food, come together. In fact, Café Aroma is not only a restaurant, but an art gallery. One of the dining rooms is even called “the gallery.” A good dish is art in itself, but imagine dining while surrounded by visual art.

Idyllwild folks love music and almost everywhere you go in town has a live music performance for all palates. Café Aroma has live music on their outside deck, often with an intimate and folksy vibe. Ferro is not only a great place to hang out with locals at the pizza bar, but it also aims to be a reputable music venue in the area. The hills are alive with the sound of music in Idyllwild, for sure.

Needless to say, Idyllwild is a full sensory experience. Taste great food. See the beauty of nature and art. Hear the rhythms of great music any time of day. Idyllwild may be small, but it sure has a lot going on. I love telling people who have never heard of Idyllwild about their amazing food and art culture. The feeling I get from this mountain town can best be described as pure satisfaction and relaxation. Come see for yourself. I know you’ll love it, too!


Almost every gift store in Idyllwild is open from 10 am until 5 pm. A few of my suggestions are Wooley’s, Idyllwild Gift Shop, Candy Cupboard, and Idyllwild Ice Cream, all a few doors down from the theater. Prairie Dove has some fashionable women’s clothing and Everett’s Minerals has beautiful jewelry and Mountain Paws is a pet boutique, all a few doors up from the theater. In The Fort provides many little shops worth exploring: The Spruce Moose is a fun shop of woodland gifts, Coyote Red’s Country Gourmet is packed with goodies, especially an amazing choice of Jerky, the Toy Shop if you have little ones at home, Earth & Fire – paint ceramics and bring along your own bottle of wine to enjoy. Up at the top of North Circle you’ll find Fern Valley Emporium which is full of antiques and collectibles.


There are numerous official hiking trails both in the State wilderness and the Federal wilderness. The only difference is that in state wilderness, you cannot take dogs. All official wilderness hiking trails require that you sign in at the Ranger Station in town, mainly as a precaution so if you turn up missing, they know where to start looking for you. The only trail that you don’t need a hiking permit for is the Ernie Maxwell “Scenic Trail” – this easy, scenic, 2.6 mile (one-way) hike begins at 6400 ft. and crosses seasonal streams along the way. It descends 700 feet from Humber Park. It is a good walk for beginning botanists; many different species of trees can be found along the way. There are also good views of Suicide and Lily Rocks. Don’t underestimate the Mountain; many have done so and been hurt. Dress appropriately, stay on marked trails, take plenty of water, and if you can’t see the trail due to snow, turn back.

Mountain Biking

There are many trails where mountain bikes are allowed, unfortunately they are difficult to find without a local who knows them. The ranger station has a map of fire roads that you can ride on.


Strawberry Creek is stocked in the spring. Lake Hemet is approximate 15 minutes away in Garner Valley. Rental boats are available, as well as fishing supplies, and licenses. Lake Fulmor is approximate 20 minutes away on Hwy. 243 toward Banning. Fishing is done from the shore, and no supplies are available at the lake itself. Licenses are available at Village Hardware in the center of town. Children under 16 do not need a fishing license.

Nature Center

Located 1/2 mile north of Idyllwild off Hwy. 243. The Nature Center is open from 9 – 4:30 Tuesday – Sunday. A slide show of Idyllwild’s history and many displays on the logging industry, ancient Cahuilla Indians, and local wildlife are in the center. A self-guided 1/2 mile nature hike with ancient Indian bedrock mortars is very interesting, and guided nature walks are held Saturday & Sunday. There are several other trails out of the Nature Center from easy to moderate difficulty and up to 5 miles in length. Entrance fees vary.

Idyllwild History Museum

Located on North Circle Drive, offers a great deal of history of our little village. Friendly docents to share stunning information and very worth a visit. Open everyday 9:00a.m. to 3:00p.m.

Alpenglow Lilac Garden

Located on Fern Valley Drive. If you’re visiting in April or May, be sure to make time for a visit to walk through over 100 different lilac species. It’s an amazing sight to see and smell the sweet aroma.

Additional Information

Idyllwild Visitor’s Guide: Excellent for exploring additional restaurants, lodging, shopping, and art galleries. Provides information on recreational activities such as hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, and fishing. Lists Idyllwild Arts free plays and concerts and local movie theater showings. Includes information on upcoming events and a local map.

Idyllwild Visitors Center:

Weather and Road Conditions: A good idea to check before you hit the road.