Things To Do Lake Isabella California
Central Valley

7 Wonderful Things To Do At Lake Isabella All Year Long

Tucked away in between mountains and small western-style towns, Lake Isabella is a popular summer vacation spot, especially for those who enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, and river rafting. But there are plenty of things to do at Lake Isabella all year long!

Located just an hour East of Bakersfield, this beautiful lake is a wonderful getaway for Central California locals seeking a relaxing weekend getaway. As a California local myself, I’ve been to Lake Isabella many times and there is always something fun to do in the area.

Incredible scenery, adorable mom-and-pop restaurants, charming vacation rentals, and fun local breweries make Lake Isabella an attractive getaway no matter the time of the year.


Here are 7 wonderful things to do at Lake Isabella all year long:

  1. Go On a Hike
  2. Roam Through Silver City Ghost Town
  3. Grab a Beer At Kern River Brewery
  4. Stay At a Cozy Vacation Rental
  5. Relax At a Hot Springs
  6. Grab Dinner At Pizza Barn
  7. Enjoy a Scenic Drive Through Kern River Canyon

Lake Isabella in the winter

7 Best Things To Do At Lake Isabella, California:

1. Go On a Hike

Lake Isabella is located in a mountain region and has quite a few hikes that visitors can do in the area.

Whiskey Flat Trail is one of the easiest and most accessible trails around Lake Isabella and gets quite a few hikers, especially in the summer.

The Isabella Peak – Coso Mine Loop Trail is another popular option that leads to a stunning 360 viewpoint of Lake Isabella and the surrounding towns, passing Coso Mine along the way.

Hikes-Sequoia-National-Forest-Isabella-Peak-Coso-Mine-Loop-Trail
Views from Isabella Peak – Coso Mine Loop Trail.

We were visiting Lake Isabella in the winter and we had our 4-month-old puppy with us so we couldn’t go on any of the longer day hikes. Instead, we spent a couple of hours hiking and exploring around the lake itself.

We noticed a few access points that led down to Lake Isabella as we drove around it offering plenty of trail options.

Exploring Lake Isabella

We were staying in Wofford Heights and we could also access the lakefront along various trails starting from our vacation rental.

There were multiple trails going in all directions so we just walked down one of them until we reached the lakefront.

Lake Isabella lakefront

It was our puppy’s first time going to a lake and he had a blast running through the water and swimming! Even after a snowstorm in the winter, the weather at Lake Isabella wasn’t too cold, unlike some other mountain towns that get completely snowed in.


2. Roam Through Silver City Ghost Town

After exploring the lake itself, we ventured down to Silver City Ghost Town – one of the most popular attractions around.

Silver City Ghost Town is an open-air museum featuring historic buildings from the Gold Rush times.

Silver City Ghost Town

All of the structures showcased in this museum come from the nearby mining towns and are at least 100 years old. Silver City Ghost Town is a fun quick attraction to visit alongside outdoor activities in this region.

It only takes about 30-45 minutes to roam through the Silver City Ghost Town museum, explore the different buildings featured here, and read more about their history.

Read More: Visiting Silver City Ghost Town In Bodfish, California


3. Grab a Beer At Kern River Brewery

Kern River Brewing Company’s reputation precedes it. I had heard of this brewery and had seen their craft beers sold all over Bakersfield long before traveling to Lake Isabella. For some people going to Kern River Brewery is like a destination of its own!

If you enjoy sipping on a craft beer in a beautiful mountain setting, Kern River Brewing Company is a MUST. Located in the small town of Kernville this brewpub attracts local and out-of-town crowds alike, especially on the weekends.

Kern River Brewing Company

After a long day of hiking and exploring outdoors, nothing sounds better than sitting on a sunny patio with a crisp IPA in your hand – and Kern River Brewing Company is just that place.

Kern River Brewing Company offers a great selection of beers. If you want to try a few different ones, you can order the beer sampler which comes with a few of their classic beers like Isabella Blonde, Sequoia Red, Just Outstanding IPA, and Class V Stout.

Kern River Brewing Company is open late, serves delicious comfort food, and on Friday nights you can even enjoy live music performances.  

Read More: Kern River Brewing Company Review


4. Stay At a Cozy Vacation Rental

Lake Isabella is a popular place for camping in the summer and there are lots of campground options all around the lake. But we traveled to Lake Isabella in the winter so the weather was a bit too chilly for camping outdoors.

Instead, we booked a cozy vacation home and we were super happy about that choice. After a full day ‘out and about’ we could return to our cabin and enjoy hanging out comfortably on the couch wrapped up in cozy blankets.

View from our rental at Lake Isabella

We stayed at the beautiful Lakeview Terrace Cal King Studio in Wofford Heights which has the most amazing view of Lake Isabella right from the living room.

This cabin-style studio is modern, clean, and fully stocked with everything you may need for a quick getaway. Within a few minute’s drive, we could reach the nearby restaurants, grocery stores, and the main highway.

Walking trails next to our vacation rental.

Our rental was right next to Lake Isabella bordering Sequoia National Forest so there were lots of walking paths available all around it.

Check Lakeview Terrace Cal King Studio rates & availability here!

Read This Next: 8 Best Vacation Rentals In Lake Isabella


5. Relax At a Hot Springs

Before traveling to Lake Isabella, I had no idea that there were two beautiful hot springs in the area – Remington Hot Springs and Miracle Hot Springs.

After some Google research, I found these two hot springs listed on the map so we decided to stop by and check them out on a Sunday afternoon before heading back home to Bakersfield. To our surprise, both of these hot springs were busy with locals when we arrived.

Remington Hot Springs is situated along the Kern River.

Located an hour East of Bakersfield, many people travel out to Lake Isabella for the day just to soak in these beautiful hot springs.

The Remington and Miracle Hot Springs are located next to the Kern River tucked away between trees and giant boulders. Their scenic location is what makes them so popular within the local community.

If you’re worried about needing a 4WD to get there you’ll be glad to know that the road leading to these hot springs is wide and well-taken care of. Even our little Hyundai Elantra made it out there without any issues. Plus there are designated dirt parking lots where you can leave your car.

Map of Remington & Miracle Hot Spring locations

Both Remington and Miracle Hot Springs are located within a couple of miles of each other. We tried to go to Miracle Hot Springs at first but it was quite full already so we drove a few extra miles down the road and hiked to Remington Hot Springs instead. Remington Hot Springs is a bit more challenging to get to so most people prefer to go to Miracle Hot Springs instead.

After parking and hiking for about 15 minutes, we reached Remington Hot Springs. This area had a few different pools for visitors to soak in – a couple of natural ones made of big rocks and a couple of man-made ones.

Hikes-Sequoia-National-Forest-Remington-Hot-Springs
Relaxing at Remington Hot Springs

Even though Remington Hot Springs requires a bit of a hike to reach it, there were quite a few people there already as well. If you choose to visit either of these hot springs on the weekend, try to go early (before noon) and you might just find the place to yourself.  

Update As Of 2023: Miracle Hot Springs has been permanently closed.


6. Grab Dinner At Pizza Barn

If you’re looking for a quick bite to grab around Lake Isabella, Pizza Barn is a highly-rated restaurant in Kernville that is popular amongst locals and out-of-town travelers alike.

Pizza Barn Restaurant in Kernville

Lake Isabella is surrounded by a few small Gold Rush towns so the food choices here are pretty limited. Pizza Barn is open late and it’s the perfect spot if you want to grab something that’s quick and cheap.

Our favorite dish here was the wings appetizer that came cooked to crispy perfection. With most plates going for around $10 per person, Pizza Barn is one of the best deals in the area.

  • Location: Pizza Barn
  • Hours: Sunday to Thursday – 11:00 am to 9:00 pm, Friday & Saturday – 11:00 am to 10:00 pm

Read More: Pizza Barn Review – Budget Friendly Pizzas In Kernville


7. Enjoy a Scenic Drive Through Kern River Canyon

In order to get to Lake Isabella from Bakersfield, we had to drive for an hour on the scenic Kern River Canyon Road, also known as Highway 178. This road is about 13 miles long and passes beautiful mountain views along the way.

Along the Kern River Canyon road, there are a few campgrounds and viewpoints where you can pull over and enjoy the scenery.

Kern River along the Canyon Road

The Kern River Canyon Road starts just outside of Bakersfield and as soon as you enter it, immediately you feel submerged in nature. There are also a few excellent hiking trails within Kern River Canyon including Kern River Trail and Mill Creek Trail.

Passing in between a towering canyon and the Kern River, you are bound to see jaw-dropping views along every windy corner. But this road is pretty curvy with lots of blind spots so use extra caution when driving on it.


Beautiful views at Lake Isabella in winter.

Located just an hour outside of Bakersfield, Lake Isabella is an incredible vacation spot, especially for Central California locals.

Whether you enjoy outdoor activities, relaxing at a cabin, or grabbing a beer at a local brewery – there’s something to do for everyone!

Looking for more things to do in the area? Here are a few other popular posts that you may like:

This post is written by Laura Sausina. Hi, I’m a California local and the founder of the California Wanderland travel blog. I currently live in Ventura County and help 30,000 readers a month discover things to do in Central California! Read more about me here.

8 Comments

    • Laura

      Hi Joe,

      There are quite a few campgrounds around Lake Isabella like Boulder Gulch, Hungry Gulch, Tillie Creek, Camp 9 and others. Campsites around Lake Isabella cost around $30 per night and you can check their availability and make reservations on http://www.recreation.gov.

      Hope this helps!
      Laura

    • Laura

      Hi Guillermo!

      I’ve never personally done any jet-skiing at Lake Isabella but according to the Kern County website, it is allowed.
      Cheers,
      Laura

    • Laura

      Hi Iris,

      I haven’t personally been to Paradise Cove campsite yet but swimming is allowed all around the lake to my knowledge. I did hear that it can be pretty windy around Paradise Cove and make sure to watch out and stay away from Blue-Green-Algae that can be found in Lake Isabella during late summer months.

      Hope you have a great visit!
      Laura

    • Laura

      Hi Donald,

      The closest campsite to the lakefront seems to be Paradise Cove. I haven’t personally stayed at Paradise Cove yet but it appears to be set up right next to the lakefront. According to the sierranevadageotourism.org site, Engineer Point Boat Ramp is also wheelchair accessible so that might be easier to access than other locations around the lake.

      For more information, I would recommend calling the Lake Isabella visitor center at 760-549-9533.

      Best,
      Laura

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