TRAVEL: An Idyllwild Summer

It’s a mere two and a half hour drive from Los Angeles, but the mountain village of Idyllwild is a world away in many ways, from the growing number of art and music-inspired festivals to the opportunities for creative expression offered at the Idyllwild Arts Summer programs through August.

It all happens beneath towering pines at an altitude between 5,000 and 6,000 feet, amidst a blast of pristine mountain air. What could be more conducive for those seeking cultural enrichment in a mountain setting?

A good place to start your Idyllwide experience is with “Jazz in the Pines,” slated to take place Aug. 27-29. Produced by the Idyllwild Arts Foundation, the event includes an ambitious line up of performers including three-time Grammy-winning composer, conductor and arranger Tom Scott, jazz pianist David Benoit, pianist Oscar Hernandez and international jazz musician Evan Christopher.

The action kicks off on Aug. 27 with a Patron Gourmet dinner and dance held on the Idyllwild Arts Campus, featuring gourmet food and drink. The $225 per ticket includes reserved seating in the amphitheatre plus preferred parking for the next two days. The event takes place on three stages with continuous jazz and blues from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both days.

Visitors may also choose to stay overnight at vintage hideaways such as the Strawberry Creek Inn, Fern Valley Inn and Peaceful Mountain Inn, which all offer accommodations for under $100. Dining choices range from the chic Mountain Restaurant, featuring the hip menu of Chef Brian Ayers (his credits include honors from Le Cordon Bleu , the premier culinary school in Paris) to something more simple such as the Creek House, a dinner house classic with one of the most colorful salad bars in town. Coffee lovers will find the Idyllwild Tea & Coffee Company worth the trip once they discover, like I did, Oma’s Bakery.

Many of the art galleries in Idyllwild feature locally inspired motifs in addition to one dog lovers will fancy called “Oh My Dog” Gallery, with activist Frank Bruynbroek’s candid and commissioned black-and-white photographs of man’s best friend. You’ll find him at Oakwood Village on 54-425 North Circle between “downtown” and “uptown” (

Other discoveries include Himalayan Treasures owned by Heim Rai, where affirmations take the form of banners, cards and scarves; Florist in the Forest Gallery, where a full service floral shop mingles with the original work of visionary artists; and the Courtyard Gallery, where the photography, pottery and visual arts of eight local artists including Chinlee Chan Trish Tuley and Debbie Crowell are on display.

From July 11 to July 17, Native American arts are featured at the Idyllwild Arts Summer program, which includes hands-on workshops covering Hopi jewelry, Navajo weaving, Cahuilla basketry, Santa Clara Pueblo pottery and native plants for food and medicine.

July 15 marks the beginning of the Lemon Lily Festival, which honors a gorgeous yellow flower indigenous to this mountain community. There is an old fashioned hoedown planned, a barbeque and events at the Nature Center including seminars on gardening and native plants.

The sheer magic of Idyllwild might encourage you to turn off your iPods and computers, inhale the soft mountain breezes and watch without interruption the seductive San Jacinto mountain sunsets.

More information can be obtained online at or at www.

Pamela Price is the co-author of “Day Trips from Los Angeles,” published by the Globe Pequot Press.

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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