Wednesday, November 29, 2023


Lake Havasu City and the (real) London Bridge, Arizona’s second largest tourist attraction

Lake Havasu City, Ariz., is home to one of the most unusual tourist attractions in America — the London Bridge. Yes, the real London Bridge, the one that was falling down in London and by the mid-1960s needed to be replaced. The bridge was once a huge tourist attraction. But the last few times I have visited, its “English Village” was like a ghost town.

Robert McCulloch, who made chainsaws, bought the bridge in 1968 for $2.46 million and had it shipped to what is now Lake Havasu City—then a dusty outpost along man-made Lake Havasu. After buying 3,353 acres of land along the lake in 1958 for a master retirement community, the government tossed in another 13,000 acres for free if McCulloch would agree to develop it. So he bought the bridge as a promotional gimmick, shipped it over brick by brick from London, then reassembled it over the desert next to his new city. When it was done, he dug a canal beneath it so the bridge could actually cross some water.

The bridge in the 1800s when it crossed the Thames in London

Then he hired Disneyland designer C. V. Wood, Jr., to build a one-acre English village next to the bridge. McCulloch flew potential residents into the town in private airliners, wined and dined them and then sold them property. Seven years after the bridge was erected, the town’s population had swelled from mostly lizards and snakes to 8,000 people. For a while, it buzzed with tourists.

A postcard from the 1970s showing the English Village. Credit:

Today, the village houses restaurants, a couple of clothing stores, a coffee shop, a few gift shops, and the Lake Havasu City Visitor Center.

I talked to some folks in the Visitor Center there, which is a good place, actually — interesting historical exhibits and a free movie about the bridge, and a gift shop where you can buy T-shirts, coffee mugs and, if you wish, a tiny chunk of the bridge for a dollar. Well, you used to be able to buy a piece, anyway, and it used to be a dollar…

OH, THE BRIDGE HAS DONE ITS JOB. More than 58,000 people now live in Lake Havasu City and it’s still growing. The family of the late Robert McCulloch must be filthy rich: all that free land the government gave McCulloch that he then sold must have provided him and his heirs a pretty penny. I know a thousand rural small towns across America that would do anything for a tourist attraction like the London Bridge. Tourists bring in badly needed dollars to any community that can attract them. Most small towns are too poor to do much except maybe get everybody in town to clean out their basements and attics for a Pioneer Museum. Yawn! So what’s wrong with Lake Havasu City with its incredibly cool bridge? The bridge is still billed as the number two tourist attraction in Arizona next to the Grand Canyon. I don’t believe it.

If you’re near the area, it is worth a detour to see the bridge itself. There’s a good restaurant, Shugrues, across the bridge on the “island,” with a great view of the bridge. Oh, walk around the village while you’re there, but don’t expect to see much, although the London Bridge Candle Factory, the “world’s largest candle shop” is interesting with some cool candles. A few boat tours leave from the village or you can rent a paddleboat, both fun to do. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can even cruise on a tiki boat.

If you do visit Lake Havasu City with your RV, stay at Lake Havasu State Park, only a 15-minute walk from the bridge. 50-amp service is offered at all sites for about $35-$40 a night. It’s a beautiful campground, right along the lake. And if you’re into water sports or fishing, make this your headquarters for a load of recreational opportunities. And, finally … there are many boondocking opportunities just outside town — stay free in your RV for weeks at a time.



Chuck Woodbury
Chuck Woodbury
I'm the founder and publisher of I've been a writer and publisher for most of my adult life, and spent a total of at least a half-dozen years of that time traveling the USA and Canada in a motorhome.



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Clu Carradine (@guest_259934)
22 days ago

I was just in Lake Havasu City and it didn’t do anything for me. Ugly, crowded, dusty, traffic, throngs of pedestrians, concrete, sand, gravel, cactus. It’s the desert, seen one of these desert towns and you’ve seen them all. OK there’s the bridge, but it’s not worth the rest of it and all the $$$$ just to go see it, IMO.

Butterworth Millicent (@guest_259747)
23 days ago

No one has mentioned all the lighthouses around the lake. You can take a lighthouse tour by boat! Also the Lake Havasu library is top notch. And the rec center is excellent.

Neal Davis (@guest_259706)
23 days ago

Thank you for the history lesson, Chuck! Safe travels. 🙂

Drew (@guest_259657)
23 days ago

It’s a very interesting area. Go visit the Havasu City Museum. -Lots of detailed descriptions of how the town evolved.- Great illustrations too. The small towns of Parker, Oatman, and the restaurant “Topoc 66” are all close and fun to visit. There are several rv parks in town. More at

Sherry (@guest_259653)
23 days ago

We stayed at the state park in August and we’re excited to have a spot right on the water. I knew it would be hot but pictured myself just floating around in the water. NOT. There were millions of tiny bugs everywhere. We stayed 1 night. The park staff wonderful but bugs poured out of our storage areas for days after. The water so warm and murky this Floridian would not go in it. The town itself is tired and junked up. Facilities at the state park very nice and well kept.

Cancelproof (@guest_259684)
23 days ago
Reply to  Sherry

While Havasu is nice, another 30 minutes south gets you to Parker where the river flows and the thus, the water is clean and much cooler. I’m not sure what the bug infestation was that you experienced but having spent hundreds of nights in the area, I have not encountered that situation. It may have been an anomaly.

Our rule of thumb is to not visit Havasu or that area in July or August. The tourist season is well over and I am guessing that’s why things seemed so tired and junked up. Try October thru May if your back in the area. Happy trails.

wanderer (@guest_259635)
23 days ago

The bridge and the restaurant/shopping district/dock under it are lit up like crazy at Christmas time, that’s the time for an early evening visit. Not a ghost town by any means, very much hopping in the winter.

Ray (@guest_259615)
23 days ago

Three things about the bridge, it is made of high quality granite and you can see potmarks on the side of it made by German fighter planes who strafed the bridge in WWII. The lampposts are original and MCcullough made a profit on the move by selling the debri fill found within the interior of the exterior walls to sculptors all over the world, as it too consisted of high quality granite blocks that the original builders discarded due to defects in workmanship. He only transported the exterior shell of the bridge.

wanderer (@guest_259636)
23 days ago
Reply to  Ray

The stone is just beautiful, they cleaned all the London grime off of it when they built it.

David N (@guest_259568)
23 days ago

We stay in the surrounding area, Bullhead city, Fort Mohave pr Needles CA.
There is not a RV park available during winter months and if there is a spot be prepared to pay $800 to $1000 a month + electric.
The cities I mentioned are $500 a month or so.
Haven’t seen a $35-$40 nightly stay for a few yrs except during summer with 100 + in the shade.

Dan (@guest_259556)
23 days ago

Daughter and I went there many years ago but not just to see London Bridge. At the time it was Mecca for dedicated Jet Ski racers. Anyway, it was super touristy back then and there were only few places to stay on the island, Now, it’s completely saturated with people willing to live in houses three feet apart and sit in traffic, stand in lines, and waste your days waiting your turn. Just grateful we got to enjoy it before it got over grown. She still enjoys telling people that she Jet Ski’d under London Bridge.

Linda (@guest_259540)
23 days ago

We stopped this year and we’re disappointed, another tourist trap. Loud boats, lots of traffic, we will not be back.

Tommy Molnar (@guest_259539)
23 days ago

We go through there on every trip to Quartzsite, and have never thought about stopping. Shame on us?

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