A Bit of Britain

One of the most notable features of Lake Havasu City is without a doubt the London Bridge, which crosses over the Bridgewater Channel.
The city’s founder, Robert McCulloch, purchased the bridge from the City of London in April 1968 for $2.4 million. The bridge had previously crossed the River Thames but was slowly sinking and therefore needed to be replaced.
Each block was numbered and then disassembled before being shipped more than 5,000 miles overseas to California and then trucked to Lake Havasu. The bridge was then reassembled and dedicated in October 1971.
The bridge purchase included ornate lampposts made from the melted-down cannons captured by the British from Napoleon’s army, after the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. These lampposts still line the London Bridge today.
To ensure the bridge did not begin to sink in its new location, it was rebuilt hollow with a steel framework faced in granite, rather than using solid granite blocks, which made the bridge much lighter and able to withstand traffic crossing over it.
The bridge put Lake Havasu on the map, and McCulloch wanted to capitalize on the publicity for his new city by selling residential lots and encouraging tourism. Therefore, he built the English Village beside the bridge to accommodate visitors.
The village had a pub, restaurant and shops with an old English design. Today, the building that used to be the pub (and later a theater) is the Visitor Center. Out front there is a fountain with four lion statues that is reminiscent of those at Trafalgar Square in London. There is also an old red telephone booth outside, a bell that tolls at the top of the hour, somewhat like Big Ben within the Great Clock Tower, and the entrance gate is from Witley Court in Worcestershire, England.
The recently remodeled Visitor Center is a great place to make your first stop and learn the full back-story of the bridge. They have a video of the history playing on repeat, and numerous photos, blueprints and trinkets on display. They also have a gift shop with shirts, postcards, jewelry and more, and even sell small pieces of granite from the bridge so you can take a piece of it home with you.
The center also has several helpful maps and brochures outlining the shopping, dining and tours in Havasu, as well as special attractions throughout Arizona. It is open Monday-Saturday (9 a.m.- 4 p.m.).
The Blue Chair is adjacent to the Visitor Center, offering high-quality American cuisine in a casual setting with wonderful views of the channel from their patio.
The shops at the English Village have evolved over the years, and some have lost the London feel, but the Village Gifts and Souvenirs shop still holds true to the theme, and offers a variety of London Bridge mementos. Behind the shop is the London Bridge Candle Factory, where you can watch the candle maker in action as she creates one-of-a-kind handcrafted designs.
There is an assortment of other shops, including Bombora Beachwear, with everything you need before you hit the lake, Havasu Gear clothing, a shave ice and ice cream parlor, a custom T-shirt store, a hat store, a psychic reading service and more.
Burgers by the Bridge is a small restaurant near the Visitor Center, serving up fresh food and ice-cold beer, with patio seating that keeps patrons cool with fans and misters. They are known for their world famous fish and chips.
There are also several watercraft rentals along the English Village, as it is a great access point to get to the lake. Whett Rods Boat & Jet Ski Rentals offers pontoon, Jet Ski, Waverunner, paddle board and kayak rentals. They are open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily; call 928-412-9248 to book.
Water Buzz LLC is another watercraft stand that offers a unique toy to try out on the lake. They rent flyboards, which are about the size of a skateboard and attach to a jet ski by a hose, which propels the user into the air, almost like they are flying. For rates, visit waterbuzzflyboarding.com.
Sunset Charters offers narrated boat tours from Lake Havasu to Copper Canyon, Topock Gorge and more, with options starting at a 60-minute cruise up to four hours. Many of their tours take place in the early evening to give stunning views of the sunset. Call 928-716-8687 for reservations.
Rubba Duck Safari offers another cool tour to explore the area. With this company, guests actually get to drive their own four-passenger boat, following the “Mother Duck” tour guide boat. The guide will lead you for a 2.5-hour adventure through Copper Canyon, pointing out wildlife and featured landmarks. Call 928-208-0293 for more information.
Cruisin’ Tikis are a fun way to leisurely float around the channel, hopping on and off to take a swim or ride under the shade and enjoy a cocktail. Visit cruisintikishavasu.com for more information.
If you need a place to rest your head while checking out the London Bridge and English Village, the London Bridge Resort is right in the heart of it all. It boasts an all-suite hotel right along the channel with every activity you could want. They have a jacuzzi, three pools and a waterslide, a tennis court, Bridgewater Links Golf Course and Martini Bay Restaurant and Lounge. For reservations, call 928-855-0888.
Once you have explored all the English Village has to offer, you must walk across the bridge, and the view of the lake will be rewarding.
At one end of the bridge you will find a statue of McCulloch looking at blueprints with C.V. Wood, Jr., the master planner for the design of Lake Havasu City.
At the other end of the bridge you will find the Island Mall & Brewery, with a Harley Davidson store, gift shops, an art gallery, and several dining options, including Makai Café, Shugrue’s Restaurant & Bar and Barley Brothers Restaurant & Brewery.
If you don’t want to make the drive from Laughlin to Havasu there is another option. Laughlin River Tours offers a roundtrip London Jet Boat tour with pickups from the Laughlin casino docks. The boat will travel through the beautiful Topock Gorge and give guests a unique view of the scenery as you travel through three states — Nevada, Arizona, and California. Once in Havasu, it docks by the Island Mall and gives passengers some time to eat, shop and take in the bridge, then returns to Laughlin. To make a reservation, visit LaughlinRiverTours.com or call 702-298-5498.