Check into Whispering Pines Resort. Staying in a woodsy cabin lets you experience Pinetop-Lakeside at its rustic best.
Locally owned Whispering Pines features 30 cabins on 13 acres tucked among the evergreens and oaks of the White Mountains. Whether you chose a one-bedroom cabin or splurge on one of the cabins with a hot tub, you're sure to be cozy—all of them have wood-burning fireplaces.
If you're looking for a bite to eat, head down the main road, White Mountain Boulevard, for options ranging from fast food to local favorites. Mexican restaurant Los Corrales serves up saucy enchiladas and other staples in a colorful setting and is only a 15-minute walk from the resort.
Credit: An Pham
Fuel up at Darbi's Cafe, which sits just a stroll away from Whispering Pines. Owner Darbi Massey was born and raised in Pinetop, learning the restaurant ropes at another local eatery. Serving up just about any comfort food you can think of—thick-cut caramel apple French toast, for one—it's no surprise she's cultivated an insanely loyal customer base. You wouldn't be entirely wrong thinking the whole community shows up on the weekends. Insider tip: Bring your appetite and arrive early. Try the cinnamon rolls!
Time to work off that breakfast! Hike the Woodland Lake Loop, an easy, paved 1.1-mile trail that's accessible for hikers of all ages and skill levels. Locals have been raising funds to help purchase the area from the U.S. Forest Service, and you'll often find one or two about who's more than happy to share their love of the lake with visitors.
If you're up for a longer jaunt, the trail system connects with Big Springs Environmental Study Area, which includes informational markers that educate you about the environment and wildlife. Keep an eye open for the resident beaver!
You'll find Pinetop Brewing Company's award-winning brews on tap all over Arizona, but let's face it: They're tastiest when you go straight to the source. Brewmaster John 'Cisco' Francisco has been honing his craft since 1980 and specializes in traditional Belgian beer styles. Keeping with the local-first theme, the brewery serves grass-fed beef and dairy products from nearby towns of Taylor and Show Low, Arizona.
Head off the beaten path to Fort Apache Historic Park. The story of the fort is a complicated one involving the U.S. Calvary moving into an Apache village and later enlisting members of the tribe as the first Apache scouts. Self-guided walking tours at Fort Apache take you back in time, with nearly 30 buildings dating from the 1870s through the 1930s and two easy, recreational trails lead from the park to views of the historic Apache cemetery and east fork of the White River.
The Historic Park is open daily from 7 a.m. to sunset, but note that the Nohwike' Bágowa (the White Mountain Apache Cultural Center and Museum) winter hours are Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Finish the tour with a visit to the Kinishba Ruins, about five miles east of the park. The ruins are the site of an ancient village once home to the ancestors of the Hopi and Zuni people. Admission is included in the price of the Nohwike' Bágowa museum entrance.
Head back to town for dinner at Charlie Clark's Steakhouse. Founded in 1938, Charlie Clark's lays claim to being the oldest continuously operating steakhouse in the White Mountains and the fifth oldest in the state. This unpretentious, ruggedly Western-themed joint is all about straightforward steakhouse fare: mesquite-broiled steaks and chicken, prime rib and seafood.
From Memorial Day weekend through September, the restaurant opens the backside of its property—The Orchard—a 2½-acre span of shady trees, a repurposed barn/backyard bar, a dance floor, tables and horseshoe pits.
Hawley Lake isn't just picturesque; it's also an angler's dream. Pack a picnic breakfast, find a piece of open shore, and hook anything from bass, crappie and walleye to trout, including Apache, brown and cutthroat. Don't forget to pick up your White Mountain Apache Tribal fishing permit at Hon'Dah or one of the local convenience or sporting goods stores.
Not a fisherman? The lake caters to water activities of all interests, including sailing, kayaking and canoeing. The Hawley Lake Store nearby provides all the necessities, as well as boat rentals, so there's no need to worry about forgetting supplies or hauling your own equipment. You can even purchase some breakfast at the adjoining cafe to take with you.
Visit The Lion's Den, a bar and grill that's been slinging food, drinks and entertainment since 1939. A favorite among locals, the Den welcomes live music on Fridays and Saturdays to 1 a.m., and karaoke on Wednesday nights.
In the den's backyard, The 1912 AZ Drinkery offers a new twist on an old favorite. Created in partnership with legendary Arizona rocker Roger Clyne, this small bar-within-a-bar is decked out in the Old West-style of 1912 and serves only Arizona spirits, including a tequila produced by Clyne.
Shop for art and antiques. In addition to outdoor fun, Pinetop-Lakeside also offers a vibrant, quirky shopping scene. Before you depart for home, visit The Burly Bear for furniture and décor—and plenty of bear-themed furnishings; you might even catch the owner creating custom wood carvings. If you're up for a retail challenge, head to Red Door Consignment to shop the wares of nearly 20 vendors.
Credit: Arizona Office of Tourism
On your way out, grab a bite at The Bistro at Annie's. This quaint restaurant and garden serves up sandwiches, paninis, soup and salads for lunch six days a week (closed Sundays). You can even continue your shopping by browsing the small gift shop or the various vintage items decorating the restaurant.
IF YOU GO
The Bistro at Annie's
The Burly Bear
Charlie Clark's Steakhouse
Fort Apache Historic Park
The Lion's Den Bar & Grill
Pinetop Brewing Company
Red Door Consignment Shops