Idyllwild summers are a cool blend of music, art, dining, dancing, and relaxation in the great outdoors, and Jazz in the Pines fans have plenty of adventure options outside the confines of the festival grounds.
The 24th annual jazz event returns Aug. 12–13 with a fusion of young rising talent and much-loved regulars filling the lineup, featuring 27 bands from all over the country. Headliners include the Charles McPherson Band and Russell Malone Quartet. McPherson, an alto saxophonist, has been called “one of the most potent musicians to emerge from Detroit’s midcentury cauldron of bebop” by the Detroit Free Press. Guitarist Malone is known for his gentle authority, charm, and beautiful phrasing.
Jazz enthusiasts who work up an appetite walking in mountain air can choose from the following dining destinations, which all have bars and patios and are dog friendly. Reservations are wise. Got a little extra time? Visit an art gallery during your stay. For a quieter getaway, head to the forest or check out the local filmmaking and rock climbing history at one of Idyllwild’s museums.
Dining, Wine Tasting, and Art
Café Aroma: Here, creative international cuisine is served in a relaxed atmosphere amid the pines. Enjoy live music and a rotating art collection in the gallery.
54750 N. Circle Drive. 951-659-5212; cafearoma.org
Restaurant Gastrognome: Retreat to a quiet, soothing ambiance where classical music hums through the speakers in a cabinlike setting. Gastrognome has plenty of cozy corners and is a great spot to map out your festival activities for the weekend.
54381 Ridgeview Drive. 951-659-5055; gastrognome.com
PHOTO COURTESY OF RESTAURANT GASTROGNOME
Known affectionately as the “Gnome” by Idyllwild residents, Restaurant Gastrognome has proven to be more than just a cute nickname for 43 years.
Ferro: Elevated Italian fare meets frequent live entertainment at this lunch and dinner spot near downtown where every bite is an indulgence, from the first tear of fresh-baked bread to the final spoonful of tiramisu.
25840 Cedar St. 951-659-0700; ferrorestaurant.com
Higher Grounds Coffee House: This casual downtown caffeine hub brews fresh-roasted beans from Idyllwild Coffee Roasters. Children can release energy in a gazebo area while you browse the eclectic artwork in the adjacent gallery.
54245 N. Circle. 951-659-1379; highergroundscoffee.com
Middle Ridge Winery Tasting Gallery: Sip award-winning wines and see 200 works by members of the Art Alliance of Idyllwild. The winery offers a rustic, elegant, and relaxed atmosphere with live music Friday nights.
54301 N. Circle Drive. 951-659-9000; middleridge.com
Idyllwild Brewpub: Hot dogs, fish and chips, burgers, and brews — this all-American menu is a tough one to beat. It’s also the best off-site spot to catch pop-up performances by festival bands. Arrive ready to hit the dance floor.
54423 Village Center Drive. 951-659-0163; idyllwildbrewpub.com
Idyology: Park it on the patio overlooking Strawberry Creek, where an ancient cedar grows tall through the deck, to sample a menu of “hillbilly favorites,” plus salads, tacos, and fries. Duck into the billiards room for a game before you go.
54905 N. Circle. 951-659-5962
PHOTO COURTESY OF MIDDLE RIDGE WINERY
Middle Ridge Winery has its headquarters in Idyllwild where owner Chris Johnston spent his teenage summers at the Idyllwild Arts Academy.
Nature and History
Idyllwild Area Historical Society Museum: These knowledgeable volunteers know all about the history of the San Jacinto Mountains. Learn about local mountaineering that set worldwide rating standards. View memorabilia from films shot in Idyllwild, including Elvis’ Kid Galahad in the early 1960s.
54470 N. Circle. 951-659-2717; idyllwildhistory.org
Idyllwild Nature Center: Pack a picnic or stroll the short, easy-to-moderate trails. Learn about Idyllwild’s early lumber industry and Native American practices for rest and healing. Shop for gifts in the nature store.
25225 Highway 243. 951-659-3850; rivcoparks.org/education/idyllwild-nature-center/idyllwild-nature-center
Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail: Access this easy-to-moderate 5.2-mile hike, with views of Strawberry Valley, Lily Rock, and Suicide Rock, via Humber Park. A $5 day-use Adventure Pass must be purchased from the Forest Service Ranger Station at Highway 243 and Pine Crest Avenue if you park or use restrooms.
909-382- 2921; fs.usda.gov/recarea/sbnf/null/recarea/?recid=26487&actid=63
PHOTO BY DON RARIDON WITH PERMISSION
The Ernie Maxwell Trail offers a 5.2-mile round trip hike beginning at Humber Park at 6,100-foot elevation.
On the Way Home
The Scenic Route: Catch a stunning sunset at any turnout along Highway 243, which winds high above the city smog. Expect delicious peach and orange hues over the San Jacinto Valley.
Jazz in the Pines is presented by the nonprofit Idyllwild Arts Foundation. For more information, visit: jazzinthepines.com