Joshua Tree is having a moment. Even if you’ve never visited, you’ve seen it featured in fashion spreads, music videos, and car commercials. Word on the street is that a new season of Twin Peaks is currently being filmed here. There’s a good reason for all the hype, as this convergence of the Mojave and Colorado deserts is both the closest national park to Los Angeles and San Diego, and has a storied history of attracting dreamers, artists, musicians and explorers who have shaped the little town into a destination unlike any other.
One of the most common questions I get asked is for recommendations for visiting the area. So without further ado, here is my guide to making the most out of your desert adventure:
Where to Stay
If you want the true Joshua Tree experience, I highly recommend staying at one of the many artful, charming Airbnbs in the area. A few recommendations to get you started on your search: Casa Joshua Tree, The Joshua Tree House & Casita, Dome in the Desert, and Cactus Mountain. There are also several fun hotel options. My family’s favorite spot is one of the little adobes at Twentynine Palms Inn, a historic inn at a natural oasis that features a farm to table restaurant. Other popular local hotels include The Joshua Tree Inn (where the legendary Gram Parsons died), and Spin and Margie’s Desert Hideaway.
Where to Eat
A trip to Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace in Yucca Valley is a must. Pappy’s is a relaxed place with an Old West vibe specializing in delicious southwest fare. It’s also a concert venue that books an amazing mix of national treasures like Wanda Jackson, indie godfathers like Mudhoney and the Melvins, and Internet-crushing up-and-comers. It’s located in Pioneertown, a genuine Western movie set from Hollywood’s golden years that is always open to explore. If you want to eat like a local, check out La Copine, everybody’s new favorite new weekend brunch spot. It’s always laid back in the desert, but if you’re feeling supremely casual, pick up a wrap from The Natural Sisters Cafe or a slice of New York-style pizza from Pie For the People and find somewhere beautiful to picnic!
Where to Drink
There are fun bars in town for sure, like Pappy’s and the Joshua Tree Saloon, but in my opinion, the best place to drink is at your hotel or rental property. Just pick up a six pack, light a fire, jump in the hot tub or pool and enjoy the peace, the stars, and the magic of the desert. Cheers!
What to Do
When in Joshua Tree, there’s nothing better than exploring the great outdoors and communing with mother nature, and the very best place to do just that is Joshua Tree National Park. There are two entrances to the park on this side: one is in 29 Palms, and the other is in Joshua Tree. Pick an entrance, and drive the route that connects to the other entrance. Stop along the way anywhere that catches your eye to boulder or hike – you can’t go wrong. If you have time, divert from your route a bit and visit the Cholla Cactus Garden, you’ll see acres and acres of teddy bear cacti and meet the friendliest little ground squirrels! If you have more time, escape the crowds and go for a longer hike, some favorites include 49 Palms Oasis, Lost Horse Mine, and Keys View. You may also want to visit one of three new National Monuments (designated by President Obama on February 11, 2016): Sand to Snow, Castle Mountains, and Mojave Trails. Wherever you choose to hike, don’t forget to bring lots of water and a sweater with you, temperatures are prone to change quickly and dramatically in the desert.
Joshua Tree is more than just the park, though. There’s hip shops to browse like The End (owned by Kime Buzzelli of Show Pony LA fame), The Hoof and the Horn, Tamma’s Magic Mercantile, and Cactus Mart. There is also an amazing art scene. Standouts include Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Art Museum as well as the other High Desert Test Sites. Galleries dot Highway 62 and each is a gem, but for a truly unique experience don’t miss the World Famous Crochet Museum!
Thanks for following along! Did I miss any thing? Got questions? Lemme know below, or shoot me an email!