Two weekends ago Matt and I headed to Joshua Tree for part two of The Road Trip Series. This was the first time either of us had been to Joshua Tree. It’s about an hour north of Palm Springs, and although they’re both desert destinations, they could not be more different. I’m recapping our entire Joshua Tree weekend below, including where we stayed, what we did, and where we ate.
What is the Road Trip Series?
At the start of August, I shared this post announcing a new road trip series through the end of the year. Each month, Matt and I are visiting a Covid-friendly travel destination accessible via car from LA. If you live in California, hopefully these trips provide you with some travel ideas while we figure things out in this pandemic. If you don’t live in California, you can always bookmark these posts or pin my photos as inspo for later if you’re not ready to fly right now.
Where We Stayed During our Joshua Tree Weekend
Joshua Tree is a spread-out desert community, so we opted to rent this Airbnb home instead of staying in a hotel. In fact, I didn’t even look at hotel options for Joshua Tree because the area in general is really affordable, especially for an entire house.
Our Airbnb was just far enough away from “downtown” to feel secluded, but around enough where you didn’t feel like you were totally in the middle of nowhere. We rented a one bedroom home called The Luna Cabin. It was adorable, clean, and stocked with amenities from Public Goods for showering, etc. The owners of this property also have 3 other homes you can rent in case this one isn’t available.
There was no TV in our home, but we didn’t mind. Instead we had a record player, an old-fashioned wood burning fireplace, and a big table perfect for putting together puzzles. It also had a front porch to watch the sunrise or sunset.
Everything in this house was adorable, and every corner of it was picture-worthy. I was super sad to leave, and now I want to redecorate our entire home. 🙂
Our hosts Lindsey and Brett also ensured us that they were taking extra protocols for cleanliness during this time by allowing 3 days between rentals. I’m not sure if that’s still the case, but you can always message them to be sure if that’s a concern for you.
Where We Ate
Since we rented a house for our Joshua Tree weekend, we enjoyed a mix of meals at home and within the city.
We arrived in the late evening on Thursday and wanted a lazy dinner so ordered takeout from a place called Sam’s Indian Food. The restaurant is located in a small strip mall but don’t let that deter you; the food was delicious. We ordered garlic naan, chicken tikka masala, and daal.
Friday morning we stopped by Joshua Tree Coffee Co. (for Matt) and then ate outside at Crossroads Café. It was their first weekend re-opening so this was a happy coincidence. They have all of the staples for a solid breakfast: eggs, bacon, pancakes, etc. The food here was delicious! I ordered an egg scramble and Matt got eggs and bacon. You get a choice of corn bread or banana bread; Matt preferred the latter but I really liked the cornbread. (FYI, it does have jalapenos!)
Since our breakfast was pretty big, our lunch was small. We stopped by The Natural Sisters Café for smoothies. I can’t speak to the food, but the smoothies tasted great. It also seemed to be the local go-to spot and always busy every time we passed it.
For dinner we stayed in, had some cheese and crackers, and worked on a puzzle.
We made another smoothie stop Saturday morning, followed by a trip to the farmer’s market where we picked up homemade salsa and chips. (This served as our lunch, along with the most amazing apple pie I may have ever tasted from Boo’s Organic Oven.) The farmer’s market was tiny but had everything you’d really need, especially if you stay at a house.
We kept hearing all weekend that we had to go to Pappy and Harriet’s. They had ample outdoor seating, and this place did not disappoint. It’s western and saloon-themed, and kind of felt like Disneyland, but with much better food. We ordered: bean nachos (our favorite of the meal), a pull pork sandwich, and ribs. They also have live music, although right now it may be sporadic and random, as the calendar shows canceled and postponed shows only. However, when we were there on Saturday night there was a band setting up to play around 6:30pm.
What We Did
Our Joshua Tree weekend was super relaxing. We spent time hanging out in our house, stopping by some shops, and hiking through the Joshua Tree National Park.
Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is beyond incredible, and way better than I expected. Honestly, I thought it was a small parking lot with a couple of trails and trees. I could not have been more wrong. It is a gigantic park, with the most amazing rock formations, wildlife, and Joshua Trees by the dozen as far as you can see.
We went on two different hikes during our weekend. The first was Wall Street Mill; a super flat hike that’s more of a nature walk. It’s about 2 miles total, and it takes you to an old mill used in the 1930s to crush gold ore before you head back to the start. This was super cool, and a little memory of history frozen in time.
Our second hike trail, Hidden Valley, , is a valley in between these HUGE rocks, discovered by blowing dynamite between them. Cowboys kept stolen cattle there. This had a very different landscape than our other hike, because the valley created a unique micro-climate within the valley. This 1-mile loop was also an easy hike/walk. You may even spot some rock climbers like we did!
There is no cell service in the park. Bring water. The ranger at the front will give you a map and answer questions you may have.
Shopping and Art
Our Joshua Tree weekend was definitely one of our more unique trips.
You must go to Noah Purifoy’s outdoor art museum. He was an assemblage sculptor, meaning he took scraps and junk and made art out of it. His museum features various pieces of outdoor art over 10 acres of land. Although looking at statues of junk felt weird at first, this ended up being pretty cool.
Along the same lines of weirdness is the Crochet Museum. This “museum” used to be an old photo booth and made this post only because of its sheer… uniqueness. It’s just a tiny room of crocheted stuffed animals. It’s weird, it’ll make you laugh and say, “What the heck?” But you can’t not go see it.
There are a handful of gift and vintage shops in Joshua Tree. Some of my favorites include:
- Acme 5 Lifestyle – this was my favorite out of all of them (home décor, furniture and planters).
- Wine and Rock Shop – a great selection of wine (with a tasting room coming soon!) and cute gifts.
- Joshua Tree Rock Shop – crystals, rocks, and geodes! Filled to the brim with rocks, plus notes on what each represent.
Pioneertown was fun to see, but it’s super small and you really only need about 15 minutes here. It’s is an old movie set built in the 1950s for western films. There are small shops now in each of the buildings, but nothing too exciting. This is where Pappy and Harriet’s is located, which is really the only attraction of Pioneertown. It’s not in Joshua Tree, so would recommend stopping by on your way in or out of town if you’re coming from LA.
All in all, Joshua Tree is a great destination if you’re looking for something slightly quirky and relaxing. Definitely bring your sneakers and workout clothes, because the park itself is truly magical! We stayed Thursday – Sunday, but you could easily stay there Friday – Sunday for a shorter trip and still see everything.
Stay tuned for our next trip later this month!