Printfresh Travel Guide: Joshua Tree
Things to Know Before you Go:
Joshua Tree is an incredible desert oasis full of wonderful hike trails, stunning views, and delicious food. If you're in the LA area, it's the perfect weekend getaway and I love visiting whenever I want a bit of R&R.
Stargazing is a popular thing to do at Joshua Tree so I would plan your visit around the moon cycle, if possible. A full moon is not great if you want to see The Milky Way so just be conscious of that. Also, every year there's a Night Sky Festival held in the area – it's awesome to check out and worth planning a weekend around.
One cool thing to know is that the Joshua Tree National Park is actually made up of two distinct desert ecosystems, the Mojave and the Colorado, so the scenery out there is super unique.
When deciding how long to visit, 2 - 3 days is usually long enough to hike the trails in Joshua Tree, visit art galleries, and pop over to neighboring Palm Springs.
Things to Do/See:
Hiking: Joshua Tree National Park has some amazing hike trails. If you're looking for easier hikes, I recommend the Hidden Valley Nature Trail, which is a short one mile loop with a cute picnic area, and The Barker Dam Nature Trail, which has stunning views. If you love wildflowers and/or bird watching, the Cottonwood Spring Oasis is the perfect place for a short hike.
Cholla Cactus Garden: I recommend driving to the Cholla Cactus Garden, which is a quarter mile loop with more than a thousand cholla cacti. Cholla cacti are known as the teddy bear cactus and are a really unique desert plant.
Skull Rock: This is probably one of the most popular stops along the park. It's exactly what it sounds like, a large rock in the formation of a skull. It's worth stopping by here to get a picture or hike one of the nearby trails.
Art Galleries: I love visiting art galleries. I especially love the galleries in Joshua Tree for the distinctive desert vibe a lot of the pieces in the galleries have. Some of my recommendations for art galleries in the area are Gallery 62 , the Joshua Tree Art Gallery, the Beatnik Lounge, and 29 Palms Art Gallery.
Natural Sisters Cafe: My absolute favorite place to eat in Joshua Tree is The Natural Sisters Cafe. They have the best black bean burger I've ever had in my life and other healthy and delicious food options.
Joshua Tree Coffee Company: If you're a coffee fan, you can't miss Joshua Tree Coffee Company -- I'm not that big of a coffee person (more of a tea gal) but even I can't deny that the coffee is heavenly. It's really creamy and fresh. Also, the cafe has a super cute patio area.
Crossroads Cafe: If you're looking for a quick bite, I love Crossroads Cafe. They're a great place to go if you just need to grab a healthy food option but don't have enough time for a sit-down meal.
Pappy and Harriet’s: For night dining, I recommend Pappy and Harriet’s – they have live music and the food is amazing. The rustic vibe also adds a really fun charm to the whole experience. The wait is pretty long though so make sure you plan for that.
Where to Stay:
Joshua Tree National Park: I grew up in NYC so camping wasn't really a thing I did as a child. I discovered camping more as an adult and Joshua Tree is one of my favorite places for when I want to totally escape city life. Joshua Tree National Park has a bunch of campgrounds and one of the most magical experiences is getting to camp underneath the stars. There are 500 campsites in the Park and you can make a reservation up to six months in advance.
Glamping: Sometimes, I'm just not in the mood to camp because I really enjoy the conveniences of things like a toilet and hot running water so I end up "glamping" instead. Joshua Tree is honestly a glamper's paradise – there are so many spots to check out, especially if you're into airstreams and yurts. A few of my recs for glamping are: Joshua Tree Acres (I stayed in their Piece of the Sky 1975 airstream and never wanted to leave), The Dome, and Purple Peaks. Also, Auto Camp (I stayed in their Yosemite location and loved it) is opening up a location in Joshua Tree this fall.
Airbnb: I may or may not have a "wishlist" saved on Airbnb with over 50 places in Joshua Tree...can't you tell I'm obsessed with the area? There are an insane amount of cute options to stay in JT but some of my recs are: Sarah and Rich Combs' The Joshua Tree House properties (I stayed at their Casita and absolutely adored it), Launch Pad for the artists out there, and j t v i l l a g e r, which is one of the original 1947 homes in the heart of Joshua Tree Village.
Joshua Tree is great for finding really cool and unique pieces, especially vintage items. A few of my recs are: Moon Wind Trading Co (an adorable lifestyle boutique with many wellness items), Ricochet (an eclectic shop with lots of vintage finds), BKB Ceramics (really cool handmade pottery made by Brian Bosworth), and Hoof and the Horn (they have cute clothes and beautiful candles).
Thank you to Sajda for sharing her wonderful Joshua Tree recommendations. You can find more of her travel and reading inspiration at @sajdareads.
Wherever you’re traveling this season, make sure to pack your pajamas. And, let us know what travel destination you want us to cover next!