How To Do Joshua Tree in 48 Hours

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Palm Springs has been LA resident’s go-to weekend getaway for decades, attracting jetset society types and retirees alike. But whispers around Joshua Tree, its hipster cousin, have only in recent years begun to reach a crescendo. “Joshua Tree has a special energy” or “It’s a magical place” are among the reports one might encounter and we have to say… they’re all true. So much so that we, like many who become addicted to this tiny High Desert town, are reticent to share too much for fear of transforming our secret refuge into a major destination. So go, but choose your companions wisely!

Photo: @freepeople

Where to Stay

Charm is the name of the game when it comes to Joshua Tree lodgings, as there’s nary a resort in sight; in fact, the closest you’ll come to luxury is The Mojave Sands Motel, though we prefer something a little more kitsch, like the Pioneertown Motel, where rooms are decorated in rustic cowboy themes, the Joshua Tree Inn, where cult musician Gram Parsons died, or any one of the town’s eccentric Airbnb listings, like this Dome in the Desert.

Photo: @domeinthedesert

Where to Eat

Joshua Tree may not offer James Beard dining, but it does play host to the types of low key eateries you’ll want to revisit daily. Breakfast at Crossroads Cafe is a must and please, please order the banana bread. For simpler morning fare, try The Country Kitchen across the street, though if you call in advance and have enough people with you, the owner will cook up authentic Cambodian cuisine instead. Other notables include The Joshua Tree Saloon for ambiance, Natural Sisters for healthful fare, and Ma Rouge for coffee. Oh, and don’t leave town without a David Bowie slice from Pie for the People. Trust.

Photo: Crossroads Cafe

Where To Visit

Make an appointment for a sound bath at The Integratron immediately. The space was built—allegedly following the instructions of aliens—on an intersection of powerful geomagnetic forces, and while you may not be privy to conversations with extraterrestrials, you will undoubtedly get dialed in to your own inner voice. After, hit up the nearby orchid farm and, if time permits, swing by Giant Rock, which is purported to be the largest single boulder in the world and, as it turns out, the original point of contact with those aforementioned aliens.

Photo: @littlepocketart

Where to Pick Up Famous (and Almost Famous) Musicians

Pappy and Harriet’s may not look like much - a small town saloon-type venue stacked with bearded beer-drinkers - but it’s quietly one of the coolest music venues on the map. Many an LA-based musician has relocated to Joshua Tree, at least part-time, and can be found posted up at Pappy’s any night of the week. Scope the schedule, however, if you actually want to hear them play - Strokes’ singer Julian Casablancas, for example, will perform on Sept 8th.

Photo: @pappyandharriets

Where to Shop

The Sky Village Swap Meet is a must-stop for serious treasure hunters. Go early, on Saturday morning, to score the best stuff - we once grabbed a sack stuffed with amazing ‘70s pieces for $5. Less ambitious but equally enthusiastic vintage seekers should try The End, owned by an LA costumer, and Ricochet, which is often open only by appointment.

Photo: @yuccadog

Where to Get Inspired

Noah Purifoy’s outdoor museum is a must-see. The Joshua Tree National Park is a must-explore, and one of the simplest pleasures in all of Joshua Tree may be the stars at night - try the park’s Hidden Valley for the best of all views.

Photo: @branden.fugate