This past weekend, Greg and I went to Joshua Tree. It was one of the most wild, expansive, and naturally beautiful places I’ve ever been; I would recommend it without hesitation.
How We Got There:
We left from Sherman Oaks (California) on a Saturday around noon and arrived to our Airbnb in Yucca Valley just after 3pm. We left Joshua Tree on a (holiday) Monday at 10:30am, and were home by 1pm. In other words, if you have a car and live in LA, this trip is easy-peasy.
Where We Stayed:
We booked a “casita” through Airbnb last minute (a simple studio with a kitchenette). Given that it was the Valentine’s Day long weekend, our options were somewhat limited, but we were happy with the place we found. It was comfortable, conveniently located, and reasonably priced. Next time, we will look for something a little more isolated, as the place we stayed was located in the owner’s backyard…
What We Ate:
- Country Kitchen – This is a great (yet tiny) breakfast spot. Space was so tight that we ended up sharing a table with an adorable family of four. I think the whole restaurant is run by two people so it took a long time for the food to arrive, but when it did… oh man! AMAZING chocolate chip pancakes – potentially the best I’ve ever had. That said, the coffee was not the best… I’d suggest getting it elsewhere.
- The Natural Sister’s Cafe – We went here for an afternoon snack post hike and shared a smoothie and a piece of peach pie. We also ate breakfast here the next day – the coffee was great, and the egg sandwich was healthy, hearty and satisfying.
- Sam’s Pizza – Don’t be deceived by the name! This is actually a pizza slash Indian restaurant… and they do both really well! We had to wait about an hour to get a table, so I would recommend making a reservation if you want to go. This was the best Indian food I’ve had since moving to California.
- Aki Sushi – We ordered takeout to enjoy on Valentine’s Day (and we were happy we did that instead of dining in because it’s a rather well lit restaurant…not so romantic). I would recommend the Hawaii roll.
- Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace – We stumbled across this place accidentally while chasing the sunset. It seems like the hip bar slash venue in town. The wait was over 2 hours for a table though, so maybe make a reservation if you are looking to eat. I can’t comment on the food, but the draft beer came in a mason jar for $5.
What We Did:
- Joshua Tree National Park – We bought a park pass for $20 (it allows entrance for a week) and drove through as much of the park as we could. P.S. The park is HUGE. Fortunately, you can see a lot while driving, and there are places to park along the way so you can get out and explore. There are also spots to camp and tons of day hikes ranging from 1-16 miles. It is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been – everything looks prehistoric. I would describe it as a mix between the set of the Flintstones, and a Dr. Seuss book, but that really isn’t doing it justice.
- Beatnik Lounge – Our Airbnb host suggested we stop by this ‘local hot spot’ because she was DJ’ing the opening of a love-themed art exhibit. We decided to check it out and arrived to a room full of people swaying in sync to the sounds of a live didgeridoo – it was epic to say the least.
- Sunrise/Sunset – We drove to Keys View (within Joshua Tree National Park) to watch the sunrise. It was one of the most beautiful sunrises I’ve ever seen, but beware – it was incredibly windy! I would suggest wearing really warm, wind-resistant layers. Also, try and get there at least half an hour before the sunrise so you can watch the whole thing happen. The sunsets are also outrageous. You can go to a particular spot to watch it, or just look up and enjoy!
- Bonfire and Star-Gazing – The night sky is so clear and perfect for star-gazing. If you book a place that has a fire pit, you can have a bonfire too!
- Relax – I couldn’t help but unwind and disconnect from my usual routine. I read a bunch and took afternoon naps – it was pure bliss.
As I wrote about in this post from a few weeks ago, my words for 2016 are “light, still, whole, and free.” Joshua Tree embodies what I mean by free, and effortlessly invites stillness. I am so grateful we went and I hope we can go again soon.