As a New Yorker who constantly craves nature and all things outdoors, Joshua Tree was more beautiful than I ever could have imagined. An extremely small and quaint town, with not much, if any, of a night life, allows you to relax, enjoy some peace and quiet, and focus on the real reason you came here: the national park. Grab some food for the road and focus your days on the park and all it has to offer. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.
I did this trip as a solo excursion and have never felt so relaxed in my life. The breathtaking views, energy, and overall calmness were exactly what I needed. If you’re someone who is interested in solo vacation / exploring, I highly suggest it! Although traveling with friends, family, or significant others is also wonderful, it is an extremely rewarding and relaxing feeling to travel somewhere on your own. You are able to go without a set plan, do whatever you truly feel like doing, move at your own pace, and truly connect with yourself. Joshua Tree was the perfect place for this. With such a low-key town, there is no pressure to be out at night. Also, the hikes and trails are all very well populated so I never was technically “alone” or felt at risk.
Dates: Monday – Wednesday in March
Travel: Flew into Palm Springs (PSP) and rented a car to drive to Joshua Tree (~1 hour)
Accommodations: stayed in this Air BnB in Joshua Tree and highly recommend it. Very clean, quiet, and dessert-type vibes with breathtaking views in the backyard. Comfortable bed, plenty of space, equipped kitchen, and wifi. Note there is no TV and that the road entering the property is very bumpy so make sure your car is prepared.
- Natural sister’s café – small, casual, local spot for good healthy food that is all vegetarian. Recommend their juices, smoothies, and salads. The avocado black bean burger is a crowd favorite but I was unable to enjoy as the patty is not GF
- Joshua Tree Coffee Company – small, organic, local, coffee shop
- Pie for the People – casual pizza spot. The regular pizza looked delicious, but the GF version was subpar at best.
- Joshua Tree Health Food Store – next to Natural sister’s café, a small grocer with a large supply of supplements/vitamins and some specialty foods and vegetables.
Didn’t visit but came recommended:
- Pappy and Harriets – watering hole bar with dinner & live music, but only open Thursday-Sunday. About 25 minutes outside the town of Joshua Tree in Pioneertown
- La copine – upscale dinner food that looks delicious, but only open Thursday-Sunday. About 25 minutes outside the town of Joshua Tree in Pioneertown
- Kasa Carniceria – local, classic, taco truck in Yucca Valley
- JT Country Kitchen – all day breakfast diner in Joshua Tree
- Crossroads Café – casual spot for meals in Joshua Tree
- Joshua Tree National Park – the reason you’re here! Go to the park and explore as much as possible, it is massive. $30 entry fee for an individual car that lasts you up to 7 days entrance.
- Ryan Mountain Hike – my favorite hike within the park. 3 miles, about 2 hours, marked as “strenuous”, an up and back trail that provides you with beautiful views at the peak, which led me to cry tears of joy
- Barker Dam Trail – 1.5 mile up and back trail that leads you to a small, gorgeous, still, blue lake. Highly recommend going and enjoying some relaxing downtime on the boulders by the water.
Did not do but came recommended:
- Wonder Valley Oil – olive oil, face oil, and accouterments in Joshua Tree
- Pioneertown General Store – old school wild west clothing shop in Pioneertown
- Hoof & The Horn – local store for shopping
- Cholla Cactus Garden – quarter mile loop in Joshua Tree park
- Integration – historical structure that offers sound bath meditations
Palm Springs Recommendations: (only went to Cheeky’s on my way out of town)
- Cheeky’s – delicious/classic breakfast with indoor/outdoor seating. Highly recommend the sweet potato tots and the bacon flight
- Josephine Estelle in Ace Hotel
- Windmill market & produce
- Workshop Kitchen
- Jake’s Kitchen
- King’s Highway