Springtime in the desert is a magical time, the temperature is just about perfect as it’s not too unbearably hot yet and all the desert plants are in bloom. Joshua Tree National Park itself is beautiful and has such a unique landscape and the surrounding towns are quirky and cool.
To enjoy this beautiful desert oasis you can either camp in the park or rent one of the many rad looking Air BNBs. I am little bit obsessed with the Joshua Tree House, it was renovated and designed by a designer couple and is just gorgeous! But there are tons of cool and quirky houses to rent all around the Joshua Tree area.
Joshua Tree National Park is awesome, but if you aren’t the camping type or you just want to check out something new the towns surrounding the park are pretty rad and have all kinds of cutesy and hipster goodness to explore.
The town of Joshua Tree is at the north end and is the main entrance to the park. It is a small but cool little town with some rad spots you should check out.
The Station: This shop is in an old gas station and it is hipster heaven. Along with selling all kinds of cool knick knacks, tee shirts, and coffee, the building is also an event space and has been used for tons of photo shoots. It’s one of those places you walk into and think “oh my god, I want everything!”
Art Queen & World Famous Crochet Museum: This quirky and kooky gallery is a collection of sculptures, small craft art, and desert kitsch. I loved it! You follow a path that feels like it’s taking you into someone’s back yard, but it’s not, don’t worry. But it is an awesome outdoor art space. The gallery is home to several different artists all showcasing their work around the space. My personal favorite was the Crochet Museum, it may be tiny but all those little crocheted characters will definitely put a smile on your face.
Natural Sisters Cafe: If you are looking for some healthy and delicious grub this is the place to go. The vegetarian and vegan fair will make you wonder why you ever eat meat to begin with. It’s not really a sit down kind of place, there is a small seating area inside as well as out front. But I think your best bet is getting that awesome food to go and sitting in the shade of a Joshua Tree or cool rock formation and chowing down.
Joshua Tree Saloon: Ok, so this might seem a little touristy, it’s right at the entrance to the park and is a pretty popular spot. But they’ve got a bunch of local beers on tap, friendly chatty bartenders, and a funky ambience that almost makes me think “if Disney Land were to have a old west themed bar, this would be it”.
Sam’s Market: If you are heading back to your campsite but are in need of beer and snacks Sam’s Market will be your best bet. They have a huge selection of beer from all over. I know camping calls for PBR but sometimes you want something good too and Sam’s is where you’ll find it.
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Yucca Valley is just to the west of Joshua Tree (town), and at first it might look like strip malls and big box stores, but there more to it than just Walmart. There is a couple block radius of hipster gems that you will not want to miss.
Frontier Cafe: This awesome cafe is great for coffee, brunch, and for those digital nomads out there they’ve got free wifi and plenty of tables! It’s one of those places that feels like “it’s where all the cool kids hang out”. The eclectic decor makes it feel like you might be in a thrift shop or maybe someone’s grandma’s house, and sometimes they even have live music!
Hoof and Horn: This cutesy shop is right next door to Frontier Cafe. Again it’s one of those stores that you will walk into and immediately want everything. Or at least I did. The shop is full of goods from local artisans as well as brands from all around Southern California. But everything has that quintessential desert-y vibe to it.
Pioneer Crossing Antiques: If you like antique shops you definitely have to stop in here! They have so much cool stuff. I found a print of a map of Joshua Tree from the 30’s which you better believe I bought because it was way cool.
The End: You’ll be able to spot this shop a mile away with its beautiful and brightly colored murals on all sides of it. This vintage shop has all the unique and awesome vintage clothes you could imagine.
Desert Curios: From furniture to little trinkets and treasures, you’ll find it all here. The whole store is set up to feel homey and inviting, you’ll want to spend hours looking through all the cool stuff.
ArtFX & Furnishing: Find all kinds of funky home furnishings and treasures here. And make sure to check out all the sculptures in the back too!
Funky and Darn Near New: And just in case you needed some more awesome vintage stuff Funky and Darn Near New is pretty rad. It looks like two stores but they are connected on the inside. Plus they’ve got some really cool artwork on the exterior of their building!
The Integratron: This white building out in the middle of the desert near Landers is a “resonant tabernacle and energy machine sited on a powerful geomagnetic vortex”. And if that sounds a little too wack-a-doodle hippy for you, then it’s basically a place that provides a meditative relaxing and recharging experience. Their main thing is the sound bath, where you lay in the circular building and let a curated variety of sounds wash over you. We did not get to go because you have to book ahead of time, like a month ahead of time, but I would totally do it if I had the chance.
Noah Purifoy Foundation Outdoor Museum: Just a little north of Joshua Tree this outdoor museum is just that, an outdoor space filled with art. Noah Purifoy spent 15 year creating sculptures in the Mojave desert out of “junked” materials. It is a weird and wonderful place to wander around and explore.
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Cactus Mart: So you know when you see those Instagram girls in a green house with a bunch of cactuses. This is it. And I am not ashamed to be one of those girls. I also love cacti so I was kind of in heaven wandering through the various green houses filled to the brim with cacti and succulents. I did buy a little cactus there, and if you follow me on Instagram I’ve been posting updates about her (yes it’s a her, and her name is Button) in my stories.
Desert Hot Springs: If you leave out the southern entrance of Joshua Tree National Park and head west on interstate 10 you’ll pass a town called Desert Hot Springs, that has, you guessed it, hot springs! These aren’t the wild and natural hot springs of the Eastern Sierras but they are still pretty nice. You have to go to a spa or resort to get access to them, but there are tons of spas and resorts to choose from. The fancier ones will obviously be more expensive, but there are some really reasonable places too. We went to Desert Hot Spring Spa Hotel, they offer an inexpensive day pass to the pools of which they have eight!
As far as National Parks go, Joshua Tree is amazing and one of my favorites. But you would be remiss if you didn’t explore some of the surrounding area because it really is amazing!
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