Isn’t it fun to take an impromptu trip and get away for a bit? Sometimes a little road trip is exactly what you need. I had the opportunity to collaborate with some amazing creatives this past weekend that were staying in Joshua Tree so I decided to make the trip. If you’ve never been to this area of the California desert, I highly recommend it!
A little over a four hour drive from Phoenix, and just outside of Palm Springs, the Joshua Tree/Yucca Valley area is filled with breathtaking desert landscapes, vintage shops, and unique little finds. A haven for artists and creative types, you’ll be able to see why so many are inspired by this place after your first visit.
Where to Stay:
There really aren’t any large hotels in the area, so if you’re looking for something more resort-like, you’ll be better off staying in Palm Springs and making the drive, BUT I highly recommend checking out options on Air BnB. Search both the Yucca Valley and Joshua Tree areas. You’ll find everything from modern wonders with floor to ceiling windows to sweet, artistic cottages to retro, wallpaper-filled funky spaces. It makes wherever you decide to stay part of the adventure. Some homes are still only accessible by dirt roads.
What to pack:
Think casual layers and flowy dresses. The temperature fluctuations can be intense from sweating hot days to chilly nights. A jean jacket or cardigan is always great for air conditioned restaurants and cooler desert evenings. Open toed shoes are ok for around town, but definitely bring closed toe options for exploring. Boots and/or sneakers are a must. Those cacti are not friendly to exposed toes! And a crossbody bag to hold your essentials while exploring or shopping will make it easy for you to paruse hands free. Also, don’t forget your sunscreen and a hat (or two) to protect you from the sun. You may also want to take along a blanket and/or yoga mat. If there were ever the perfect place for your mediation practice or just simply taking a breather while taking it all in, this is it. Of course your camera to document the amazingness! Also, if you’re road tripping, pack plenty of water and lots of snacks, especially for roaming around the park.
For shopping, head to Yucca Valley. Here are a few shops I recommend where you’re sure to find unique treasures:
- The End – You know those cupcakes that are almost too pretty to eat, but SO YUMMY once you take a bite? I feel that way about The End. It’s so cute outside and perfectly styled inside its almost too good to be true. ALMOST….because I always discover at least one incredible find on every trip. Filled with vintage clothing, accessories, sunglasses, artisan jewelry, picked to perfection and displayed in a way that will make you want to move in.
- Promised Land – An incredible selection of vintage. Everything from perfectly worn tees to make-your-outfit cowboy boots.
- Hoof and the Horn – This is a new shop and it looks like they haven’t updated their website yet, but it’s a MUST! A bohemian heaven filled with flowy maxi dresses, fringe purses, as well as an incredible selection of hats and jewelry. I found a pair of to-die-for high-waisted velvet bell bottoms and a desert-perfect gauzy, striped off-the-shoulder jumpsuit. The men’s selection is also perfectly hipster and on trend.
What’s great about Yucca Valley is all of the above shops are in walking distance in the downtown area. After (or before) your vintage treasure hunt, the perfect spot to grab a bite to eat or just sip coffee and people watch is Frontier Cafe. Right next to Hoof and the Horn, with delicious breakfast and lunch options, they also occasionally host live music acts, so check their Facebook for details!
If you have a chance to make the drive through the Joshua Tree National Park, you should. You’ll recognize exactly what a Joshua Tree is right away. Huge, spikey trees that look straight out of a Dr. Suess book and scattered across the area. You will find the most towards the Northern part of the park. Along with an expanse of massive boulders, they form this almost otherworldly landscape. If you are interested in photography (or maybe just an incredibly good iPhone snap or selfie), it has some of the most beautiful light you can find. Give yourself plenty of time to meander through and explore. I’ve found new spots that I fell in love with on each of my past visits. The energy here is different, which can only really be felt. There’s a calmness and stillness that truly makes it a special place. If you have the time, make it a point to witness at least one sunrise or sunset here. Believe me, it’s worth it.
Also take your time to go off the beaten path and discover unique artist installations in the area. You never know what you’ll find!
The nights cool down, even in the heat of summer, and reveal incredible starry skies. It’s the kind of place that makes you dream, refreshes your soul, and inspires you. Stayed tuned to my Instagram for my collaborations with the talented photographers I worked with while there!
The front of the super cute Doodle Inn.
Top: Earthbound Trading
Pants: Earthbound Trading
Dress: Free People
Boots: Sam Edelman
Above photos by Emily Teague