Great For: People looking to get away from it all without actually going very far from civilization. Couples who love to be outdoors, but don’t want to rough it on their honeymoon. Folks who want to feel off the grid without actually being off the grid.
Not so great for: People who think a vacation isn’t a vacation without the ocean. Those that are easily bored. Anyone who hates dust. (Seriously don’t bring nice shoes. All you need are motorcycle boots that you can do some light hiking in.)
My husband and I found ourselves headed to Joshua Tree earlier this year for a wedding, and, given that he’d been wanting to go ever since watching a documentary on Rancho de la Luna, and I’d never been despite living in Los Angeles for six years, we decided to make a week long trip of it.
First, a little geography. What is commonly referred to as Joshua Tree is actually a group of small communities in the California High Desert along Highway 62, which runs north of Joshua Tree National Park (and Palm Springs, which lies south and southwest of the park).
Every neighborhood has its pros and cons, and all of them are both near—and far—from things, depending on your sense of distance. How much or how little you want to do on your honeymoon has a lot to do with whether or not Joshua Tree is a good choice for you.
Everything you need to know for your Joshua Tree Honeymoon
What To Do
Stay in an Airbnb
Picking an Airbnb in Joshua Tree is like being a kid in a candy store. There are midcentury cottages, Airstreams, yurts, geodesic domes, caravans—the options are nearly endless. Find one that speaks to you, but I recommend one with some kind of hot tub or “cowboy pool,” as the trend goes in the desert. Nothing is more awesome than this after a long day of hiking.
We stayed at two Airbnbs during our trip, and both were amazing for different reasons:
Echo Ranch House: Beyond gorgeous interior design and property, great easily accessible location, and walking distance to a hip breakfast spot. Tons of wildlife watching (hummingbirds and other birds everywhere, bunnies, chipmunks, kangaroo mice, and coyotes).
Shangri-La: Also beautiful, but a little bit harder to get to (down a dirt road that was annoying but fine with a rental car, further from groceries, etc.). More of the quintessential vast desert view. The perks were a swing set plus an outdoor cowboy tub with endless hot water.
There are a few hotels to stay in if Airbnbs aren’t your speed (there’s the Hicksville Trailer Palace and its themed vintage mobile homes, and the classic Twentynine Palms Inn), but in general if you’re diehard hotel person, Palm Springs is where your party’s at.
VISIT JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK
This park is kind of the whole point of Joshua Tree and is not to be missed. It’s a great place for non-avid hikers, because you can drive to nearly everywhere and explore as much or as little as you need to on foot. Don’t forget to bring tons of water and snacks, because there is nothing in the park, and you might find yourselves starving with an hour’s drive back to the entrance. (Not that this, ahem, happened to us or anything.)
Recommended spots to check out:
DAY TRIP TO PALM SPRINGS
Dust the, er, dust off you, and take a day trip to Palm Springs. Go on a modernism architecture tour, grab drinks at The Parker Palm Springs or a day pass to the pool at the Ace, and just generally check out how the other half lives.
DO THE Touristy THINGS
Get your UFO believer on at Giant Rock, go for a sound bath at the Integratron. Visit Pioneertown and see a show at Pappy & Harriet’s. Go thrifting at The End. Take lots of pictures at the Noah Purifoy Outdoor Museum.
GET YOUR HAIR DONE
If you have plans to chop off your hair post-wedding, trust me and wait until you touch down in Joshua Tree to do it. (But maybe don’t make the same mistake I did and book a four-hour hair appointment the day after a six-hour flight plus three-hour drive!) The reason? You can get it done at Beauty Bubble Salon and Museum, an adorable place packed to the gills with beauty accoutrements that range from super weird to adorable and midcentury. I found stylist Emily on Instagram, and she gave me the most unbelievable mermaid hair, so if fun colors are your thing, she’s worth the trip.
CHILL AT YOUR AIRBNB
This is your honeymoon, right? Take time to just hang out at your Airbnb, relax and enjoy each other. Getting married is hard work; you deserve it. This was honestly our favorite part of the trip. Echo Ranch House had killer sunrise views and tons of wildlife that we just watched for hours, and Shangri-La had that cowboy tub and a sunset view swing set. So seriously, grab a bottle of wine, and catch up on your napping.
Have you been to Joshua Tree, or the Palm Springs Area? What are your best tips and secret spots?
Image CreditKeriann Kohler