It strikes me as ironic that not long ago I had to locate Joshua Tree, California on a map because I had never heard of it before and now I am writing my very own guide to it. But truly, it’s about time! I’ve visited and lived in the high desert town on and off for the past three years now and I’m always rattling off how much I love, love, love the place to anyone who will listen. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s the place I ultimately lay down roots someday. And if you know me, well, I wouldn’t say that about just any old place.
Click on map to enlarge
I have multiple Joshua Tree posts scattered throughout the blog but it’s due time I gather up all that amazingness in one place. So without further adieu, if you’re planning a trip to Joshua Tree or its neighboring towns of Yucca Valley and Twentynine Palms, here’s my guide to the best of the best.
Joshua Tree’s Best of the Best
Best Vegetarian Cafe
61695 Twentynine Palms Hwy – Photo curtesy of Natural Sisters Cafe
It’s cute, it’s vegetarian, it’s friendly! The Natural Sisters Cafe is a must during your JT visit. Being so close to the park entrance it’s the perfect pit-stop to fill up on smoothies, sandwiches, salads and freshly baked goods before or after your trip into the park. Don’t be surprised if you unexpectably make a friend or strike up a conversation with a stranger here – it’s just that kind of place!
Best Coffee House
55844 Twentynine Palms Hwy
Frontier Cafe is my go to cafe in Yucca Valley. Taking advantage of the great wifi and comfy seats, many of my posts have been composed here. They also have an amazing menu – I’m hooked on the grilled cheese sandwich – live entertainment, and an all around great vibe. I could people watch here all day.
Best Bar and Nightly Entertainment
Pappy and Harriets
53688 Pioneertown Road – Photo curtesy of palmspringslife.com
Located in Pioneertown and once used as a facade in a Hollywood frontier town, Pappy and Harriets is THE place to go for live music, good burgers, barbecue and drinks, and an eclectic mix of people. The inside decor is amazing in all its honky-tonk glory, but there’s also a great outdoor patio that’s not to be missed.
The Joshua Tree Saloon
61835 Twentynine Palms Hwy – Photo curtesy of globalgallop.com
Come in for some killer karaoke – or don’t…but do make sure you stop by The Joshua Tree Saloon. I mean, just look at it! While Pappy & Harriets is tough to beat, The JT Saloon holds its own.
Best Brunch Spot
61715 Twentynine Palms Hwy – Photo curtesy of Crossroads Cafe
An order of French Toast, fresh-squeezed orange juice and a coffee, please! That’s my go-to brunch whenever I stop in at Crossroads Cafe, but if that’s not your thing the menu is expansive. But the food isn’t the only reason I stop in here, turns out I love gazing at the funky decor and all the LA tourists dressed in their finest hipster/boho-chic attire.
29 Palms Inn
73950 Inn Avenue – Photo curtesy of tripadvisor.com
Yes, beyond that massive sandwich is indeed a glistening pool… If enjoying a meal on an outdoor patio while hotel guests frolic in the waters and catch a tan strikes your fancy, then eat at the 29 Palms Inn. Not only do they have amazing food, but the inside decor is charming and warm. You can roam the grounds afterwards, visiting the small lake and organic farm where the restaurant sources its own fruits and veggies.
Pie For The People
61740 Twentynine Palms Hwy
I’m the kind of girl who likes her pizza thin and funky. With pizzas named David Bowie, Bada Bing, and The Cliffhanger, and ingredients such as sweet plum sauce and Guinness caramelized onions, you know you’re in for something unique. Pie for the People became an every Friday night occasion for me when I was living in JT. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. For those not so explorative types, yes, they do have a plain cheese option as well!
Best Health Food Store
Joshua Tree Health Foods
61693 Twentynine Palms Hwy – Photo curtesy of Joshua Tree Health Foods
Located in the same plaza as The Natural Sisters Cafe, Joshua Tree Health Foods is the spot for all your organic and natural food desires.
Joshua Tree Coffee Company
61738 Twentynine Palms Hwy – Photo curtesy of desertargonauta.blogspot.com
What started at the local farmers market, to being served and sold in local cafes and stores, to now having its very own home in Joshua Tree, The Joshua Tree Coffee Company is my all time favorite coffee. Sure, I may be a little biased being that it’s JT grown, and Royce, the owner, (pictured) is an awesome guy, but it’s truly some of the best coffee around. I’m currently blogging from Ohio, far from the JT Coffee Company, but guess what made the 33 hour road trip home with me? That’s right, a bag of JT Coffee beans.
Hoof & The Horn
55840 Twentynine Palms Hwy – Photo curtesy of yelp.com
Located in Yucca Valley and next to Cafe Ma Rouge, housing an eclectic blend of new and vintage, bohemian, biker, rock & roll, and western items, is Hoof & The Horn. As a self-described non-shopper, it may be surprising that I never miss a jaunt through this amazing shop and almost always walk out with something.
Joshua Tree’s Best Things To Do
Watch a drive-in movie at
Smith’s Ranch Drive-In Theater
4584 Adobe Road – Photo curtesy of cinematreasures.org
If you thought drive-ins were a thing of the past think again! Smith’s Ranch Drive-In Theater, located near the military base in Twentynine Palms, just went digital, so it’s sticking around for a long time to come. Grab yourself some munchies and enjoy two flicks for only $5 a vehicle.
Get your vortex on at the
2477 Belfield Boulevard – Photo curtesy of urbanghostsmedia.com
Not far from Joshua Tree in the town of Landers sits the Integratron, which, according to its website, is a “resonant tabernacle and energy machine sited on a powerful geomagnetic vortex”. Whew. I went there once for a community star-gazing party and got a free taste of the sound bath. I can’t really comment on the energy machine/geomagnetic vortex claim, but if you’re looking for something unique and fascinating, this is definitely the place to be.
Visit the 7-stories high
Down an unmarked, unpaved road from the Integratron is the Giant Rock. The Native Americans considered this site to be sacred and in the 1950’s it was a gathering point for UFO enthusiasts. It the 1930’s a man actually dug a hole and made his home underneath it. Although now it seems to be a gathering place for graffiti enthusiasts, if you don’t mind the bad art it’s definitely worth the visit.
Say hi to Garth and stay awhile at
Click here for directions
If free-roaming donkeys, community style living, outdoor showers and “stone” houses in the shape of teepees are your thing, or even if they’re not, you must get your behind over to Garth’s place known as Boulder Gardens. Stay for a few hours, a few days, or a few months. Heck, I met someone who had been staying for years. All are welcome as long as they’re “conscious-minded and truth-seeking”. I just happened to be curious.
Meditate at the
Southern California Vipassana Center
68561 Twentynine Palms Hwy
If 10 days of silent meditation sounds like your kind of thing, do it for free while enjoying some great vegetarian fare at The Southern California Vipassana Center in Twentynine Palms. Yeah, I thought it sounded crazy too, until I did it.
Take a stroll through
53688 Pioneertown Road
Built in the 1940’s as a movie set to emulate an old western town and where over 200 movies and tv series have since been filmed, Pioneertown still stands to this day. Take a stroll down Mane Street and play on all the sets before heading over for a bite to eat at the nearby Pappy and Harriets. If you hit it on the right day, (Saturdays @ 2:30), stick around for the Mane Street Stampede Wild West Show.
Experience an intimate concert at
Harrison House Music & Arts
6881 Mt. Lassen Ave. – Photo curtesy of dannypaulgrody.wordpress.com
During my most recent visit to JT I spotted a flyer announcing a performance by an international artist in residence at the Harrison House. Arriving in the evening, the cozy adobe and straw structure, which was meticulously designed for great acoustics, was dimly lit and magical. The website describes the experience of being inside as having been likened to a chapel, mosque or temple.
See some funky outdoor art constructed entirely of junked material at
Noah Purifoy Outdoor Museum
63030 Blair Lane, Joshua Tree, California 92252
As much as I hate litter, I always enjoy coming across random junk in the desert because there’s something weirdly fascinating about it. Artist Noah Purifoy created a 10 acre outdoor art museum made entirely of such junked material, and it’s a must see. It’s free to boot!
Get back to nature on a
There are over 20 designated hikes in the area and each one is vastly different from the next. So, what are you waiting for?
Bend and “Omm” at
Instant Karma Yoga
61738 Twentynine Palms Highway
I had a lovely time at Instant Karma Yoga and highly recommend it. Drop in a class for $12 and instantly feel like a JT native.
Shop for fresh and local goodies at the
Joshua Tree Farmer’s Market
61705 Twentynine Palms Hwy – Photo curtesy of uniquelyjoshuatree.blogspot.com
I always look forward to a Saturday morning Joshua Tree Farmer’s Market stroll and inevitably leave with a bag full of goodies. Located in the same parking lot as Natural Sister’s Cafe and Joshua Tree Health Foods, hunting for healthy fare couldn’t get any more convenient.
Pop a tent at one of the many
If you were hoping I’d suggest a great hotel you’re out of luck: I always camp when visiting Joshua Tree. From 9 different campgrounds ranging in fees from $10-$15, you can save your money to experience other “bests” in town while getting back to nature and star-gazing. You’re in the desert – there’s no better place to do so.
So that’s it – my round up of Joshua Tree’s best of the best! Did I miss something, leave something out? I’d love to hear from any locals or frequent visitors – what are your favorite places? Let me know in a comment and I’ll be sure to visit during my next trip. There’s always a next trip to Joshua Tree!