My Greek husband and I made our first trip to Joshua Tree last year, and we were lucky enough to spend Thanksgiving there again this year. I absolutely love the area, and I think when I’m old and grey I’ll probably relocate to the desert to live out the remainder of my days. Remember the old lady with the seeds from Mad Max? Yeah, that’ll be me.
Anyways, I know that "travel guides" are a popular topic for blogs but to be honest I’m never super in love with the idea of making a guide for a place you don't really know - or have only visited a few times! I could make a great travel guide for Baltimore, but what's wonderful about Joshua Tree (to me) is that it's still new and exciting, and that I'm still discovering a lot of fun things about the area. We’ve only been here twice, so I’m definitely not the right person to guide you but I will share with you places I like that are both on and off the trendy path.
1. The gas station. We did a lot of driving on this trip. We drove through the entire park (even to that faaaar side), but we were also out in the middle of nowhere to sleep. If you see a gas station, it’s a good call to stop off and fill up your tank.
2. Joshua Tree Saloon. I’ve read so many guides about Joshua Tree, but this place never graced a single one and I have no idea why. This is where we had Thanksgiving dinner, and it’s also one of those places were I felt completely at home. It fit my vibe of casual & crusty / friendly & aloof. The prices are on point and the food was delicious – if you don’t stop here at least once when you’re in the area, you’re seriously missing out.
3. Crossroads Café. My Greek husband and I stopped here for breakfast before a day of hiking. It’s a sweet little spot with super friendly staff, and the free WiFi allowed us to download some Spotify playlists and go over the hiking spots that we wanted to check out before we made our way into the service deadzone that is Joshua Tree National Park.
4. Joshua Tree National Park Visitor Center. We stopped here and spoke with the same guide that helped us the year before. They’ll set you up with a map and trail recommendations, and it’s also a perfect place to pick up bottled water if you don’t have it. While there are bathroom stops throughout the park - you won't be able to fill up your water bottles there. It's said you should turn around on any hike when you only have half a bottle of water left - so personally I think the splurge on bottled water is important.
5. Pappy and Harriet’s. I’m in love with Pioneertown – it was our first stop last year and this year we rented a cabin in this area. Pappy and Harriet's is an awesome space that you need to visit if you're in the area. They were closed for the Thanksgiving holiday while we were in the area so we didn’t stop by this year, but check them out for quick eats, cheap drinks and live music.
6. World Famous Crochet Museum. Quirky and cute and perfect - I don't need to say anything more. If the sun’s up, it’s open.
I realize that the Saloon, Crossroads, the Visitor Center and the Crochet Museum are literally all in the same block, but hey, it's not exactly a busting metropolis - which is exactly why I love it! Explore and enjoy and spend the rest of your time in the park.