Joshua Tree is the desert getaway known around the world, for its iconic trees and for its name that was thrown into the spotlight by world-famous rockers U2. To go there is to see why this desert locale calls to the hearts of countless travelers, musicians, artists, photographers, hikers and bikers, stargazers and ... pretty much everyone.
Joshua Tree is one of the most visited places in Southern California. Some of the trees in Joshua Tree National Park are nearly 1,000 years old. The only thing you'll see there that's older is the ancient pool of stars that sweep across the night sky, revving up that wow-factor that will make you never want to leave.
Grab your snacks, caffeine and tunes. Riding I-5 and south to Joshua Tree from San Francisco is a day of of road adventure. There's plenty of time to play along the way and land in the desert for dinner. roadtrip, It's eight hours from San Francisco to Joshua Tree.
Take I-5 south until the signs call out Bakersfield. Turn east on 7th Standard Road. From Bakersfield, turn south on Highway 99, but before you get through town you'll make a left turn (that's east) on Highway 58. That's your ticket until Barstow. South on Highway 247 will carry you through ranch land and, if you're ready for a break, to the Slash X Cafe, a place where off-roaders love to pitstop for an Old West vibe with their burgers and brews.
Highway 247 brings you to within a few miles of Joshua Tree. Make a turn east on Highway 62 (a.k.a. Twentynine Palms Highway) in Yucca Valley and you're in the home stretch.
Want to skip all that stereo-blaring, cafe burger-munching fun? Flights zip direct from SFO to PSP (Palm Springs). You'll have a 45-minute drive north and east from the airport in the Springs, bending around Joshua Tree National Park.
The Fairfield Inn & Suites Twentynine Palms is rated among the best in the area for its friendly staff, comfortable spaces and list of conveniences: 24-hour market, laundry and dry cleaning facilities, gym, whirlpool, and spacious suites with seating areas and desks (not that you want to spend your time working). It also is only five minutes' drive from Roadrunner Dunes Golf Course.
The Best Western Joshua Tree in Yucca Valley is located only five miles from the Joshua Tree National Park and the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve in Morongo Valley.The outdoor opportunities for sightseeing, hiking, climbing, stargazing, biking and whatever you can dream up are endless. The Best Western also has on-site workout facilities, a pool and a hot tub.
The Super 8 Yucca Valley is a big bang-for-your-buck hotel that puts you in the heart of it all. Joshua Tree National Park is only five miles away. The Hi-Desert Nature Museum is only 3 miles. Feel like a day of shopping in Palm Springs, it's less than 35 miles southwest. The Super 8 Yucca Valley offers an outdoor swimming pool, free internet and a daily continental breakfast, too.
Pie for the People is the spot for New York pizza. Casual and awesome. And for those searching for the best gluten-free pizza crust, give this a go and see if it doesn't blow your mind. Locals swear by this pizza joint, some even calling it the best pizza on earth.
Natural Sisters Cafe is the must-stop spot in Joshua Tree for those looking for a light and uber-healthy bite. At The Natural Sisters Cafe, the food and drinks are organic, plant-based, and locally sourced.. Their slogan tells what Natural Sisters is all about: "Food made with kindness, focus, and love."
The Crossroads Cafe gets high marks and has been called "Eclectic, kinda like hippie meets cowboy." The menu highlights creative classics and a variety of vegan options. Plates are loaded and the service is friendly. Fill up with breakfast before tackling the wild of Joshua Tree or settle down for dinner (every day but Sunday) after a day of fun.
The old days aren't gone yet. If you knew drive-in movie screens when you were a kid, this is a blast from the past. If you have only known them from watching movies set in days gone by, this is your chance. Smith's Ranch Drive-In is a legit outdoor movie experience you will not soon forget. Tickets are $5 (cash only). It's must-see.
It's probably obvious by now that Joshua Tree National Park is the #1 attraction in the area. Rightly so. Its rock formations are outstanding, and the Joshua Trees are iconic for more reasons than gracing the famed album of even more famed rock band U2. Take a driving tour through the park or hike it on your own two feet. Rock climbing, slacklining, mountain biking, horseback riding, camping ... the list of awesome goes on. It's an outdoor paradise.
Here is where you go for the ringing of games and luck of change. Drop some coins in the slots or toss chips on the table. The Tortoise Rock Casino in Twentynine Palms is quaint and everything you expect: food, drinks and chances to hit it big (or just try a buck in the slot machine while you take in the environment).
The Sky's the Limit Observatory is the best place to dip into the night sky, with the expert knowledge of the staff on hand. Enjoy one of the observatory's night time stargazing opportunities. It will give you a new perspective of the night, and of your desert oasis getaway.
Hidden Valley, in Joshua Tree National Park, is a gotta-see. It's Shangri-la for desert lovers. If you're up for an easy hike, this is an amazing spot to lace up your trail shoes. But even if you prefer the air-conditioned view from your car seat, it's all good. The view along the drive is enough to steal your breath away.