This getaway to Wonder Valley will put you at the doorstep of one of the most unique national parks in the world: Joshua Tree National Park. High desert scenery and outdoor adventure are the magnets of this locale. Oh, and the stars. So. Many. Stars. It's easy to forget endless oceans of stars hang overhead when tangled in the bustle of city life. Wonder Valley will remind you there's so much more out there. Breathe it in.
Get your "mixtape" ready for a full, fun day on the road. Cross the bay on I-80, curl south and east on I-580 and head inland until you angle south on I-5. At the end of this eight-hour run to the Mojave is Wonder Valley. It's enough to call it a full-on road trip, and short enough to make pit stops for food and adventure along the way.
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 runs almost all the way to Wonder Valley. 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 an hour 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 Holiday Inn Express & Suites Twentynine Palms is less than 10 minutes' drive from Joshua Tree National Park, and it offers a full slate of amenities. Relax in the spa, enjoy the heated pool, or fire up the on-site grill for your own recipes. Each room has a refrigerators and microwave, in case you get carried away. Breakfast is included.
The Sunnyvale Garden Suites - Joshua Tree National Park is a condo hotel with an Old West feel from the curb, and the home comfort in the rooms. There are full, furnished kitchens in each suite. Sunnyvale is only minutes from the area's gem attraction of Joshua Tree National Park, and the countless other sights and trails of the high mountain desert.
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.
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.
Classic donuts favored by locals and visitors alike, the Jelly Donut us a must stop if you like "damn fine fat pills," as one reviewer put it. The Jelly Donut is open 5:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. daily. But if you want to grab some early and hold them for dinner, who are we to judge? Get them near the entrance to Joshua Tree National Park.
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.
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.
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 oasis getaway.
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.