If you just go by your Instagram feed, it seems like everyone you know (and, like, all their friends too) is partying in the California desert right now. Sure, lots of them are there for Coachella, but others are either lounging poolside in the glorious dry heat of Palm Springs, taking in the massive outdoor art installations at Desert X, enjoying the beauty of this year’s glorious desert bloom, or hiking through the natural beauty of Joshua Tree National Park. It’s enough to make anyone stop what they’re doing and book a vacation out in the desert ASAP.
But where to begin? Don’t worry, having just come back from our own Palm Springs-Joshua Tree sojourn, we’ve got plenty of tips for you (the first one is: don’t book your trip in August; temperatures rise to about 108 degrees at that time of year). While Palm Springs proper is about a 45-minute drive from Joshua Tree (the town, yes, but also one of the main entrances into the park), we figured we’d group them together, because as long as you’re out there, you should really experience both places. In some ways, they’re polar opposites, with Palm Springs still retaining a retro-kitschy vibe, centered around incredible architecture and great vintage shopping, and Joshua Tree being a funkier, hippie haven, that’s all about awe-inspiring natural wonders; but in the most important ways, they complement rather than contradict each other, since anyone with an appreciation for laid-back places with positive vibes and all the sun the sky can hold will definitely love both spots.
Read on to find out where to eat, drink, and stay on your next California desert vacay.