There is something magical about the solitude you find in the desert. My partner, Jimmy, and I try to make it down to Joshua Tree and Palm Springs from Oakland as much we can — it recharges us. There are so many things to do and see, from eye-opening art and amazing sunsets to awesome food and wide-open spaces. Here are a few of my favorites.
Ace Hotel & Swim Club
When we aren’t pulling the RV to our creative outdoor desert space, Circle and X in Joshua Tree, we like to treat ourselves with a stay at the Ace. After a long drive from Oakland, a massage from the Feel Good Spa and a poolside cocktail melt the week away. Check out the mural by Chicago artist Laura Berger while taking a stroll through the hotel grounds.
Only 40 minutes away from Palm Springs, Joshua Tree National Park makes an easy day trip. Getting to the park early has a few perks: Namely, the crowds aren’t as big. One of my favorite spots is Hidden Valley, with huge rock formations and a scenic 1 mile trail. Make sure to bring lots of water and grab a map from the park rangers.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JIMMY BROWER
Desert Art Museum
Joshua Tree has been home to artists of all types. Noah Purifoy, an assemblage sculptor, left his mark when he moved here in 1989. The outdoor museum, maintained by the Noah Purifoy Foundation, allows you to experience his work up close and personal. This is a must!
Pappy & Harriet’s
After all that exploring there’s nothing better than good barbecue — and some rock ’n’ roll. Pappy & Harriet’s, located in Pioneertown, was once a set used in old Western movies but now lives on as a restaurant, bar, and music venue. It’s a great way to end the day.
Back in Palm Springs, we love breakfast at Farm. Set away from the street in the La Plaza shopping center, the casual eatery feels a little like a secret garden. Focusing on French provincial dishes made with locally sourced ingredients, the menu does not disappoint. Try the French Toast aux Fruits or any of the delicious omelets — and don’t forget a watermelon mimosa.
Before heading home, stroll through the beautiful Sunnylands Center & Gardens. Find a bench among the barrel cactus and enjoy the tranquility of this desert oasis. The estate has played host to heads of state and royalty and is open to the public. The center and gardens are free; tours of the historic house require a ticket.
PHOTOGRAPH BY KEVIN WONG