twentynine palms california

29 Hours in Twentynine Palms

The road less traveled leads to a rustic town with a bounty of culture to uncover.

Catherine Downes Attractions, Current Guide, Day Trips

twentynine palms california
PHOTOGRAPHY BY NATE ABBOTT
More than a gateway to Joshua Tree National Park, Twentynine Palms is home to the largest U.S. Marine Corps base and has burgeoning arts, music, and food scenes. While it may seem like a trek from Palm Springs — 48.5 miles to be exact — the serpentine drive through the High Desert leads to a worthy adventure. For a good time, put these local gems on your itinerary.
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where to stay
29 Palms Inn

Private bungalows and wood-framed cabins punctuate 70 acres of open desert land, with the spring-fed Oasis of Mara at the center of the property. The inn’s restaurant will pack you a picnic lunch to go, but its worth grabbing a seat poolside for happy hour specials and a dinner menu loaded with comfort food like sourdough pizzas and bountiful salads, steaks, and stuffed portobello mushrooms. 29palmsinn.com

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what to do
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The Glass Outhouse Art Gallery

This outdoor gallery located off Highway 62 was created by Laurel Siedl to celebrate the beauty of glass. Wander through the open-air art exhibition that draws artists and collectors from across the country.

Fortynine Palms Oasis

If you’re headed into Joshua Tree National Park, why not skip the entrance fee and venture in on foot? This 3-mile, out-and-back hike leads to a palm oasis — one of a handful in the park. The oasis is a refuge for wildlife, including bighorn sheep, coyotes, and Gabel’s quail. During summer months, the trail closes to allow animals unfettered access to water; check for closure notices before you go. Always bring more water than you think you’ll need.

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The Glass Outhouse Art Gallery.
Joshua Tree Cultural Center

The city joined forces with the National Park Service to open a new, expansive visitor center for the national park. The center features a museum space with rotating art exhibitions celebrating Indigenous communities, along with an information center and bookstore.

where to shop
White Label Vinyl

It’s anything but slim pickings at this trendy High Desert record shop that also sells vintage denim, books, and Western wear. “Twentynine Palms is changing fast,” owner Stephen Przybylowski reports. “Over the last year, we have seen a surge in new businesses, restaurants, bars, and events.” In lockstep, he recently remodeled the shop’s back patio and will soon begin hosting live performances.

Habitat

This cool home goods boutique features desert-inspired items ranging from wicker furniture and wall art to vases created by local makers.

where to eat
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Kitchen in the Desert

The seasonal menu blends Trinidadian inspiration with new American sensibilities. Try the coconut rice and cumin curry channa, jerk chicken with toasted cumin cabbage slaw, dan dan noodles, or the fried-chicken sandwich. It’s not only the food that people rave about — Kitchen in the Desert stokes a spirited vibe on the patio with live music on select nights. Come for the dynamic, family-style dishes and stay for everything else.

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The Jelly Donut

You might want to go to The Jelly Donut for, well, doughnuts. And you should — they offer a sweet selection including apple fritters, cinnamon rolls, eclairs, and, yes, jelly-filled options. But it’s their pho that has people veering off the highway. This family-operated business offers a surprising variety of Vietnamese soups.

Campbell Hill Bakery

Operated by a husband-and-wife team, this spot specializes in all sorts of delicious baked goods. Nancy and Travis Poston relocated from New York to SoCal in 2015 prior to opening their bakery in Twentynine Palms. Nancy has a degree in baking and pastry arts from the California Culinary Academy, and Travis has worked in bakeries in across New York, so you can rest assured they know quality carbs. You’ll find staples like sourdough and bagels along with more extravagant options such as strawberry cream cheese brioche, banana bread, and sandwiches — including an option with melty Swiss cheese and bechamel over sliced ham on housemade ciabatta.

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Out There Bar is, well, out there, but worth the trip.
Out There Bar

Behind this bar’s salmon-colored exterior lies a world of revelry with delicious drinks, a chatty bartender, bar games, and the occasional dance party. According to manager Ian Raikow, the best part about opening a watering hole in Twentynine Palms has been “getting to know the town’s history and community and being a part of a new era with other inspiring businesses in the High Desert.” As for what the next year has in store: “More music programming with DJs and bands and more outdoor movie nights on our patio. Also drag queen bingo!” Sure, it may be out there, but it’s well worth the journey.

The Rib Co.

Sink your teeth into fall-off-the-bone baby back ribs, mesquite-grilled St. Louis spareribs, and house-rubbed ribs basted with barbecue sauce and Tennessee whiskey glaze. Those who can’t decide can order a sampler and try them all. While ribs are undoubtably the special here, the family-owned operation, established in 1997, also whips up Tennessee whiskey–glazed chicken, fried chicken, steaks, and loaded potatoes. Come hungry.

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The GRND SQRL
GRND SQRL

Touted for its playful, over-the-top pub fare and robust beer selection, this gastropub on Twentynine Palms Highway serves up weekday happy hour specials like soft pretzels and wings along with heartier options like the SQRL Burger: a house-ground beef patty topped with sharp cheddar, caramelized onions, pickles, bacon, and tarragon aioli and served on a Martin’s potato bun.