Joshua Tree Guide: Top 15 Things to Do in Joshua Tree

 Joshua Tree National Park in southern California.

Joshua Tree National Park in southern California.

These are 15 of our favorite activities to do in and around Joshua Tree National Park.

Joshua Tree is a uniquely beautiful desert destination with a breathtaking and almost other-worldly landscape. Joshua Tree and its surrounding communities, including Yucca Valley and Twentynine Palms, provide the ultimate getaway where one can disconnect, appreciate the beauty of nature and relax. These are some of the top things to do in Joshua Tree:

1. Explore Joshua Tree National Park. 

 Desert Queen Mine is a popular destination in Joshua Tree National Park.

Desert Queen Mine is a popular destination in Joshua Tree National Park.

The park is an exciting destination for hiking, rock climbing and camping. With unique rock formations, cacti, desert blooms, animal life, and of course, Joshua trees, the expansive park is a must-see! Take a guided tour from The Climbing Life Guides, which offers one-on-one guided rock climbing experiences (and accommodates groups with up to 18 people).

Or stop by the Joshua Tree Visitors Center, grab a map and start exploring. Popular park stops include the hike to Barker Dam, Skull Rock and Desert Queen Mine. Be sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen! 

2. Stargaze.

 A night sky filled with stars in Joshua Tree National Park.

A night sky filled with stars in Joshua Tree National Park.

With very little light pollution, stargazing in Joshua Tree is phenomenal. The sparkling Joshua Tree sky is so magical that you'll want to capture it in a photo. Joshua Tree Workshops provide night photography classes, including the Milky Way Photography Workshop, where you’ll learn how to photograph the breathtaking starry night sky. In Twentynine Palms, visit The Sky’s the Limit Observatory and Nature Center to view the constellations. The sunsets are equally epic.

3. Pay tribute to Gram Parsons.

 Famous country rock musician Gram Parsons spent his last hours at the Joshua Tree Inn.

Famous country rock musician Gram Parsons spent his last hours at the Joshua Tree Inn.

If you're a fan of country rock musician Gram Parsons, then you may know that he had a special connection with Joshua Tree. Visit the Joshua Tree Inn where the famous musician frequently stayed and spent his last hours. (You can even spend the night in Room 8 where Parsons died of an overdose at 26!) Stop by Cap Rock, the location where Parsons’ road manager Phil Kaufman brought the songwriter’s body for cremation after stealing it. 

4. Experience a sound bath.

 An overhead view of the sound chamber where sound baths are conducted at the Integratron. [Image courtesy of Integratron]

An overhead view of the sound chamber where sound baths are conducted at the Integratron. [Image courtesy of Integratron]

George Van Tassel is said to have built the Integratron based on the design of Moses’ Tabernacle, Nikola Tesla’s writings and directions from aliens. Designed for time travel, it's located in the city of Landers, not far from Joshua Tree, on what is claimed to be a powerful geomagnetic vortex. Sound baths at the Integratron are 60-minute healing experiences that provide the opportunity to relax, reflect and rejuvenate.

5. Check out the art. 

 A mural in Twentynine Palms.

A mural in Twentynine Palms.

Joshua Tree is home to a strong community of local artists. On the second Saturday of every month, downtown Joshua Tree hosts an art walk where you can enjoy work from artists at Gallery 62, JTAG, Beatnik Lounge, Taylor Junction and Glass Outhouse. If you’re in the mood for something a little funky and quirky, head to Noah Purify’s Outdoor Desert Art Museum, which featured sculptures assembled from strange pieces of junk known as “Environmental Sculpture.” Drive to nearby Twentynine Palms and view over 20 public murals that are painted on walls all over the town, telling the stories of local life.

6. Enjoy live music. 

 Legendary music venue, Pappy & Harriet's in located in Pioneertown, is a short drive from Joshua Tree.

Legendary music venue, Pappy & Harriet's in located in Pioneertown, is a short drive from Joshua Tree.

You’ll feel like you were transported back in time to the Old West when you visit Pioneertown, home of legendary music venue Pappy & Harriet's. There, you’ll enjoy mesquite barbecue and performances from top live bands. In Yucca Valley, check out Frontier Cafe for a vegan BLT, open mics and local musician performances. If you’re looking for a mellow dinner with music, be sure to stop by the Restaurant at the 29 Palms Inn, where you’ll find local musicians entertaining in the styles of bluegrass, Americana, folk and jazz.

7. Visit a 9,000-year-old oasis.

 The 29 Palms Inn.

The 29 Palms Inn.

The 29 Palms Inn is close to one of the entrances to Joshua Tree National Park and is located on the 9,000-year-old Oasis of Mara. It’s the perfect place to unwind after a long day of exploring. You can dine at the delicious restaurant, enjoy a cocktail poolside, chill out in a hammock, swim, or wander the pretty grounds. Accommodations include an authentic 1930s Adobe Bungalow, a 1920s cabin and large guest houses. 

8. Dine on fresh, healthy cuisine.

 The Restaurant at the 29 Palms inn features ingredients grown at the Faultline Farm.

The Restaurant at the 29 Palms inn features ingredients grown at the Faultline Farm.

The Restaurant at the 29 Palms Inn serves delicious dishes featuring fresh ingredients grown on property at the hotel’s organic Faultline Farm. The garden is open to the public and we highly recommend strolling through it to see the amazing variety of what is grown there. In downtown Joshua Tree, make a pit stop at Natural Sisters Cafe, a great place to people-watch while enjoying local art and thoughtfully crafted vegan and vegetarian plates, juices and smoothies. 

9. Practice yoga.

 Sunset in Joshua Tree.

Sunset in Joshua Tree.

Joshua Tree is home to yoga festivals and retreats including the Shakti Fest in May which takes place at the Joshua Tree Retreat Center and celebrates the devotional paths of yoga. Drop in at Instant Karma for classes including Hatha, Kundalini, Vinyasa Flow, Astanga and Anasura.

10. Be mesmerized by crystals.

 Geodes at the Gem and Mineral Show in Joshua Tree.

Geodes at the Gem and Mineral Show in Joshua Tree.

The Sportsman’s Club in Joshua Tree hosts a Gem and Mineral Show twice a year, in the spring and in the fall. You’ll be surrounded by the energy of precious rocks and find great deals on a huge selection of crystals. Stop by the Joshua Tree Rock Shop year-round for good vibes, beautiful crystals and jewelry. 

11. Go vintage shopping.

 The End, a vintage store in Yucca Valley.

The End, a vintage store in Yucca Valley.

Joshua Tree and Yucca Valley are home to some amazing vintage clothing stores. Pop by Hoof & The Horn, Funky and Darn Near New, Promised Land and Black Luck Vintage to search for cute and trendy pieces. We’re obsessed with The End in Yucca Valley for vintage treasures and fabulous jewelry. At Ricochet Vintage Wears in Joshua Tree, you’ll find everything from cosmic American threads to punk rock apache couture.

12. Get nostalgic at the Beauty Bubble Salon and Museum.

 The Beauty Bubble in Joshua Tree.

The Beauty Bubble in Joshua Tree.

The retro Beauty Bubble Salon and Museum celebrates all things hair with vintage tools, beauty products and perm machines. The Beauty Bubble is home to over 3,000 beauty artifacts that go back all the way to the 1800s and span through today. If you need a new ‘do, schedule an appointment and get a cut or color while you marvel at the salon’s cool vintage items. For another cute museum, walk down the street to the world-famous Crochet Museum.

13. Catch a movie at the drive-in.

 Guests at Smith's Ranch Drive-In can stop by the concession stand for an assortment of food and drinks.

Guests at Smith's Ranch Drive-In can stop by the concession stand for an assortment of food and drinks.

It doesn’t get much more classic American than seeing a movie at a drive-in, though there are very few left today. In Twentynine Palms, you can enjoy movies at the Smith’s Ranch Drive-In, which has been open since 1954. 

14. Stay at an Airbnb.

 The living room at the Joshua Tree House. [Image courtesy of the Joshua Tree House]

The living room at the Joshua Tree House. [Image courtesy of the Joshua Tree House]

If camping isn’t your thing, enjoy the comforts of an Airbnb. According to the Los Angeles Times, Joshua Tree and its surrounding areas contain over 800 vacation rentals. You can stay in a boho decorated desert cabin or quirky vintage airstream. We’ve been admiring photos of the Joshua Tree House on Instagram. Designed to set a slow-paced vibe, the home features a relaxing hot tub, perfect for soaking in on a dark starry night. Joshua Tree House owners Sara and Rich Combs are passionate about designing spaces that are daily reminders to stay present.

We love staying at Forever 29, a vintage Americana-styled ranch house with a swimming pool and hot tub, pool table, dart board, and an organ for playing music. 

15. Have brunch in the middle of nowhere.

 Wonder Valley, California.

Wonder Valley, California.

Head to Wonder Valley to truly feel like you are in the middle of nowhere. Drive through this desolate desert landscape and you’ll almost think that The Palms Restaurant and Bar is a mirage. This local hangout is known for its Sunday brunch and stiff drinks, and the food is tasty but cheap. 

Joshua Tree's stunning desert setting makes it perfect for a relaxing wellness getaway or a wild fun-filled adventure. For more Joshua Tree ideas, visit Joshua Tree Visitor's Guide.

—Lizzy Sherman