If you’re looking for a low-key—yet high-vibe—bachelorette destination, consider adding Joshua Tree to your radar. The photogenic small town in California’s high desert is located about an hour from its more famous low desert cousin, Palm Springs, and offers a charming, quirky (read: hipster) experience. Think dusty, cacti-strewn hikes mixed with destination-worthy vintage stores, divey saloons occasionally populated with IRL rockstars, and a famous meditation space originally designed at the behest of aliens from Venus (or so its creator claimed).
While you can certainly mosey straight on into town, you may first want to decompress from travel (and, you know, life) with a one-night stay at Two Bunch Palms—it’s a hot springs resort located off the 10 freeway not far from Joshua Tree. Here, you can simply soak in the naturally-heated mineral waters of a 600-year-old spring or enjoy wellness experiences ranging from mud baths to water yoga to Reiki to sound vibration healing and beyond.
If you opt to skip straight to Joshua Tree and want to go the hotel route, take your pick from among the town’s one-of-a-kind accommodations (no hotel chains are allowed in the area). Spin and Margie’s Desert Hideaway offers five quintessentially “desert” cabins with kitchens and a shared outdoor space boasting horseshoes and a bocce ball court. The Mojave Sands Motel is another cabin-centric option which features outdoor tubs to cool down under the stars at the end of a long desert day. The Pioneertown Motel, meanwhile, is a storied property originally built by Roy Rogers in the 1940’s for the stars of Western movies that’s been recently renovated. Of your choices, this may be the most photogenic; however, it’s a bit of a drive to the bulk of Joshua Tree’s attractions save for famed music venue Pappy & Harriet’s (more on that in a minute). Finally, you can always opt for a dose of romantic morbidity at the Joshua Tree Inn, where late ‘60s, early ‘70s musician Gram Parsons famously died.
If home rentals are more so your style, check out Acido Dorado; your Insta-friends will be impressed by its architectural dazzle. Bigger groups, however, might want to consider instead this villa, which offers the rare-for-this-area (and potentially critical as temps broil) perk of having its own pool on property. Additional Airbnb options abound, too, including glamping options such as this Lazy Sky property.
After check-in, head to Pie for the People for truly unforgettable pizza—try the “Bowie" slice or live to regret it—and then saddle up for drinks and karaoke at the Joshua Tree Saloon. (You know you want to sing “I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself” off-key a la Cameron Diaz in My Best Friend’s Wedding as an odd mix of locals, visiting hipsters, and military folk—there’s a base nearby—nod/grimace along.)
Grab coffee early Saturday at the Joshua Tree Coffee Company and then head to the Sky Village Swap Meet for some treasure/curiosity-hunting among the locals. Here, you’ll find vintage clothing—there are often real gems on offer, too—old books, and vintage home goods hawked by colorful natives. Then, grab brunch at Crossroads Cafe—everything on the menu is good, but you definitely don’t want to miss out on the banana bread. After, make your way to the Integratron, that aforementioned alien-inspired meditation space built by Ufoist George Van Tassel on what is allegedly the intersection of powerful geomagnetic forces. The unique structure is purported to boast perfect acoustics, too, which is why its quartz-bowl sound baths are a major draw. (Note that it’s best to book tickets for these in advance.)
If you’re not too zenned out to move after the meditation, journey the short distance to Giant Rock, which is allegedly not only the biggest single boulder in the world but also the initial point of contact between good ol’ Van Tassel and those extraterrestrials. Fun fact: The eccentric once opened an airstrip here, and it is said that his friend Howard Hughes used to fly in just for a piece of Van Tassel’s wife’s pie. There was also, at one point, an actual home built beneath the rock. Desert madness!
Next, grab a late lunch/early dinner at buzzy, Vogue-featured eatery La Copine, a culinary oasis so chic it can feel like a mirage. Then, head to home base to dust off before making your way up to Pappy & Harriet’s, a honky-tonk which has hosted legit musical acts such as Paul McCartney, the Arctic Monkeys, Queens of the Stone Age, and more. Don’t expect to see world-famous rockstars during your visit; however, there’s always a chance in this, one of the best-kept secrets in music. In any case, you and your best girls can indulge in barbecue and other country-food favorites and then work off your double dinners by dancing to live music well into the wee hours of the morning.
You have two choices on Sunday morning for recovering from the debauchery of the night before; the first is to detox your body with green juice and healthy fare at Natural Sisters Cafe, and the second is to go the opposite direction with a greasy spoon breakfast at JT Country Kitchen (Anthony Bourdain has been!). After, work off the biscuits and gravy you inevitably ordered at either spot with a hike in Joshua Tree National Park. Treks vary in terms of difficulty and length, but whichever you choose, be sure to pack ample water. If you’re feeling exceptionally adventurous, you can also try legit rock climbing instead.
With a good sweat out of the way, it’ll be time to engage in a little culture (and Insta photography) at Noah Purifoy’s incredible outdoor museum. If you aren’t familiar with the artist, Purifoy made a name for himself by constructing sculpture from debris left behind in the aftermath of the 1965 Watts rebellion. He then continued to make art, such as that which you’ll peruse in this special collection, from found and junked materials until his death in 2004.
After you’ve filled with your feed with shots taken in this incredible setting, it’ll be nearing time to head in the direction of wherever home may be; however, you won’t want to leave Joshua Tree without first pillaging The End, an incredible vintage store curated by a former costume designer from Los Angeles. Depending upon the mode of transportation required to get you back from whence you came (e.g. car vs. airplane), you may want to pop into the Cactus Mart, too. Then, if you’re not at this point quite ready to tumbleweed out of town, grab tacos at locals-only spot Kasa Carniceria y Taqueria and take in a movie at the old school Smith’s Ranch drive-in theater instead. After, however begrudgingly, pile sleepily into your car to return to civilization with your succulents (and probably, sunburns) in tow.