Joshua Tree is a place that’s been on my list for so long, and for good reason. An oasis a little over 2 hours from LA, Joshua Tree is truly a must-see if you're visiting Southern California.

The scenery feels almost mystical, the sunsets awe-inspiring.

Side bar: Our first trip to JT took 3+ hours due to the police chase going down when we left (really, it’s a thing).

We needed an opportunity to check-out of our daily routines and recharge after a super busy lead up to the end of the year. It was time to slow down and refocus to enter the new year feeling refreshed and ready.

Since our first trip last year, we've been back a few times already for short visits because we can't get enough of the incredible peace and quiet. We tend to like a balance between being active and chilling out, making sure to not have too many plans.

Here are things we've done and recommend

Scenes from around Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

No trip to Joshua Tree would be complete without going to the national park.  It’s surreal to see. If you’re lucky you might also see a desert tortoise or a bighorn sheep (but hopefully not a snake).

Wide open unpaved roads in Joshua Tree

Drive down the open roads

This was so relaxing. Nothing but seemingly endless roads ahead, many of them unpaved, but available on Google maps.

Persimmons from the Saturday farmers market

Saturday morning farmers market

Local produce, fresh juice and bread, handmade trinkets, an acoustic guitar player that also moonlights as a male stripper, what more could one want?

Having brunch in Pioneertown

Crossroads Cafe

Great spot for breakfast / brunch, vegan options, hipster-tastic, pretty busy (in a "this place is really good" kind of way), we once went two mornings in a row.

Hiking with goats to watch the sunset

Hike with goats for sunset

I haven’t had this much fun in basically forever. The host is great and the goats are awesome - you’ll hike through the desert with them to watch the sunset over the incredible landscape, seeing crazy works of nature along the way. The goats are  serious about finding food as quickly as possible, so it's super entertaining to watch this go down. They're so cute and spunky. Once back at the base, the host starts a campfire and serves up hot tea before you head home. All around a perfect experience.

The Integratron in Landers, near Joshua Tree
Selfie at The Integratron - Landers, California

The Integratron

This place was recommended to me ages ago and after reading up on it, my interest was understandably piqued. We finally made it by stalking their site for last minute openings to a quartz sound bath session and I'm so glad we did. The Integratron itself feels really special and is built without the use of any nails or screws. The sound bath is unlike anything I've done, a powerfully healing experience. Book well in advance.

The scenery is surreal

Pioneertown

Tiny little town designed as a set for spaghetti westerns, you’ll feel like you’ve entered the set of West World.

Another beautiful sunset

Pappy and Harriet’s

In Pioneertown, a bit of an institution, live music on an intimate little stage (some big names have played here too). Book a few weeks in advance for dinner or be prepared to wait for 2 hours (or just go for drinks and music like we did).

Wide open roads

Take in the clear skies

Stargaze. Watch the moon set. Watch the sunrise. This part is a total dream. There is very little light pollution in most of the area and many homes are miles apart. Coupled with very few cars and no street lights, the night sky is often crystal clear.

An Airbnb we rented had views that allowed us to watch the moon set at the same time that the sun rose. Have you ever seen a moon set below the horizon?! We were lucky enough to first visit on a full moon and getting to see it slowly drift below the Mojave desert expanse was one of the most memorable experiences I’ve ever had.

On the list for next time

A few more places I want to check out, and a few recommendations received. I'd love to hear additional recs you have!

Bob’s Crystal Cave

Salvation Mountain Art Installation

Noah Purifoy’s Outdoor Sculpture Park

Smith’s Ranch

Natural Sisters Cafe