By Jeff Game
Ride in the steps of the Cisco Kid, gaze into the rings of Saturn and catch some great music at an institution of Rock-n-Roll, as I spend 24 hours in the California Desert.
The restlessness stirs inside and the feeling of roaming in wide-open spaces is overwhelming – start up the convertible – the desert is calling.
Just over a two hour drive outside of Los Angeles awaits an affordable and very hipster-friendly getaway in the California Desert towns of Twentynine Palms and Pioneertown U.S.A., located near the awe-inspiring Joshua Tree National Park. I recently took a 24-hour road trip to this mystical and authentically Americana part the Golden State, which has inspired such bands as U2, Queens of the Stone Age and the Foo Fighters to write and record in this transcendent backdrop.
Living in Los Angeles, we literally have the city that never sleeps at our doorstep. Oftentimes though, I find myself in need of a serious escape from this non-stop megalopolis. When that time comes, there’s nothing better than a short 24-hour escape from the hustle and bustle of L.A. to get out of the city and recharge the batteries.
A trip like this needed a shot of Steve McQueen cool – throw the top down, crank up the iPod and hit the open desert highways. After attending a promotional event the day before, my friends at the Ford Motor Company were able to hook me up with a brand new 2015 Mustang for the night. This icon of muscle cars was exactly what the cool patrol were calling for on this great escape, however any road trip worthy, American classic beastmobile would still get the juices flowing and the motor running.
Once you blow past the Highway 10 exit to Palm Springs, the vast desert vistas open up and you find a unique vibe, lots of adventure and even some hidden gems along the drive. Of course I enlisted my budget-friendly wife Shannah, host of the hit podcast Millennial Money to help us stay on our weekend getaway budget. After scoping out the lay of the land, we came up with some great choices to Eat, Sleep, Go and Explore in Twentynine Palms and Pioneertown.
Splurge It: 29 Palms Inn
For more than 85 years, the sprawling 29 Palms Inn has been a mystical oasis in the desert, with an eclectic assortment of room and cottage choices. The West End Cottage is a roomy upgrade, with two rooms, a kitschy kitchen, backyard with BBQ and your own piano in the parlor. The West End Cottage starts around $255.www.29palmsinn.com
Saving Dough: JT Village Park Experience
A steal of a deal has to be a cool Air B&B special at the footsteps of Joshua Tree National Park. This 1940’s remodeled home is walking distance to the historic Joshua Tree Saloon, and comes with a stylish cowboy pool in the rustic backyard. This little gem has everything needed for a desert dwellers escape. How can you not pass up a cowboy pool? The JT Village Park Experience starts around $115. https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/2735768
Splurge It: Coyote Ridge Stables
Get your giddy up on in the hoof steps of legendary TV cowboys as the Cisco Kid and Gene Autry. One way that a city slicker can take in the openness that the desert offers is by horseback. The folks at Coyote Ridge Stables have a private 2-hour riding tour with just you, your riding guide and the serene desert wildlife. The Lizard rock private tour will run you $150 www.coyoteridgestable.com
Saving Dough: Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace
The legendary and family run eclectic desert haven Pappy & Harriets Pioneer Palace have been packing in rock crowds for decades now. On a given night, music lovers can catch such chart-topping acts as Arctic Monkeys, Vampire Weekend, Lucinda Williams, and hall of famer Robert Plant once stunned the Sunday night crowd by sitting in with the house band of the night. This hollowed palace should be at the top of any groupies music bucket list. Big name acts can run $35, however most of the shows at Pappy’s start at the low, low price of free!www.pappyandharriets.com
Splurge It: Coyote Telescope Star Tours
The desert sky is already lit up with a stargazer’s buffet of celestial delights, so why not get up and personal with the heavenly body. A 2-hour private star tour with Coyote Telescopes is one of coolest ways to see a galaxy far, far away. The 2-hour guided tour for six or less people is $175. www.coyotetelescope.com
Saving Dough: 29 Palms Creative Art Gallery
Get your artistic side on with a relaxing a creative class at the 29 Palms Creative Art Gallery, a short walk from 29 Palms Inn. Classes range from painting pottery, to hand building clay creature or painting of all kind. Classes range in a variety of prices; a couple can build their own dinosaur family starting at $55 per couple.www.29palmscreativecenter.com
Splurge It: 29 Palms Inn Restaurant
Farm-to-table is all the rage in the world of gastronomy, however at the 29 Palms Inn Restaurant, it is a way of life with their own Faultline Farms providing the freshest ingredients. It does not get much fresher than housemade breads, soups, dressings and desserts, along with a bountiful crop of fresh from the garden fruits and vegetables. Dinner at the poolside setting bistro under a blanket of stars start around $50-100 for two.www.29palmsinn.com/dinner
Saving Dough: Pie for the People
Starting out as food truck following the music festival scene in the early 2000’s, Pie for the People have honed their New York style pizza making chops and are now a staple to any desert foodie journeymen. You can’t go wrong with the daring David Bowie pizza, that features bacon, jalapeños and ricotta cheese – a rock star of a pie.www.pieforthepeople.com
My Mixed Tape – Desert Edition
No road trip would be complete without a proper playlist. Give my fav five a listen from My Mixed Tape Mix.
Cold War Kids – Miracle Mile
U2 – In God’s Country
Foo Fighters – Outside
Queens of the Stone Age – My God is the Sun
Johnny Cash – Drive On