Get a taste of Palm Springs hip before heading into Joshua Tree parklands then circling back for spas, golf, and killer tacos.
Length of trip: 1-2 days
Total distance: 161.3mi/259.6km
Palm Springs. Gallery-hop along Palm Canyon Drive to see top-quality paintings, sculptures, and photography. On Thursday evenings, the route turns into a pedestrian-only street fair , with live music, food, craft vendors, and a farmers’ market.
Yucca Valley (29.1mi; 35.8km; 28 min). For free tips on exploring the region, stop by the California Welcome Center©, where friendly travel concierges help you find places to eat, play, shop, and relax.
Twentynine Palms (22.3mi; 46.8km; 39 min). Check in at the Joshua Tree National Park visitor center to target where climbers are dangling from rocky pinnacles in this spectacular half-million-acre park. Bring your binoculars for a thrilling view of this daring sport at one of the premiere climbing destinations in the country.
Joshua Tree National Park (9.7mi; 15.6km; 17 min). Head south through the park to see a surprising amount of wildlife, particularly birds . Look for roadrunners, prairie falcons, and, during the spring migration, colorful warblers. Along rugged canyon trails, scan rocky ridges for desert bighorn sheep.
Coachella (61.7mi; 99.3km; 1 hr 33 min). Try pollo (chicken), carne (beef), or be adventurous and go for birria (goat) at Jalisco (1605 6th St; 760/398-7113), a no-nonsense taqueria that draws raves for its tacos and tortas (Mexican sandwiches).
La Quinta (12.9mi; 20.7km; 21 min). Rent a set of clubs (or pull out your own) to take a swing at the region’s outstanding courses, like the public course at SilverRock Resort . Relax in a café in the town’s quaint village center, or take a bike ride along the Bear Creek Trail .
Indian Wells (5.1 mi; 8.2km; 10 min). Get a spa treatment in a desert oasis setting at hideaways like Spa Esmerelda, where you can indulge in a bliss-inducing massage. At The Well Spa, relax in a luxurious Tuscan setting. After a treatment at Agua Serena, take a nap surrounded by the sound of waterfalls in a private courtyard.
Palm Desert (4.2mi; 6.7km; 5 min). Download a self-guided architecture map and tour to visit some of the finest examples of Mid-Century Modern design. Check out masterpieces by the likes of famed architects Albert Frey, William, Krisel, and Walter White.
Palm Desert. See rare wildlife The Living Museum , a remarkable complex that showcases deserts of the world and their inhabitants. At Village WaTutu, check out an authentic North African village, and see hyenas, leopards, and weaver birds. See species from California’s deserts, including eagles, badgers, and mountain lions.
Return to Palm Springs (16.3mi; 26.2km; 24 min).