When we left LA we stopped overnight at The Wigwam Motel, which is in San Bernardino, and it’s on route to the desert. It’s a perfect place to stop overnight with lots of good cafes and diners around AND you get to stay in a retro wigwam!
This was such a unique place to stay. You sleep in your own concrete wigwam, which is super retro inside with a bedroom, sofa, TV and bathroom. The signs outside the reception are great photo ops with Route 66 signs and they also have a lot of old cars around. I thought the rate was actually really good here for a fun night stay with lots of good photo ops for your road trip album!
The next day we headed to the desert, first on the list was Pioneertown, which is an old western town built by the owners of Hollywood for a movie and now is a great place to visit for photos and to explore. We went early in the week but apparently the best time to visit is the weekends as the place is a little more alive. It’s a must see especially if you’re in the Joshua Tree area.
We had been recommended Pappy & Harriet’s by lot of people and I honestly think it’s a must do if you are in the area, again the best time to visit is the weekends as its closed earlier in the week. I advise you to book tickets if there’s a gig on as it was sold out when we went so good to be prepared, also if your grabbing dinner get there early as there’s often a queue for a table. The vibe was really special when we went lots of people enjoying the music and the food it was a really fun night and definitely a highlight for us. Lot’s of locals still come here so it has an undiscovered by tourists vibe although it’s getting really popular now and I can see why. It also has a beautiful outside area when lit up at night it looks magical.
PLACES TO STAY
Whilst we were in Pioneertown we stayed at The Pioneertown Motel. It was so beautiful all the rooms are so stylishly decorated, it almost has a Soho Farmhouse vibe. The hotel is very relaxed and everything you need for a comfortable and enjoyable stay. It’s walkable distance to Pioneertown and to Pappy & Harriet’s, so you can go and explore by foot. The main office is so cute; the whole place is beautiful I can guarantee you will be taking lots of photos here.
After Pioneertown we headed to Joshua Tree for 4 nights. The scenery is so breathtaking with Joshua Trees and sand for days. Joshua Tree is home to a lot of artists and creative people with unusual installations dotted everywhere. It’s the perfect place to unwind and relax and we were lucky enough to stay in such an amazing mix of places, which were really unforgettable!
PLACES TO STAY
The first night we stayed in the most beautiful purple gypsy wagon. The décor inside was stunning and it has a couch and a kitchen! The secluded bedroom area accessed only by the ladder, was a lot of fun and felt like your own little bohemian den. The outside of the wagon has a cute little chill out area which we took advantage of and played cards in the evening. And above it is a stunning awning which was so nice for shade in the desert sun, and amazing for our mini collection shoot there. There’s also a fire pit which is awesome for chilly evenings. The whole place was so magical, they have really thought about every little detail in the wagon. It made for the perfect desert stay, so if you’re a bohemian at heart then this one’s for you.
One of my favorite places we have stayed in our whole trip was La Bonito Cassita. The owners who live here are artists so every area is incredible with huge sculptures and beautiful art inside and out. You have your own studio with an outside area with a BBQ, huge open plan living studio and the bedroom, kitchen and bathroom. The place is vibrant, creative and quirky and we really loved all the being immersed in the art of local Joshua Tree artists. The chocolates on your pillows, a welcome note and wine were a cute touch and made us feel right at home. Michele was such a great host, you get the privacy you want but if you need anything she’s always there to help. We watched the sunset at the sculpture car at the front of the building, which is called ‘The Sunset Lounge’, and with the sculptures in the background it was a truly spectacular evening. Just want to say a MASSIVE thank you to Michele, Eric and their son for saving our bacon when we got our car stuck in the desert in the middle of the night!!! They were on hand to come and tow us out and guide us safely back to the Casita – our heroes!
I have always wanted to stay in an Airstream so it was very exciting to finally get to do so in the desert! The Airstream has an outside stargazing bed with lots of blankets and cushions, which was such a nice touch as we lay there watching the stars at night. The views are breathtaking with just desert around you for miles. The airstream was super comfy and we had a good night sleep in there. It keeps warm at night, which was good as it can get chilly in the desert. It was decorated so thoughtfully inside. It has running water, a compost toilet and kitchen area with a hot plate to heat a saucepan or frying pan, which meant we could make pancakes in the morning! All in all a great first experience in an Airstream!
This was such a cute little spot to stay in. The 70s trailer is kitted out so well with a kitchen area, double & single bed, huge outside area with a BBQ and it’s decorated so retro and homely. The perfect place to chill and relax, especially in the evening with a BBQ on and a glass of wine in hand. It’s also located in a beautiful area which is surrounded by gorgeous scenery but also close to the town if you need to pop to the shop or head out for dinner.
THINGS TO DO JOSHUA TREE
This pizza joint is definitely worth a visit! They have incredible pizza concoctions such as the ‘David Bowie’ and the ‘Barry White’ . It was really delicious and moderately priced.
This place is adorable and so random! It’s a tiny museum full of crochet toys and animals, like the ones you used to have as baby! It’s on the main road right by the The Beauty Bubble Salon, which is also a great retro photo opportunity!
An outdoor art museum full of unusual sculptures and installations created by Noah Purifoy where he lived for the last 15 years of his life creating ten acres full of large scale sculptures on the desert floor. It’s such a random place and definitely worth a visit. It’s also free (but you can donate) so if you are travelling on a budget it’s a good thing to do for a few hours. Definitely captures the the uniqueness of Joshua Tree.
The next stop on our journey was Palm Springs. Our aim was to get to Salvation Mountain and this was a great stop off in between. We wanted to chill out here, which was easy as there are so many spas around!
THINGS TO DO:
There are so many spas and amazing pools in the Desert hot springs area, which are perfect to visit for a day of relaxation and pampering in the heat. We spent the day at El Morocco Inn & Spa, which was so beautiful. It has a Moroccan themed pool with Jacuzzi, complimentary coffee, cold drinks and snacks. You also have the option to book spa treatments. It was the perfect place to chill and relax and have a swim and you can book a day visit or they have rooms to stay overnight as well.
One day we also visited the Moorten Botanical Garden which is really pretty and perfect for strolling around on a sunny day with all types of cactuses and plants.
WHERE TO STAY
This was one of the most unique places we stayed on our whole trip. What used to be a water tower is now converted into a wonderful colourful Airbnb with bunk beds, a fridge, toaster and full bathroom upstairs. It also has coloured glass windows, which is so pretty with the light coming through. The décor is really special inside and it really was a magical stay. The outside was painted by an 80 year old artist which I found really impressive and each side of the tower represents a season. If you’re looking for something memorable and fun I can not recommend this place enough!
The last leg of this part of our journey was Salvation Mountain. I have wanted to visit here for a long time after seeing people post about it on Instagram and we made the long drive from Palm Springs way out into the desert to see what it was all about!
After Palm Springs we drove out to Salvation Mountain and Slab City. You have probably seen this on Instagram as it’s fast becoming a popular tourist spot. It was definitely worth the journey to visit and walk around. Slab City is a community in the desert who live without laws, running water or electricity. There are loads of cray art installations around it was super interesting to explore!
After 3 months amazing months in Australia we flew from Sydney to start our American road trip in LA. I was super excited and couldn’t wait to see all the sights, collab with people we’ve admired for a long time and thrift a lot along the way.
Our ‘Retro Guide To The US’ will feature our pick of some of the most retro things to do in America and the most unique places to stay along the way!
I absolutely loved LA it has such a great vibe with so much creativity and flair. It was really fun visiting all the iconic places I have seen for so long in photos and in the movies such as Beverley Hills, Hollywood and Venice Beach.
Here are a few of my favourite things we did here..
THINGS TO DO
BIKE RIDE ALONG VENICE BOARDWALK
A very touristy thing to do but 100% worth it! We hired bikes and rode from Santa Monica to Venice and back again. It was so fun riding around on the beachfront on the bikes in the sunshine. We used the Metro bikes rather than a hire shop which is definitely the way forward if you’re on a budget. You just need to download the Metro Bike app which was really easy and it shows you where to pick up and drop off. We did it on a Monday afternoon so it wasn’t that busy and we were riding back when the sun was setting which was really beautiful. We also had a look around Santa Monica Pier after which is really lively and definitely worth a visit.
We were on the fence about going to Universal as the tickets are quite expensive around $100 each, but it was definitely worth it and I’m so glad we went. Universal opened as a theme park in 1964 so it’s super retro itself and has a magical vibe. The rides are incredible with a lot of 4D visual rides and Harry Potter World!
It was a really fun day out with lot’s to do and see, we arrived around 10.30am and left around 7pm. We went on a Monday so it wasn’t that bad with queues but I can imagine at the weekends it gets super busy and you could need a two day pass to get around everything. You also have Disneyland in LA too, but we made the decision to do Universal.
My favourite ride was Jurassic Park – which is a water ride with an 85 foot drop at the end!! They have shows such as Waterworld which is an outdoor theatre show with water and visual stunts. They also have an hour long studio tour which takes you around some of the movie sets at the back of the park which was really interesting with 2 4D rides along the way- King Kong and Fast & Furious.
WATCH A BASKETBALL GAME
We went to see the Lakers at the Staples Center in LA, which my husband Ben was really keen to do. It cost us about $40 a ticket but they really vary in price depending on how close you want to get the the court.. It was really fun and the game had a great atmosphere! Lakers played the Houston Rockets, but unfortunately lost. Its something nice to do in America as Basketball is such a huge sport especially if you are visiting or on holiday here.
SHOPPING ON MELROSE AVENUE
Melrose Avenue is famous for vintage shopping so I spent the afternoon looking around and exploring. I headed to Wasteland and all the famous spots along the Avenue. The vintage shops were really good but on the higher price bracket, I preferred to go thrifting. There are a lot of cool wall murals to take photos including the rainbow and peace sign, a nice way to spend the afternoon.
DRIVE ALONG THE PACIFIC COAST HIGHWAY AT SUNSET
We did this drive a lot as we were staying outside LA in Oxnard and it was quite possibly the most beautiful drive we have done so far on our trip. You drive along the coast passing Santa Monica and Malibu’s stunning beaches and it really is something else. The sunsets are always so beautiful and golden and the beaches have this special haze that looks so magical. If you have a car take some blankets and a beer and stop to watch the sunset here, you will not be disappointed! We also stopped at one of the beaches in Malibu one afternoon and saw a group of whales near the shore!
HIRE A RETRO CAR
Another fun thing to do whilst in LA is to hire a classic car, this has been something I have always wanted to do. We hired a red 1970 Buick Electra from 777 Exotics and it was so fun! The car was so beautiful with red interior and immaculate condition. The guys at 777 Exotics were also super helpful making the process really easy. They also have newer sports cars on their site, but we loved there classic car section, it was so hard to pick!
RETRO DINERS / BARS
I am fascinated by all the old school American diners so was super excited to visit a few. The food was great, the portions were big and the décor was just as retro as I expected, here are my favorites!
Café 50s was one of the first diners we visited in LA and I think it has to be my favorite. I really loved the whole vibe and they have a great menu with vegetarian options and savory / sweet whatever your feeling! This place is kitted out to the max inside, old signs, retro merobillia and lots of colour. The outside is super cute too and perfect for that insta shot!
One of the most famous diners in LA is Mel’s Diner in Hollywood, they have 8 different diners in America and the first one was opened in 1947 in San Fran! This place is decorated so perfectly retro with mini jukeboxes at your table, retro seats and all the American food you could want. A must visit if you’re visiting Hollywood with a great retro light up sign outside. Keep an eye for our interview feature with the Grandson of Mel who founded the Diner chain!
GOOD TIMES AT DAVEY WAYNES
An amazing retro bar to check out is Good Times At Davey Waynes. This bar is super 70s and retro where you walk through a fridge to get inside. It’s such a popular place and they play 70s all night long, even the toilets are retro as hell! So put on those flares and head here any night of the week for a guaranteed good time!
FAIR OAKS PHARMACY
I found this place on Instagram; it’s in Pasenda, which is a really nice area in LA especially the old town. This place is worth visiting for American diner food and they also have the best ice cream with all sorts of sundaes and combinations! The outside and the inside are perfect for some retro shots.
There are a lot of In-N-Out Burger joints around and it’s definitely worth a visit! There is always a queue in there because it’s so cheap but really good and fresh, you even see them slicing the potatoes in a machine behind the counter! The staff all wear retro uniforms and the whole place has a really retro vibe, it’s been around since 1948! I’m vegetarian so always get the grilled cheese which is really great and only around $3, I’m super sad to say I was really disappointed by the fries here though but my husband really enjoyed the burger!
Our next stop is out to the desert to Pioneertown & Joshua Tree which we are super excited about to finally get on the road and explore!
We have had the pleasure on our journey of meeting some of the most creative people and visiting some of the most unique and inspiring places all around the world.
In Australia we got the chance to shoot at the incredible Walkers Run. We came across this place on Airbnb by chance when searching for locations and I could not believe my eyes. The decor and whole place is so visually pleasing and everything was created by the owners Rob and Ruth. It really is one of the most unique spaces we have ever visited and something very special.
Rob and Ruth used to work together in Wellington, NZ when Ruth was Robs PA at EMI records, and they rekindled their romance 15 years ago after meeting up again, having not seen each other for 30 years, at a mutual friends funeral in Sydney.
Rob had a very successful career in the music industry which we found fascinating after seeing photos on the walls of him with the likes of Stevie Nicks and Mick Jagger! Amongst other incredible things he travelled the world whilst he was tour manager for Tina Turner! Rob’s also responsible for artist signings including Savage Garden, Tina Arena, Keith Urban and James Blundell. His career earned him top positions as head of A & R/Promotions for EMI Australia, and Director of International Operations at Capital Records Los Angeles.
Rob discovered the 30 acre spot in Bucketty not long before they met again and together they have spent the last 15 years creating their ‘Funky Wild West’ in the Aussie Bush. Pairing Ruth’s creative background in the textile and furniture industry and Robs ability to build ‘just about anything’ it made them the perfect dream team to create and develop what they have today. A quirky, inspirational, magical space which we will never forget.
They recently opened their home to guests via AirBnB and have had visitors come and stay from all over the world. It really does feel like you’re getting lost in the Wild West but you’re only 90 minutes outside of Sydney!
The spectacular views from the decking is endless green and so perfect to relax on with a glass of wine.
You can book their place on Airbnb HERE and follow Robs and Ruth’s amazing place below…
Keep an eye on our site for our shoot from Walkers Run, coming soon!
Photography: Dan Hilburn
Model: Sloan Peterson
Hair/Make Up: Amy Chen