Retro Guide To The USA – Los Angeles To Palm Springs
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!
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