One Day (and Gluten-Free) in Joshua Tree, CA

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Most people agree that Joshua Tree is a magical place. Situated between California’s Mojave Desert and the lower Colorado Desert, it’s home to the native Joshua Tree (hence the name), Joshua Tree National Park and Little San Bernardino Mountains. Due to its beautiful topography and nature, it has a long history of luring in artists, hikers, rock climbers alike. Only located 2.5 hours away from both Los Angeles and San Diego, it’s no wonder why so many Angelinos and San Diegans purchase second homes here. Joshua Tree has quite a bit to offer, whether you’re there for a day, the weekend, or forever. Here’s our must-dos…

Breakfast

Crossroads Cafe

Located in downtown Joshua Tree, they have plenty of options to make everyone happy. The staff is knowledgeable about cross contamination, and can substitute pretty much anything to make your meal gluten free.

Cafe Frontier

This cafe is in Yucca Valley, with lots of sandwich and soup options, and many which are gluten-free. Ensure that the person taking your order knows that you have Celiac, in order for them to take proper precautions. Did I also maybe see Elizabeth Olsen while I was there? Maybe… FYI they also offer lunch!

Coffee

Joshua Tree Coffee Company

Fresh, sustainable and local, roasted in downtown Joshua Tree. For me, it’s the best and only coffee choice in Joshua Tree. They have a few alternative milk options, as well as a couple of gluten-free snack options.

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Lunch

Natural Sisters Cafe

Situated right downtown, my favorite place to eat in the desert hands down. Organic, natural foods, with tons of gluten-free options and fresh baked goods. I tend to get their soup of the day, a sandwich, fresh juice and a baked good — like a chickpea flour muffin (mmm). They are also open for breakfast! Ensure that you let them know of your allergies as they are not 100% gluten-free. Keep in mind, there is almost always a line during the weekends.

La Copine Kitchen

American cuisine, with a funky flare. They are only open seasonally, but always delicious, with organic and gluten-free options to boot! Be sure to let them know if you have Celiac, or any other intolerances. Also, open for Dinner.

Dinner

Pie For The People

Also, located downtown, they offer an amazing gluten-free crust option for their pizzas! Even better, for us non-dairy eaters, they have vegan options! Yes, now you can have the best of both worlds after your hike in Joshua Tree. Be sure to let know you are Celiac, or if you have any other intolerances.

Joshua Tree Health Foods

Located downtown, this market has enough gluten-free and vegan products to fill your heart’s content. Especially if you’re stocking up for a camping trip in Joshua Tree National Park, or staying at a nearby AirBnB.

Things to Do

Joshua Tree National Park

One of my favorite National Parks! Located around the corner from downtown Joshua Tree, it’s larger than the state of Rhode Island (we all forget how big California is) and there are hiking, camping and rock climbing options for days.

Integratron

This is one of the coolest things to do in Joshua Tree, because there is no other place in the world quite like it… On second thought, that sounds like most of Joshua Tree. I won’t delve too much into the history, other than to say, it was created by George Van Tessel, after communicating with aliens, and it’s acoustically perfect. It also set on an energy vortex, and is run by three sisters (girl power!). They now offer these really cool sound bath sessions inside of it. Back in the day, you could just show up, but you now have to reserve a space ahead of time. You won’t regret it.

Noah Purifoy Desert Art Museum

“A trip” is the only true way to describe this place. Open everyday, from dawn to dusk and free to the public (don’t forget to donate), this outdoor museum is full of some fantastic art installations by the famous, Noah Purifoy.

Desert Christ Park

Another outdoor museum, home to 40 white sculptures depicting Christ’s life and teachings. It’s free of charge, open everyday, from dawn to dusk, and it’s… definitely worth a visit. Don’t forget to donate!

Crochet Museum

The first, and only… Full of crocheted everything, and curated by Bunny, the crocheted Alligator. Need I say more? Just go.

Joshua Tree Retreat Center (Institute of Mentalphysics)

This center hosts some great wellness-based programs, retreats and festivals. You can also stay here for the night! Be sure to check out their calendar for upcoming events.

Midnight Oil Gallery

View beautiful featured art in Yucca Valley, run by Bonnie Brookes and gorgeous hand poking tattoo artist, Taylor Elyse Compton. And how lovely are these pieces by Anastasia Digiallonardo (will someone plz buy me one?)? Don’t worry, there is a mural on the outdoor wall for you to take plenty of pretty pics with.

Meditate at the Dhamma Vaddhana Vipassana Meditation Center

Down the street, in Twentynine Palms, you can complete an amazing 10-day silent Vipassana meditation retreat that’s donation-based. It personally changed my life.

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Shopping

Hope you weren’t saving for a rainy day, because those don’t happen too often here (Note: many of these are down the road in Yucca Valley)…

Ricochet Vintage Wears

Right in downtown, it’s exactly what you would expect and want from a vintage store in Joshua Tree. It’s rare I leave empty handed.

Grateful Desert Herb Shoppe and EcoMarket

Located in Downtown, this cute shop is filled with small-batched, sustainable, hand-crafted herbal and natural health products. The founder is a RN and herbalist who does herbal consults. And they ship!

Cactusmart

I don’t leave Yuca Valley without buying something from Cactusmart. They have every type of succulent and cactus you can possibly imagine. Plus, their adorable cats and hens chill amongst the greens while you shop.

Bkbceramics

A gorgeous ceramic store, owned by local artist, Brian Bosworth. You will officially have the perfect home for that succulent you bought at Cactusmart! P.S. If you are lucky (like we have been), you might be able to catch him creating something.

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TBG-Homegrown

Adorable store, full of house plants, cacti, succulents, local goods, including but not limited to new and vintage pottery and other home decor, and accessories. The owner is super sweet, and also has a floral business aka The Blooming Gypsy (if you ever need the hookup for your future desert wedding).

Hoof & The Horn

A beautiful store, packed full of both vintage and new finds. You can buy anything you may need here for your Joshua Tree photoshoot. Hungry? Don’t worry, it’s next door to Frontier Cafe!

The End Yucca Valley

A vintage oasis, filled with delicious style finds, both old and new. This just may be the end of your saved cash! Not able to visit soon? No worries, they have a great online store.

Joshua Tree Certified Farmers’ Market

If you happen to be in Joshua Tree on a Saturday, between 8AM - 1PM, then you should definitely make a pit stop here. Locally grown everything, and some of the best dates, fruits, and nuts you can get your hands on!

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Evening Entertainment

Pappy and Harriets Saloon, in Pioneertown

This saloon is located in historical Pioneertown (Old West movie set, turned cute town). It has brought in some notable names, such as Paul McCartney, Vampire Weekend, Spiritualized, Lorde, Arctic Monkeys, and many more. Located essentially ‘in the middle of nowhere,’ you never know who you will see or run into while there. If you happen to be day-drinking there, be sure to walk on over and check out downtown Pioneertown, and the General Store there, offering “handpicked desert provisions.”

Smith’s Ranch Drive-in Movie Theatre

You should definitely have a drive-in movie experience on your bucket list, and cross it off, over and over again, when you watch a movie here.

We hope you enjoy this high desert gem, and as always, Buen Camino!

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