Travels With a Toddler: Joshua Tree

Loving cousins in the desert


In May, we took a trip that had been on my travel wish list for some time to the Mojave Desert and Joshua Tree National Park.  There has been increasing hype around Joshua Tree for a little while now, and I suspected I would love this arid, quirky, unique little hippie place.  Well, I was 100% correct!  I LOVED Joshua Tree, so much so that my husband and I are planning on returning this month for my birthday and even looking into property to purchase there!  Let me tell you why…


Traveling with a toddler can be hard, but this post is easy because Joshua Tree is incredibly kid-friendly.  The surreal landscape is perfect for exploring, so long as your child is old enough to know “no touch” and you gird him or her with sturdy shoes that keep the shedding cactus spines out!  My daughter adored finding treasures like beautiful quartz-like rocks in the sand and depositing them in a bucket for safe-keeping.

We saw many other families in Joshua Tree while we visited, including at the popular hangout Pappy and Harriet’s in Pioneertown.  This is a 10-15 minute drive outside of JT through scenery that seems to be taken right from an old western movie, and is in fact located on the edge of an old movie set.  Pappy and Harriet’s is a must-visit while in town with its frequent free live music, delicious food, and family-friendly atmosphere.  There were tons of little ones dancing around and having a ball!



You’ll hear the words “surreal” and “other worldly” associated with the landscape of Joshua Tree and the Mojave Desert in general, and for good reason.  The Joshua Trees are strange and beautiful, speckling the horizon with their jagged branches, and the Cholla Cacti kind of glow as the sun comes up and down each day.  There’s a garden full of them that I heard is beautiful at sunrise!

The landscape of this desert offers some things I crave in the city: a fresh breath of clean air and the refreshing solitude of vast open spaces.  The Airbnb property we stayed at (which I would HIGHLY recommend) had an expansive property in the back that was perfect for wandering with a hot cup of joe in the morning or a frosty brewskie at dusk.  Since we were there in Spring, the cacti were blooming and it was lovely.  We didn’t get a chance to go on a hike, but it’s definitely on the list for next time.


We went into the little town parts of Yucca Valley and Joshua Tree, where there was a farmer’s market happening.  The vibe I got from the area, besides being family-oriented, was laid-back, vintage, hippie, and earth-loving.  I have heard of several people moving out to the desert to escape the hustle and bustle of modern life, and I can totally see following in their footsteps in the future.  Honestly, besides eating out occasionally and enjoying nature, there doesn’t seem to be a whole heckuvalot to do on the day-to-day in the area, which is exactly what my family is looking for when vacationing these days!

We did visit some fun shops in Joshua Tree Village, including Beauty Bubble Salon and Museum, where the kindest owner let me take some pictures of Lu and even treated her to a sweet little barrette that she refused to put down the rest of the day!  The people in general were super friendly.  There was also a natural food store and several antique shops to peruse.  We saw tons of event posters for fun-looking family music festivals and a town parade…it seems like a real community, which I find myself searching for more and more these days.

Overall, I felt very much at home in this place, and it seemed to me like the residents have pinpointed the best things in life: good people, good food, good music, self-care, and our beautiful Mother Earth.  I hope to spend many more restful days here in the future!

Have you ever been to Joshua Tree or the Mojave Desert area?  What was your favorite part?

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