By Nicole Bowen – TheDarlingNiki.com
Once the relaxation of our mineral waters have kicked in and you are itching for a day trip to explore more of the beautiful Southern California desert, look no further than the high desert towns of Yucca Valley and Pioneertown, just a quick 30-minute drive from Aqua Soleil Hotel. As you begin your drive up Highway 62, you’ll notice the quick gain of elevation and the slightly cooler temperatures. The high desert, as it’s known by locals, sits at 3300 feet of elevation and offers visitors the ideal spot to enjoy vintage shopping, music, and clear skies for stargazing.
Photo from Instagram @cactus _mart – Website: cactusmart.com
Grab a cup of coffee from The Shop Cafe and head out for your day. A stop at the Cactus Mart in Morongo Valley is a must for their iconic “Dig Your Own Cactus” offering. For just $0.59 you can dig your own mini cactus to take home as a souvenir of your time in the desert. Once you arrive in Yucca Valley, keep an eye out for Pioneertown Road. This is the perfect spot to park the car and spend a few hours browsing the handful of vintage shops. The End is hands down a favorite spot for chic vintage finds, unique jewelry, boho boots, and one of a kind art. Their mural of an eye on the side of the building is an Instagram favorite, as is their pastel chevron floors. If a mix of new and vintage is more your style, then head over to Hoof & The Horn for an eclectic blend of vintage pieces like Schott motorcycle jackets next to funky tees and cool hats. Another personal favorite, Promised Land, is bringing more LA chic vintage finds to the high desert in their adorable shop next to Hoof & The Horn. Their handbag collection is hands down the best in the high desert.
The End photo from theendyuccavalley.com
Once the shopping tires you out, pop into the Frontier Cafe at the corner of Highway 62 and Pioneertown Road for an Avocado Tartine, Kale Chopped Salad, or Cuban Sandwich and an Oatmeal Stout. They also feature kombucha on tap plus coffee and tea if you need a midday pick me up.
Photo from Instagram @shopsmallbatch
Once the mid-afternoon sun starts shining, head 4 miles up Pioneertown Road to the Old West inspired spot of Pioneertown. Originally built as a movie set in the 1940s, Pioneertown still features many of the original facades on Mane Street plus a cute little inn. On weekends you will find the roadside town packed with bikers, hikers coming out of Joshua Tree Park, families on road trips, LA hipsters, and Palm Springs locals looking for cooler weather. Stop by the Pioneertown General Store for locally made goods and fun graphic tees. Shop Small Batch is another unique spot offering vintage and one of a kind finds weekends only in the Land Office building on Mane Street.
Photo from Instagram @thedarlingniki – Website: thedarlingniki.com
As the sun starts to drop and the evening begins, make your way to the iconic roadhouse Pappy & Harriet’s for some of the best BBQ you’ll ever taste. All of their organic meats and fish are cooked on an outdoor grill over mesquite wood….yum! Pappy’s plays host to countless musicians, and there is never a shortage of great acts coming through. During the 2016 Desert Trip festival, Paul McCartney played an intimate show at Pappy’s, and during last year’s Coachella, Lorde gave fans a surprise performance. Upcoming shows include Neon Indians and Lukas Nelson with his band Promise of the Real. Reservations for Pappy & Harriet’s are HIGHLY recommended and tickets are required for shows.
Written by Nicole Bowen of The Darling Niki