Coachella Bound: A Dreamy Desert Road Trip
Collected by Susan Mason , AFAR Local Expert
Tens of thousands of people trek to the desert in Indio, California, each April for the Coachella Music Festival. The trip down and back can include forays into the mountains, the deserts, and the nearby communities. Whether you're seeking folk art, fine art, or desert solitude, this region can offer you the road trip of a lifetime.
Bombay Beach, CA 92257, USA
In the 50s, Bombay Beach on the Salton Sea in Southern California was the place to be. This resort town was booming until a great flood in the 70s washed it out and town stood still. There are still a few residents in this tiny town, but mostly...
Mt Baldy, CA 91759, USA
Whether sunshine or snow, a day at Mt. Baldy is a thrilling adventure above the clouds. At 10,068 feet the trek to the summit along cliff-hugging trails gets your adrenaline pumping. The best route is to tackle the steep 4.5 mile climb up the Ski...
Giant Rock, California 92285, USA
Joshua Tree in the Mojave Desert is as weird as the shapes of the trees that make it up. While beautiful in its sparse vastness, it is no surprise that alien enthusiasts have taken to the area. For a taste of this, try a rejuvenating soundbath at...
The desert is a fantastic place, peaceful and quiet. And if you like these qualities about the desert, just think what it's like at night. You feel like you have the world to yourself. And if you focus, you can actually notice the movement of the...
37977 Bob Hope Dr, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270, USA
The Annenberg Estate in Rancho Mirage—also known as Sunnylands—was hidden from the public's eye behind a pink wall for decades until it opened for tours in 2012. The main home features a unique style of midcentury modern architecture....
101 N Museum Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262, USA
It’s a sign of the Palm Springs boom that what started as a modest local museum is now a premier destination for art and design aficionados. Today, the establishment, first opened in 1938, celebrates performing arts, modern art, and...
Slab City, CA 92233, USA
Slab City is a commune of squatters on an old military base in the Imperial Valley of Southern California. Dusty trailers and makeshift homes cover this sandy neighborhood, complete with a stage and party venue, as seen in the movie Into the Wild,...
Beal Rd, Calipatria, CA 92233, USA
The technicolor mound in the middle of the barren Imperial Valley desert is a quirky manifestation of Leonard Knight’s mission to spread the message of Love after discovering Jesus at age 35 in 1967. Salvation Mountain is a three-story mural...
Tens of thousands of people trek to the middle of the desert for the Coachella Music Festival two weekends in April. Their line ups have included iconic band reunions from the likes of Iggy and the Stooges, Pixies and Portishead and even a...
83555 Airport Blvd #11, Thermal, CA 92274, USA
Outside of Palm Springs, off the I-10, there are the dinos made famous in Pee-Wee's Playhouse, and there are date shakes made famous by Hadley's. I have been stopping at this fruit and nut stand since I was a little kid, en route to or from my...
701 E Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92264, USA
If there’s one night to slide into a booth at this casual diner inside the hip Ace Hotel & Swim Club, make it a Monday. That’s when the place is transformed by the unmissable presence of 90-year-old ex-showgirl Shirley Claire, who...
622 N Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262, USA
Local restaurateurs, Tara Lazar and Marco Rosetti, have the brunch business on lock down with Cheeky’s and in 2011 expanded into dinner by opening the outdoor pizzeria Birba just next door. The wood-fired pizzas are a delicious combination of...
73950 Inn Ave, Twentynine Palms, CA 92277, USA
Book a small bungalow, The Dandelion, at the 29 Palms Inn where the service is friendly and the stars are brighter than ever. Charlie, one of the head chefs, will guide you to all of the great sights in the area. If you are looking for a relaxed,...
Inland Ave, Empire, CA 95357, USA
You may not find an address online for this desert diorama in the middle of nowhere near Joshua Tree, CA. You can, however, get directions e-mailed to you, if you book. Walking into the grounds you enter a lifesized Barbie playland pop-up-book...
200 Palm Canyon Dr, Borrego Springs, CA 92004, USA
It's impossible to come check out Anza-Borrego without a visit to the Natural History Association. Here is where you can learn everything about the plants, wildlife, and Laguna mountains surrounding the desert. If you are interested in any of the...
701 E Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92264, USA
The Palm Springs Ace Hotel was once a Howard Johnson and the accompanying King's Highway Diner was once a Denny's. The Ace experience was everything we hoped for and more. Our room, complete with a private patio and fireplace, felt like a scene...
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