Family Adventures in Joshua Tree: A Kid-Friendly Weekend Exploration Guide

Travel advisor Alexandra Duhl posing with the boy wearing black sunglasses.
Curated By

Alexandra Duhl

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  • Nature Escapes

  • Family Travel

  • Active Travel

  • Adventure Travel

  • California

  • USA

  • Outdoors

  • Hiking

  • National Park

A family of three standing on a large rock in Joshua Tree.
Curator’s statement

Imagine warm days exploring in the desert and cool nights stargazing in the hot tub with a glass of wine. Our three days in Joshua Tree ended an incredible one-week trip to California! This was our first major travel adventure with our son, and we learned a lot about traveling with a baby! This National Park was really unique and the desert was breathtaking. It also was very kid-friendly! Our group had four kids under 4! A long weekend was perfect for this destination!

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Where to stay

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AutoCamp Joshua Tree

Curated for those who just can't get enough of nature, these airstreams ensure that your adventures are close to that signature California camping experience, minus the fuss.

Acacia by Avantstay

Quaint accommodations outfitted in minimalist Scandinavian style.

The Homestead Bungalow

Desert accommodations at their best with chic furnishings and cozy bungalows on a 152 acre Joshua Tree Retreat Center campus.

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Travel advisor Alexandra Duhl posing with the boy wearing black sunglasses.

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Day 1: Picturesque Joshua Tree

A cactus in the desert surrounded by mountains.

We decided to drive to the furthest point and make our way back towards town! These three spots were great for pictures and were easy with kids!

Stop 1: Cholla Cactus Garden
Stop 2: Arch Rock Hike
Stop 3: Skull Rock

Lunch: After our morning in the park, Joshua Tree Saloon for lunch. The atmosphere was really cool on the back patio and our food & drinks were very good.

Afternoon: We then visited the Joshua Tree Visitor Center to stamp the kids' Jr. Ranger books and then Coyote Corner to get souvenirs. These were all right next to one another.

Evening: We spent our evening at our accommodations, ordered pizza from Pie for the People and got lucky to have a clear night to see the Milky Way!

Day 2: Desert Exploration

A dad and daughter on a rock in Joshua Tree.

We entered the park through the other side on our last day! It was perfect because it wasn’t quite as far. Had we not had all the kids, we probably would have started the morning with a hike at the Ryan Mountain Overlook. Instead, we decided to just stop at some easy stopping points & were not disappointed. The drive was beautiful.

Stop 1: Quail Springs Area - We didn’t have the Quail Hollow stop planned, but decided to stop because we wanted to see some of the rock climbers. It was a great place to get some pictures and you could climb to the top of the rocks easily to get a great view of the park. There were Joshua Trees Everywhere. In retrospect, I think it would have been fun to pack a picnic for this stop from DEZ Fine Food Takeaway, but instead, after exploring, we headed back into town to pick up sandwiches and salads from here to take to Joshua Tree Brewery.

Stop 2: Hidden Valley Nature Scenic Loop - This was a quick 1-mile loop that was easy to do with baby carriers and a toddler in tow.

Stop 3: Hall of Horrors - One of our favorite spots for group pictures.

Evening: Pappy & Harriet's Pioneertown Palace: Primarily known for its live music scene, Pappy & Harriet's also serves up delicious pizza and other foods. You could also check out the Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Museum or do some other short hikes in the evening to catch the sunset!

Need to Know

For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor Tori Petry’s guide, The 10 Best National Parks in the US.

Travel advisor Alexandra Duhl posing with the boy wearing black sunglasses.

Travel Advisor

Alexandra Duhl

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to California.