Shannon Did What / Travel + Lifestyle Blog

joshua tree

5 Weekend Trips From LA

TravelShannon Guerrero2 Comments

Whether you're a Los Angeles resident or on a vacation in sunny Southern California, sometimes it's nice to get out of the big, bustling city.  These tried and true destinations are all great ways to relax, explore and see more that Southern California has to offer.

All are less than a few hours drive from Los Angeles, so what are you waiting for?  Get going!

PaLM SPRINGS

About 2 hours East of Los Angeles

Whether you just want a calm weekend away or are looking for a fun time, Palm Spring is the perfect getaway.  It’s just close enough of a drive but far enough away to feel like a mini vacation.  There are a ton of great things to do around Palm Springs including visiting Salvation Mountain and really great places to grab a bite.  Or you can just spend the whole weekend here on a lounge chair by the pool.

Read More: 
Palm Springs: Weekend Getaway
Why Salvation Mountain is Worth the Trek
Five Most Instagrammable Spots in Palm Springs

SANTA BARBARA

About 2 hours North of Los Angeles

Santa Barbara is also a great alternative for an easy getaway.  Its cool Spanish colonial vibe and surfer atmosphere makes it the perfect relaxing destination.  The beach is dreamy and there are plenty of cute upscale shops and restaurants around town.  The best part is its nestled in the Santa Ynez Valley known for its local vineyards and wineries.  I would also highly recommend an afternoon or sunset sail aboard the Sunset Kidd

JOSHUA TREE

About 2.5 hours East of Los Angeles

If you love camping and hiking, Joshua Tree is the perfect place for you to fall off the grid for a weekend.  I am mean off the grid.  Cell phone reception in the park is rare.  Even if you’re not super into camping like me, I can promise you there is so much more to Joshua Tree.  The massive boulders and cool looking Joshua Trees, which fun fact are not cactus, create a landscape in this National Park that will leave you feeling like you’re on another planet.

Read More:
Joshua Tree: Top 6
Glamping vs. Camping: Joshua Tree

LAKE ARROWHEAD + BIG BEAR

About 1 hour East of Los Angeles to Arrowhead + 1 hour to Big Bear

I’m grouping these two destinations because they’re fairly close together and are the epitome of a weekend in the mountains.  It’s also only a short drive between Lake Arrowhead to Big Bear.  They’re similar in that they both have a lake, hiking, and a cute small town with shopping and restaurants.  One perk is the air up there is definitely cleaner than in Los Angeles.

CATALINA

About a 1 Ferry from Long Beach or San Pedro

If you're craving an island getaway but are low on time and funds, Catalina is the spot for you.  Even better it doesn't take a day by plane to get to this island. There are actually two places you can go on Catalina, or rather two ports, Avalon and Two Harbors.  Avalon is by far the most popular and most well-known between the two.  I actually didn't know Two Harbors existed before visiting it.  Both are filled with lots of hikes of the beautiful island and cozy stores and restaurants.  Bonus: You can take the ferry for free on your birthday!

Glamping vs Camping: Joshua Tree

TravelShannon GuerreroComment

There are definitely two ways you can do Joshua Tree.  You can camp or you can stay in the surrounding areas right outside of Joshua Tree National Park.  On my recent weekend trip, we were able to do a night of both, which if you know me, camping isn’t necessarily my thing. Why sleep on the floor when you can sleep on a bed, right? Well, regardless, I’m always up for adventures wherever I’ll be sleeping!

Did you know the desert can get crazy cold?  Ya, I didn’t either.  Wait, you did? Smartypants.  When we arrived in the afternoon, it was in the 40’s and driving into the park there were signs saying winds were expected to reach up to 80 mph through the night.  I know, you’re probably thinking what I was, it’s going to be a long night.

There are 8 campgrounds you can choose from if you want to camp within Joshua Tree National Park.  All of them around first come, first served and are either $15-$20, but two sites you can reserve ahead.  Be warned though, there is no running water through the grand majority of the park.  Make sure you bring plenty of drinking water with you, especially if it is hot outside.  No one wants to be dehydrated in the middle of the desert.

We stayed at the Jumbo Rocks campground, and boy was it a pretty setting to set up camp in.  Or for my best friend, Hannah, to pitch our tent in.  However, I still think you can build a tent.  (Something Hannah adamantly tells me is wrong) Granted, it’s pretty hard to find a bad view in Joshua Tree which is funny to me since I used to not like the way cacti looked.  It’s possible that the jumbo rocks blocked some of the wind, but then again it was crazy windy.  I thought our tent was going to fly away.  Not to mention the 30 degree, freezing temperatures.  

I’d do it again though.  I’d actually want to try the White Tank campground.  it had giant boulders surrounding it, as well, but just had a nice feel to it with only 15 sites versus the 124 at Jumbo Rocks.  It also was where the Arch Rock trail is which I included in my Joshua Tree Top 6 post (check it out!).

The next night we arranged to stay at the infamous Hicksville Tailer Palace.  I know, sounds funny to want to stay at a trailer park, but this is the most hip trailer park you’ll ever see.  There are 9 themed trailers that are anything but boring.  The property has miniature golf, an archery and bb gun range, a library, a life-size tee-pee with a fire pit, a rooftop hot tub, ping pong, and bean bag toss.

There is a ton of secrecy that surrounds Hicksville, which is definitely what gives it its’ intrigue.  You don’t even receive directions to the property until a few days prior.  You really do feel completely off the grid at Hicksville and it is amazing.  No checking in on social media and you’re literally alone in the middle of the desert.

Glamping in our cute Airstream called “The Sweet” (pictured above) was a welcomed change during the cold temperatures.  We had 2 heaters and it was so comfortable.  There is only one bathroom for most all of the campers - fair warning.  It really does feel like you’re staying in a wacky, uber hip, off-the-grid campsite.  Best part is that you don’t have to sleep on the ground!

I’d definitely recommend trying out both options.  Camping is a great experience especially in such beautiful setting and you're already inside the park, but falling of the grid in the unknown hideaway that is Hicksville is an experience in its own.

Yours Truly // Shannon

Joshua Tree: Top 6

TravelShannon Guerrero4 Comments
Joshua Tree: Top 6 | Shannon Did What?

It’s crazy, I’ve lived in Southern California my whole life and had never been to visit Joshua Tree.  Strange, since its literally 30 minutes from Palm Springs, which I have been to multiple times.  Finally, I visited this beautiful place and put together a list of Joshua Tree’s Top 6.  Granted, you can just pull over virtually anywhere off the main road and find yourself a scenic view.  These 6 are definitely can’t miss sites in Joshua Tree.

Yes, top 5 is more common but who wants common?  I couldn't leave out one site of the list, so you get the Joshua Tree Top 6:

1. GEOLOGY TOUR

This 18-mile driving tour, is pretty scenic.  If you have 4-wheel drive and a bit of time, it’s definitely got some great scenery.  And, if you like off-roading, this may be a great adventure for you! NOTE: Really, you have to have 4-wheel drive for this one.  After a few miles, they require it as it is literally a dirt path.

2. SKULL ROCK

I don’t think there’s much to explain with this one!  You guessed it!  There’s a rock here that looks like a giant skull, no joke.  This one can be a pretty quick stop, since you can see the Skull Rock from the road.  Parking is really easy just on the main road and there are a few different nature trails you can explore with great rock formations.

3. ARCH ROCK

Again, super self explanatory, Arch Rock is a naturally made arch rock formation.  Located just within the White Tank Campground, you have to drive into the campground to get to it.  It’s an extremely short walk to Arch Rock coming in around a half of a mile.

4. CHOLLA CACTUS GARDEN

The Cholla Cactus Garden was definitely my favorite stop which is funny because I used to not like Cacti, but this stop was beautiful.  You see the Cholla Cactus throughout the park, but always spread out - one here, one there.  Here, the cacti are all together almost like a rose garden.  They, also, are just beautiful in color which is an amazing contrast to a piercing-blue, cloudless sky.  Don’t be tempted to touch them even if they look nice and fuzzy.  They are super sharp!

5. KEYS VIEW AT SUNSET

Keys View is at the top of the mountain and one of the best places you can catch a view of the sunset and all of the surroundings areas of Joshua Tree.  TIP: If it’s super windy and/or freezing (like it was when I was there) find some bushes to sit next to.  They will block some of that wind chill and make your experience that much better.

6. 49 PALMS OASIS HIKE

There are plenty of cool hikes to do in Joshua Tree, but this one stood out because I’ve always wanted to see an Oasis!  Did a picture of a lush, green oasis filled with water in the middle of desert pop up in your head?  Ya, me too, which is why I thought this was cool.  

To get to the start of this hike, you enter from highway 62.  No need to actually go into Joshua Tree National Park for this one.  You can’t see the Oasis from the road at all.  It is a good mile and a half up and down, round and round with no shade.  Take note, bring water, wear a hat and wear sunscreen.  There’s plenty of shade at the Oasis, though, once you get there.

Joshua tree sort of felt like another world.  It was a place where you feel one with nature because it is so untouched.  There is virtually no cell service and things are probably almost exactly as they were 20 years ago.  But really though, there is no cell service, so prepare in advice if you're going to need to be meeting up with friends.  Thank goodness we talked to our friend before getting into the park because we had no way of confirming or knowing if our meet up time and place was good.  We found each other, though!

Hope you get a chance to explore this otherworldly place.

Yours Truly // Shannon