Palm Springs, Joshua Tree and the OC


Our Trip to Orange County, Palm Springs, and Joshua Tree

The travel bug is real and alive folks, and in our house, the travel bug is about as serious as the baby fever is real. Recently my husband and I packed our bags and hopped on a short flight down to southern California to enjoy a change of scenery in for a few days to celebrate our 5 year wedding anniversary. Now, a few weeks later, I’m still sitting and reminiscing over our little getaway and daydreaming of our next vay-cay!

Here are a few highlights from our vacation to Orange County, Joshua Tree, and Palm Springs.

1. Wall Murals in LA

“I hopped off the plane at LAX…Jumped in the cab, Here I am for the first time. Look to my right and I see the Hollywood sign. This is all so crazy!”. (Obviously had to insert a Miley quote before talking about LA). Before heading to Orange County we arranged to take a little pit stop in LA. What would a trip to LA be without checking out a few insta-famous wall murals? My favorite had to be the Girl Boss Gang wall!
L. Bishop Photography standing with iconic LA wall murals.

2. Thousand Steps Beach in Laguna

After a day of exploring LA, we drove down to the OC. I kept looking around for Ryan Atwood but as far as I could see there where only beautiful beaches, which totally not complaining about. My favorite beach had to be the Thousand Steps beach in Laguna. We read online that during low tide we could hike down the beach to some natural pools. It was a bit of a trek, but so worth it! Laguna Beach is such a beautiful place. If you’re staying in the area, I also highly suggest a visit Pacific Marine Mammal Center. They were so friendly and so knowledgeable about all of their rescue animals.
Swimming in natural pools Thousand Steps Beach Laguna Beach.

3. Trendy Airbnb’s in Yucca Valley

Honestly, I could have spent all day just lounging around this adorable retreat located outside of Joshua Tree in Yucca Valley. While in Joshua Tree we relaxed to music in the hammock, took evening walks around the property, watched the sunset from our bed, cooked cozy meals and enjoyed being off the grid. I would suggest our Airbnb, the Darlinda Cabin, to anyone heading out that way!
Hipster homes Darlinda Campover airbnb in Joshua Tree

Other favorites in Yucca Valley where the Joshua Tree coffee Company and shopping at the Hoof And The Horn.
Cozy breakfast in bed in joshua tree in a trendy joshua tree home

4. Explore Joshua Tree

Despite the 100 degrees heat, we spend a day exploring Joshua Tree. Honestly, we could have spent multiple days exploring Joshua Tree and still not seen everything. I definitely think we will be going back when the weather is a bit cooler for some camping and more exploring. We really enjoyed walking around the Cholla “Jumping” cactus garden, hiking the Arch Rock, and walking some of the Lost Palms Oasis trails.
Road trip to Joshua Tree and things to do in Joshua Tree

We also enjoyed just driving around and searching for the biggest Joshua Tree we could find!
photograph with top 10 things to do in Joshua Tree

5. Pools AND Tacos – Yes, please!

After a few mellow days in Joshua Tree, we jumped down to Palm Springs where things took a vibrant turn. Say hello to the rainbow-esk La Saguaro Palm Springs Hotel, where you can sip on a drink called Mermaid bait, recline in sunshine yellow loungers, vibe to a poolside DJ and, of course, eat tacos (side note: I also suggest a quesadilla) from their restaurant El Jefe. This place is pretty much made of Instagram dreams.
Staying at the saguaro hotel in palm springs

6. Family Style Dining at Sparrows Lodge

This has to be one of the best dining experiences we’ve had in a while. The Barn Kitchen, inside the quaint Sparrows Lodge, is a secret gem we stumbled upon in Palm Springs. Twice a week chef Gabriel Woo hosts family-style dining with a curated daily menu. After being greeted with a glass of champagne and hors-d’oeuvres, we were seated at a lushly decorated long table and introduced to the entire staff for the night, including Chef Gabriel who shared with us his menu for the night. Eric and I initially joked that we were too awkward to make any friends at a family-style dining, but it actually couldn’t have been more fun! And of course, the food and ambiance were amazing!
The Barn Kitchen at Sparrows Lodge family style dining with Gabrielle Woo

7. Palm Springs Door Tour

We may or may not have spent a few hours looking at Palm Springs homes on Zillow to playing house-hunters after this mini excursion. Mid-Century style decor, say no more! Originally we planned to ride a bike around the Indian Canyon neighborhood since our hotel had free bike rentals, but unfortunately, someone was too short to fit on the bike. Yes, that is correct, I couldn’t ride the adult bike because I was too short to reach the ground. We ended up driving a car around to gawk at the streets of white stucco homes all with vibrant colored doors. I know what you’re thinking, driving around looking at doors sounds like a strange activity, but let me tell you, some of these doors are so well known they even have their own Instagrams!
#thatpinkdoor and other doors on the door tour at Indian canyon neighborhood in Palm Springs

8. Moorten Botanical Gardens

The Moorten Botanical Gardens are INSANE! Again, Palm Springs just killing it as the Instagram dreamland. It’s a $5 entrance fee to walk around the gardens that are filled with rare and unique cactus. They also have a cactus shop at the entrance so you can take home a prickly new friend of your own. We ended up also going to visit the Cactus Mart (actually called that) and purchasing a few mini-cactus from their “pick your own cactus” section. Bonus highlight: We made friends with cats and chickens at Cactus Mart and the Tortoises at Moorten Gardens.
Confession: We’ve since purchased an array of cactus for our home. TBD how long I keep any of them alive.
Professional photographs taken in Moorten Botanical gardens in Palm Springs with insane cactus

9. Horseback Riding at Smoke Tree Stables

For someone who had never been horseback riding before, Eric somehow pulled off the cowboy look a bit too well. At the Smoke Tree Stables, we booked a guided tour through the Indian Springs canyons on horseback. The canyons are like a tiny oasis in the middle of a desert, filled with an uncanny mixture of palm tree and cactus. Our guide was so kind and so knowledgeable about the area. Along the way, she pointed out different kinds of cactus, wildlife, and history.
Horseback riding with Smoke Tree Stables as things to do in Palm Springs

10. Say Cheese

Our trip to Palm Springs, Joshua Tree and Laguna Beach was obviously filleeddddd with photo-ops and Instagram worthy moments, but I want to be transparent here- life isn’t all the Instagram highlights. I promise you it wasn’t all glam for the gram. The photographer in me made a point to stop and swap outfits often so we could snap a few beautiful photos, but the majority of the trip was spent in comfy clothes. The real joy of this vacation was getting to spend quality time with my husband. Honestly, it didn’t matter if we were hiking the 10000 degrees desert or laying in bed watching Family Feud. We enjoy traveling because every trip is a new adventure together, it’s not about the destination it’s about the journey.
Joshua tree professional photoshoot best places to travel in southern california