Suddenly: It’s September. Cooler nights, new sweaters, school. When summer left us, it took with it the plans for long, luxurious trips abroad. In their place? The speedy weekend escape. We started daydreaming about mini trips the moment the clock struck midnight on Labor Day. But before we get ahead of ourselves, we’re setting a few ground rules. One: The journey needs to be less than five hours by plane, train, or car. Two: Out-of-this-world food, an injection of culture, and pillows like you read about are all priorities. And three: The destination must be as easy to manage as the clothes we plan on packing.
WHAT TO EXPECT:
The dry terrain of the part of the Mojave Desert known as Joshua Tree feels almost Martian in its cool, creepy, album-cover starkness. This strikingly austere landscape is only a two-hour (-ish) ride from Los Angeles, making it a tempting respite. Sure, nearby Palm Springs has no shortage of cute boutique hotels if you like someone making your bed every day, but the area surrounding the Joshua Tree National Park is a rental-house gold mine. One of the best gems in the gold mine (to mix a metaphor) is Casa Mami. Each item—local ceramics, fragrant soaps, Marcel Wanders–designed sofas—within the chicly spartan home is a clear marker that the owners are very thoughtful about design. (And it’s all shoppable!) In the evening, stop by throwback bar Pappy & Harriet’s for a beer and seriously good live music before drifting home to stargaze from the porch.
Jump out of bed early, pack a few snacks, chug more water than you’ve ever chugged before, and head to the park to meet the sun. Watching the morning light splinter across prehistoric-looking rock formations and fill the flat plains of yucca trees is the reason you’re here. Spend an hour or two wandering and appreciating the silence before the unbearable heat kicks you out. That much beauty tends to build an appetite, so head to the insanely popular La Copinefor a reviving lunch. The best way to transition to the afternoon: buttermilk-marinated blackened chicken thighs, cheesy grits, and sharp, vinegary Bibb lettuce salad, followed by zesty lime panna cotta and a round of espresso. Before leaving, book a sound bath at the Integratron. Roll your eyes if you must, but tapping into the sound vibrations and general desert magic feels transformative. While you are lying flat, your chest, ears, brain, and heart all charge to the sweet noise of the crystal bowls—it’s like a million hours of sleep packed into one hour. Trust.