Your complete guide to the best things to do in Yucca Valley, California!
Yucca Valley is located in the Mojave Desert in southern California, about 45 minutes from Palm Springs, CA, and just over 2 hours from Los Angeles.
Joshua Tree National Park and the San Bernadino Mountains border the town of Yucca Valley, making it an excellent hub for outdoor adventures and good views.
With a population of just over 20,000, Yucca Valley has a small-town feel but still has plenty of dining, shopping, and entertainment options.
We thought Yucca Valley was the perfect location, as we wanted to do things in both Joshua Tree National Park and the Palm Springs area, and it was in the middle of both.
Check out the 19 best things to do in Yucca Valley, as well as many more fun things to do in the surrounding area (within an hour) of Yucca Valley.
Best Things to Do in Yucca Valley, California
1. Go Antique Shopping
If you enjoy thrifting or antique shopping, Yucca Valley is home to numerous antique and vintage shops full of unique finds.
Where to shop: Nitty Gritty, Route 62 Vintage Marketplace, The Mother Lode Antiques, Tamma’s Magic Mercantile, and Pioneer Crossing Antiques.
2. Hike the Hi-View Trail
Hi-View Trail is a 1.3-mile loop trail. The hike is in Joshua Tree National Park, but it is in a section of the park that is overlooked by most visitors, meaning you will likely have solitude on this trail.
The trailhead is near Black Rock Campground on the far west side of JTNP (in Yucca Valley).
Hi-View trail has a 400-foot elevation gain, making it a nice little workout without being too difficult.
As the trail ascends, you will be treated to panoramic mountain and valley views, including a great view of the often snow-capped San Gorgonio Mountain.
3. Visit the Hi-Desert Nature Museum
Hi-Desert Nature Museum is a family-oriented museum with a mission of educating Yucca Valley residents and tourists about the desert environment.
There are permanent exhibits in the museum, as well as special temporary exhibits.
The museum also has a mini zoo! Visitors can observe and learn about native snakes, lizards, arachnids, and insects. All of the animals in the museum were either injured in the wild and could not be released after rehab or were bred in captivity.
The museum is open Wednesday-Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm. Admission is free!
4. Eat Pizza at Pie for the People or 2 Guys Pies
We have heard great things about Pie for the People, but unfortunately, we tried to get pizza there on two different trips to Yucca Valley, and it was closed both times.
I love the pizza at 2 Guys Pies. The white sauce pizza and bread balls are my favorites. 2GP pizza does not have a ton of sauce (which I prefer), so if you are someone who loves a lot of sauce on your pizza, you may want to ask them to put on extra when you order.
5. Tour Joshua Tree Distilling Co.
Joshua Tree Distilling Company has a mission of crafting desert-inspired spirits made from high-quality ingredients. Their motto is “Here to Raise Your Spirits!”.
Tours and tastings are offered daily during regular business hours (11:30 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. daily). Tours are free, and tastings are $25.
6. Shop at Desert Nest Co.
We drove by Desert Nest Co. several times during our stay in Yucca Valley. I was drawn in by the cute exterior and decided to check it out.
Not only is it one of the most aesthetically pleasing shops I have ever been in, but it also has a ton of brand-name clothes and decor for really great prices. If you enjoy shopping, definitely add Desert Nest Co. to your list of things to do in Yucca Valley.
7. Grab a Bite to Eat at John’s Place
John’s Place is a casual family-owned-and-operated restaurant that has been serving customers in Yucca Valley for nearly 30 years.
John’s Place is very popular among locals and is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
A solid choice – it’s family-friendly, has a large menu, and great food.
8. Admire the Sculptures at Desert Christ Park
Desert Christ Park is one of the top things to do in Yucca Valley, whether or not you are a Christian.
The park features more than 40 sculptures and displays portraying scenes of Christ’s life and teachings.
We enjoyed walking through the park at sunset. The sculptures are very impressive, and the park overlooks Yucca Valley, so you get a nice bird’s eye view of the town below.
The park is free to visit but is maintained through donations and volunteers. Open daily from 7 am-6 pm.
9. Go Camping a Black Rock Campground
Black Rock Campground is part of Joshua Tree National Park. It is located in the far northwest corner of the park which borders Yucca Valley.
The campground is large with 99 sites (for tents or RVs), each of which has a picnic table and fire ring. There are restrooms and water-filling areas available as well.
Black Rock Campground is not as remote as most other campgrounds in JTNP, as it is only a 5-minute drive from restaurants and shopping in Yucca Valley.
We did not stay at Black Rock Campground, but we took snacks to the campground picnic area one afternoon, walked around the trails near the campground, and watched the sunrise there one morning (which I highly recommend).
10. Admire All of the Joshua Trees
Ok, this might sound like a silly one, but I was so surprised by just how many Joshua trees there are throughout Yucca Valley.
Sure, you expect to see them in the National Park, but I loved driving around town and seeing Joshua trees everywhere we went, including in the backyard of our Airbnb!
11. Hit the Lanes at Yucca Bowl
Yucca Bowl is one of the best things to do in Yucca Valley on a cold or rainy day, or if you want to escape the desert heat for a bit.
Whether you bring your kids or just go with adults, Yucca Bowl is fun for all ages.
Yucca Bowl is recently renovated and has 24 bowling lanes, a full sports bar, pool tables, and a small arcade.
12. Summit Warren Peak
If you are looking for an excellent hike that will leave you feeling very accomplished, add hiking the Warren Peak/Panorama Loop to your list of things to do in Yucca Valley.
The trailhead for this hike begins at the Black Rock Campground in Yucca Valley. Because this section of the park is separate from the main part of Joshua Tree National Park, this trail does not get nearly as crowded as other hikes in the park.
This hike is not for the faint of heart. It is 8 miles long with an elevation gain of 1,750 feet. But from the pictures I have seen, the views throughout the hike are incredible and you will feel so accomplished after you finish.
We have not done this hike yet, but it is at the top of my list for the next time we are in the area. I will update this post when I can cross this one off of my bucket list! In the meantime, you can find a very detailed hiking guide here.
13. Get a Souvenier at Mojave Trading Post
Mojave Flea Trading Post is a 10,000-square-foot marketplace where various makers and merchants sell their goods.
Shop for clothes, art, gifts, souvenirs, and other goods made by local artists, and small businesses.
The Yucca Valley location is located at 55727 Twentynine Palms Highway and is open daily from 11 am-5 pm.
14. Take a Picture by the Patriotic Mural
If you are driving along Twentynine Palms Highway through Yucca Valley, you may catch a glimpse of this beautiful mural on the side of the Glen Realty Building.
I love finding murals when I visit new towns or cities, so I was excited to spot this one.
The mural is dedicated to all service men and women. It is a great tribute and a really beautiful piece of art.
You can find this mural at The Glen Realty building, 55709 Twentynine Palms Highway, Yucca Valley.
If you want to find some more murals in the area, check out this list of murals in nearby Twentynine Palms.
15. Shop at Hoof & The Horn
Hoof & The Horn is a trendy shop selling vintage apparel, cards, art prints, apothecary, accessories, and home goods.
The logos, designs, and styles of the products are inspired by the beautiful sunrises, sunsets, landscapes, and wildlife in Joshua Tree National Park and the Mojave Desert.
You can find Hoof & The Horn at 55840 Twentynine Palms Highway. It is open daily from 11 am to 6 pm. They also have an online shop that you can check out here.
16. Step Back in Time in Pioneertown
Pioneertown is an unincorporated community 5 miles from Yucca Valley. It was developed in 1946 by a group of Hollywood investors. More than 50 films and TV shows have been filmed in Pioneertown.
When you visit Pioneertown, you will see the 1880s-style Old Western buildings. Some of the buildings have small shops or exhibits you can check out. If you visit at the right time, you can even see a mock gunfight on Mane Street.
If you’re hungry, grab a bite to eat at the famous Pappy and Harriet’s, which has hosted many big-name musicians and often has live music.
We ate at Pappy and Harriet’s, and to be honest, I wasn’t very impressed. I definitely would have enjoyed it more if we could have either sat outside or listened to live music, but unfortunately, we went on a cold afternoon in January, and both our service and food were not great. But I would still recommend going just for the experience!
17. Go Stargazing
Joshua Tree National Park is one of the best places in the United States to go stargazing. The park has been designated an International Dark Sky Park.
The best way to stargaze is to head into the National Park away from the city lights, but you can see many stars from town as well.
We loved stargazing while sitting in the hot tub at our Airbnb each night after a day full of hiking and exploring.
18. Visit the Yucca Valley California Welcome Center
The California Welcome Center is a great place to start your adventure in Yucca Valley. It is one of 16 welcome centers in the state of California.
The staff at the Welcome Center is very friendly and knowledgeable. They will provide you with a free map and suggestions for the best places in the area to visit, stay, and dine.
You can also check out the gift shop if you’re looking for a souvenir to take home.
The Welcome Center is open daily from 9 am – 4 pm.
19. Browse the Sky Village Outdoor Marketplace
The Sky Village Marketplace is a large open-air market with both permanent and pop-up local vendors.
You can find so many different things at the market, from food and produce to jewelry and boots. And the selection changes from week to week, so you never know what treasures you will find.
In addition to browsing the shops, you can also walk through the marketplace gardens and eat at the Sky Cafe, which serves breakfast and lunch.
Sky Village Marketplace is also where you will find the famous Bob’s Crystal Cave.
The marketplace is open Saturdays from 6 am-2 pm and Sundays from 7 am-2 pm. Parking and entrance are free.
More Things to Do Near Yucca Valley
The rest of the things to do on the list are within 1 hour of Yucca Valley.
Explore More of Joshua Tree National Park
There is so much more of the famous Joshua Tree National Park to explore outside of Yucca Valley.
Our top 3 favorite hikes in JTNP are Ryan Mountain, Hidden Valley, and Hall of Horrors. Admire the unique rock formations or go rock climbing.
Get Ice Cream at Coyote Cone
We have been to Coyote Cone many times for ice cream and coffee. It is worth the 10 mile drive to the neighboring town of Morongo Valley.
If you are heading to Palm Springs from Yucca Valley, Coyote Cone is right on the way along Twentynine Palms Highway.
My favorite things to order from Coyote Cone are the chocolate banana nut malt and the hot vanilla latte.
Go Birdwatching at Big Morongo Canyon Preserve
Big Morongo Canyon Preserve in Morongo Valley has numerous hiking trails, including a wheelchair accessible boardwalk trail. There are many opportunities to see wildlife, especially many different kinds of birds.
Big Morongo Canyon Preserve is an internationally-recognized birding site, as several rare and unusal species of birds are known to nest and migrate there.
Hike at Whitewater Preserve
We discovered Whitewater Preserve on our last visit to the Palm Springs/Yucca Valley area. Whitewater Preserve is 28 miles from Yucca Valley.
Although it is less than an hour from Yucca Valley/Joshua Tree, the landscape and scenery at Whitewater Preserve is completely different.
We HIGHLY recommend the Canyon View Loop Trail. It is absolutely stunning. It is doable with kids, but there are some steep drop offs to be aware of.
The preserve is open daily from 8 am-5 pm and is free to visit.
Address: 9160 Whitewater Road, Whitewater, CA
Visit the Living Desert Zoo in Palm Desert
The Living Desert Zoo is about 45 miles from Yucca Valley, but it is worth the drive.
Although the Living Desert Zoo doesn’t have all of the animals that other zoos have (no elephants or lions), I still think it is the coolest zoo I have ever been to because the exhibits look so natural and blend into the surrounding desert landscape, making it feel like you aren’t actually at a zoo.
Something unique to the Living Desert Zoo is that admission also includes access to the zoo’s nature preserve and hiking trails, which range in distance from 1/4 mile to 5 miles. The zoo also has an epic train display.
Explore Palm Springs
Palm Springs is about 45 minutes from Yucca Valley and is typically about 10 degrees warmer.
Things to do in Palm Springs:
- Ride the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
- Treat yourself at Great Shakes
- Drive, walk, or bike around some of the iconic neighborhoods
- Check out the Palm Springs Air Museum
- Go to the Palm Springs Art Museum
- Walk through the Moorten Botanical Garden
- Get the bacon flight at Cheeky’s
- Enjoy the views while the kids play at Ruth Hardy playground
- Eat at Tyler’s Burgers
- Check out the shops and the Walk of Stars along Palm Canyon Drive
- Go on a hike at Indian Canyons or Tahquitz Canyon
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best things to do with kids in Yucca Valley?
The best things to do with kids in Yucca Valley:
- Go on a family-friendly hike in Joshua Tree National Park (Some of our favorites are Hi-View Trail, Hidden Valley Trail, Skull Rock Trail, Cholla Cactus Garden, Wall Street Mill, and Arch Rock Trail)
- Hi-Desert Nature Museum & Mini Zoo
- Palm Springs Air Museum
- Find local playgrounds – we loved Essig Park in Yucca Valley and Ruth Hardy Park in Palm Springs
- Living Desert Zoo in Palm Desert (it’s worth the drive)
What are some things to do indoors in Yucca Valley?
- Go bowling at Yucca Bowl
- Eat at a restaurant
- Visit the California Welcome Center
- Check out the Hi-Desert Museum
- Browse one of the many antique shops
- Shop at Desert Nest or Hoof & the Horn
- Tour Joshua Tree Distilling Co.
- Go shopping at Mojave Trading Post
When is the best time to visit Yucca Valley?
The best time to visit Yucca Valley really depends on what you plan to do and what is most important to you.
Spring and fall bring the most comfortable temperatures in Yucca Valley. Summer days often hit 90-100°F and winter temperatures drop below freezing at night.
Spring is the busiest time of year to visit, so expect more traffic, bigger crowds, and higher lodging prices.
Fall is not as busy and brings high temperatures in the 70s, making it an excellent time of year to visit.
We have visited Yucca Valley twice in the winter, and although we had to bundle up in the morning and evenings, the daytime temperatures often hit the low 60s, which was pleasant and perfect for hiking.