As the largest county in the country, San Bernardino County offers a diverse landscape where exciting experiences abound. The idea of seeing the best of the mountains and the desert in one vacation may seem like an impossible task, but here in California’s outdoor playground, the best of both worlds is only 90 minutes apart.

Check out these tips on how you can see and SanBerDo-it all!

Your Desert Adventure Awaits

Downtown Joshua Tree

Our journey starts in Joshua Tree. Perhaps best known for the world-famous national park with which it shares a name, Joshua Tree has many other exciting activities and attractions to explore. Downtown Joshua Tree is an exciting departure from the traditional urban downtown areas typically found across Southern California, offering delicious vegan and locally-sourced dining options, unique shops and boutiques, funky outdoor art displays, and an overall new age vibe.

Explore the Arts

Joshua Tree Outdoor Art Museum (Photo credit: Noah Purifoy Foundation)

Those who are into the arts are in for a special treat. Joshua Tree is full of eclectic and inspiring art museums and displays. The Noah Purifoy Foundation’s Joshua Tree Outdoor Museum is the physical embodiment of the phrase “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” The museum features nearly 10-acres of art installations made from items that would have otherwise been junk. Admission to the museum is free of charge and it is are open every night until dusk.

Another must-see attraction is the 29 Palms Creative Center and Art Gallery, located on the site of the 29 Palms Inn. This is a great spot for families, featuring galleries, classes for kids and adults, pottery and canvas painting, and other walk-in art activities.

Delicious Desert Dining

Shopping and checking out the arts will certainly work up an appetite. Pappy & Harriet’s in nearby Pioneertown offers savory plates that you can enjoy while listening to live music from talented local and sometimes internationally-known artists.

Pappy & Harriet’s in Pioneertown

If you’re looking for a great breakfast to kick off your day of desert exploration, stop by Frontier Café in Yucca Valley, where you can enjoy decadent options such as the Breakfast Salad with marinated kale, heirloom cherry tomatoes, herbed quinoa and other veggies, or bite into the Classic Egg Sandwich served on an herb-toasted brioche bun. Yum!

Sleep Under the Stars

Ready to call it a night? Check into the 29 Palms Inn, a 70-acre property located on the 9,000-year-old Oasis of Mara. Enjoy a great night’s rest in one of the property’s comfortably eclectic adobe bungalows or wood frame cabins, but before you do, be sure to stop by the restaurant for a drink at the bar or wander the grounds to take in the serene desert views.

Guest bungalow at the 29 Palms Inn

Another great option is the historic Pioneertown Motel. Built in 1946, this property was once the lodging choice for the stars of many iconic Western movies. The recently-renovated rooms offer a rustic comfort, and the hotel’s location is just a stone’s throw away from hiking, rock climbing, and other fun desert activities!

Pioneertown Motel

Live it Up in the Mountains

Lake Arrowhead

Just a 90-minute drive from the desert is Lake Arrowhead, a picturesque haven nestled in the San Bernardino Mountains. Though the lake is privately owned, visitors can board the Arrowhead Queen, a paddlewheel boat that offers a guided tour and views of the beautiful lakefront homes.

Book a stay at the four-diamond Lake Arrowhead Resort & Spa and enjoy world class dining, spectacular lake views, and fun activities such as boating, kayaking, and fishing. Did we mention that the resort also offers private beach access?

Peace and relaxation at Lake Arrowhead Resort & Spa (Photo credit:

If you’re looking for shopping, dining, and family fun, look no further than Lake Arrowhead Village. The Village offers an array of dining options, boutique shops, and exciting activities for every season. In fact, the Village’s Oktoberfest celebration kicks off this month with lots of music, food, fun, and beer, of course!


Just west of Lake Arrowhead is the scenic mountain resort community of Crestline. Crestline is home to Lake Gregory, which is famous for its great fishing and fun water activities. Access to Lake Gregory is not as limited as its neighbor to the east, and the lake features a large swimming cove, aqua cycles, stand-up paddle boards, and much more. The lake’s sandy shores offer a relaxing place to sit and enjoy the glistening lake and mountain views.

Enjoying the view at Lake Gregory (Photo credit: Meghan Grace Wollenbecker)

Enjoying the water activities at Lake Gregory will surely work up an appetite. Head on over to Hortencia’s at Cliffhanger, a family-friendly Mexican restaurant that is loved by locals and visitors alike. The food at Hortencia’s is as spectacular as the view, which on a clear day spans all the way to the Pacific Ocean.

Sleepy Hollow Cabins & Hotel

Crestline offers many great accommodation options for when it’s finally time to call it a night. The Sleepy Hollow Cabins & Hotel has comfortable rooms with wood accents to compliment your mountain experience. Other nearby lodging options include the North Shore Inn and the Crest Lodge, in addition to numerous cabin and vacation home rentals.

We hope that our tips help you as you plan your mountain and desert getaway. For more tips and information, click here!