You don’t have to stay at one of the charmingly mismatched bungalows dotting the expansive grounds to have a great meal or a drink at the 29 Palms Inn. (Only guests can take a dip in the pool, though.) An ample cocktail list supports a menu of burgers, sandwiches, and salads made with produce grown right on the hotel’s property. Go for lunch to take in the sunlit splendor of the pool and palms, plus a lagoon filled with swimming turtles.
In case the dozens of storefront signs advertising “Marine haircuts” didn’t make it clear, Twentynine Palms is a military town. The Marine base is quite far from the highway and nearby Joshua Tree National Park, but on certain days artillery blasts reverberate out toward the civilian homes, shops and restaurants in the hub of the otherwise sleepy town. Like most settlements in the high desert, Twentynine Palms is built along Highway 62, the main thoroughfare that leads from Interstate 10 through Joshua Tree and on toward Arizona. Though linked by dusty roads to nearby cities and the national park, the more isolated Twentynine Palms feels distinct from its neighbors: Vibrating just beneath the serene city is an offbeat energy that thrives on the outskirts of civilization.