Rustic Southern California
Southern California towns like Yermo and Baker offer a glimpse of everything from Old West history to incredible natural wonders. They make a great base, for example, for exploring Joshua Tree Forest and Mojave National Preserve. Once you’ve taken in the landscape, channel the area’s pioneer past—and delight the children—by checking into a hotel in a revived ghost town.
Mojave National Preserve
Take a scenic drive through the Joshua Tree Forest. Trudge up and down the preserve’s 45-square-mile Kelso Dunes—one of the largest dune fields in the United State.
Calico Ghost Town
Pan for gold and ride the mining train.
Mojave Narrows Regional Park
Located along the Mojave River, this wetland park consists of open meadows, a lake, and cottonwood and willow stands that provide an oasis habitat for more than 1,500 species of wildlife. On-site activities range from hiking and horseback riding to fishing on Horseshoe Lake (with the help of an on-site bait shop and boat rentals). The park also has six picnic shelters, a playground and water park, and 78 camping sites with barbecue grills and fire rings. Every June, the park hosts Huck Finn’s Country and Bluegrass Jubilee, a local music and crafts festival.
Mad Greek Restaurant
Watch for the exuberantly tacky billboards for the Mad Greek. The silly Greek restaurant is surrounded by plaster statues, but the draws are its delicious lamb dishes and fresh strawberry shakes.
In a ghost town brought back to life, the Hotel Nipton is a basic B&B with bathrooms down the hall. But the kids will like the eco-tents with views of the Ivanpah Valley; adults will like the outdoor hot tubs.