How to Have the Ultimate Coachella Road Trip
What’s more liberating than hitting the open road Jack Kerouac style, looking for adventure as you race along a remote stretch of tarmac in the name of adventure? Just like Kerouac’s prose, the Coachella music festival has inspired a new generation of cross-country bohemian odysseys across the desert. If you’re planning the epic pilgrimage, we have a few suggestions that will guarantee it’s a road trip to remember—be sure to pack these essentials, too. It’s time to make some memories.
If you’re familiar with the road-trip experience, then you know how important snacks are for keeping your mind busy and avoiding the dreaded white-line fever (it’s a real thing). While the obligatory and incredibly tempting junk-food hoard at the gas station seems like a road-trip rite of passage, all those refined sugars and processed ingredients aren’t going to keep you attentive for the long haul. After the immediate spike in energy, you’ll soon feel drowsy and fatigued, which is the opposite of what you want when going the distance—especially when there's nothing but cactus and red dirt for miles to see. Instead, stock up on healthy snacks to counteract the inevitable unhealthy choices you’ll make upon arrival. There are so many delicious options now—from energy bars to organic popcorn to kale chips—that will enhance stamina and boost your mood too.
While you might hit the road with the excitement levels of a 5-year-old, driving for long periods can test your mental vibrancy. If you’re driving with friends, make a plan to rotate the driver every other hour so no one is left feeling tired or depleted. But, the best way to keep your enthusiasm levels on track is with music. Since you’re heading to one of the biggest music festivals in the country, you won’t be short of artists when creating your playlist. In fact, you’ll have enough tunes to last the entire trek, there and back. This year’s lineup features a diverse mix too, from Guns N’ Roses to LCD Soundsystem, Sia, The Kills, and Calvin Harris. As a bonus, plenty of apps, such as Apple Music, Spotify, and Pandora, have built-in playlist features.
Courtesy of @JosephineSkriver
Regardless of which direction you’re driving from, there are plenty of awesome eateries and delicious cafés for brunch, lunch, or snack stops. If you’re traveling from L.A., then save your appetite for In-N-Out Burger at Cabazon. It’s always crazy busy, but that’s because it’s a can't-miss stop. Maybe it’s the Instagram-worthy location right next to Cabazon Dinosaurs, or perhaps it’s the fact that your stomach has been anticipating its arrival for the entire drive there, but for some reason, it just tastes better than any other burger we’ve sampled—true story. If takeout isn’t your poison of choice, then hit up The Natural Sisters Café in Joshua Tree, with the most delicious organic food, juices, smoothies, and vegan meals. Try the quinoa burger—it’s insane! Cheeky’s in Palm Springs is also a tasty brunch option, and the Parker hotel’s five-star diner, Norma’s, is the perfect indulgent pit stop for lunch.
Let’s be honest: Aside from the incredible music acts at Coachella, most of us go for the fashion. In fact, we’ve all been secretly planning our outfits and accessories for months. After all, when in the company of stylish celebrities, one must do her best to keep up appearances. But if you’re still missing those festival showstoppers, then make a few stops at some of our favorite shopping haunts. If you love vintage, drop by Joshua Tree, with its beautiful boutiques featuring high-end designer frocks and bohemian-chic one-offs. Some of them even specifically stock up on Coachella-inspired fashions for the many visitors making last-minute buys before the event. We love The End for off-the-hook designer and era-specific styles, Hoof and the Horn for that covetable desert boho vibe, and Ricochet Vintage Wears for saloon-style accessories. If you need more time in this spiritual sanctuary, stretch out your journey and book a night at the Saguaro Hideaway Airbnb; it’s your midcentury dream come true. Palm Springs is also a veritable mecca for vintage finds, so be sure to check out Déjà Vu Vintage Finery for casual to couture clothing from the ’50s to the ’70s.
If you do partake in a spot of shopping in Palm Springs, then schedule some time to visit the iconic Moorten Botanical Garden. Established in 1938, this famous living museum is brimming with cacti of all shapes, sizes, and colors. Stroll through the stylish succulent garden (where Mara Hoffman shot her spring 2015 campaign) and witness the natural beauty for yourself. The garden also offers guided tours if you want to learn more about this diverse desert plant species.
You’ll be on the road for a few hours before you reach Coachella, so make sure your car has all the creature comforts needed to go the distance. Driving through long stretches of arid landscape is all part of the road-trip magic, but it can also be hot, dry, and monotonous after the fun has worn off. To keep your happiness levels at their peak, you’ll need solid air conditioning, built-in navigation, remote access, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, phone integration, WiFi, and a turbo engine to withstand the desert highways just to name a few. We recommend a sweet, comfy ride like the new Chevrolet Cruze compact car, which has all of these amenities and then some (wireless phone charger, anyone?). And according to Chevrolet's Mary Kubitskey, it's built for the desert terrain too. "The Cruze is larger and lighter, providing a dynamic driving experience for a daily commute or on long, desert roads," she said. "And you can drive up to 570 miles on one tank of gas, that’s a trip from San Diego to Napa. What’s not to love about 42 miles per gallon?"
Have you planned a Coachella road trip this weekend? What are your tips for making it a ride to remember? Do you have any must-visit restaurants or shopping haunts along the way? Share them in the comments.