Joshua Tree Funky: Spin and Margie's

The colorful casitas sit right outside of the national park.

THE ARID OFFBEAT: Most every sort of destination, be it in the mountains or on the beach, has its own aesthetic vibe, a vibe that may or may not be followed by the denizens of the area. But hotels and inns often do observe the regional aesthetic, to varying degrees, if only because when travelers think of, say, the beach, they think of seashells or creams and blues or airy linens (conversely, for the mountains, visitors like logs and fireplaces and such). So what's the desert aesthetic, at least around California? That's a challenge to pin down, for the Anza Borrego is different from the Mojave is different from the eastern Salton Sea. But look to Spin and Margie's Desert Hide-a-Way, a funky stay-over right outside Joshua Tree National Park, for so deftly, and delightfully, incorporating the Arid Offbeat.

RETRO, COLORFUL, UNFUSSY: So what's Arid Offbeat? Think highly saturated hues, like rich reds and deep blues, to complement the earthy surrounding desert, and think retro-ish furniture that pays homage to all of the adventure novels and shows that used the cacti-dotted landscape as a setting. Spin and Margie's perfects the funky laid-back-a-tude that people seek around Joshua Tree, thanks in part to the natural but well-gardened property and mid-century metal garden chairs made for sitting and admiring the big sky. The five casitas, some sharing a wall, some not, have charming handles like The Mojave Wanderer and The Desert Rambler. And each boasts its own distinctive old-school artwork, furniture, and such, and a couple come with kitchens as well (for those longer sojourns, so needed when one requires some cosmic communing with the desert). Homey to the max, with the added benefit of a picnic and barbecue area outside on the grounds.

GATEWAY TO THE MOJAVE: Need to know what's happening in the area as far as hiking and adventuring goes? Co-owner Mindy Kaufman, who bought the property with Drew Reese in 2000, keeps a lively blog about nature outings in the area. Find your Arid Offbeat dreams here, before you load up the wagon and head for the boulderiest bastion in all of the Golden State.

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