19. Indio, CA
Why go: Joshua Tree celebrates its 25th anniversary of national park status in October, and fall is prime time to hike and climb throughout the park’s 794,000 acres. Temperatures in October and November are more temperate (just remember, it is a desert), and the crowds are thinner now than during the peak spring season. FYI: JTree is also certified as an International Dark Sky Park, so you may be able to view the Milky Way at night.
Where to stay: Hicksville began as an artist retreat, and not much has changed. The accommodations are themed—from a Western log cabin to an alien Airstream to an actual horse stall. It’s just as fun as it is quirky, with a pool, hot tub, mini golf, and archery range. The exact location isn’t revealed until after booking.
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