2fer Tuesday: SoCal Coachella Alternatives

Joshua Tree Music Festival

We all know that Coachella is the dominant music festival in Southern California, but after you’ve attended it a few times, the prospect of dealing with its cost, crowds, and all-around potential for cluster-f*ckery kinda makes you yearn for a more mellow alternative*. Luckily, there are several options to choose from if you’re searching for a non-Coachella music experience:

Ojai Music Festival: Ojai is a lovely town located less than two hours from Los Angeles by car, and its annual Music Festival in early June is perfect if you’re a fan of classical music. The festival takes place at the brand new Libbey Bowl amphitheater, which features both superb acoustics and a beautiful outdoor setting. Ojai is well-known for its natural beauty, so while you’re there I highly recommend hiking through one of its many parks. My pick for lodging is the very affordable Ojai Retreat, where pretty much every room has amazing views.

Joshua Tree Music Festival: Just a hop, skip and a jump away from Coachella’s Empire Polo Field venue is the Joshua Tree Lake Campground, home of the Joshua Tree Music Festival in mid-May. The lineup is usually an eclectic mix of rock bands, singer songwriters and electronic groups, and while it doesn’t have the big-name allure of Coachella, it makes up for it with awesome desert scenery and a decidedly more laid-back vibe. Easy access to Joshua Tree National Park is an obvious plus,  and there’s plenty of really cool stuff within driving distance, from the old west charm of Pioneertown to the posh resorts of Palm Springs. If you’d rather not camp, my lodging pick for this area is Spin and Margie’s Desert Hide-a-way–a quirky and cool little retreat that’s relatively cheap.

*Full disclosure — I AM going to Coachella this year after skipping the past few years, but this may be my last go-round for a long while. Stay tuned for a full report and photos!

Photo via flickr.com/egansnow.


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