You can’t fight the desert… you have to ride with it. ~ Louis L’Amour
Welcome to Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center. And you’re thinking, how am I REALLY supposed to live here for 3 years? There are some saving graces in the desert; they are the friendships that you’re going to form. Everyone else who lives here in 29 Palms is in the exact same situation as you. It REALLY is 1 hour 20 minutes to get to Target from here! But let me tell you that you will form some great bonds with other spouses here.
TIP: Volunteer to get stationed before you have kids or when they are very young. That way you have this duty station out of the way and won’t have to worry about being here when your kids are in school.
Weather: The weather runs the extremes here in 29 Palms. In the summers it gets quite hot reaching over the 100’s and in the winter gets down to the 20’s-30’s. We even get sporadic snow storms.
One thing you can count on is the wind; don’t buy anything to go outside that offers shade because the wind will tear it down. Don’t leave umbrellas open or they can get blown away. We are located right off a major fault line and get mini-quakes. It’s been several years since a large quake has hit, but be on the safe side and have a plan with food and water stored just in case.
Amber says, “If one involves themselves with the local community they will find a family of retirees, business owners and small town caring people. For every weirdo in Twentynine Palms there are at least 50 decent upstanding citizens. Attend Pioneer Days or the Summer Car Show and Street Fair in Twentynine Palms and you’ll feel the warmth of a welcoming community.”
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If you live here and USAA is your insurance provider, make sure you call them and schedule an appraiser to come out and give an estimate for sand damage on your car before you move away. People typically receive around $3500 per vehicle.
You may be asking yourself what is there to do at 29 Palms Marine Corps Base?
Smith’s Family Drive In: The only other theater besides the base theater. Shows double features Wednesday thru Sunday. Times change depending on when it gets dark outside. Call for movie showings, some listed online aren’t accurate. 760-367-7713
Joshua Tree Water Park & Rec Park: This water park is located off Sunburst. From the base, travel on HWY 62 towards Joshua Tree. Turn right on Sunburst, right at the gray building… the park is at the back of the street on the left side. Water park is open seven days a week from 9:30am-7:00pm. Park is open from sunrise to sunset.
Joshua Tree National Park: This is a beautiful place to get away to. If you live here, I’d recommend buying a yearly pass which you can purchase for $25 at the entry.Trails vary from easy to difficult. I’ve walked the easy trails pregnant (not an athletic girl by any means) and carrying a baby in Bjorn. Walks typically last 45 minutes to an hour. This is what’s beautiful about 29 Palms. Check out this guide for an in-depth look.
Yucca Valley Movie Theater: The only other movie theater in the area playing currently playing films.
Yucca Valley: 25 minutes away and is the closest “bigger” town. It has a Wal-Mart that you can find most of what you need, but beware of the creepiness factor. The desert attracts some pretty weird people and can be off at times. There’s also a Home Depot.
Big Bear: Approximately 2 hours away. Big bear is known for its ski resort and lake and the military has discounted cabins for rent up there. It’s a quick drive up there. Check out ITT on base to book.
Palm Springs Soak City: Approximately 1 hour away.
Riley’s Farms: A wonderful time to be had by all any time of the year. Year round civil war adventures, gold rush and homesteading acts. They have a pick-your-own-seasonal-fruit all throughout the year.
Living Desert: Fantastic place to take the kids or cruise around as a couple in Palm Springs. Pack a lunch and check out the zoo animals and native plants and gardens. Plan on approximately four hours and feel free to pack a lunch or snacks.
Shield’s Date Gardens: Take an adventure and go get a date shake! Hit the movie and watch the “The Romance and Sex Life of a Date” to appreciate date farming!
Cochella Fest: Annual festival in Indio, a bit over an hour from 29 Palms where you can enjoy music for three days including rock, indie, hip hop and more.
Stagecoach Country Music Festival: Annual festival in Indio (April) where country music fans flock for three days of music.
Cabazon Outlets: The place to go for a day of shopping, just outside of Palm Springs. Top it off with a visit to the local casino just minutes away for a night of gambling and entertainment.
Palm Springs Aerial Tram: This place is awesome. In the midst of summer heat, you can go up the tram and see and play in snow! The tram rotates and provides a fantastic view. Discounted tickets available for military. One of my husband’s platoons hiked from the bottom to the top! That’s impressive!
Palm Springs Resorts: So many great places to go check out for a weekend get away. We loved to take the kids down and buy day passes for the pool, enjoy the sun and eat poolside. Top rated resorts: Miramonte, Hotel Zoso, Parker Palm Springs, Viceroy Palm Springs, Rancho Las Palmas, Renaissance Esmeralda, La Quinta, JW Marriott.
Las Vegas: About a 2 hour drive. Nellis AFB offers discounted tickets to many shows. Also, many shows give a discount at the ticket counter. Cirque de Soleil shows KA (35% off), Mystere and more. Here’s another link but some of these deals may not be accurate anymore. Check with the actual ticket provider.
Lake Havasu: About a 3 hour drive, the military has discounted bungalows available for rent. Here’s a link for the campground with specifics. Check out ITT to book or get questions answered.
LA Activities (2 hours away +/-)
Knotts Berry Farm: Over 165 rides, shows and attractions located in Buena Park.
Six Flaggs: Voted best roller coaster park, great for older kids and adults.
Disneyland: Located in Anaheim (about 1 hour 30 minutes from north Camp Pendleton). The tickets at ITT only save you a couple bucks, but they do get occasional military specials, so always check with them. Sometimes you can get better deals on Disneyland.
Hollywood: Any girl whose seen pretty woman wants to go check out the Hollywood scene. “What’s your dream!?!” Most requested activities include the Hollywood sign, walking along the stars, seeing a film at the Kodak Theater. If you plan your visit right, you can attend a game show or talk show!
Original Farmer’s Market: Way cool shopping day. Located next to great stores for a day of walking. This farmer’s market isn’t like most you know. This is a fantastic place to discover a hundred different kinds of food from small vendors and unique shops.
Beverly Hills: If you want to experience everything that is beautiful about LA (including beautiful people, cars and total luxury) check out this place and Rodeo Drive.
Santa Monica: Check out this laid back place and discover Venice Beach (where people work out on the beach and there’s a long sidewalk along the beach next to eclectic shops), Third Street Promenade (great food, farmer’s markets, and street performers).
Griffith Park: Check out the Griffith Park Observatory, LA Zoo, The Autry, Griffith Park, Greek Theater, and Forrest Lawn Museum.
Universal Studios: Great place to get away with the family or bring out your inner kid.
The Getty: World famous museum housed in a beautiful building and grounds.
San Diego Activities (2 hours +/-)
Sea World: Parking is pretty spendy ($12)… Get discounts on admission at the ITT ticket office or 20% at the gate.
Wild Animal Park (west) and San Diego Zoo (south): If you are going on a one-time trip,get discount tickets at ITT. If you are stationed at Camp Pendleton, you may want to consider buying a family pass. Two adults in the same household can get a yearly pass for approximately $89. 1 adult pass is $71. Koala club for kids $24 (ages 3-11) and $28 (ages 12-17). When you become a member, you also get 2 free tickets for guests to come in. Click here to become a member or get more information. One trip to the zoo and one trip to the Wild Animal Park a year pays for itself by being a member. Parking is free at San Diego, $6 or $8 at the Wild Animal Park. Active duty military get in free.
Lego Land: Great theme park for children under 8. Tickets are very expensive, more so than the other parks in the San Diego area. Get discounts on admission at the ITT ticket office.
Padres Games: The San Diego Padres as a great way to spend an evening at Petco Park. The trolleys and trains run to the park nightly on game nights. Get discounted tickets at ITT.
San Diego Chargers: The San Diego Chargers games are a lot of fun…
USS Midway: The aircraft carrier has been fully restored and is a great way to spend the afternoon. Active duty members get in free, dependents get a discount.
Seaport Village: A great place to visit and check out many of the unique stores and walk along the ocean.
La Jolla Cove: A neat place to spend some time along the water. It offers a children’s beach, a seal beach, and a free protected park for snorkeling and scuba diving. You can walk along the rock beds and look for crabs and enjoy the beautiful weather.