Road trips from Southern California: California deserts
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( Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times )
Distance: 109 miles one-way
What happens if, two-thirds of the way to a Palm Springs weekend, somebody grabs control of your family's vehicle, veers hard to the right, follows the cliff-clinging goat path known as California 243, then roars into the pines looking for a soft meadow between granite peaks?
Idyllwild is what happens. Arriving from Los Angeles, you first climb to the largely residential community of Pine Cove, then descend to about 5,300 feet, where you see half a dozen blocks of shops, restaurants and art and craft galleries, all surrounded by trees, rocks, scattered vacation cabins, the odd A-frame and the odder geodesic dome. The year-round population is about 3,500.
-- Christopher Reynolds
Read more: Find simpler times in Idyllwild's peaceful San Jacinto mountain retreat