I’ve spent many, many nights in Joshua Tree- with loads of friends, with my husband, with my sister, with my dog, you name it. It’s one of my favorite places on earth. So much so, that my husband and I decided to purchase some land out there and embark on a vacation home adventure. From LA, suggest going to Joshua Tree for at least a night though I have done day trips from LA (just expect to spend 4+ hours in the car). Go anytime of the year- most people recommend a visit in spring or fall. High desert can get much hotter and it’s much less oasis-y than a resort in the lower desert. However, it’s an adventure either way you look at it.
I suggest a few places to stay depending on what your vibe is and who you are going with: