The Best of Palm Springs, California
We fell in love with the desert many years ago. After writing about over 20 hotels, we bought a home in Palm Springs, California during the pandemic. As a travel and food writer, I have covered Restaurant Week, Modernism Week(s), Coachella, Desert X, golf tournaments, and many more festivities, so I know Palm Springs very well. I love the peace and quiet of the desert with the beauty of the mountains and swaying palm trees coupled with city culture in a small town.
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Where to stay in Palm Springs
Parker Palm Springs
Classic Palm Springs accommodation with stylish decor, plenty of leisurely areas and a private Yacht Club.
On the edge of downtown, a mod Moroccan-Mediterranean hideaway with a tranquil courtyard, pool and San Jacinto mountain views.
A adults-only, free-spirited hideaway in the Palm Springs desert that features vibrant cuisine and cocktails, as well as hip and eclectically designed rooms.
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Things to do in Palm Springs
Palm Springs Art Museum: Sign up for free Thursday nights or enjoy the cafe during the day for lunch. Across from the museum, walk around the area to admire the new Marilyn Monroe statue and other fun wild outdoor art (like a car standing on its fender.)
Modernism Tour or home tours: Book with Palm Springs Mod Squad or download a tour of interest to listen to as you drive around and learn about the mid-century modern architecture and celebrities that lived in the desert homes.
Modernism Week: Filled with events, speakers, vintage shopping and home tours, this event often spreads out over several months throughout the year.
Golf (so many golf options in the area) or tennis (historic racquet club or free at Ruth Hardy Park.)
Power Yoga Palm Springs atop Cafe La Jefa: Feel like you are in Morocco with the stunning mountain views in the morning atop Flannery Exchange Stop by a coffee shop called Cafe La Jefa post-yoga.
Indian Canyons for dramatic Palm Canyon oases or a hike along a river to a waterfall. Tahquitz Canyon offers a 1+ mile loop in dramatic boulder scenery to a waterfall. Both are on Native American land, so there is a fee to access the hikes. Also, behind the Palm Springs Art Museum is a steep, snake-like trail that winds straight up with impressive views of all of Palm Springs. This hike should only be done by experienced hikers.
Moorten Botanical Garden: Admire funky, odd looking cacti in the world's first cactarium. This 30-minute intimate garden scape walk displays desert plants from places all over the world.
Shop and walk around the downtown area or the Uptown Design District filled with inspiring design shops, vintage shops, bars and restaurants. Don't miss the Christopher Kennedy store, Peepa's or Trina Turk.
Lappert's Ice Cream: Don't miss tasting a date shake, the desert's unofficial drink due to the numerous date farms nearby.
Get out into town for vintage shopping, thrift stores and other unique finds. Check out: Revivals, The Frippery, Iconic Atomic, Antique Galleries of Palm Springs, Palm Springs Vintage Market (Sundays once a month), Angel View, The Shops at Thirteen Forty-Five, Mojave Flea Trading Post, Re(x).
The Aerial Tramway is the steepest in America. Go straight to the top of the mountain where you can hike, dine or admire the desert landscape. This rotating tram is not for the faint of heart, but a trip you surely won't forget. There is snow up top sometimes as well.
Joshua Tree is about an hour drive from Palm Springs, California.
Pioneertown with dinner (and often live music) at famed Pappy and Harriet's.
Noah Purifoy features art in the desert.
The Integratron for a sound bath in the desert.
Two Bunch Palms is a natural hot springs in hotel retreat.
Places to eat & drink in Palm Springs
Boozehounds Palm Springs: Come for happy hour or dinner at this Tulum-esque, fun and gorgeous dog-friendly space housed in a mid-century building.
Bar Cecil: Hottest new restaurant in town! Try the $50 caviar martini. The owner's drool-worthy art collection (Calder, Damien Hirst, etc) decorates every inch of this beloved new swanky establishment.
Copley's on Palm Canyon for a romantic dinner outside at Carey Grant's old digs.
Melvyn's Restaurant and Lounge/Bar: Where the old school Brat Pack and famous hung out in the height of yesteryear. Come for a martini and admire the photos on the wall of the celebs who use to frequent in a bygone era. At night, a piano player performs to guests' delight and some of the best food is served right in the main dining area.
Colony Club Restaurant: Come for a drink or dine at this romantic spot poolside in the evening.
The Heyday: The best burgers in Palm Springs!
Bootlegger Tiki: Best, fun tiki cocktails. Make reservations in advance to duck into this tiny, tiki-menu serving bar with strong festive drinks. Their coffee venue open in front during the day.
Rooftop at Rowan Hotel: Watch the sunset drip the desert landscape from the rooftop over a mezcal cocktail.
Sugar High Rooftop Lounge: Order bites like watermelon feta and watermelon cocktails at this chic, intimate rooftop space.
Farm: Best brunch in the gardens. Savory and sweet crepes. A set price dinner in the evening with live music is also the way to go here.
Le Vallauris: Splurge-worthy dinner with old-school menu boards.
El Mirasol: Best Mexican food in town! I love the carnitas and homemade flour shells.
Cheeky's: Come here for breakfast. Make sure to get in line super early to get in, otherwise expect wait for an hour or more. Bacon flight, corn pancake, huevos rancheros and great coffee served here.
Gabino's Creperie: Down an alley next to Kreem (the best ice cream shop), find the ultimate casual lunch spot to-go. Crepes here are like nothing you have had before, more like a sandwich with a zesty seasoning on the outside.
Need to Know
Do not hike in the summer due to extreme heat. Always bring water with you, even driving. The best time to visit Palm Springs, California is between October - May.
Looking for more inspiration on adventures in California? Check out my guide to Malibu: Romantic Couples Getaway to Malibu
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