Palm Springs Travel Guide
The most glamorous desert in the United States, Palm Springs has always been a hotbed for the Hollywood elite. From the days of Frank Sinatra and the rat pack to present day movie & rock stars taking over the desert during the infamous Coachella music festival. Wondering what to do in Palm Springs? World-class resorts, the finest of dining, art-filled galleries and shopping galore, Greater Palm Springs has a lot of everything any visitor may need or want. It’s a place to soak up some sun while spoiling oneself with the luxuries that surround this desert oasis.
The best hotels in Palm Springs
There’s a lot going on in the desert, and with so many hotel and resort options to choose from, it’s hard to select where you’ll lay your head at night. The good news is, most everywhere that offers accommodations has something great to offer so even if you don’t stay there, you might still visit for a round of golf or an over the top meal. There are always the classics, like The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage, or the La Quinta Resort and Club, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, both of which are beyond magnificent and come backed with a guaranteed luxury experience solely with name recognition alone. There’s also the Parker Palm Springs, which has more of a hip and stylish vibe going for it, while still having the service level similar to a Waldorf or a Ritz, minus the white gloves. The interiors of The Parker were designed by the one and only Jonathan Adler, and the 144-room property has some pretty cool features including three pools, one of which is indoors, a full service spa, and clay tennis courts. And for the overly fancy guests, there is even a croquet lawn and pétanque courts, because why not?
A fun and vibrant alternative is the ACE Hotel & Swim Club, a property with 173 rooms within striking distance of Downtown Palm Springs. Rooms at this hotel & spa boast sustainable and environmental-friendly features, such as recycled materials and vintage furniture. The design aesthetic of the hotel is organic and bohemian; perfect for the man who appreciates imaginative and authentic surroundings.
If you want something a bit more on the boutique side of things, there are two other hotels that can’t be overlooked. Triada Palm Springs, Autograph Collection, recently underwent a complete transformation. The 56 guest rooms in this Spanish style hacienda hotel are conveniently located in the Movie Colony of Downtown Palm Springs, offering majestic views of the San Jacinto Mountains. If something even smaller is appealing, Sparrows Lodge, a restored 1950’s retreat, has 20 rooms, all featuring exposed beam ceilings, butterfly chairs, concrete floors and red walls. The lodge is both modern yet rustic, so rustic that it even has a communal barn and vegetable garden. The description may sound more on the simple side, but it’s full of elegance inside.
Things to do in Palm Springs
Choosing exactly when to be in Palm Springs can be tricky as there is always something fantastic happening, so scheduling around these events is something that should be considered. Between Coachella and Stagecoach, music fans are covered. For those who prefer to dance the night away surrounded by gorgeous people, the famous White Party of the desert usually takes place in April. The Palm Springs Film Festival, one of the most prominent in the country, takes places in early January each year and other events such as the ANA Inspiration, and the BNP Paribas Tennis Tournament are also great weeks to be in the desert.
Now also remember that Greater Palm Springs is made up of nine cities, including Palm Springs, so don’t get thrown off when mapping out what to do because everything is relatively close to one another. All nine of the cities are worth exploring, but some have a bit more than others. Obviously, Palm Springs itself with its mid-century modern architecture and streets lined with restaurants and boutique shops will keep you captivated, but spread out a bit and have a look at some other parts that make up the area. If you are into golf or just hanging in fancy golf clubs, La Quinta is the city to be. There’s also an abundance of art and culture…and shopping! Rancho Mirage is another golfer’s paradise and was once home to famous folks like Lucille Ball and Frank Sinatra. And in the heart of the Coachella Valley is Cathedral City, which has more of an outdoor vibe with epic hiking trails as well as shopping – although here you will find everything from trendy to vintage collectables.
And while we are on the topic of shopping, the desert does have its own vibe and style that’s a bit resort chic to a bit Las Vegas nightlife. There are tons of men’s shops that offer options for threads, but we suggest adhering to a select few. Bobby G’s is dedicated to top quality men’s fashion and have a great denim selection as well as a variety of dress shirts. For a distinctive collection of watches, book bags as well as clothing, British Invasion has it all. And if you are in the need of some dapper gear, R&R Menswear has all the designer brands, carefully selected by the owners themselves. Or, for some bargain shopping on premium goods, the Shops at Desert Hills Premium Outlet Mall has a bit of everything.
Things to see in Palm Springs
Shopping can be fun, but there is much more to see and do. For a marvellous view of the desert, take a 10-minute trip up the mountain on the world’s largest rotating trams. Once up top, take some killer panoramic photos and then head for a guided nature walk or hike a trail. It can get cold up there, so dress appropriately. Back down where it can be warmer, get in your rental and just drive through the old neighbourhoods. For architecture buffs or for anyone who appreciates vintage design, it’s a great way to see some really fun houses from the outside. If you want to step inside one of the houses, drive to the “House of Tomorrow,” which is a prime example of mid-century modern architecture. The home used to belong to Elvis Presley and his bizarre décor style can be seen within. Think leopard print walls and pink, lots of pink.
The Palm Spring Art Museum – Architecture and Design Center is also worth spending some time inside for a more in-depth overview of the area’s architecture and design. Additionally, the museum itself has a renowned collection of some of the world’s best art. Smaller galleries worth stopping by for some unique finds include Elena Bulatova Fine Art and Michael Weems Collection, both located on the same strip in Palm Springs. Stewart Galleries has a bit of everything, including paintings, drawings and antiques, as well as rare finds, while Savage Art Gallery features more local artists in a comfortable and unpretentious atmosphere.
The Edge | Photo: Don Riddle
Where to eat in Palm Springs
The food scene here is endless and ranges from the casual brunch to reservation required. For the ultimate in views and unbelievable cliff-side dining, The Edge Steakhouse at The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage presents unreal prime steak, seafood and wine experiences, all highlighted by the spectacular views from its dramatic cliff-side setting. Workshop Kitchen + Bar has been praised as much for its approachable seasonal California cuisine menu as for its high design.
The charming and hard to find Farm restaurant features a French countryside aesthetic that carries over to the menu. French press coffee, croque madams and monsieurs, mimosas and more are what make this a favourite spot for early eats. Tiny but fun, located in the Uptown Design District, Bootlegger Tiki is an all-out tiki experience with everything from sweet, fruity and heavily poured boozy cocktails, to light fixtures resembling blowfish and racy aloha art, which can be fun to pose next to for an Instagram. Matchbox should be on the pizza radar while Gyoro Gyoro is on the sushi watch. Sherman’s is an old-school deli, and Wally’s Desert Turtle is an old school supper club, both of which provide a bit of nostalgia.
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Photo: Greater Palm Springs Tourism Board
Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway | Photo: Greater Palm Springs Tourism Board
Palm Springs Visitors Center | Photo: Greater Palm Springs Tourism Board
Photo: Greater Palm Springs Tourism Board
Photo: Greater Palm Springs Tourism Board
Triada | Photo: Arthur Coleman
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