As the world begins to reopen, many of us are dreaming of making a quick getaway. For those of us on the West Coast of the US, Palm Springs is a sunny destination within easy reach. Just a couple hours (or so, depending on traffic) outside of LA, this stylish and bright oasis has long-been a destination for the glamorous and cool. The city became popular with Hollywood in the 1930s; eventually, Frank Sinatra, Elvis, and Liberace all acquired homes in the area.
There is much to see and do—in fact, visiting year-round offers a plethora of options for exploring nature, shopping, and eating. Here are some suggestions for what to do when you’re not busy soaking up the (scorching) desert sun.
Avalon Hotel and Bungalows, 415 S Belardo Road
This new hotel features newly renovated and redone Spanish-style bungalows and suites, on the site of a famous hotel from the 1930s. Private and comfortable, the rooms are dotted amongst four acres of citrus groves. Featuring three pools, a wellness program, and a comprehensive Estrella spa ensure relaxation is fully maximised (try the CBD Spa Experience to really zen-out).
Ace Hotel & Swim Club, 701 E Palm Canyon Drive (reopening 1st July)
Located in a former mid-century motel, since opening, this hotel has been a Palm Springs hot spot. Perfectly designed, the comfortable, bohemian rooms complement the shared spaces—fireplaces, two pools, and a photo booth. The eatery, King’s Highway Diner, hosts a popular bingo every Monday evening and serves an appealing menu of Mexican and healthy items from morning till night in the restaurant, poolside, or as room service.
Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 N Museum Drive
Founded in 1938, this comprehensive museum is housed in a building designed by E Stewart Williams. Several collections, including an expansive selection of Native American Art and objects, sit alongside a revolving roster of featured shows. They also host many events, lectures, and classes; the motivation to grow a sense of community drives their unique programming.
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, 1 Tram Way
Board a rotating tram car, and climb the cliffs of Chino Canyon to an elevation of 8,516 feet. Because the tram cars turn whilst you’re on board, the views are unparalleled—you can see everything for miles. Two restaurants await you at the summit; we recommend taking in the view and enjoying a cocktail at The Lookout Lounge.
Moorten Botanical Garden, 1701 S Palm Canyon Drive
Run by the Chester family for nearly one hundred years, this garden features more than 3,000 species of desert plants. Spot fossils and crystals amongst the succulents; an onsite nursery will have you wishing you lived local and could take some new plants home.
Eat & drink
Le Vallauris, 385 W Tahquitz Canyon Way
This historic French restaurant remains a scene nearly 50 years after opening. The revolving menu utilises local ingredients whenever possible, and is communicated to diners via a handwritten blackboard. The romantic flower-covered patio is a magical place to eat. Expect excellent service, a curated wine list, and well-executed food, all worthy of the price.
Las Casuelas, 222 S Palm Canyon Drive
Oft-voted one of the best Mexican restaurants in the country, Las Casuelas has been serving family recipes to diners since 1958. The menu changes seasonally, but you can always expect classics such as Enchiladas Suizas and Carne Asada to be included and on-point. A comprehensive tequila menu complements several creative margarita and cocktail options.
Workshop Kitchen + Bar, 800 N Palm Canyon Drive
Housed in a former movie theatre, this stunning restaurant has sleek, modern interiors. One of the first restaurants in the area to focus their menu on local ingredients, their Farmers’ Market Vegetables plate spotlights the best the season has to offer in myriad preparations. Brunch is excellent as well; try the Maine Lobster Breakfast Burrito—and the Baked Avocado is unreal.
Seymour’s, 233 E Palm Canyon Drive
Expert cocktails are shaken and stirred in this dark speakeasy behind Mr Lyon’s. Transportive in its decor, stepping inside feels somewhat like a trip back in time. It’s the perfect place for a late-night drink, enjoyed on either a plush velvet sofa or on the large patio, under the stars.
Mid-century modern everything
The Modern Tour, Palm Springs
If you’re a true fan of mid-century architecture, embark upon a guided tour to see everything. This comprehensive tour takes place in a luxury SUV (limited to groups of six or less) and is led by best-selling author and lecturer Michael Stern. Participants go inside several private homes on the tour and see the celebrity homes of Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, and others. Book well in advance—these tours are notorious for selling out.
Modernway, 2500 N Palm Canyon Drive
Palm Springs has long been known as a haven for all things mid-century modern. This store, in particular, has a vast selection of furniture, electronics, and home goods from the period—should you not be able to take any furniture home, it is worth a visit for inspiration alone.
Intrigued? Contact award-winning Quintessentially Travel to book your dream desert vacation.