With poolside glamour, Midcentury Modern architecture, vintage shops, tennis at dusk, seriously delicious eateries, an old timer here and there, hot desert days and even hotter desert nights, what's not to love about Palm Springs?
Toss in a pinch of Old Hollywood glamour and new hipster cool, and Palm Springs is a spot-on destination for a chill long weekend, just an hour's flight from San Francisco.
Where to Stay
Among the new kids in the desert, Arrive is Palm Springs' first hotel in decades to be built new from ground up. Cofounded by Ezra Callahan, one of Facebook's founding team, Arrive is a modern boutique hotel with 32 rooms, a restaurant, coffee shop, juice bar, and ice cream store-slash-gift-shop that targets locals as well as tourists. Unsurprisingly, there's a tech element—think no front-desk, the bartender has your keys—and rooms are equipped with Apple TV. Don't miss Dive-In movie nights by the pool and Sunday night live music and vinyl. // 1551 N Palm Canyon Dr., arrivehotels.com
Fashionable jetsetters will already be familiar with L'Horizon, one of Palm Springs's newest hotels from celebrity designer Steve Hermann. Voted the #1 California hotel in Travel + Leisure's 2017 Readers' Choice Awards, the iconic midcentury stay attracted the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Betty Gable back in the area's Hollywood heyday. After a major renovation, it reopened in late 2015 and today draws modern travelers who seek exclusivity. Twenty-five bungalows have private patios and outdoor showers, Frette linens, and Le Labo bath products. The best part? No kids allowed. // 1050 E. Palm Canyon Dr., lhorizonpalmsprings.com
If its Midcentury Modern style that lures you to Palm Springs, check in at The Amado, an iconic 1955 motel that was renovated and reopened as a design-y boutique stay by Desert Collective in 2014. The place is as Instagrammable as it gets with desert succulents and Bolivian textiles popping against the clean-lined whitewashed building. Traveling with an entourage? Book the whole six-bedroom, five-bathroom compound ($1,350/night) and have the pool and fire pit all to yourselves. // 1821 E. Amado Rd., thedesertcollective.com
Ace Hotel & Swim Club
The Ace Hotel has all the chill vibes, famously hip ambiance, and a mix of industrial and ethnic design elements. And with two pools, room service by the outdoor fireplaces, a ping-pong table, spa and gym, you'll scarcely have to leave. Plus, check out the hotel's online events page for dance and game nights. If you're in town for Coachella 2018, check out Desert Gold (Apr. 12-16), with Adult Swim performances, DJs and more. // 701 E Palm Canyon Dr., acehotel.com/palmsprings
Parker Palm Springs
Welcome to the colorful world of Jonathan Adler and to one of Palm Springs' most iconic high-end hotels. Wherever you stay, a trip to town isn't complete without some hang time at the Parker, where an eclectic mix of colors, textures, and design objets make the hotel eye candy for design freaks. // 4200 E Palm Canyon Dr, theparkerpalmsprings.com
Be transported into the serene Mediterranean-style universe of Korakia Pensione's two villas—one was once used as an escape for a Scottish painter; the other, the former home of a 1930s silent film star. Today, Korakia is one of "America's sexiest hotels" according to The New York Times, with bougainvillea climbing the walls of lovely bungalows and guesthouses, and multiple swimming pools, gardens, and fountains. Luxurious Moroccan-style rooms are inviting for afternoon naps. // 257 S Patencio Rd, korakia.com
In Palm Springs' Movie Colony neighborhood, Alcazar is a short walk from the Design District and has some stylish trappings of its own. The revamped Spanish Colonial building is surrounded by lush pink bougainvillea, lemon trees, and, of course, a swimming pool—it's a great affordable oasis to rest and relax. The hotel's is also home to some of Palm Springs' top foodie destinations: Sip Champagne cocktails at Seymour's, which hosts Gin & Jams on Wednesday nights; grab from-scratch pastries and breakfast all day at Cheeky's; hearty eats at Mr. Lyons Steakhouse; and Italian eats at Birba. // 622 N Palm Canyon Dr., alcazarpalmsprings.com
Whether or not you've heard of the Saguaro, you may have spotted its rainbow-hued facade, a darling of traveling Instagrammers including Tavi Gevinson. This is a kaleidoscopic hotel that, in addition to hosting quite the cocktail scene by the pool, offers yoga classes, complimentary bikes for cruising around, and spa treatments. // 1800 E Palm Canyon Dr, thesaguaro.com
Rustic charm, stone fire pits, communal space, and a vegetable garden make Sparrows Lodge a nice alternative to the mostly modern spirit of Palm Springs. Even if you're not staying at Sparrows, you can have food and drinks at Barn Kitchen, but we recommend getting a seat at the lodge's family-style supper served Wednesdays and Saturdays. Seats are limited, so call ahead for reservations. May we also suggest a whole body purification treatment ($210, 90 minutes) in the open-air massage tent for two. // 1330 E. Palm Canyon Dr., sparrowslodge.com
EAT & DRINK
Coffee + Snacks
Koffi is to Palm Springs what Sightglass is to San Francisco—locally roasted, freshly brewed, and accompanied with pastries. If it's too hot for coffee, cool off with a fresh smoothie at one of four locations, including the newest in central Palm Springs with views of the San Jacinto mountains. // Multiple locations, kofficoffee.com
This is a story of a French couple coming to Palm Springs and making buttery pastry dreams come true. Their flour is imported from the motherland, everything is baked daily and, while the husband is whipping up the delicious doughs, the wife takes care of the customers in the sweet-as-can-be pink-tiled shop. // 611 S Palm Canyon Dr #1, facebook.com/Peninsula-Pastries-Palm-Springs
Planning provisions for a hike or just needing a quick bite in the morning? This is where Townies Bagels comes in. What began as a stand at the local farmer's market has become an in-demand brick and mortar run by two passionate gentlemen who know a good bagel. Bagel lovers can bite into all imaginable varieties along with homemade cream cheeses. Closed Tuesdays. // 650 E Sunny Dunes Rd, towniebagels.com
Serving Stumptown Coffee with a variety of alternative milks, plus an offering of savory and sweet nibbles, Ernest Coffee is a great starting point for the day. Then, when your feet begin to burn from walking around town, stop in for a late afternoon beer or wine and soak in the mountain view from the patio. // 1101 N Palm Canyon Dr, ernestcoffee.com
Ice Cream & Shoppe
We all scream for ice cream (and nicely curated gifts) at the Arrive Hotel's store and scoop shop serving such homemade flavors as avocado, pomegranate chip, and cappuccino crunch. // 1151 N Palm Canyon Dr., icecreamandshop.com
Restaurants + Bars
King's Highway & The Amigo Room
A contemporary bohemian diner at the Ace Hotel, this former Denny's now serves Stumptown Coffee and refined and healthy brunches and dinners. Go for half-price bottles on Wine Down Wednesdays, and don't miss bingo and trivia nights at the Amigo Room. // 701 E Palm Canyon Dr, acehotel.com/palmsprings/kings-highway
There are no hip design details or reclaimed wood here, but you will find a line of hungry brunchgoers at Elmer's, a goodie since 1960. Don't miss their original German pancakes. // 1030 E Palm Canyon Dr, eatatelmers.com
At the Arrive Hotel, Reservoir aims to connect tourists and locals over modern Southern Californian cuisine—think quick sweet bites (churros and granola bowls), egg creations, savory crepes, and build-your-own Bloody Marys. // 1551 N Palm Canyon Dr, reservoirpalmsprings.com
If juicy burgers and live bands are your jam, then Woody's is your hang. Pair live music nightly with orders of crispy fries and luscious shakes, or go for the weekend jazz brunch. Reservations totally recommended. // 317 N Indian Canyon Dr, woodysburgersps.com
A touch of Provence in the California desert, breakfast/brunch spot Farm dishes out French-style cuisine with a good portion of Golden State influence. The carte de jour is full of scrumptious dishes that will satisfy you until dinner. Speaking of nighttime meals, you can also make a reservation for $52 pre-fixe dinners. // 6 La Plaza, farmpalmsprings.com
Workshop Kitchen + Bar
A 90-year-old movie theater turned James Beard Award–winning restaurant, Workshop, in the Uptown Design District, serves up local-farm-to-table fare at brunch and dinner. With tons of small plates designed for sharing, not to mention exquisite riffs on classic cocktails, this is Palm Springs' special occasion destination. // 800 N Palm Canyon Dr, workshoppalmsprings.com
If you haven't been to Cheeky's, you haven't had a proper Palm Springs brunch. Plan for a short wait to get a table and just order the whole menu—the chef's insanely delicious fancies change weekly but run the gamut from Elvis French Toast (bananas, bacon, and almond butter) to Brussels sprout kimchi fried rice and custard cheese scrambled eggs. Order a fresh-pressed green juice to offset that bacon flight. // 622 N Palm Canyon Dr, cheekysps.com
For a boozy night, you must find your way to Bootlegger Tiki, our favorite spot for tropical craft cocktails in the original home of Don the Beachcomber, which opened in 1953. Soak 'em up with bites from the hip speakeasy's tasty snack menu, and sign up for a tiki cocktail class (May 13, 2018). // 1101 N Palm Canyon Dr, bootleggertiki.com
Find cheesy excellence at this Italian spot where the pizza is one of the best in the whole wide desert. Order up cocktails as well as handmade pasta, meat and seafood courses, and nice desserts. The open dining space and outdoor bar make Birba even more attractive on long Palm Springs nights. // 622 N Palm Canyon Dr, birbaps.com
Be the weather hot or hotter, El Jefe is a great spot to hang out any time of the day. Mexican dishes, including orange-braised beef tacos and fried paddle cactus, are served in a space evocative of a Wild West saloon. The bar has an exquisite tequila collection. // 1800 E Palm Canyon Dr, thesaguaro.com/palm-springs
Things to Do
Most every hotel in PS offers complimentary bikes for exploring the many pretty neighborhoods and endless photo opps. For a manageable route, calm streets, and beautiful buildings and gardens, roll through Indian Canyon, Twin Palms, Historic Tennis Club, and Tahquitz River Estates.
Instagrammers with the travel bug have likely stumbled upon pics of #thatpinkdoor, probably the most famous door in all in all Palm Springs. Grap your camera and go on the hunt. We will give you a hint: It's in the Indian Canyon neighborhood.
Moorten Botanical Garden
For just five bucks, you can enter the magical living world of Moorten's Botanical Garden, where cacti, succulents and other plants bloom in all their glory. An absolute must-visit. // 1701 S Palm Canyon Dr, moortenbotanicalgarden.com
Scooter Tours of Celebrity Homes
Skip the rental car and grab a scooter instead—with easier parking, you'll see more and have way more fun. Find a good map of old Hollywood stars' homes and get going; we recommend rentals through Scoot Palm Springs. // scootpalmsprings.com
The area around Palm Springs is dotted with amazing hikes that let you explore the wonders of the desert. Visit the world's largest fan palm oasis in Palm Canyon; hike the ancient trails of Tahquitz Canyon all the way to a 40-foot waterfall; or discover silence in the secluded Murray Canyon. Whichever hike you choose, bring as much water as you can carry, and be sure to wear layers and sunscreen. Bring a map (but don't obsess over it), and beware of rattlesnakes!
Want to fly high? Aerial Tramway is an extraordinary ride over the majestic Chino Canyon. Get some food at the Pines Cafe or you opt for a hike through Mt. San Jacinto State Park. // 1 Tram Way, pstramway.com
Forget what you think you know about guided tours, and sit back and relax with a cold brew and snacks while exploring one of the many Palm Springs guided home tours which can actually be really fun and informative. For some inspiration which tours you can do check out official Palm Springs website.
Palm Springs Art Museum
As well as being a good hideaway from the heat, the museum is a great place to discover work by local artists and get inspired. Check out Andy Warhol Prints (through May 28, 2018). // 101 N Museum Dr, psmuseum.org
If your feet are itchy for more adventure, easy day trips from Palm Springs are plentiful. There is the vividly, colorful Salvation Mountain about an hour out, as well as, of course, Joshua Tree for amazing sunrises and sunsets. Pioneertown is worth a stop for the barbecue at Pappy & Harriet's.
Twice each year (in February and October), Midcentury Modern design fans make the trip for a week packed with events—tours of usually not-so-accessible places, exhibitions, movies, performances, and parties. Tickets sell out fast, so make sure you get yours on time. // modernismweek.com
It's technically not Palm Springs, but there is good vintage and consignment to be had in Palm Desert at The Fine Art of Design (73717 Highway 111, Palm Desert) as well as contemporary brands, including Mara Hoffman and Rag & Bone, at the tasteful Elisabeth & Prince (78075 Main St., Ste. 101, La Quinta).
The Design District abounds with cool interior shops, vintage stores, and fashion boutiques for spendy types. The splashy headquarters of sassy Trina Turk (891 N. Palm Canyon Dr.) is a must for playful printed swimwear and summer frocks.
Palm Springs is a vintage lover's heaven and The Frippery (664 N Palm Canyon Dr.) does a good job sourcing pieces from all decades. // Lovers of '70s fashions should stop by Mitchell's (106 S. Indian Canyon Dr.), gently worn designer threads from the likes of Pucci, Gucci, and more.
Desert Hills Premium Outlets
Many a Bay Area fashionista on a budget has made the pilgrimage to Cabazon, CA to shops ridiculous deals at big-name brand outlet stores including Barneys, Helmut Lang, AG Jeans, Balenciaga, Frette, John Varvatos, La Perla and more. // 48400 Seminole Dr. (Cabazon), premiumoutlets.com/outlet/desert-hills
This article has been updated since it was originally published in June 2016.