Enjoy poolside cocktails and culture at this California oasis.
I like to call Palm Springs the oasis away from the oasis. Only a two hour drive from Los Angeles, this city of desert beauty is rich in mid-century modern style and just may be the perfect weekend getaway. From the moment you round the bend on I-10 and are greeted by rows of windmills in the distance, you know you’ve entered a strangely hypnotic place.
Palm Springs is where you go to retreat, relax and unwind. The extreme desert heat will have you feeling pleasantly hazy and ready to enjoy poolside cocktails.
A weekend in Palm Springs is enough to whet your appetite but a longer stay is definitely better. Known as the place where Coachella concert-goers stay, this city has a lot to offer. If you want the fiery passion of a romantic rendezvous or fun in the sun with friends, this desert wonderland is the perfect escape.
Read on for my top Palm Springs attractions. If you have any tips, please share with other readers by leaving a comment below!
1. Poolside Social Scene
Weekends in Palm Springs are mainly centered around the pool. Your priorities inevitably shift until the most important task for the day becomes spending as much time as possible in the turquoise water. If you do leave, your main concern will be how soon you’ll be able to return poolside.
On a recent visit to Palm Springs I stayed at the Ace Hotel, where the pool was the hub of all activity. I had brunch, cocktails, lunch and more cocktails from the comfort of my lounge chair. At one point, food was even delivered to me while I was in the pool!
2. Indulge Your Inner Hipster
A converted Howard Johnson, the Ace Hotel provides a laid-back, hipsterific Palm Springs experience. It has three saline swimming pools piped with the perfect soundtrack (featuring artists like Kanye and Fleetwood Mac), ping-pong tables and several communal lounge areas spread throughout the property.
The desert chic rooms have absurdly comfortable beds, beautiful Turkish cotton parka robes (perfect for poolside lounging) and even record players. If you don’t like any of the records, simply call the front desk and they’ll bring you more options.
The hotel bar, The Amigo Room, hosts a different event every night of the week. Once a month, it stages a full moon party, complete with a drum circle. The Kings Highway Diner serves delicious and sustainable locally-sourced food around the clock.
Even locals and guests staying at nearby hotels hang out the Ace. It can get pretty rowdy on the weekends, so if the party vibe is not your thing, the best time to stay is during the week… or stay at a quieter hotel. If you do stay elsewhere, make sure to stop in for a drink.
3. Bike in Downtown Palm Springs
When you’re finally able to peel yourself from the pool and venture out, take a walk along downtown Palm Spring’s main drag, Palm Canyon Road. If it’s not too hot, rent a bike from your hotel or one of the many local bike rental shops and explore the city.
4. Eat, Drink & Be Merry
As you walk along Palm Canyon Road, you’ll pass kitschy souvenir shops, karaoke bars, and many restaurants. Cheeky’s has one of the best brunches in the city. For dinner, try Jaio or Las Casuelas Terraza for some Mexican flavor.
5. See the Stars
You’ll walk along Palm Springs’ own version of the Walk of Fame. Eventually you’ll arrive at the giant Marilyn Monroe statue created by Johnson & Johnson heir Seward Johnson. It’s fitting that the Forever Marilyn sculpture has ended up in Palm Springs, as the city was once the playground for some of old Hollywood’s stars like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe herself. If you will recall, Sonny Bono of Sonny and Cher fame was the city’s mayor in the early 1990s. In fact, driving through Palm Springs, you’ll notice several streets named after these stars.
6. Try a City Tour
Take a tour of Bob Hope’s house, have lunch or dinner at Copley’s, located on Cary Grant’s old estate, or drink at Melvyn’s where the Rat Pack used to hang out. The waitstaff looks like they’ve been around that long!
If you’re feeling extra adventurous, take a mid-century architectural tour of the city or take the aerial tram for grand views of the stunning desert valley.
7. Opt for Posh Drinks
For a decadent drink, head to the Parker Palm Springs. Have a cocktail and lounge amongst perfectly manicured lawns and pretty people.
8. Attend a Festival
9. Stay in a Boutique Hotel
The Ace Hotel is not the only cool place to stay. Palm Springs is filled with hotels and house rentals each providing a unique experience. Other great hotels are the Orbit Inn and its sister property down the street, the Hotel Hideaway; both are known for their 5pm happy hours. The recently opened Alcazar is another solid pick.
When to Go
The best time to visit Palm Springs is January though May. If you go any other time, it will be hot but the pool will cool you off. You’ll love it regardless of (or perhaps because of) the extreme heat.