Spring break is upon us, and for many that means a trip to beautiful Palm Springs. This desert community has something for everyone and is a great weekend getaway from Los Angeles any time of year, although November through May are really the best times to visit.
Just 100 miles to the east of Los Angeles, this desert oasis is a popular weekend getaway. Known for its excellent golf courses and resorts, there is much more to Palm Springs, including fine dining, shopping and outdoor activities.
Where to stay:
La Quinta Resort – Classic Palm Springs style. This lovely property is its own Spanish-style desert oasis, with flower-strewn patios, beautiful pools, tranquil gardens, and a phenomenal spa. There are several restaurants ranging from fine dining fare to a delicious sandwiches you can take “to-go” on your golf cart.
The Parker Palm Springs – Quirky, cool and with an edgy vibe, this resort doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s absolutely gorgeous, has amazing accommodations, delicious dining options (make sure to visit Norma’s for brunch) and has plenty of leisure activities (including lawn games and instructions for play.) Cheekily declaring “We believe you are only young once… but you can be immature forever.” the resort’s spa, PSYC, offers luxe spa services and fun fitness options.
The Ace Hotel & Swim Club – This 176-room hotel and spa is a former Westward Ho and Denny’s restaurant that has been completely re-imagined into a fun and funky resort. You’re sure to find interesting night life at the Amigo Room bar. In addition to a variety of live music and DJs, you’ll also find kitschy activities like bingo, crafting, karaoke and special events like their annual Craft Beer Fest. It is within biking distance of downtown and not far from area destinations like Joshua Tree, the Salton Sea, and Salvation Mountain.
Hungry? Here’s where to eat:
Cheeky’s – a bold menu for that changes weekly and breakfast served all day – which means until 2:00, as they are not open for dinner.
Matchbox – great American fare including wood-fired pizzas and other specialties like green curry mussels and steaks.
TRIO – a fun cocktail menu and bar snacks like homemade chips and dip, and Midwest comfort food with a California contemporary edge.
Workshop Kitchen & Bar – farm to table and group friendly, the seasonal, rotating menu includes items like market veggie enchiladas, a huevos rancheros bowl and slow-roasted lamb tajine.
Where to shop:
The Design District. Brimming with contemporary and mid-century design, there are shops and boutiques a’plenty. Stop in at legendary local Trina Turk‘s shop, then be sure to visit Wil Stiles for men’s and women’s clothing and accessories, The Déjà Vu Room for vintage fashion treasures, the high-design concept shop Raymond | Lawrence, and Bon Vivant for period-piece home decor.
El Paseo. aka the “Rodeo Drive of the Desert,” features some big names in fashion stretching for several blocks on both sides of its well manicured medians. Kate Spade, Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren as well as more mainstream retailers, like Anthropologie, Lululemon and Pottery Barn. When you need a respite from all that shopping, both fine dining and casual cafés, can be found on every block.
What to do:
Red Jeep. This eco-tour company is the longest operating in the Greater Palm Springs area, and is known for its in-depth tours and expert guides. There are individual and group tours and activities and they can even coordinate events. From celebrity home tours to hiking excursions to team building exercises, there is bound to be something for everyone.
Palm Springs Art Museum. It’s the perfect, bite-sized weekend museum. Not big enough to feel guilty when you want to leave and head back to the pool, but big enough to feature works from Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Graham, and Dale Chihuly, as well as other renowned artists and striking pieces.
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway – Scale the sheer cliffs of Chino Canyon up to the top of Mt. San Jacinto in one of the world’s largest rotating aerial tram cars. You’ll pass through several climate zones, and upon reaching the top (8,500 feet) activities include hiking or guided nature walks (in warm weather), and cross-country skiing or snowshoeing during the winter. The Peaks Restaurant and Pines Café, offer lunch and dinner as well as breathtaking views.
PGA West. Palm Springs is a golfer’s paradise and PGA West boasts 109 holes over six championship courses designed by golf legends Arnold Palmer, Greg Norman, Pete Dye, Jack Nicklaus and Tom Weiskopf. Non-member? No problem as you can make the most of the “Home of Western Golf” by booking the Desert Links Package at the neighboring La Quinta Resort & Club, which includes overnight accommodations, unlimited golf on five courses and a $25 resort credit.
No Palm Springs travel guide is complete without mentioning its famous Midcentury Modern Architecture. There are a few different companies that offer guided tours and there is always the self guided option. William Cody, Richard Neutra, John Lautner, Donald Wexler, and Albert Frey are some of the famous names whose designs are celebrated in Palm Springs.
Some Midcentury Modern architectural highlights:
Sunnylands – designed by architect A. Quincy Jones, Sunnylands was the winter home of Ambassador Walter Annenberg and his wife Leonore. Within the compound, the couple hosted several U.S. presidents and international dignitaries, including Ronald Reagan, Queen Elizabeth II and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. Visitors can tour Sunnylands and its gardens September through June — advanced reservations are required.
Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway This is the only celebrity house in Palm Springs open to tours. In 1962 Look magazine called it “TheHouse of Tomorrow” and in 1967, the house gained international fame when Elvis and Priscilla moved in after their Vegas elopement. It has been rechristened the “Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway,” and was restored to its vintage 1960s glory. A destination for modern architecture aficionados and Elvis enthusiasts alike.
Kaufmann House – This 1946 masterpiece by Richard Neutra is a beautiful juxtaposition of the abstract geometry of modern architecture next to the desert-and-mountain landscape of Palm Springs.
What are some of your favorite Palm Springs landmarks? If you’re looking for a Midcentury modern home in the Los Angeles area, there is a beautiful property in Brentwood.
Do you spend much time in Palm Springs? What are some of your favorite places to go and things to do?