How To Do A Palm Springs Weekend Right

Photo: Courtesy of The Saguaro.
For a long time, I was convinced Palm Springs was simply a pit stop on the way over to the annual Coachella music festival, the kind of small, sleepy town where people go to retire. But, over the years, the city has experienced a revival that has less to do with its proximity to the festival and more to do with the fact that people simply can’t get enough of this sunshine-drenched desert oasis — and I’m one of them.

Why? While the area, once a haven for Hollywood’s Rat Pack, has held onto its slow-paced lifestyle, it has also attracted a spate of stylish boutique hotels, locavore eateries, and cool bars. Now, design and style aficionados are rediscovering the city’s iconic architectural marvels, and foodies, hipster hikers, and tastemakers are making the trek for breathtaking natural scenery and a flourishing culinary scene. Another reason why I love Palm Springs? It’s a mere two-hour drive from Los Angeles — making it the perfect weekend retreat.

Whether you’re after a low-key getaway, an action-packed itinerary, or a little of both, you’ll find something right up your alley while visiting this stylish, warm-weathered refuge. Click through to check out 25 reasons to go — and yes, chances are you’ll even start dreaming about retiring there one day.
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Photo: Courtesy of The Amado.
Where To Stay: The Amado
The Amado combines all the benefits of a boutique hotel (such as shared access to a heated pool and bathroom amenities) with the comforts of a private residence (like kitchens and plentiful street parking). You can rent the six apartment-style rooms as individual suites or, even better, as a single property accommodating up to 12 people — ideal for low-key bachelorette or birthday parties.

The Amado, 1821 East Amado Road (near North Saturmino Drive); 760-537-0053.
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Photo: Courtesy of Sparrows Lodge.
Where To Stay: Sparrows Lodge
You won’t find a single phone or television in the rooms at Sparrow — all the better to help you leave your social media obsession at the door and simply relax. Thanks to exposed beam ceilings and other rustic touches, you’ll feel like you’re bunking in a stylish cabin at adult camp (only 21 and over allowed here), which isn’t a bad thing. Explore the grounds, where you’ll find a communal barn, outdoor fire pit, and vegetable garden.

Sparrows Lodge, 1330 East Palm Canyon Drive (near Sagebrush Road); 760-327-2300.
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Photo: Courtesy of Alex Kirkwood.
Where To Stay: The Wexler House
Feel like making your own bed? Ditch the hotels and find a cool house on Airbnb, like this four-bedroom villa co-designed by influential midcentury modern architect Donald Wexler. For $3450 a week, the house accommodates up to 10 people and includes a heated pool and brightly decorated private cabana. If it’s booked during the weekend you’re going, check out other dream houses in the area.

The Wexler House, inquire for address.
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Photo: Courtesy of The Saguaro.
Where to Stay: The Saguaro
One of Palm Springs’ most beloved hotels, the vibrant Saguaro is known for its massive pool, often filled with beautiful people dancing to live music or a DJ set on weekends. If you’ve had enough of the poolside entertainment, lounge in your room (be sure to request one with a mountain view), roam around on a hotel-provided cruiser, or take the shuttle to downtown.

The Saguaro, 1800 East Palm Canyon Drive (near South Sunrise Way); 760-323-1711.
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Photo: Courtesy of The Modern Tour.
What To Do: The Modern Tour
Book an intimate architecture tour with Michael Stern, the author of Julius Shulman: Palm Springs and an expert on the area’s history and homes. His two-and-half-hour outing features celebrity homes and the work of notable architects. It even takes you into residential interiors, so it’s a must for any art, style, and design buff.

Feel like setting out on your own? This self-guided tour is an excellent way to view stunning examples of midcentury modern architecture. Your Instagram feed will be filled with snaps of the Wexler Steel Houses, Elvis’ honeymoon house, and more.

The Modern Tour; various locations.
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Photo: Courtesy of Cheeky’s.
Where To Brunch: Cheeky’s
There’s oftentimes a wait to snag a table at Cheeky’s, but the rotating menu at this beloved breakfast and brunch spot is well worth it. During any given week, you’ll find fresh farm-to-table fare, like a squash blossom scramble or buttermilk and fresh corn pancakes, in addition to a few mainstays, like their famous bacon flight.

Cheeky's, 622 North Palm Canyon Drive (near East Granvia Valmonte); 760-327-7595.
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Photo: Courtesy of Moorten Botanical Garden.
What To Do: Moorten Botanical Garden
Paying a visit to this tranquil botanical garden is a great way to kill some time. For a $4 entrance fee, you can tour the entire place, where animals and thousands of cacti and other spiny desert plants are on display. After an afternoon there, even those without a green thumb may feel compelled to take home a succulent or two.

Moorten Botanical Gardens, 1701 South Palm Canyon Drive (near East Twin Palms Drive); 760-327-6555.
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Photo: Courtesy of Copley’s on Palm Canyon.
What To Do: Happy Hour Cooking Class
If you’ve had enough of swimming, shopping, and spa-ing, sign up for a gourmet cooking class at Copley’s, a restaurant located in part of Cary Grant’s former estate. For $35, enjoy a glass of wine and hors d’oeuvres as Executive Chef Andrew Copley shows you how to whip up anything from pancetta-wrapped seabass to chilled leek and potato soup.

Copley's, 621 North Palm Canyon Drive (near East Alejo Road); 760-327-9555.
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Photo: Courtesy of Parker Palm Springs.
Where to Brunch: Norma’s
This fashionable diner located inside The Parker hotel has an entire section on their menu called Mom Can’t Make This, full of wildly indulgent and inventive dishes like mango-papaya brown butter cinnamon crepes.

Norma's at The Parker Palm Springs, 4200 East Palm Canyon Drive (near Cherokee Way); 760-321-4630.
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Photo: Courtesy of Ernest Coffee.
Where To Brunch: Ernest Coffee
Get your caffeine fix at this chic cafe that serves delicious Stumptown coffee, freshly baked pastries, and — if you’re in the mood for a tipple — half-priced house wine during happy hour.

Ernest Coffee, 1101 North Palm Canyon Drive (at East Tachevah Drive); 760-318-4154.
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Photo: Courtesy of Jake’s.
Where To Brunch: Jake’s
Blazing summer temps in Palm Springs means that this mostly outdoors bistro closes every summer (this year, they shut down from July 5 to September 29). While you can, take advantage of their excellent drinks, like Bloody Marys made with horseradish-infused vodka, cactus pear margaritas, and muddled blackberry mojitos. Oh, and their food menu — interesting takes on classic comfort dishes — isn’t bad either.

Jake's, 664 North Palm Canyon Drive (near East Granvia Valmonte); 760-327-4400.
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Photo: Courtesy of Hacienda Cantina & Beach Club.
Where To Drink: Hacienda Cantina & Beach Club
In the mood to see and be seen? This day club takes its cue from Vegas pool parties, so on weekends expect live DJ music, an outdoor bar, and VIP cabanas where you can order off the poolside menu. (We recommend the chipotle chicken lollipops and fish bowls of rum punch.)

Hacienda Cantina & Beach Club, 1555 South Palm Canyon Drive (near East Morongo Road); 760-778-8954.
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Photo: Courtesy of Bootlegger Tiki.
Where To Drink: Bootlegger Tiki
This local watering hole serves up hand-crafted tiki drinks in an intimate space. Better yet, it retains some of the kitschy charm of the original place — a renowned ‘50s hotspot called Don the Beachcomber.

Bootlegger Tiki, 1101 North Palm Canyon Drive (near East Tachevah Drive); 760-318-4154.
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Photo: Courtesy of Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.
Where To Drink: Lookout Lounge
Even if you think the Aerial Tramway is so been-there-done-that, the Lookout Lounge is one of Palm Springs’ hidden gems. Take a ride up on the rotating tramcar for panoramic views of the San Jacinto Mountains, then reward yourself at the top with a high-altitude cocktail — or three.

Lookout Lounge, One Tram Way (near North Palm Canyon Drive); 760-325-4537.
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Photo: Courtesy of The Saguaro.
Where To Eat Dinner: El Jefe
James Beard award-winning chef Jose Garces helms this well-known restaurant inside The Saguaro, which specializes in authentic Mexico City-inspired street food and features an extensive list of over 100 tequilas and mezcals.

El Jefe, 1800 East Palm Canyon Drive (at South Sunrise Way); 760-323-1711.
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Photo: Courtesy of Ace Hotel.
Where To Eat Dinner: King’s Highway
A revamped former Denny’s, Ace Hotel’s King’s Highway serves typical roadside diner fare — with a sophisticated twist. Hearty dishes, like buttermilk fried jidori chicken and shepherd’s pie made with roasted root veggies, make this spot a brunch and dinner go-to.

King's Highway at Ace Hotel, 701 East Palm Canyon Drive (near South Camino Real); 760-325-9900.
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Photo: Courtesy of Colony Palms Hotel.
Where To Eat Dinner: Purple Palm
Thanks to its Moroccan-esque décor, this restaurant — a throwback to old-school Palm Springs glamour — is the ideal setting for a romantic dinner. Dine on a well-curated menu of bacon-crusted salmon, butternut squash ravioli, and more while sitting poolside at the opulent Colony Palms Hotel.

Purple Palm, 572 North Indian Canyon Drive (at East Alejo Road); 760-969-1818.
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Photo: Courtesy of Appetito.
Where To Eat Dinner: Appetito
For a quick, casual bite, head over to this Italian deli for house-made pastas, focaccia pizzas, paninis, and salads, all made with seasonal and local California produce whenever possible.

Appetito, 1700 South Camino Real (at East Palm Canyon Drive); 760-327-1929.
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Photo: Courtesy of Workshop Kitchen + Bar.
Where To Eat Dinner: Workshop Kitchen + Bar
You have two options at Workshop Kitchen: Either sample a bunch of small plates, choosing from delectable starters like octopus carpaccio and mesquite-charred Brussel sprouts, or share one of their large-format dishes, such as a 22-ounce rib-eye, with your table.

Workshop, 800 North Palm Canyon Drive (at East Tamarisk Road); 760-459-3451.
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Photo: Courtesy of Two Bunch Palms.
Where To Relax: Two Bunch Palms
With 77 acres of trails, wildlife, and lakes and a hot springs mineral grotto, you’ll have plenty of places to relax at this day spa, which offers several one-of-a-kind à la carte services. Our suggestion? Try the private mud tub immersions and cranio sacral therapy.

Two Bunch Palms, 67425 Two Bunch Palms Trail (near Verbena Drive); 760-329-8791.
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Photo: Courtesy of Parker Palm Springs.
Where To Relax: Parker Palm Springs Yacht Club
Pamper yourself at The Parker's luxurious spa, where you can choose from a variety of soothing massages, body treatments, and facials. Purchasing a service gives you access to the spa’s indoor pool, as well as two jacuzzis, a eucalyptus steam, and sauna room.

Parker Palm Springs Yacht Club, 4200 East Palm Canyon Drive (at Cherokee Way); 760-321-4606.
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Photo: Courtesy of Ace Hotel.
Where To Relax: Ace Hotel Feel Good Spa
The Ace’s Feel Good holistic spa is as stylish and unfussy as the hotel itself. After getting a deep tissue massage in a Mongolian yurt, opt for a one-hour Good Vibrations session, designed to balance your mind, body, and spirit with a combination of energy work and guided meditation. Then enjoy full access to the hotel’s amenities — including their pool — all day.

Feel Good Spa at Ace Hotel, 701 East Palm Canyon Drive (at South Camino Real); 760-325-9900.
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Photo: Courtesy of Raymond-Lawrence.
Where To Shop: Raymond-Lawrence
This indoor marketplace curates a hodgepodge of pop-up shops that sell anything from furniture and bedding to clothing, shoes, and jewelry. Even the most selective shopper will find something they love, whether it’s a kitschy gift item or playful dishware.

Raymond-Lawrence, 830 North Palm Canyon Drive (near East Tamarisk Road); 760-322-3344.
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Photo: Courtesy of Just Modern.
Where To Shop: Just Modern
If you’re feeling inspired by your surroundings — after all, Palm Springs boasts some incredible midcentury architecture — pop by this specialty store stocked with unique home accessories, artwork, and decor, like aluminum lighting sconces and sleek Elko coffee tables.

Just Modern, 901 North Palm Canyon Drive (at Hermosa Place); 760-322-5600.
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