Palm Springs and the surrounding areas are perfect for those seeking a slow-paced, warm-weathered, retro-vibed vacation. From lounging poolside with a grapefruit mimosa to morning hikes in the desert, shopping at vintage stores, or taking endless selfies in vibrantly colored outfits, the desert is full of possibilities for a memorable and relaxing getaway. Here’s where to eat, play and stay in this time-warped desert hangout.
RoboLights Sculpture Garden
For an unexpected treat, check out the RoboLights Sculpture Garden. It’s located on private property and is a passion project of the owner. It is a combination of recycled products made into giant robot sculptures accented with twinkling lights and some Christmas decorations thrown in the mix.
Architectural Modernism Tour
Hop in your car or on a bike to explore mid-century modernism architecture in a 90-minute self-guided tour of the area. Be inspired by the iconic and historic homes and buildings that make Palms Springs unique. Include City Hall, Racquet Club Road Estates and Las Palm Estates including Liberace’s mansion and Elvis’s hideaway.
Aerial Tramway and Hike
Take the 10-minute Palm Springs Aerial Tramway journey up Chino Canyon to arrive at the forested Mt. San Jacinto State Park. At 8,516 feet, guests can take in the view on the observation decks, visit the small natural history museum, dine at one of two restaurants, see a short documentary movie of the area and explore over 50 miles of hiking trails.
Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
Located in Palm Desert, The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens offers visitors a glimpse at a variety of animal life, including cheetah, camels, zebras, coyotes, warthogs and sheep. Guests can also feed giraffes, ride a carousel, get a behind-the-scenes tour, enjoy a petting zoo, see a model train, and learn about conservation. The gardens and hiking trails are not to be missed.
LULU California Bistro
Located in downtown Palm Springs, LULU California Bistro makes for a vibrant dining experience with colorful decor and a bright, airy dining area, plus an energetic bar scene. They have an extensive menu (there are more than 50 items on the breakfast menu alone) that offers traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner with items such as omelets, salads, pasta and south-of-the-border fare. They also have specialty items including crepes, hand-spun cotton candy, osso buco, an award-winning floating island, signature meatloaf and several vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.
Inspired by a trip to the South of France, Farm offers a traditional French menu with fresh ingredients served in a charming outdoor patio area. Breakfast and lunch selections include omelets, crepes, French toast, salads, sandwiches, and more. Dinner is a five-course prix fixe menu ($52) of the chef’s choosing. The restaurant is closed 2 to 6pm with dinner only being offered on Friday and Saturday nights.
La Quinta Cliffhouse Grill & Bar
For a serene upscale dining experience, head to the La Quinta Cliffhouse Grill & Bar. The outdoor patio is known for its sandstone wall and man-made waterfalls, which provide an unparalleled ambiance for dining in the desert. The interior dining room is inviting with white linen table cloths, subdued lighting, plush seating and beautiful views of the surrounding landscape. Guests can choose from menu items such as ahi poke, grilled filet mignon, pan roasted Chilean sea bass, or rigatoni bolognese. Reservations recommended.
The swanky decor and ultra-cool milieu combined with an epicurean menu and impeccable service make Mister Parker’s a favorite among locals and visitors alike. The fine dining menu features specialties including salade du jardin, duck trio, baked salt crusted whole branzino, veal loin and pistachio mille-feuilles. It specializes in dinner only and is closed Sunday and Monday.
For a peaceful retreat, the Korakia Pensione resort, which is made up of two restored historic villas that once belonged to a silent film star and a painter, respectively, is the perfect place to chill. Guests can select to stay in a guest room, suite, bungalow, studio or house in either the Mediterranean or Moroccan Villa. Complimentary breakfast is served daily in the Moroccan Courtyard and a Moroccan Tea Service is offered every afternoon. Relax in the library, cruise around town with a free bike rental, take dip in the salt water pool or enjoy a therapeutic massage.
For a lively visit to the area, Kimpton Rowan (the tallest building downtown) boasts a very social rooftop pool scene with craft cocktails. Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, it’s worth going to High Bar for views of the San Jacinto mountains and to sip specialty drinks such as the Island Vibes cocktail. The guest rooms are modern with a cool vibe and floor-to-ceiling windows, which offer a chance to appreciate the desert and enjoy a retreat from the buzz of the city.
If you’re looking for a boutique hotel experience, the adults-only Holiday House is a1950s, mid-century modern-inspired hotel with custom tile-work throughout and a colorful, casual elegance. With no TVs in the rooms, guests may be encouraged to mingle with other guests in the communal areas or by the pool.
What used to be mid-century modern hotel and Denny’s restaurant has been converted into the stylish Ace Hotel & Swim Club. With a nod to its roots, the resort has in-room record players, is close to vintage boutiques and has kept the mid-century modern vibe. If you’ve booked a room elsewhere, but are in the mood for a tasty meal, be sure to check out King’s Highway restaurant, serving comfort diner food such as breakfast burritos, pork ribs and tomato grilled cheese sandwiches.
The charming town of La Quinta, which is located about 30 minutes from Palm Springs, has a mellow vibe with a Sunday Famer’s Market in the Old Town square, nearby picturesque hiking trails and plenty of opportunities to golf. For a resort that has it all, head to the La Quinta Resort & Club, which features seven dining options, 41 swimming pools, state-of-the-art fitness center, high-end boutiques, five outstanding golf courses and a full-service spa. Relax at Spa La Quinta with treatments such as the Himalayan Salt Stone Massage or the Glistening Agave Body Glaze. Dine at the popular Adobe Grill that serves authentic Mexican cuisine such as guacamole table side and paired best with a specialty margarita.
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