Located just a short drive from L.A. in the heart of the Coachella Valley, the city of Palm Springs has long been known as a playground for Los Angelinos looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. A showcase for mid-century modern architecture and art, as well as all the glamour of old Hollywood, this quaint but stylish city truly has a little something for everyone.
The vibe here is different than you might expect, with a hipness that belies the generally calm atmosphere. Their main street, N. Palm Canyon Drive, has tons of shopping, dining and bars all within easy reach. You can also venture into the many mountains that surround Coachella Valley, where you’ll find hiking and maybe even some wildlife.
No matter how you choose to spend your Palm Springs vacation, you can expect plenty of sun, fun and relaxation. And while you might not initially think of it as a “hot” vacation spot (literal hot weather aside) there’s more to this desert oasis than meets the eye.
Where to Stay
If you want to be where the action is, the hotels in downtown Palm Springs are a great choice. Most are within walking distance of restaurants and shopping, which means you don’t have to rent a car unless you really want to.
While pretty standard as Hyatts go, the Hyatt Palm Springs location makes it a stand-out choice. You’ll be surrounded by tons of restaurants and shopping, and the food and service at the hotel are also above-average. The outdoor pool is small but has ample space for sunbathing, and there is a free wine reception every afternoon for guests.
For the ultimate Palm Springs experience, The Saguaro Hotel is eminently instagramable and sports all the iconic bright colors and style that one would expect. It might be a little too slick for those of us who want a quieter space, but if you’re seeking a lively atmosphere, you’ll love the pool bar and their daily happy hour.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a bad restaurant in Palm Springs, with nearly every kind of food you can imagine available here. Stop by Johnny Costa’s, one of Palm Spring’s most iconic restaurants and former fave of none other than Frank Sinatra. You can enjoy old world Italian food and all the vintage glam of the “rat-pack” days. For upscale Mexican cuisine, Tac/Quila combines the best of Mexican cuisine with a unique and modern flair. Check out the Beer Tempura Avocado bites alongside one of their delicious watermelon margaritas. Speaking of libations, don’t miss the Tonga Hut Tiki bar, where you can get classic island drinks and appetizers.
Shopping in Palm Springs is plentiful, whether you’re seeking kitschy knick-knacks or the latest in designer clothes. Stroll through Destination PSP for unique Palm Spring themed gifts, housewares and clothing, or Blonde clothing boutique for the latest fashions. If you’re shopping for your four-legged family members, Cold Nose Warm Heart has some of the cutest pet toys and supplies around.
One of the most well-known attractions in Palm Springs is the Aerial Tramway. The 10-minute ride takes you along the cliffs of Chino Canyon. You can hang out at the top, where they have a restaurant and hiking trails, and you can even play in the snow during some parts of the year.
Relaxation It really wouldn’t be a trip to Palm Springs without a spa visit. There are plenty of day spas in the area to choose from, and your own hotel may even offer spa services, but The Spring Day Spa & Resort tends to be a cut above. Located just 20 minutes away in neighboring Desert Hot Springs, they offer a wide range of services that include facials, massage and body treatments. And when you purchase a treatment of 60 minutes or more, you get the added bonus of being able to enjoy their three mineral pools and traditional Finnish sauna.
Jody Ellis is a freelance writer who specializes in beauty, health, travel, fashion and style. Her work has appeared in publications such as LennyLetter, Huffington Post, BBC Future Planet, Civil Eats and Eater.