Welcome to part two of my US trip earlier this year, and this time we explore the fabulous and oh so glamorous Palm Springs. I have to share that I immediately fell in love with this place nestled in the dessert and contniue to be inspired by the architecture and interiors. It is a bucket list must, so here is a taster of where to STAY, EAT, PLAY and SHOP in Palm Springs. I know I will definitely be back to explore more of what this glorious destination has to offer.
Palm Springs is known for exactly what it sounds like, 365 days of sunny blue skies, palm trees, drop dead gorgeous scenery, architecture, culinary destinations and weather to keep you wanting more. So be sure to bring your most fabulous sun hat and sunnies because it’s the city within the Sonoran Desert of southern California, so it can get super HOT!
Palm Springs was first known for its natural hot springs – over the years hotels were quickly built to accommodate wellness seekers needing a weekend getaway, then of course the celebrities followed as a place to get away and hideout from the hectic LA film scene. It’s also now known for festivals, nightlife and fabulous vibe, so no matter what you are into, you are always guaranteed to find something to your fancy and have a good time.
From an architecture and design inspiration front, Palm Springs is filled with endless iconic homes and hotels famous for their mid century modern style and also for its many contemporary museums. Besides the festival season (potentially a time to avoid if you are not partaking in the festivities) there are plenty of other activities to help you discover the area such as desert hikes, biking and horseback riding adventures.
We were there in June so the weather was heating up, wonderfully warm throughout the day catering to poolside activities, and a little cooler at night to aid exploring, shopping and watching the sunset from a rooftop bar. If activities to get your heart rate up are your love, we suggest targeting the cooler months as it heats up quickly. Check out the temperature averages below.
Either way, whenever you go, you are sure to have an unforgettable time.
A treat indeed, we stayed at the exquisite Parker Palm Springs Hotel. This was an absolute highlight from our trip and something I would recommend to take at least a tour of the amazing property. My camera didn’t stop with so many picturesque spots to ‘casually hang’, each area of the hotel an ode to a different theme taking you on a mid century journey of interior appreciation. Every room transforming into a different type of wonderland, if only the walls could talk 🙂 I honestly didn’t even need to leave the hotel, everything I could have possibly needed was there… even my own photographer thanks to the lovely concierge 🙂
Plenty of things to see and do while staying at the Parker and lets be honest its not a holiday without a spa trip to the Palm Springs Yacht Club (PSYC) located in the Parker. My favourite down time, besides from sitting by the pool and nibbling on our poolside snacks, was retreating to the decadent nautical themed spa, sauna and steam room (the perfect way to sweat out last night’s fun). If you’re looking to escape the sun and heat the head to the lounge at the inside pool, sip their fruit flavoured waters and add some chilled cucumber slices to your eyes. Does this not sound like heaven!
“10am – The sun was bright & gently peeked through the shades, coupled with an aroma of coffee & morning delights…
9:15pm – Nightcaps at the Mini Bar and a cozy fire end the perfectday-dream. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a date with my bed.”
More places to stay…
Gorgeous bungalow accommodation with classic 1930s Hollywood rooms that are romantic with quaint terraces and fireplaces too. Spend the evening by the pool amongst the shimmering lights and by morning venture to the spa and treat yourself to well deserved massage and facial.
Another very iconic accommodation is the Ace Hotel with its wide open spaces, pools and spas. The hotel rooms will make you feel like your back in the 70s chilling in the comforts of a glamorous home. All the vintage wooden interiors bring you back to the era we so love, with ongoing poolside enjoyment with plenty of live music and drinks. Perfect accommodation for kids and families too, with plenty of activities going on during the day, leaving the parents to pop into the spa and relax. The umbrellas are pretty unique as they can move with the sun to shelter you all day long. It’s all in the detail.
If you really want to love like a local you can not ignore the incredible villas available. Some very spacious and much more affordable than you would expect. Following are two examples we would love to try one day.
Engross yourself in the desert and have 360 views of Palm Springs. You’ll feels truly futuristic.
Feel like a movie star in your getaway mid century mansion
Hit the ground running with a cracking American style brekky, you can’t go wrong, especially when it’s an all day breakfast!. You absolutely have to sit outside with the bright colours, lovely lanterns and fabulous outdoor lounges that over look the hotel’s greenery. And you must try the Waffles with Ice cream, no shame! This was enjoyed a few times as it was part of the Parker’s selection of onsite eating destinations, so it’s a win win if you stay there!
For a comfortable evening dinner on the patio accompanied by the warm desert air and evening crickets, you must venture to the magical Spencer’s Restaurant. Of course be sure to book and grab a table outside, they are the prime candle lit seats. The food is classic American style and as well as being very affordable delicious.
Looking for a fancier, contemporary cuisine, Chi Chi at Avalon Hotel is located in the heart of Palm Springs, serving American style cuisine, with a fresh twist, reminiscent of Australia cuisine. As the days can be hot I would recommend the fruit and smoothie bowl. The food has a playful flare and venue reminds me of California beach side.
For all you Asian food lovers, Tropicale was a great fusion between Thai and Japanese cuisine. Great lunch spot, also the architecture was incredible, a grand coral building surrounded by palm trees! You really feel like you are on a film set.
Got a sweet tooth like us? Check out this to die for sweets store. All you can think of from ice cream, gourmet chocolate, gummy bears and everything you dream of, including interactive sweets.
From peanut butter & jelly soda, to hot chilly popcorn, NERDS and PEZ, you’ll quench the craving all right!
Dinner and Drinks
Hate to sprinkle more sparkles in one spot but Parker Palm Springs Hotel is a must for a great restaurant and drinks day or night.
Hang by the pool, the Lemonade Stand will quench your thirst with refreshing fruit cocktails or hangover cures (shhh).
By night put on your evening gown and head to the Mini Bar, pull up a chair and have a pre cocktail before dinner at Mister Parker’s. Its a gorgeous, dark and decedent atmosphere at this French cuisine restaurant, let the waiter take you on a journey through a three course meal accompanied by their finest wine recommendations. And who knows, you might end up back at the Mini Bar. We might have 😉
Hang by the Lemonade Stand by day
Another more rustic outside area for drinks and afternoon nibbles is the Draughtsman, where you can try the local beers. Very relaxing and great local hub by night.
Yes…we know how can you possibly ever go wrong with tacos and margaritas, it would be rude not to. So here we have my favourite taco place, not your ordinary sloppy style, a little on the fancier side. The food is all shared meals (they are HUGE) and so delicious. Fun atmosphere and the staff love to have a good old chat.
Picture a warm Palm Springs evening sitting on a rooftop, enjoying bubbles and fresh oysters and decadent flavoured appetisers. 4 Saints global cuisine take you on a flavourful journey around the Mediterranean with twist. Was an unforgettable evening for us.
High Bar -Kimpton Hotel
Another favourite of mine, with a killer view to soak up the Palm Springs Sunset with comfy lounges around the rooftop pool. Can’t go wrong when with friends and their two for one, as they have a perfectly timed happy hour, at sunset.
A modern take on a classic style steakhouse, with juicy home cooked meals that also support local famers. Cant go past their cheese platter and mean Old Fashioned, definitely check it out.
Everywhere you go in Palm Spring you will have something to look at. I know I am repeating myself but the architecture is a drawcard alone. A lot of these houses were owned by Hollywood A-listers who hired the most visionary architects of that time, creating the most exotic homes which embraced the desert environment. Designed to suit the heat with gorgeous open outdoor spaces and pools to make you drool.
Palm Springs Visitors Centre – once a gas station in 1965, take a pit stop at the tourist visitors centre and book in any tours early on. There are architectural tours, interiror design tours and celebrity home tours. Whatever tickles your fancy, book them in early so you don’t miss out. There is even an outlet tour if you are in the need for some luxury (at not so luxury prices) retail therapy.
Another one of my favourite places and very inspiring mid century contemporary museum filled with paintings and sculptures from artists like Henry Moore, Robert Motherwell and Helen Frankenthaler who’s exhibitions are mostly themed around the Modernism, Native Americans and the American West.
Of course if you have the time hike to Tahquitz Canyon to see the 50 feet flowing water in the middle of the desert. It’s definitely a sight to see! Recommend doing a tour though so you don’t get lost.
Want to see all the best architecture and realestate Palm Springs has to offer, cruise around some notable neighbourhoods, from Tennis Club to Araby Cove, and you’ll spot plenty or architectural gems along the way. Highlights include the Del Marcos Hotel, Elvis’s Honeymoon Hideaway and the Edris House.
If you have the time I highly recommend locking in a day trip to Joshuna tree. With gorgeous lookouts over the Cochella valley, the hikes through the bush and boulders are worth it as the scenery is stunning.
You can barely walk a block along Palm Canyon Drive without stumbling upon an eye-catching gallery, antique or furniture showroom. Palm Springs and mid century modernism go hand in hand. You’ll find plenty of galleries and furniture stores dedicated to the home style aesthetic.
For all the best boutiques and clothing store we recommend Palm Springs Downtown too. For antique treasure, thrift stores, and a place to find your perfect resort outfit, look no further.
With man made waterfalls and big grand pillars worth a look.
Looking for some cute markets and a souvenir to bring home, head to old town La Quinta for some handcrafted presents and goods. You’ll also find some authentic restaurants and market food too.
If you on the hunt for good outlet shopping check out Desert Hills Premium Outlet which has everything you’ll need and you’re sure to find some quality buys.
Wow, that was an extended one, yet still so much to explore and do.
I hope you enjoyed. Although it is a place to sit by the pool and relax, as you can see there are so many other things you can do. I am definitely going back so please do share any other secrets you have to try in Palm Springs. I have to admit, the Hills & West studio might have a few mid-century modern additions 🙂
Stay tuned though because my part three of our US diaries on the glamorous Malibu is soon on its way.