How To Live It Up In Palm Springs
Known as SoCal's Capital of cool, Palm Springs is a must-visit destination for anyone who loves art, design, shopping and good food...
Often described as a 'desert oasis' the always sunny Palm Springs is nestled in the Coachella Valley. Renowned for it's hip hotels, art and culture scene, good eats, seriously good shopping and of course music festivals including Coachella, it's a top spot for a fun getaway with friends or even a family holiday.
In fact with Coachella happening right now, (the festival runs over April 14-16, 2017 and April 21-23, 2017) your Instagram feed is probably filled with envy-inducing Palm Springs spam (like the below) from a who's who of influencers from around the world including Elle Ferguson, Aimee Song, Caroline Daur, Julie Sarinana (to name but a few) who converged on the desert haven for Coachella and the Revolve Festival.
And while there is no doubt the infamous Coachella festival brings a buzz to town as a swarm of visitors including festival-goers, celebrities, musicians, influencers take over, there is so much more to Palm Springs, and countless reasons to plan a holiday here. Incredible pool-centric resorts, the mid-century modern architecture, chilled-out cocktail and wine bars and endless dining choices from kitsch diners to hip gastro-pubs and homely restaurants with a focus on seasonal fare.
Since falling in love during her first visit back in 2009, travel writer Julie Carroll has been coming back ever since, and to date has notched up over 10 holidays! Who better then to give us the low-down on where to stay, eat and play.
Follow her go-to guide to Palm Springs below.
Where To Stay
If your idea of a perfect holiday consists of lying poolside with a good book and margarita, watching the sunset over palm trees and mountains as you let the laid back Californian air take over you, then move Palm Springs to the top of your must-visit list ASAP.
My first visit to Palm Springs was 8 years ago and each year, (and sometimes twice a year!) the lure of a chill Californian getaway is too hard to resist.
When I first visited, the now famous ACE hotel and swim club had only just opened and the original bartender delivered drinks by skate board while telling me he liked the fire in my hair (it’s really just red, with some greys). I was sold and the ACE is still my go-to place for some serious R&R. The relaxing saltwater pools are open to the public so if you don’t stay here you can still visit.
The ACE and a lot of Palm Springs hotels have free bikes for guests - a tour of the local mid century architecture is a fun way to kill a couple hours. In the desert heat you’ll find walking long distances is not an option. Bikes, hiring a car or a ride service like Uber are the way to go.
If you’re coming down from LA then think about Tesloop and their Driverless cars. It beats flying.
Eat, Drink & Take In The Sights
The ACE's eatery, Kings Highway Diner, offers a fresh organic menu, Stumptown coffee and delicious cocktails. My all time fave drink is their signature: ‘Desert Facial’. A vodka, cucumber and mint mix, I pretty much order one at check in. Right next door to ACE Hotel is KOFFI, the perfect spot for a caffeine hit and pastry on the run. For a classic American breakfast head across the road to Elmers, a diner with every kind of eggs and bacon combo you can imagine.
Further Down the road at Smoke Tree Village is Ralphs supermarket - stock the fridge cheaply with icy cold beverages. Believe me when I say the desert heat will have you reaching for one cold drink after another.
The 50-foot Marilyn statue has left Uptown Palm Springs (for now) but legendary eatery Pinocchio still has it’s more petite Marilyn Monroe on display out front. This breakfast/lunch spot is fun for those who like a side of kitsch with their hash browns. I also like Ruby's Diner for a classic milkshake and burger.
This area is ever changing as developers currently add new shops and hotels. It’s worth a look for souvenirs and maybe a walking tour but don’t expect too much in terms of fashion. On Thursday nights the main strip is taken over by the night market - local vendors offer everything from jewellery to BBQ sweetcorn.
The Palms Springs Art Museum is nearby and free on Thursday nights. I consider the gallery a bit of a hidden gem. Old Hollywood helped fund this beautifully set out building that hosts a really great collection of art.
Where To Shop & What To See
Love some retail therapy? I always hit up TJ Maxx & Walgreens for some bargains. I scored seriously cheap Calvins and beauty products last visit.
When I want to abuse my credit cards I head out past the windmills to the Desert Hills Premium Outlet Stores in Cazabon. This vast outdoor mall en route to LA has every brand you can imagine at discount prices - you’ll need at least three hours to take in all the shops. I’m a runner so I visit for the Niketown alone. It's not a trip to the States unless I add a couple pairs of trainers to my collection.
To escape the heat it’s really fun to head up the cable car to Mt San Jacinto for a hike - it’s about 20 degrees cooler and there might even be snow! Joshua Tree National Park is also amazing for lovers of nature and photography. Hummer tours are available through the distinctive trees made famous by that U2 Album cover. We customised our tour with a quick trip to Pioneer town.
If you’re travelling with kids you might like to hit up the Air Museum one day but mostly you’re just going to want pool hangs, maybe float on the latest inflatable shape if you have the energy. Giant swans seem to have made way for pineapples this season. Whatever you end up doing just let your shoulders relax. You’re on Cali time now and that means no rushing OK? Right on!