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An Insider’s Guide to Where to Sleep, Eat & Visit in Palm Springs

May 8, 2024

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During Hollywood’s Golden Era in decades past, Palm Springs’s proximity to Los Angeles (as well as San Diego and Orange County) made it a popular spot for Hollywood icons who wanted to escape their fame-induced scrutiny. Gossip columnists could not pursue the stars there (the journalists could only expense travel within 100 miles of LA; Palm Springs is just over the limit). People also flocked to the desert oasis for health reasons (that dry desert air can be healing), and the city became known as a wellness destination. 

Today, Palm Springs retains the glamour of Hollywood — with a modern twist. Apart from being the site of Coachella, the boho, star-studded music festival each April, the city is a veritable destination in and of itself. Charming boutiques and restaurants line its sunny streets. Mid-century modern architecture lends it a retro-chic vibe. It’s easy to stay active here: there are ample hiking and biking trails, plus golf courses and tennis courts. 

You’ll never run out of activities to enjoy in this delightful escape of a town. Below, we’ve outlined a few favourite things to do, plus places to eat and stay. There is so much more Palms Springs has to offer, and when you connect with WeGalavant, we’ll curate a trip specific to your preferences. In the meantime, read on for a little travel inspiration for a dreamy desert getaway.

Need to know:

Airport: Palm Springs International Airport (PSP)

Transportation: You’ll likely want to rent a car or Uber around Palm Springs, especially if you plan on visiting some of the surrounding areas and towns (Joshua Tree, Palm Desert). But downtown Palm Springs is very much walkable.

Best time to visit: Palm Springs is a desert; it gets very hot during the summer. For milder temperatures, stick to January through April (although expect crowds), or visit during the fall.

Ideal length of stay: You can cover a lot of ground in three to four days. But if you want some time to linger, lounge and relax (and you do), five to seven days is ideal. 

Dress code: your favorite glamorous get-up, a brightly colored swimsuit and plenty of sun protection (hat, sunnies, SPF)

Where to stay in Palm Springs

a round fire pit surrounded by leather stools in a room with eclectic artwork
a four-post bed in a chic space with floor-to-ceiling windows leading out to a leafy deck

IMAGES COURTESY OF PARKER PALM SPRINGS

Colony Palms Hotel: A historic, glamorous Art Deco gem. Book with WeGalavant to snag food / beverage credit, a welcome amenity, an upgrade and late check-out.

ARRIVE Palm Springs: Hip, boutique playfulness in the heart of the desert. WeGalavant’s exclusive Palisociety partner perks include a welcome amenity, an upgrade and extended check-in/out.

Parker Palm Springs: Expect soothing vibes, bright, eclectic decor and pops of colour at this luxury hotel. WeGalavant’s partner perks include £75 hotel credit, daily breakfast credit, an upgrade and extended check-in/out.

Ingleside Estate: An adults-only stay with a Spanish-inspired flair. WeGalavant’s VIP partner perks include £35 daily food / beverage credit, a welcome amenity and an upgrade.

Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs: A fun downtown getaway with a rooftop pool and bar. WeGalavant’s IHG Luxury & Lifestyle perks include £35 hotel credit, welcome amenities, an upgrade and late check-out.

Holiday House Palm Springs: A 28-room boutique hotel with prominent splashes of blue throughout its tasteful design scheme. WeGalavant’s exclusive partner perks include hotel credit, a welcome amenity, an upgrade and late check-out.

Ace Hotel & Swim Club, Palm Springs: Youthful and vibey, always with something fun going on. 

What to do in Palm Springs

a pool surrounded by white lounge chairs and striped umbrellas on a sunny day

IMAGE COURTESY OF ARRIVE PALM SPRINGS

Palm Springs is brimming with activities perfect for nearly everyone from the cultural enthusiast to the history buff to the nature lover. Explore the desert gardens and art exhibitions at Sunnylands, a sprawling mid-century modern estate. Discover additional contemporary art, sculpture and architectural masterpieces at the Palm Springs Art Museum. (The museum’s Annenberg Theater regularly hosts performances by notable comedians, musicians, dancers and artists.) For a chic art-gallery moment, the Janssen Artspace does not disappoint. 

The Palm Springs Air Museum displays aircraft from World War II, the Vietnam War and other pivotal global conflicts. It also offers Warbird Rides, opportunities to fly in historic aircraft yourself. To get a taste of the city’s architectural history (Palm Springs is something of a mid-century modern mecca), opt for a self-guided or guided architecture tour (which we can totally arrange for you).

Palm Springs is also a natural playground perfect for outdoor activities. Hiking and biking trails abound. Hiking Tahquitz Canyon is one popular option: it’s a little under two miles, takes less than an hour and leads to a waterfall. If hiking isn’t your thing (or if you’re after additional stellar views), take a ride in the rotating Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, which traverses along Chino Canyon and offers views of the surrounding Mt. San Jacinto State Park. Golf and tennis are also incredibly popular. There are numerous golf clubs to choose from, but a few favourites include Escena Golf ClubPGA West and Indian Wells Golf Resort

Downtown Palm Springs boasts tons of charming boutiques, cafés and restaurants. If you’re really into shopping though, consider an excursion to El Paseo Shopping District, a bit outside of Palm Springs proper, in Palm Desert. For an especially local feel, don’t miss the Palm Springs VillageFest, a vibrant street fair that takes place every Thursday. 

Also consider a day trip to the nearby Joshua Tree National Park. Take in the views from a hike, enjoy a drive with a view or design your own miniature wellness getaway. The Integration, a white domed structure in the desert, regularly hosts sound baths, while the Mojave Desert Skin Shield Spa offers integrative retreats and Ayurvedic treatments that prioritise organic, natural plant ingredients. 

Palm Springs festival highlights

Palm Springs International Film Festival (January): A star-studded affair with numerous screenings, galas, Q&A sessions, presentations and more.

Modernism Week (February & October): A celebration of all things mid-century modern, replete with exhibitions, tours, fashion shows, lectures and more.

Desert X (every other March): Site-specific outdoor art installations free to the public.

Coachella (April): The famed boho music festival with varied, legendary acts and varied, legendary outfits.

Stagecoach (April): A country music festival where big names and up-and-comers alike perform.

Splash House (August): A good-vibes-only massive pool party accompanied by some of the world’s top DJs and electronic-music artists.

Pride (November): A colorful, sunny celebration complete with parties, parades and an outdoor market.

Where to eat in Palm Springs

a white outdoor bar with a basket full of lemons and a yellow-and-white striped awning

IMAGE COURTESY OF PARKER PALM SPRINGS

Start your day at Cheeky’s, a legendary breakfast spot that serves comfort classics like fried chicken & waffles and chilaquiles. It has an entire menu section dedicated to bacon. (Cheeky’s also serves lunch, but it’s famous for breakfast.) For your morning cuppa, Koffi Coffee is a local favorite; there are a few locations sprinkled throughout town. Enjoy pizza, pasta and cocktails at Birba, also from the team behind Cheeky’s. The James Beard Award-nominated Workshop Kitchen & Bar is sleek and tastefully spare (the restaurant’s design is famous for a reason). Go here for seasonal, well-crafted plates like wood-fired cauliflower with tahini and ras-el-hanout-spiced beets with date labneh.

Palm Springs’s Mexican food game is strong. Tac/Quila is a hip mainstay beloved by locals and Michelin alike. The all-day Maleza is breezy and casual, perfect for elevated fare and craft cocktails (and an excellent mezcal list). For ice cream, head to the scoop-shop-gift-shop hybrid Ice Cream Scoop Shop(pe), where rotating flavours may include delights like vegan date, Mexican chocolate or lavender. Bar Cecil is great for a playful brasserie moment, and Colony Club, at the Colony Palms Hotel, is ideal for a locally source meal in a chic, handsome space.

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