If you don’t golf, you aren’t retired, and you are not an active member of the gay community, then Palm Springs might not immediately top your SoCal bucketlist.
However, unbeknownst to the general millennial population of LA, Palm Desert doesn’t only exist for the weekends of Coachella and Stagecoach. Especially for a young couple looking for a bit of relaxed romance. (also great for bachelorette + bachelor parties click here for the perfect itinerary!)
<<|| When to Visit ||>>
I originally posted this article on May of 2012, revised it in May of 2014, and revised again in May of 2018. Now, in April of 2019, it’s getting a complete overhaul – since I’ve been fortunate enough to spend the past three weeks exploring my favorite desert landscape. Anyways, as you can see by my revision patterns, clearly Spring or Fall are the only suitable times to visit. If you visit in Spring you might just get lucky enough to experience all of the superblooms! In either season, you can expect perfect 80 degree days and slightly cooled night make spring and fall the ideal time to plan your getaway. Otherwise, summer is scorching hot and winter can be down right bone-chilling cold..
<<|| Where to Stay ||>>
Where you stay will dictate your trip. Lounge by the pool, go to the spa, eat, drink, repeat.
The Parker – Unique, sexy, posh design with secret gardens and a drool-worthy spa. Decorated by Jonathan Adler, this place is a true adult oasis. And completely dog friendly.
Sands Hotel & Spa – If your idea of paradise is spending each and every moment of your vacation in a curated Instagram shot, this is the spot for you. The Moroccan decor is absolutely swoon-worthy.
Ingleside Inn- A smaller, less hip, Parker Hotel located within walking distance to the shops and bars of downtown Palm Springs. So quaint, so cozy, so inexpensive.
<<|| Things to Do ||>>
- Do Nothing. My favorite Palm Springs weekends are the ones where I log 2 hours of fitness, 6 hours of sunbathing, 4 hours at the Spa, 4 hours for dinner and drinks, and then get a blissful 8 hours of sleep.
- Architecture Tour – with an obvious stop by the infamous pink door for a photo op.
- Hiking – There are zillions of hiking trails throughout Coachella valley, but here are my top pics in a very particular order:
- Cactus to Clouds: Steep & Strenuous with rewarding views. This hike is located in Palm Springs behind the museum
- Tahquitz Canyon: Easy walk that will cost you $12 and get your car towed if your car is parked past 5pm. BUT where else can you cross river bridges to get to a refreshing waterfall and crystal clear pool!?
- Homestead/Cross Hike: The Runyon canyon of the desert. Busy, lots of furry friends, and surprisingly longer than you expect it to be. And if it wasn’t “LA” enough, there’s a ‘pink wall’ art installation photo op. Located in Palm Desert
- Bump and Grind Trail: Long moderate hike with a great hashtagable name located in Palm Desert.
- BigHorn Overlook / JackRabbit: This Rancho Mirage hike is a short gradual climb with a lovely shaded resting spot. There is a pretty cool rainbow arch art install in the valley below.
- Bike Ride – Most hotels will have complimentary bike rentals. Follow the signs for the downtown Palm Springs bike route.
- Botanical Gardens – Who doesn’t love a gram-worthy garden stroll? Actually, adopting a love fern from any cactus farm should be on your to-do list.
- Living Zoo – Feed giraffes, ride a camel, high five a porccupine and explore miles of hiking trails all for a $20 admission fee for adults
- Thursday street fair – there is something for everything at this weekly festival. I love the local artists, the jewelry, the fresh produce. But what keeps us coming back is the Calipop kettlecorn.
- Aerial Tram – amazing views and great hiking. There is a small restaurant at the top, but it is too pricy for the low quality food they churn out. I suggest bringing a picnic instead (perhaps some kettle corn from the fair if you have any left!).
- Boutique Shopping plenty of fun little shops to poke in and out of. I especially love the thrift ones!
- Rent a Cabana at the Arrival Hotel, Ace Hotel, Riviera hotel pool, or the JW Marriott… if you’re into house music and bottle service, that is
- Casino – a few great casinos call the desert their home. Agua Caliente just underwent a multi million dollar facelift but you’ll have an equally good time visiting Morongo.
- Yoga – Check out Coachella Valley Bikram Yoga. They’ve got two locations and oodles of classes, including acro yoga and trapeze classes.
- Treat yo’self – Best way to get that sun kissed glow on vaca? Spray it on. I love organic glow spray tan and facial boutique s’much! For a full spa indulgence, spend the day at the Parker’s Spa, it’s heaven sent.
- Knotts Soak City – Sure, it’s ridiculous to go to a water park as an adult. Ridiculously fun. ATV rentals and mini golf also fall into this category.
<<|| What to Eat ||>>
- Copleys on Palm Canyon – The patio is melt-your-heart romantic and the food is melt-in-your-mouth delicious.
- Pink Cabana – I would just come to eat the atmosphere TBH, but the food and cocktails are superb.
- The Purple Palm – Situated in the Colony Palm Hotel the outdoor seating is right along the edge of the tranquil pool. What makes this upscale trendy spot my favorite in Palm Springs is one particular dessert: the brioche bread pudding creme brulee.
- 4 Saints – Arguably the hottest new restaurant in Palm Springs, this is the only place to dine with a rooftop view. Located at the Kimpton Hotel
- Mister Parkers – Inside the Parker Hotel. Sink into the shadows at this posh and creative restaurant. Excellent wine list, and you really cannot go wrong with the seabass. Only open Wed-Sun.
- Melvyns – Nostalgia at its finest. Enjoy a live pianist & pretend your part of the OG rat pack.
- Wildest Greens – healthy and organic fare, plenty of vegetarian and vegan options, live weekend music, and a smoothie bar AND wine bar? obviously I’m obsessed.
- Wexlers – A delightful modern twist on the traditional jewish deli. Excellent cocktails, and cool ambiance inside the brand new Arrival Hotel
- Normas – Inside the Parker Hotel. Great outdoor brunch spot. Perfectly sceney.
- Tanyas Cafe – Gourmet grab and go vegan. I basically lived at this place while I lived in the desert. Get the seitan Caesar!
- Koffi – Grab a matcha latte & croissant from this local chain.
- Yogurt on Tap – It’s illegal to go to the desert and not get froyo. Or at least it should be. If you’re more of a milkshake lover, try the date shakes from the Palm Springs fudge shop.
<<|| Roadtrip ||>>
- Joshua Tree – Just an hour and a half drive and you’ll feel like you’ve entered mars. Spend the day in nature marveling at the vast views, rock formations and obscure trees and cacti. Save time for an early dinner at Pappy & Harriets in Pioneertown and some live jams before heading back to your hotel in PS. Read my whole Joshua Tree Guide Hurr.
- Salvation Mountain – A 2 hour+ drive will get you to this painted mountain perfect for #instagramenvy worthy photos. I should say, though, that it’s pretty ‘out there’ in both the literal and figurative form of the word. Bonus is you get to see the junk art town on the way, and the Salton sea. This is definitely a ‘see once’ type of place.
<<|| Nightlife ||>>
- The Nest. Probably the most ‘happening’ spot in PD. The crowd is definitely older but this place gets packed to the brim and there’s always live music.
- Casino for some gamble + cocktails action
- Tonga Hut – Have a mai tai and play some Uno or Jenga to the sounds of live music on the patio
- Thursday night Street Fair – Pro tip: have a cocktail before you brave the st fair 😉