The Fullest’s Guide to Palm Springs

Tucked just a stone’s throw away from Los Angeles, A-listers have been flocking to the small, swanky town of Palm Springs since the 1920’s. With sunshine virtually 365 days a year, zero traffic, and an iconic mixed modern flair you won’t find anywhere else, Palm Springs is the perfect 48-hour desert oasis escape. From its lavish luxe spas and picturesque mountain views to its retro-chic award-winning boutique hotels, Palm Springs is a west coast travel must. So grab your favorite straw hat, two swimsuits, best girlfriends, and kindly turn on your out-of-office email autoresponder, because you’ve got a desert springs sunset to catch!

Here is everything you don’t want to miss including where to stay, what to eat, when to visit (it involves the moon), which hotel pools you can hang at (for free!), and all the Instagram hotspots.

STAY:

Korakia Pensione

Korakia Pensione is your home away from home. With not one but two heated saltwater pools, in-room record players, and an authentic bohemian flavor, it’s the perfect place to stay for a relaxing weekend getaway. You’ll feel like you’ve been picked up and transported into a desert Moroccan paradise. Expect fresh citrus water to quench your thirst, flower-filled walkways, and delicate fairy lights. It’s the kind of place where a one-night stay feels like seven. Insider tip: Book a room on the Mediterranean side. I’m partial to the Mykonos Suite.

The Parker Palm Springs

If you have the budget, splurge. The Parker Palm Springs is straight out of Alice in Wonderland. With Instagram-worthy exteriors, excellently designed interiors, and luxurious little details like the Hermès bar of soap sitting next to the sink, The Parker is perfectly on point. Within its high walls and hedges you’ll find two outdoor pools (the Silicone Valley pool for families and the Gene Autry pool for adults, open 24/7), expertly manicured lawns, a giant chess board, croquet, hammocks, and a poolside lemonade stand, of course. Even if you don’t stay here, stop by. It’s worth the walk around.

The Saguaro —

If you’re going for the perfect Insta-pic, this spot delivers. The Saguaro is a rollercoaster vibrant rainbow paradise. By far one of the most recognizable hotels in Palm Springs, its brightly colored backdrop and equally exciting in-house eateries add an extra layer of fun to the mix. It’s known for its legendary pool parties, fresh fruit margaritas, and for having the best nachos in PSP.

Ace Hotel & Swim Club

What was once a quickly fading beaten down Westward Ho/Denny’s combo-plex, is now one of the hottest spots in the Palm Springs desert. The Ace Hotel & Swim Club is home to two big pools, a vintage photo booth, award-winning room service, free wifi, and monthly full moon ceremonies. There is almost always someone celebrating something at The Ace. Expect live music, poolside DJs, bingo nights, karaoke, and lots of partying (it’s open late). Plus, everyone’s invited. Even if you’re not staying at the resort, it’s $30 for a day pass which includes access to the steam room, sauna, and gym. Score!

Arrive

The new kid on the block and already a hometown favorite, Arrive lets visitors use the pool, for free! Quickly making a name for itself as the latest desert hipster hangout, it is home to two incredible restaurants (Reservoir and Draughtsman), a small coffee shop (Customs Coffee), and the best Ice Cream & Shop(pe) in Palm Springs. With poolside Kundalini yoga classes, ping pong tables, movie nights, super speedy wifi, and a full calendar of ongoing events, you definitely won’t be getting bored.

Hotel El Cid

Next time you go to Palm Springs bring friends and stay at this beautifully designed seven-bedroom boho chic AirBnB. Ideal for large groups, retreats, and events of all kinds, this bungalow style boutique option is quintessential PSP. With its chandeliered cabanas, sparkly blue pool, and black and white striped lounges, you’ll never want to leave. Seriously.

DO:

Get a sound bath at Integratron —

Aside from hotel hopping and lounging poolside, when in Palm Springs you must venture 45-minutes outside the city to experience a sound bath at Integratron. Equal parts art, science, and magic, Integration is described as being “a resonant tabernacle and energy machine sited on a powerful geomagnetic vortex in the magical Mojave Desert.” Need I say more?

Ride the Palm Springs Aerial Tram

Unless you’re afraid of heights, that is! Travel over two-and-a-half miles in the world’s largest rotating tram car. (Don’t worry, it rotates slowly.) The view is insane and tickets are only $25. Bonus: kids under three ride free.

Joshua Tree desert hike

Although most city dwellers visit Palm Springs to relax, unwind, and throw their Fitbits out the window, there is also ample adventuring opportunities if that’s your thing. While you can certainly find some great hikes just 10-minutes from the center of town, Joshua Tree National Park is only a 40-minute drive outside of Palm Springs. 

Visit Salvation Mountain

Another not-to-miss new age spot just outside of PSP, Salvation Mountain (you might recognize it from Instagram) was created by Leonard Knight as a tribute to God to share the message “God Is Love.” Go here to vibe off color and take lots of pics!

EAT:

Norma’s —

This brightly colored, open-air, kitschy-terrace eatery located in The Parker serves breakfast all day and night. It’s on the pricier side, so don’t go here if you’re on a budget, but if you have some money to blow, it’s worth it because the food is delicious and the ambiance ethereal. Plus, Norma’s gets bonus points for dedicating an entire section on the menu to “Rabbit Food.”

Azucar Restaurant And Bar —

Featuring farm-to-table local ingredients and perfectly strung paintings of Frida Kahlo, La Serena’s Villas restaurant Azucar Palm Springs is a must-do. The pictures speak for themselves. The decor is phenomenal, and the healthy-ish focus on wellness is the icing on the gluten-free cake.

Pappy and Harriet’s

Originally an old-school saloon in Pioneertown, 2018 Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace doubles as a roadhouse restaurant/indie rock music venue. Like any good saloon, P&H’s has a jukebox, pool table, and major dive bar feels. Expect Tex-Mex style BBQ cuisine and live music almost every night. Go for dinner and stay after for the entertainment (famous musicians perform secret shows here a lot).

Lulu’s California Bistro —

Famous for their Bloody Mary’s, this award-winning eatery is the ultimate crowd pleaser. With an eclectic menu large enough to rival an actual football field, Lulu’s is a Coachella Valley hotspot. Sit outside and spend the afternoon people watching.

Reservoir —

Featuring classic Southern Californian cuisine and healthy-ish options like avocado toast, you honestly can’t go wrong at Reservoir. Located in the Uptown Design District of Palm Springs right next to Arrive, they offer breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner 365 days a year.

Have you been to Palm Springs? Are you planning a weekend getaway? Share your PSP hotspots in the comment section below.

Jessica Sweeney is a self-proclaimed literista, wellness aficionado, spirited nutritionist, and certified yoga instructor living her best life in Laguna Beach. Follow her on her website Urban Alchemy, admire her selfies on Instagram, and join her for Love Bomb Bootcamp, a mind, body, soul bootcamp for (self)lovers.

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