Palm Springs: Desert Oasis

There are few places I love in the US as much as I love Palm Springs. I first visited in 2015 for a girls weekend and, since that trip, I have gone back every fall for a long weekend. It’s a shame that Palm Springs is so far from New York because I would really love to go there more often. (I always say that if I lived in LA, I would go to Palm Springs all the time…)

Palm Springs, 107 miles from Los Angeles, is a desert oasis that conjures up images of the Rat Pack hanging poolside behind beautiful mid-century modern homes.  I get so excited when we round the corner from the mountains and arrive in Palm Springs, driving slowly through the downtown and past the beautiful mid-century buildings that are surrounded by palm trees. Palm trees everywhere! My friend and I always joke that the landscape doesn’t look real. Turn around and there are huge mountains in the near background and clear blue skies above. It’s hot. Always. When we go in mid-October, the days are usually topping out around 95 degrees. But, since it’s the desert, it is a dry heat and it cools off nicely in the evenings.

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the surreal views in Palm Springs

Our Palm Springs weekends have their own routine to them so we tend to do the same thing every time we visit. It’s nice, because it feels like we are locals if just for a few days. Palm Springs feels like one of those familiar small towns in a way, and I was surprised on my first visit that it wasn’t as “fancy” as I expected.

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the pool at the Saguaro

Where to Stay

  • Renting a home is a great option in Palm Springs, especially if you can snag one of those beautiful mid-century modern homes. Our first year we had 10 people sharing a house and we found a great home with a pool that was right outside of the downtown. The next year, with just 3 people, we were able to find a smaller rental near the Ace Hotel (at the former Ocotillo Lodge)
  • I haven’t stayed at the Ace Hotel, but have enjoyed its pool party and bar/restaurant scene. I can imagine it would be a great place to stay, but the rates are a bit higher than other places in town. And it’s totally possible to enjoy parts of the hotel without staying there.
  • We visited the Saguaro Hotel to check out the pool and then decided to stay at this hotel on our next trip to Palm Springs. It’s cheaper than the Ace and offers a free Saturday pool party. It’s a bit more laid back and was a perfect option for our trip this year. The space at the pool is great and the service was excellent. This hotel is basically a re-painted Holiday Inn so it’s not super fancy, but it’s a good option off the strip.

 

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Drinking & Eating 

We basically go to the same places on every visit to Palm Springs so I clearly have my favorite spots! There are plenty of places to choose from for breakfast to cocktails, but we seem to go back to the same ones every time.

  • Las Casuelas – On the main strip, large Mexican restaurant with good food and cocktails, and live music. Also available for takeout! This is our go-to Friday night spot.
  • Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya – And on Saturday night, we get sushi here! The food is always good and it’s located just across the street from our favorite karaoke bar. Convenient!
  • Peabody’s Cafe & Bar – Karaoke starts at 7:30. Sign up early and often. This is my favorite kind of karaoke spot because it’s full of locals who come regularly to sing, and everyone is here to have a good time.
  • Village Pub – A total divey place with live music downstairs and a dance party upstairs. There is generally a small cover charge, but it’s worth paying if you are going to stay for a bit. ALWAYS have a good time here!
  • The Amigo Room – This is the bar at the Ace which offers different kinds of parties every week. Check the calendar and come for the Soul Clap Dance-off if you can.
  • Elmer’s – Popular breakfast spot with huge portions of pancakes, waffles, and eggs. Expect to wait.
  • King’s Highway  – A former Denny’s, the restaurant at the Ace offers a great breakfast and was way less crowded than Elmer’s.
  • El Jefe – This is the restaurant at the Saguaro and offered a good brunch to beat our hangovers!
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Karaoke night!
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Brunch at El Jefe at the Saguaro

Things to Do 

Aside from hanging at the pool or playing golf, there are many things to do in this desert town!

  • Joshua Tree is nearby (I still haven’t been!) so you could combine a trip there with a visit to Palm Springs
  • My friends and I discovered the Spa Resort Casino on our last visit, if that’s your thing.
  • The Aerial Tramway is one way to beat the heat and get some views from the nearby mountains
  • The Palm Springs Art Museum is another place to escape when it gets too hot with a collection of modern and contemporary art
  • Don’t forget to visit the Cabazon dinosaurs (made famous by their appearance in Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure) on your way in or out of Palm Springs! There are also outlet malls near here if you are in the mood to go shopping.
  • Take an architecture tour and see more of this beautiful town
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love this view
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