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This story was published before Summer 2021, when we launched our new digital experience.

What to Know When Planning a Luxury Palm Springs Vacation

Palm Springs has hotels that rival the @accidentallywesanderson Instagram feed, a très chic design district, and truly excellent brunch options. In short: it's pure magic.

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The greater Palm Springs area is made up of no fewer than nine cities—one, of course, being Palm Springs proper. La Quinta, Indian Wells, Indio, Coachella, and four other surrounding municipalities comprise greater Palm Springs. Each city contributes an essential component of desert bliss to make Palm Springs the coveted southern California escape it is today. La Quinta is home to the American Express PGA Golf Tournament, while Indian Wells hosts the BNP Paribas Open every year. Downtown Palm Springs has exceptional restaurants and the Uptown Design District, while La Quinta is known for their desert hiking trails.

Here, your all-encompassing guide to Palm Springs, including the best restaurants, hotels, shopping, hiking, galleries, and golf resorts.

The Palm Springs Art, Design, and Shopping Scene

El Paseo Street in Palm Desert has some of the Springs’ best art galleries. Coda Gallery was touted as the Best Gallery in California by the American Art Awards and primarily features contemporary work. Also on El Paseo, Melissa Morgan Fine Art showcases alluring, abstract art like Anthony James’ three-dimensional light installations.

For that classic mid-century modern aesthetic that Palm Springs admirers have come to expect, head to the Uptown Design District in Palm Springs Proper. On North Palm Canyon Drive, the Uptown Design District has the best shopping, including vintage pieces and galleries like Shag Art Gallery, where artist Shag displays his vibrant, colorful work. Shop at Shag the Store, perhaps purchasing an exclusive in-store-only print. And for some of the city’s best vintage shopping, pop into Iconic Atomic and Dazzles. For airy, desert home goods, head to Christopher Kennedy. Kennedy is a Palm Springs interior designer who now sells some of his favorite desert-chic decor at his brick-and-mortar shop.

The Best Luxury Hotels in Palm Springs

Opened in late 2018, Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs has a bright, minimalist-mod aesthetic giving the hotel a polished and trendy feel. The seventh-floor pool deck is home to Palm Springs’ only rooftop pool—it overlooks the San Jacinto Mountains and is lined with chic cabanas available for rent.

Sands Hotel & Spa in Indian Wells has 46 rooms, including their epic Le Riad suite. Inspired by a Moroccan palace, Le Riad has two outdoor patios, a balcony, a pool table, and an in-room soaking tub, among other over-the-top perks.

Newly launched as of November 2019, Dive Palm Springs brings ‘60s French Riviera vibes to the desert. With only nine rooms and two suites, the property is intimate and serene, while exuding St. Tropez-level elegance.

JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa is a sprawling property in Palm Desert with two championship golf courses. While on property, take advantage of JW Marriott Desert Springs’ Ayurvedic spa treatments.

Wining and Dining in Palm Springs

The Vietnamese food game is strong in Palm Springs. Of course, there’s local favorite Rooster and the Pig—a hip foodie institution where all diners must brave the waitlist and subsequent parking lot hang. There’s also 533 Viet Fusion, which came onto the Palm Springs dining scene in 2015—they take reservations and have a fantastic hand-rolled spring roll bar.

Norma’s is the cafe within the Parker Palm Springs serving breakfast all day. If you’ve never been to the Parker Palm Springs, you’re in for a real treat. A hotel with an avid cult following, the Parker looks like the @accidentallywesanderson Instagram feed come to life.

Housed in a refurbished 90-year-old movie theater in the Uptown Design District, Workshop does both brunch and dinner so well you might want to stop in twice. For brunch: go halfsies on a brunch burger and a blue crab eggs benedict. For dinner, it’s all about the share-format small plates, like their duck study #4, braised pork cheek fries, and sunchoke and mushroom risotto.

La Spiga Ristorante Italiano in Palm Desert is as close as you’ll come to dining in the hills of Tuscany in southern California. The restaurant is lined with rose gardens with three inviting gazebos. Their wine list is chock-full of rustic Italian classics, as is their dinner menu.

Golfing in Palm Springs

La Quinta Country Club, with 18 holes, is one of the top courses in the area. After all, The American Express PGA Golf Tournament is held at La Quinta Country Club, and elite golfers, Hollywood A-listers, and politicians routinely flock to this course.

Indian Wells Golf Resort has 36 holes—a Players’ Course and a Celebrity Course. Next to the scenic desert courses, you’ll find their 53,000-square-foot clubhouse.

Desert Willow Golf Resort also has 36 holes—the Firecliff Course and the Mountain View Course. The resort is also home to the Palm Desert Golf Academy, where neophyte and veteran golfers can take classes with PGA golf pros.

Hiking in Palm Springs

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is the “world’s largest rotating tram car,” which takes visitors up Chino Canyon within Mount Jacinto State Park. From Mountain Station, there are 50 miles of hiking trails, including the Desert View Trail, a moderate 1.5-mile loop bringing hikers to scenic overlooks and introducing them to the state park’s plant life and forests. For a more strenuous hike, depart from Mountain Station to San Jacinto Peak. It’s an 11-mile out-and-back trail that brings you to the “second-highest point in southern California.” Keep in mind that all hikers exploring these areas need a (free) wilderness permit to protect the native plant life. Permits can be obtained on the day of your hike at a nearby ranger station.

La Quinta Cove is another popular hiking option in greater Palm Springs, thanks to their stunning wildflower blooms in the spring. It’s a 3.5-mile out-and-back trail. The best time to hike La Quinta Cove is at sunrise to beat the heat and catch the best light. You can also hike the less-trafficked trail from La Quinta Cove to Lake Cahilla, which is 6.6 miles out and back.


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