Possibly one of our favourite places on earth, we’ve been visiting to Palm Springs for many years now for Coachella Music Festival. After visiting a few gems here and there each year during the festival, we finally realized we needed to plan a trip back to really explore all the amazing spots we had heard about.
From incredible mid century modern architecture, to rich Hollywood history, sunny Palm Springs is just downright magical whether you’re lounging poolside sipping on a Mai Tai or exploring the Mojave Desert. We headed down in late February this time for the inaugural Desert X art festival but for a place that gets 269 sunny days a year, you can count on heat and sun in Palm Springs anytime of the year – depending on how tolerant you are in desert heat, there’s really no bad time for a visit.
We rounded up our favourite places in and around town to eat, stay, wander, and also explore. Don’t forget, staying connected while travelling is essential, which is why we love the Fido Roam feature on the Pulse Plan to help us find the best places.
Check them out below.
Leave it to the folks at the Ace Hotel to bring Californian cuisine to the perfect little roadside diner which formally housed a Denny’s restaurant. Featuring locally-sourced produce and heirloom ingredients from chef Carlos Salgado of famed Taco María and executive Chef Carlo Guardado, the diner serves up delicious meals all day long.
We stopped in for breakfast one morning to enjoy a smoothie, some eggs with a side of braised brown sugar bacon, and of course, Stumptown coffee. They also have Palm Springs favourites like avocado toast and tacos, as well as burgers with shoestring fries, salads, pancakes, and sandwiches – there’s something on the menu for everyone.
Have your food poolside if you’re a hotel guest, or sit in one of their booths for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Easily one of the best cocktail bars in the city, Bootlegger Tiki focuses on fruity rum-based drinks adorned in full tiki fashion with all the bells and whistles. Complete with kitschy Polynesian style decor, the bar was renovated in 2014 where the original Don the Beachcomber restaurant once stood back when it opened in 1953. While much of the choices on the menu are takes on classic tiki drinks (some are even named after the Hollywood elite who used to frequent the spot), you can order off menu as well knowing you’re in good hands.
No trip to Palm Springs would be complete without a drive through Joshua Tree National Park. This famed park is a place like no other for camping, hiking, birding and some of the worlds best rock climbing. You can of course drive through the park and stop along the way at various look outs, perfect for photo opps of huge rock formations, the sprawling Salton Sea and of course the native Yucca brevifolia – the Joshua tree after which the park is named.
Our favourite stops along the drive include Skull Rock and the Hall of Horrors for some of the most incredible rock and marble formations, the higher Mojave Desert which has the highest saturation of Joshua Tree’s in the park, and finally the Keys View for epic views of the Salton Sean as well as the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains.
Head to the Visitors Centre to grab a map of the area and be sure to download your tunes before entering the park, as there’s rarely any cell reception once inside and stay after sunset to marvel at the stars.
Conveniently located in the front portion of Bootlegger Tiki, Ernest Coffee makes some of the best caffeinated beverages in Palm Springs (an area we found to be somewhat devoid of good coffee shops). They brew Stumptown Coffee and offer a number delicious baked goods including gluten free and vegan options. Stop by for a cortado and be sure to pick up a box of their incredible Rugelach cookies for the road.
There are few bars in Palm Springs stirring up cocktails to the level of sophistication that Seymour’s does. The cozy lounge space is located inside Mr. Lyons, a retro chic steakhouse in South Palm Springs. Those seeking romantic lighting and air conditioning can sit inside (our fave spot is always at the bar), while groups might be up for a quick round of bocce ball on their outdoor patio.
Be sure to try some of their signature cocktails including the Little Owl made with rye, walnut liqueur, and IPA syrup, their Pineapple Tequila Sour with arette reposado, pineapple gomme, lemon and egg white, or for gin lovers, the Dutch Passport which features Nolets gin, pamplemousse liqueur, marmalade, ginger as well as fresh lemon and grapefruit juice. 👌
Moorten Botanical Gardens
Home to more than three thousand varietals of desert cacti, Moorten Botanical Garden and Cactarium is the perfect living museum to wander through if you need a break from poolside sunbathing. Founded in 1938 by Slim and Patricia Moorten (who are famous for designing and installing for Frank Sinatra), the garden is now tended by their son, Clark Moorten, who is renowned as one of America’s succulent experts.
Over the years it has been a favourite spot for weddings and photo shoots. Spend an hour at Moorten’s and you’ll find yourself totally bewitched by these amazing prickly plants.
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