{getaway} Long Weekend: Palm Springs, CA

I love Palm Springs- it’s one of my favorite places. In fact, I love it so much I’m getting married there. Palm Springs combines outdoor activities, nightlife, and a cool mid-century modern vibe to make it the perfect weekend getaway. Plus, they have recently expanded their airport, so it’s gotten a lot easier and cheaper to fly in.

We stayed at the Hope Springs Resort, in Desert Hot Springs, about a 20 minute drive out of Palm Springs. We were angling for some Joshua Tree action so we wanted to be a little farther along the road, and we were intrigued by this hidden gem. Traveling through a wholly unprepossessing strip-mall exurb, you arrive at a funky old motel sign, but beyond the little post-modern entryway you find a pocket-sized oasis of tranquility. There are only 10 rooms, and 3 pools fed by natural hot springs to enjoy. The atmosphere makes you feel like you have a very very rich friend who is letting you crash at their vacation getaway. They serve a charming, sort of DIY breakfast, but the con of the place is that you do have to leave for other meals (although some rooms have little motel kitchens- so ostensibly you could remain in your cocoon here with some planning ahead.)

So. Where to eat? I’m assuming you can’t afford to stay at the Parker Palm Springs (although, they do have a hidden deal for folks under 30- you get to stay there half price if you’re ID proves you’re a 20-something.) No matter. Go for breakfast or lunch at Norma’s, sit on the deck, and watch the beautiful LA people making deals on their cell phones while you tuck into a brunch that’s tasty if a tad too pricey. They even give you a breakfast amuse bouche of a little smoothie- how sweet. Bring a book so that after stuffing your face, you can walk the grounds and settle into one of their many little magical nooks and crannies for a relaxing literary digestif. For something a little more low-key, you might try Cheeky’s– a casual and hip breakfast spot that has a bacon tasting plate, which obviously earns them a gold star in my book.

If you want a great dinner in Palm Springs, I recommend Zin. It looks so-so, but the food is absolutely fantastic. Hand-cut steak tartare. Are you kidding me? How awesome is that? The service was perfect and the meal couldn’t have been better. The wine list was well-rounded and affordable. I only wish we had room for dessert. We had a fun and perfectly pleasant people-watching lunch at the Mexican charmer Las Casuelas, a restaurant that turns clubby after dinner. The top-shelf margaritas were strong and above-par, and the food was satisfying if not exciting. Spencer’s at the Mountain also offers great food, but the setting is the real draw: an open-air restaurant with a beautiful patio right at the foot of Mount Jacinto. The sleek, contemporary design serves as a great backdrop for all those Martinis whizzing by. It’s also a great place to go for a drink at sunset.

The furniture and home stores in Palm Springs provide just as positive and educational an experience as visiting a well-curated museum. The breadth of the mid-century modern and modern designs they showcase is incredible, and you will see things you haven’t seen anywhere before. Whether you’re buying or just looking, there is enough eye candy to keep you engaged for a couple of hours. If I could just pick 2 and no more, they would be House 849– a neverending maze of rooms housing a dizzying array of styles and pieces- and the all modern Interior Illusions, across the street, which had me wishing I had some way to justify spending $5K on a light-up coffee table or an enormous mirrored sculpture. There is a cluster of other, smaller shops within a couple blocks.

Once you’ve had your fill of man-made beauty, go for the Palm Springs tram ride– the tram car rotates while it heads precipitously up Chino Canyon, and leaves you at the very tippy top of the mountain, looking down at the vast expanse of Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley. The views are breathtaking, and if the ride had you on edge, you can grab a drink at the ski-lodgey bar up at the top before making your descent.

We spent a practically perfect day at Joshua Tree National Park. Instead of taking one long hike, we opted to explore many different areas of the park, alternating between these great 1-mile loops they’ve set up, and going off on our own scrambling up and over the rock formations, getting momentarily lost off the trails.

Heading out of the park after a picture-perfect sunset, we stopped at the 29 Palms Inn, a kitschy old inn with a terrific restaurant. The menu choices skew towards the old-fashioned– think, steak and baked potato, chicken marsala, spaghetti bolognese- but everything is done very well. They use produce and herbs from their own organic garden out back. Their wine list is small but careful, with all good choices, and the cocktails are top-notch. Plus, you can eat sitting around the pool while enjoying live entertainment of the lounge-iest sort. A truly lovable spot, and the perfect ending to a Palm Springs weekend.


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2 Responses

  1. Jessica says:

    we haven’t been to palm springs but you’re seriously making us want to go!!

  1. February 24, 2012

    […] I mentioned that one of my favorite places in the entire world is Palm Springs, California? I love it so much, I got married there. Not only does it offer breathtaking desert landscapes and […]