A while back [when I was in California for work] my sister, her boyfriend, and I decided to go on a little adventure. So, Tami packed up the van, drove 8 hours from Arizona, and met me at 3am in a Von's parking lot in Pasadena. We had several choices: Joshua Tree National Park, Yosemite National Park, and/or Palm Springs. Since my sister had a foot injury, we decide to go for a more luxurious route. Palm Springs it was.
I knew for a while now that Palm Springs was the new "IT" place among Southern Californians and other hip people. Being from Hawai'i (and a late adopter by default) we finally jumped on the bandwagon and took a visit to this gem in the middle of the Sonoran desert. Once known as an exclusive vacation destination for a-list celebrities, Palm Springs has drawn a vast crowd since it's popularity in the early 1900’s. Personally, I was drawn by it's remote beauty, unique architecture, and rumors of some of the best antiquing and restaurants in the desert.
After a quick surf in North County we headed east on the I-10 on a Friday afternoon. The car ride took us a quick 1/12-2 hours and we arrived just in time for check-in. After that long drive and checking in, we were ready for our weekend getaway. Drink in hand, we were read to take on the desert.
I am sure there are plenty of different ways to do Palm Springs. I honestly thought 3 days and 2 nights was not enough time to do all the things (that this vacation destination has to offer) and I will be back again.
But, here are a few suggestions to enjoy yourself while you’re there:
WHERE TO STAY:
- Ace Hotel
- Parker Hotel
- The Saguaro
- Korakia Pensione [I WISH we could have stayed here!!]
There were so many amazing places to stay and it was really hard to decide on a hotel. We finally settled for the Ace Hotel. We knew it was the hip place to be and the price for a room was reasonable. I really appreciated the decor and ambiance in our room and the hotel in general. But to be honest, I was pretty disappointed with our experience and not sure I would stay there again. I found fellow patrons and some of the front desk staff to be painfully hipster. And apparently LA hipsters in particular don't have any manners. We had charges to our room that we never made [and although it was taken care of] the guy with the beard and tight jeans at the front desk didn't feel the need to give good customer service and/or apologize for the whole ordeal [to say the least.]
But this is turning into a really bad Yelp! review. I had to put it out there though. I am sure other people have had great experiences at the Ace. I know several friends who go there often and never hear complaints. I really do appreciate the hotels style and overall creative direction. And They have a great pool area with plenty of room to lounge. And they're dog and kid friendly. Which I thought was pretty cool! I thought it evened out the too-cool-to-function vibe a little. Haha. Go there if you're a hip kinda guy. I obviously wasn't.
Ace Hotel room rates start at $149/night.
WHERE TO EAT/DRINK:
- Breakfast at Norma's [at the Parker Hotel]
- King's Highway [at the Ace Hotel]
- Workshop Kitchen + Bar
- El Jefe
We made it a point to try as many restaurants as we could. Personally, I really enjoyed Norma's at the Parker. The Parker Hotel is so dreamy in itself. The hotel grounds feel like it is set in a giant maze and it's almost like you're dining in a secret garden. I rarely get to have a big breakfast and Norma's did not disappoint. I got a massive belgian waffle that hit the (under-indulged) breakfast spot. I washed it down with a iced, cold coffee (with a couple of complimentary refills.) I eyed a couple of the other tables breakfast choices and would definitely go back to Palm Springs just to try another dish! Everything looked so yummy.
I also suggest going a little early and wandering around the hotel grounds. If you go early enough, barely anyone is around and you feel like you've got the place to yourself!
WHAT TO DO:
- Check out the windmills at Sunset
- Take a hike in Indian Canyons
- Go to Moorten Botanical Gardens
- Hang out by the pool
- Go antique shopping
- Visit the Frey II House
- Go to the Dinosaur museum
- Visit Joshua Tree National Park
- Visit Salvation Mountain
When you first drive into Palm Springs you cannot help but notice the massive Windmills. And you've probably already seen photos on your favorite bloggers website. Rightfully so. The landscape is pretty breath-taking with it's massive wind turbines and steady wind blowing pieces of art into the endless sand. We decided to check it out right before the sun set and so glad we did. We ended the day drinking wine, munching on pupu's, and watching the sun go down over the windmills.
The Amtrak station is a great, isolated location to enjoy the Windmills at sunset.
Indian Canyons was probably one of the coolest things we did while in Palm Springs. We did a short hike in Palm Canyon and discovered that it was a Palm oasis. It was the first time I have ever been to an actual oasis. And it was beautiful. It is crazy how there can be palm trees and springs in the middle of the desert. I still can't get over it. The Canyon itself is on a Native American reservation and considered the world's largest California Fan Palm Oasis.
Entry is $9 per person.
I can tell why Palm Springs has been getting such a good reputation among tourists and weekenders. There is something about the desert that is so alluring and cannot wait to go back!