You may be thinking, how would SHE know the ten BEST things about Palm Springs??? Well, first of all, these are the 10 best things in my opinion, and secondly, my opinion is based off of the past DECADE of visits! Yes, 2016 actually marks ten years of experiencing the desert. My first trip to PS was 12 years ago with Jared’s family – when the hubs and I were still dating – and we’ve vacationed there every year since (with the exception of 2012 when we bought the colonial, and last year, when I was living in Palo Alto CA for the entire month of July waiting for Valor to make his debut)! Over these past 10 visits I’ve gotten more and more familiar with both Palm Springs and Palm Desert, and I can comfortably/confidently say: there are 10 pretty fabulous things that make Palm Springs such an attractive vacation-destination!
1. the hot heat
OK. If you like it HOT, then PS is the place for you! How hot? REAL HOT. BUT NOT BAD-HOT. There’s a major difference between, “I’m a sticky-sweaty-mess, DON’T BEAPIN’ TOUCH ME”, and, “I just wanna take a drive on the highway with the windows down and crank up Justin Timberlake’s ‘Can’t Stop The Feeling'”! So… let’s have a quick lesson on humidity, shall we? Whenever I tell a fellow Oregonian that PS typically runs anywhere between 101 – 117 degrees during the summer months, they look at me like I’m crazy and say, “I COULDN’T STAND THAT”! But that’s because Portland feels uncomfortable when the thermometer barely reaches the 90s. A perfect example of this: Oregon doesn’t often hit the triple-digits, but this week we scaled up to 99-100 and I felt like I was overheating…. I even saw an “extreme heat” warning when looking up the local humidity levels online lol. We’re talking about desert heat here, where the air is dry and rarely muggy. I’ve also experienced PS in November, and that was absolutely LOVELY weather (literally perfect temps) but I know it’s harder for families to get away during the school year. Of course, you’re gonna be hot – duh – but you shouldn’t be sweating profusely like one would in Portland at such extreme temperatures. Unless you’re laying out at the pool for 2 hours straight while sunbathing like we do every morning on vacay, but that’s what jumping into the cold water is for! I’m convinced you’ll become addicted to overdosing on those vitamin D rays while sipping your iced coffee and listening to the sweet song of the katydid crickets no matter HOW hot it is………… annnnnnd suddenly I have the 1960s hit HEÃT WÃVE stuck in my head! 🎶 🎶 🎶
Marriott’s Desert Spring Villas II
(tanning tips: get your layout-time in/done by noon, and freeze your bottled water the night before so you’re not drinking warm fluids!)
2. the pretty palms
I suppose for some of you this isn’t much of a selling point, especially if you live where palm trees are indigenous to your area, but for me – they are EVERYTHING. Tell me… is there anyone in this world who doesn’t like them!? I call them “calm trees”, because there’s just something about them that brings an immediate feeling of R&R to my weary soul. And the cacti! Did I mention the cacti!? There are plenty of different varieties covering the desert grounds for all you cactus-lovers out there! We usually drive down instead of fly (to save money on plane tix /car rental), and once we cross the California border I have fun trying to spot the first palm tree. (SUCH A DORK!) Granted, the first several palm trees we see in the northernmost parts of CA are often scraggly and few n’ far between, however it’s when the streets suddenly become lined with perfectly manicured palms on both sides that I know – WE HAVE ARRIVED! The city does a diligent job keeping their bushy beards groomed, but I’ll take my palm trees in any way, shape or form 😉 Now, if only I could figure out how to grow one in my swampy yard……
3. the good food
Yes, I’m sometimes guilty of still hittin’ up the all-familiar-chain-restaurants when I’m out of town, because it can be overwhelming to find something new/good that’s really worth venturing out for. But there are some mouthwatering dishes being served at these following places that should be tasted by ALL, and I’m not about to let you miss out!
When in Rome… one must try:
Serving comfort food, pie, and breakfast all day, Norma’s is located at The Parker –
4200 E Palm Canyon Dr. Palm Springs, CA 92264
El Jefe is a kid-friendly Mexican tequila bar (within the Saguaro hotel) that has the BEST-DRESSED CORN-ON-THE-COB this side of the border, so make sure you hit them up on Taco Tuesday!
1800 E Palm Canyon Dr. Palm Springs, CA 92264
The Shops on El Paseo
Located on a fun little strip called “The Shops On El Paseo”, Daily Grill has a killer Sunday brunch including bottomless mimosas and homemade monkey bread! Not to mention, they have super cute black/white checker floors 😉 (You’ll most likely wanna window-shop the ritzy storefronts afterwards too, just for fun!)
73061 El Paseo, Palm Desert, CA 92260
LULU is a retro-glam bistro on the main drag of downtown PS that’s worth a stop for their giant chandeliers, 5-Star 4-Course Dinner, and their scrumptious Vichyssoise (a potato and leek soup served deliciously cold)!
200 S Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262
La Quinta Cliffhouse
La Quinta Cliffhouse
With an amazing outdoor patio and a twisting staircase entrance that winds through the rocky cliff, Cliffhouse is an upscale-casual Coachella Valley favorite!
78250 CA-111, La Quinta, CA 92253v
In case your appetite is NOT feeling super adventurous, The River at Rancho Mirage is a GREAT spot where you’ll find some popular chain restaurants (and stores), built over a giant manmade river! Just decide what you’re in the mood for and take your pick from: Five Guys, Ben&Jerry’s, Starbucks, Baja Fresh, Cheesecake Factory, BB’s, PF Chang’s, Babes, Fleming’s, Yard House, GIOIA, and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory! This is also our favorite Century Theaters in Palm Desert as well, so if you love movie-dates as much as we do, take your main-squeeze to THE RIVER! There’s a little bit of everything really (including a Forever21 🙂 )
71-800 CA-111, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
4. the famous hotels
Palm Springs has many gorgeous resorts, but I just HAD to give some attention to two of my faves. We’re talking….. you’ll want to move in and never leave… like EVER.
The Saguaro 1800 E Palm Canyon Dr. Palm Springs, CA 92264
The Saguaro is a fun, colorful, playful, party-like atmosphere that is captivating for all ages. Even if you only stop in for a quick peek (remember you can grab a bite at El Jefe!), it’s just an experience worth having no matter how short your stay may be. They have different events throughout the year, so checkout their website to see what’s going on while you’ll be in town!
Parker (the old Autry Hotel) 4200 E Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92264
I’m all about architectural history! I may not be good at remembering other historical facts lol, but buildings just fascinate me. It’s interesting to think of who once stood within the walls that you now stand! So of course I fell in love with the Parker because not only is it a piece of art to fix/feast your eyes upon, but it has a romantic story as well.
building history: Gene Autry purchased this property in 1961 to house his baseball team (the California Angels) during spring training. After 33 years in the hotel biz, Autry sold the property to his hotel director and The Autry was then turned into a French themed resort using designer Hubert de Givenchy (the designer used by Grace Kelly, Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie Kennedy and AUDREY HEPBURN at the time!) BTW, it still feels totally French, especially the outdoor gardens, pools, and patios! Autry and his wife continued to live at the hotel in a private residence located at the rear of the property, which is now open for public reservation! In 1998, the hotel was purchased by Merv Griffin and renamed Merv Griffin’s Resort Hotel and Givenchy Spa, and suddenly the resort became a hotspot for celebrities! (A little celebrity gossip: Robert Downey Jr. was actually staying in room 311 when he was arrested for drug possession in 2000, and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie stayed here while shooting a cover-story for W magazine in 2005, but apparently stayed in separate rooms! Gasssp!) Anyway, the resort was eventually sold to Epix Hotels and was vacated. So sad to think something this beautiful was just abandoned! But then hotelier / knight in shining armor, Jack Parker, purchased the resort in 2003 and hired designer Jonathan Adler for a $27 MILLION remodel… thus resulting in the jaw-dropping masterpiece it is today 😍
bar + happy hour lounge
happy hour lounge
artwork by @theaestate
We took this picture right after exploring their never-ending-maze-of-a-courtyard! It was seriously like discovering a secret slice of Europe tucked away in the midst of the desert! Basically, these doors should be called the magical wardrobe to the South of France 🇫🇷 NBD
Now obviously both of these hotels are a little on the spendy side, but like I said above, both have awesome restaurants that you MUST indulge in regardless! I would recommend staying in Palm Desert if you’re wanting to cut costs, because hotels are a little more affordable when you stay just outside Palm Springs.
5. the coachella tram
If you’re not afraid of heights (like my husband is), Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is actually the WORLD’S largest rotating tramcar, and it ascends 2.5 miles into the wilderness where one can go on a guided nature walk, hiking, even camping, and end the day at either Pines Café (a cafeteria-style restaurant), or Peaks (a fine-dining restaurant with an incredible view of Coachella Valley that will leave you in awe of God’s creation)!
1 Tram Way Palm Springs, CA 92262
(If you’re looking for even more extreme family outings, checkout
Wet ‘n’ Wild Palm Springs, or Magical Adventure Balloon Rides!)
6. the designer shopping
I prefer to shop in 3 marketplaces – online, small brands I’ve found among the IG community, and VACATION. I save/budget accordingly, so that I’ll have a decent amount of clothing money set aside for shopping every year. WHY? I worked at Nordstrom for about 4 years and I can remember countless times where I’d be pulling stuff from the floor that was “Racked” (aka, being sent to Nordstrom’s Rack), and the instructions would say which Rack each item was being sent to. Very rarely would I rack a high-end-designer-piece that was being sent to my local Rack because Portlandia is too green to buy clothes that haven’t been recycled 7 times lol! (I say that tongue-in-cheek, but you get my point.) Almost every steal-of-a-deal-big-name-item was sent to the Racks of CALIFORNIA… and now you’re starting to see where I’m going with this! $200 Rebecca Minkoff purse for $89? YES PLEASE! Want $100 off a pair of Joe’s Jeans perhaps? OF COURSE I DO! How about a pair of go-with-everything-pumps for 90% off???? YEP, I’LL TAKE THOSE TOO.
So, gotta lot of shopping to do??? Let me be your guide 😏
1. The Desert Hills Premium Outlets
THIS PLACE IS SOMETHING YOU HAVE TO EXPERIENCE TO BELIEVE! Make sure to dress in shoes made for (miles of) walking, and plan on it taking 2 separate trips to cover the whole mall! There are 180+ stores offering anywhere from 25-65% off retail prices, plus if you stop by Guest Services you’ll get a VIP coupon-book full of additional secret-savings!
48400 Seminole Dr, Cabazon, CA 92230
2. Desert Crossing Shopping Center
Including but not limited to: Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Old Navy, Target, Ulta, Pier 1, annnnd CHIPOTLE! Every year I find at least ONE item at Marshall’s and/or TJ’s that was worth hunting through all the rubbish!
111 Fred Waring Dr, Palm Desert, CA 92260
3. Westfield Palm Desert
Just your basic mall, but worth going because they have a Windsor! When I first went to Windsor a few years back I didn’t realize they were a storefront for the same @windsorstore I followed on IG, so this year I made it a point to stop and checkout some of their items in person! Also, this mall has BUNGEE JUMPING!
72-840 California 111, Palm Desert, CA 92260
4. The Nordstrom Rack Town Center Square
Including but not limited to: The Rack, Home Goods, Whole Foods, and (the best mani/pedi for the price at) Anne’s Nails! I spent MOST of my budget at this Rack. Just sayin’!!!
44449 Town Center Way, Palm Desert, CA 92260
7. the desert dinosaurs
we look so little!
The Cabazon Dinosaurs are a MUST SEE! These larger-than-life replicas are absolutely spectacular, and they’re conveniently located next to the Cabazon outlets, so be sure to stop by for your kiddos thennnnn go shop till you drop😛 There are two giant dinosaurs and a gift shop that are able to be seen/toured from the road, and there’s actually seating (provided by Burger King) underneath the belly of the brachiosaurus if you want to order lunch and eat with the dinos – but if you’d like to see ALL the dinosaurs you can buy tickets for $10 each, between 10am – 7pm daily!
50770 Seminole Dr, Cabazon, CA 92230
8. the presley place
Yep, Elvis really did live here! He and his wife Priscilla spent their honeymoon and first year of marriage living in this 5,500 sqft mid-century “House of Tomorrow”. It’s three stories stacked in four concentric circles, without one square room in the house! Crazy right!? Looks like The King had good taste in more than just fashion and music😎 They do tours on the daily (at 1pm and 3:30), but don’t make the same mistake we did this year! One must call ahead to reserve a tour guide at this number (760) 322-1192, or visit elvishoneymoon.com
The King’s Castle
The Presley Estate has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Time Magazine, Architectural Digest, and The Travel Channel – no surprise! Now, A LITTLE LESS CONVERSATION and a little more getting your butt on VACATION, PLEASE!!!
1350 Ladera Cir, Palm Springs, CA 92262
other things to do while downtown: as you’re walking the main drag (Palm Canyon Drive), grabbing a necessary Ice Blended Drink from The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf, look down at your feet to find these granite “palm stars” embedded into the sidewalk! It’s kinda fun to look for names you recognize while touring around town.
CBTL: 100 N Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262 >> gotta post that #purplestraw
9. the friendly giraffes
If your littles are brave enough to feed the giraffes at the ZOO, take them to an experience they’ll never forget at The Living Desert!!! Giraffe feedings are usually in the morning at 9am and 11am, but check the daily schedule beforehand just to be sure!
47900 Portola Ave, Palm Desert, CA 92260
10. the pink door
Excuse me, I actually mean, “THAT pink door”. This is that pink door which went viral on Instagram and after seeing it in person I can totally see why! First of all, it’s practically twice my height… making quite a bold statement to all who cross its threshold. Second, the owners couldn’t have achieved better curb-appeal even if they tried! I’m obsessed with all the details: the door (color, square-detailing, topped with the perfect knob), the landscaping, the architectural symmetry, and last but certainly NOT least – the lion head (to your left)! Oh Palm Springs… why must even your houses be better-than!?😫💦 Driving around and looking at the homes in Palm Springs is one of our new favorite things to do just because they’re so different from anything we have in Portland. It’s like going back to a different era (I’ve heard Beverly Hills is much the same way). And you wanna know how I KNOW #thatpinkdoor is visually appealing to both males and females alike!? Well… after 5 years of begging my hubs for a pink door and having him slam a giant “NO” all over my design-plans, he took one look at this lovely place and said, “ok, never mind, you can have a pink door if you really want one”. I mean, can you believe it, people!? The man who hates pink just gave me the green light on painting the focal-point of our exterior pink!!! SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!
1100 E Sierra Way, Palm Springs, CA 92264
Ok guys! Sorry for the extremely long post (seems to be my new M.O.😳), but I wanted to be surrrrrre I covered e v e r y t h i n g I could think of so that you can have the most enjoyable stay possible! There are still many other things to love about Palm Springs, but these were the things that I deemed BEST. I’m not sure this post was really even necessary considering Palm Springs sells itself lol, but I had fun putting this together for you anyhow! Thanks for stopping in everyone and may your week be short-n-sweet!
FYI: we are blessed enough to stay at the Marriott’s Desert Springs Villas through a family timeshare. If you’re interested in finding out more about Marriott’s Vacation Club Ownership, just click the button below!