A First Timer’s Guide to Palm Springs

Known as a playground for the rich and famous, California’s desert city is a hip place to visit. Distinctive mid-century architecture, palm-fringed streets and the majestic Coachella Valley mountains make this oasis in the desert one of the world's prettiest resort towns. Made famous by movie stars who built weekend homes here back in the 1950’s to escape the paparazzi,  Palm Springs still draws the rich & famous, and not just because it’s less than a two-hour drive east of Los Angeles.  Here’s how to make the most of your visit:

 

THINGS TO DO 

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway 

The world’s largest rotating tram car travels along the cliffs of Chino Canyon, transporting visitors to the pristine wilderness of the Mt. San Jacinta State Park and Wilderness area. A scenic 4.2 km ride from Valley Station at the base (elevation 750 meters) ends at the Mountain Station (elevation 2,600 meters). There you are met with breathtaking views across greater Palm Springs and beyond. At the Tram’s Mountain Station, disembark and be greeted with 70kms of mountainous walking trails.

 

Palm Springs Art Museum

Founded in 1938, this museum contains a stunning collection of works including pieces from Andy Warhol and Marc Chagall. This museum has a reputation as a “cultural oasis” with “wonderful exhibits”.

 

Joshua Tree National Park

From Hidden Valley (which features a nice easy hike) to the Cholla Cactus Garden, Joshua Tree caters to a variety of active travellers. The Keyes View lookout is a great place for a spectacular view of the Coachella Valley.

 

The Living Desert

Part-zoo, part-botanical garden, and all in the extraordinary setting of the desert. Along with animals like mountain lions, bighorn sheep and meerkats, there are a handful of gardens that showcase more than 1,400 species of plants, including multiple varieties of cacti, prickly pear and agave.

 

Spas and Wellness

It’s always time for a chill and to be pampered in Palm Springs. From natural hot water spas and healing mineral waters to meditation, Palm Springs is a spa and wellness paradise.

 

Where to Eat

The Purple Palm serves brunch how it should be. Brioche French toast and bloody mary on a vintage pool terrace with a view of Mount San Jacinto.

El Mirasol for some of the best Mexican fare you will find north of the border. A favourite among Palm Springs locals with two locations both open until 11 pm year-round.

Le Vallauris is an elegant French restaurant which has been serving traditional European fare under the same ownership since 1974.  Meals are best enjoyed under the trees of the large patio, where chandeliers light up for dinner.

 

Where to stay

L'Horizon Resort & Spa

A private mid-century modern compound that has been transformed into a luxurious three-acre resort. A boutique property with just 24 bungalows where no two rooms are alike. A convenient location within walking distance to downtown and many dining options.

Ace Hotel Palm Springs

Ace Hotel has a unique vibe that fits right in with the laid-back lifestyle of Palm Springs. Two large pools, spa facilities, a restaurant, bar and live entertainment combine to make this a full-service resort.

The Willows Historic Palm Springs Inn

A charming 1924 Mediterranean villa which was once a private residence. Meticulously restored this property has eight guest rooms each with modern amenities alongside beautiful, lush terraced gardens that provide wide-open views of Pam Springs and the Coachella Valley.