After being sought out by health-obsessed tourists who required a dry heat, Palm Springs made its way into the mouths of west coast citizens. In 1924, Lloyd Wright was commissioned to build the first Modern Art Deco building in the city, the Oasis Hotel. Thinking that its microclimate offered much more hospitable conditions than Los Angeles, Hollywood movie stars in 1927 flocked to the secluded, sunny desert hot spot. With the influx of Tinseltown visitors, business owners were also lured to the oasis resort town to establish mansions, golfing, nightclubs, and shopping centers.
Since the very beginning, Palm Springs has always been a destination for relaxation—a respite from the hustle and bustle of nearby cities, the largest being Los Angeles. And it makes sense that most of LA views the location as the perfect weekend getaway offering just as much convenience as heading to the Mountains or skipping town for Vegas.
But why Palm Springs? When you want to party non-stop for about 48 hours, you head to Vegas. But when you’re seeking the highest form of leisure, you go to Palm Springs. Its slow-paced existence, one of relaxation and rumination, leisure coupled with pleasure, can be experienced any weekend if you live in LA.
Today, it’s a mecca for fine dining, impeccable cocktails, and high-end shopping. There’s a lot to do in the small town despite its slow, quiet feel. Everything just seems easier. And people don’t walk, they stroll.
If you’re staying in Palm Springs, you’ll be flooded with options as to where you’ll stay, what you’ll do, and even more: what you’ll experience.
Opt for the party route with stays at quintessential spots like the Ace Hotel & Swim Club, the Saguaro, and Skylark Hotel to experience a spring break-esque feel. These locations offer prime amenities coupled with bawdy, gregarious, and immeasurably exciting mid-century decor. Perfect for Coachella weekenders or the rage-til-you-can’t crowd.
Or check yourself into a rejuvenating weekend by choosing more meditative institutions, filled with treatments, steam rooms, massages, and health-focused activities, like the accommodations at Parker Palm Springs, Two Bunch Palms, or Colony Palms Hotel.
But, if you’re like me and want a little of both, try Uptown Palm Springs. The dining and shopping district on N Palm Canyon Drive is where most of Palm Springs excellence survives. Shadowed by the ridge of the San Jacinto Mountains, the sleepy cadence of day gives birth to a charged onslaught of primal nightlife when the sun sets.
Noteworthy mentions in this area of Palm Springs line the list, but I’ll begin with calling out Alcazar, a boutique hotel boasting the perfect blend of oasis spa meets character-rich boutique. Brilliant white facades surround a palm tree-lined courtyard, accented by a rock fireplace, crystal azure swimming pool, and bungalow-style rooms. The charming lodging manages to sustain a level of seclusion only similar to the Palm Springs/Los Angeles dynamic.
And, of course Alcazar not only has one restaurant nearby, but two. Why? Both Birba, tapas and cocktails, and Cheeky’s, brunch and bakery, are owned and operated by the same folks as Alcazar. This triple-whammy of resort superiority is like the perfect storm in a vacationer’s forecast where dreaming, breakfasting, swimming, playing, shopping, drinking, dining, dancing, and dreaming are all encouraged without ever leaving the grounds.
But where else should you go in Palm Springs? You could go to Trio, or maybe even Serious Food and Drink, which are pretty great spots for grubbing and glugging. Or you could hunt down the perfect tiki drink.
Imagine the guy who reads, sleeps, breathes, and thinks cocktails. He knows exactly why you need to rinse a cocktail with Absinthe or what truly happens when egg whites spire a mile high. This guy is Chad Austin and his bar is called Bootlegger Tiki. Some of the best cocktails being crafted in LA and just a bit beyond are because of this guy, and he just so happens to be the “Beverage Director” at this Palm Spring’s cornerstone. It’s new, it’s tiki themed, and most people just order this thing that’s been captured in 900 Yelp photos called the Pod Thai. Don’t order that. Rounding off his perfectly engineered cocktail menu are drinks you’d never even imagine could exist, like Coffee & Cigarettes, a drink made with a specialty Amaro and his handmade Tobacco bitters, or the Original 1934 Zombie.
Planning a weekend getaway if you live in LA can be near impossible, or rather, more trouble than it’s worth. Palm Springs somehow knows this and offers up the perfect stress-free remedy. I don’t know how; maybe the 75+ years it’s been hosting visitors, tourists, and vacationers has helped the place hash out all important factors of having a picture-perfect getaway. After all, could 1920s era Hollywood stars really be wrong about this place? I don’t think so.
Featured Image: “Street Elevation: Vista Las Palmas Home, Palm Springs CA” by “Joe Wolf” via Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0