The ultimate Palm Springs travel guide: I’ll tell you where to stay, what to eat and how to burn it off!
Up until recently, what little knowledge I had about Palm Springs was limited to Don Draper’s brief visit during season two of Mad Men. Truth be told: that 30 minute episode was enough to peak my interest so when Palm Springs kept popping up in my 2017 Reader Survey, I knew it was time.
Between the rich history entwined with Hollywood stars, attractive desert climate and mid-century modern architecture in every direction, there is much to be desired about Palm Springs. Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to explore this city for the 14th edition of my wellness travel series, What to Eat & How to Burn it Off.
Be sure to check out the other 13 destinations we’ve already covered including Whistler, Vancouver, Chicago, Denver, Charleston, Tucson, New Orleans, Grand Rapids, San Diego, Vail, Miami, Utah and Banff.
If you’re looking for a great hotel to stay in during your next visit to Palm Springs, look no further than ARRIVE. Truly, from the moment you arrive, you are treated like royalty. (Pun intended.)
In fact, while my luggage was routed to my room I was ushered to the hotel bar for a complimentary cocktail upon arrival. Is there anything better after a long travel day?
Stylish, modern and sleek are a few words that came to mind when I stepped into my guest room.
Of course, this Michigan gal didn’t fly to California to spend much time in her hotel room. The pool was calling my name.
If there’s one thing Palm Springs makes very clear: you’re here to relax, recharge and unplug.
Worried about the desert heat? Don’t worry, there are misters for that.
As much as I could have relaxed poolside the entire trip (and I highly urge you to do that if you wish!), I had too much to eat, see and do during my first visit to Palm Springs!
When it comes to What to Eat, Palm Springs has everything you’re looking for whether it be farm-to-plate California cuisine, Southwest flavors or hearty comfort food. Hands down, the best breakfast of the trip was at Reservoir located right at the hotel. Pro Tip: Let the well-trained wait staff bring you a selection of their favorite menu items which rotate frequently. The crispy potatoes were worth every calorie and the shakshuka was one of the best I’ve ever tasted.
For lunch, head over to King’s Highway Diner located inside the Ace Hotel & Swim Club. It’s hard to step inside this retro diner without feeling like you’ve immediately stepped back into time.
From the scratch-made Mexican food to the watermelon radishes to the charcoal beverages on the menu, you can’t eat here without feeling like a true Californian. We’re not in the midwest anymore, Toto.
For a tasty lunch spot near Joshua Tree, Crossroads Cafe has everything you could want before or after your hike: juicy burgers, vegan options, fresh salads, homemade soups and more. More about Joshua Tree shortly!
If you find yourself in the El Paseo neighborhood, be sure to grab a bite to eat at EVZIN, a Mediterranean restaurant. The lamb burger is moist, flavorful and big enough to split with a friend.
Craving a salad instead? The Chicken Tawook Fattoush was perfectly spiced and full of fresh, local California veggies.
Of course, there was no way I could visit Palm Springs without getting my hands on authentic Mexican food. Lucky for me, my photographer has family in the area so he knew just the spot for us to visit: El Revolucionario in Cathedral City. Go for the sopes. Go for the homemade salsa bar. Whatever you do, just go.
For a slightly more upscale dining option, grab dinner at Citrus & Palm located in the Miramonte Indian Wells Resort. You can dine indoors or sit outside near the beautiful fire pits. The menu changes seasonally but you really can’t go long with their wide variety of locally sourced meats, vegetables and seafood.
If you want a great restaurant for a girl’s night out, Eight4Nine is a super trendy restaurant and lounge located in the fashionable Uptown Design District of Palm Springs, just down the street from ARRIVE Hotel. The staff is extremely friendly and the menu has a little something for everyone.
My final dining recommendation in Palm Springs is Workshop Kitchen + Bar. The 2015 James Beard Award winning restaurant for best restaurant design offers a seasonal menu made with food sourced from local farms.
The seafood dishes and the duck fat fries really stole the show for me. You can’t be the atmosphere and the service is top notch. This restaurant would be ideal for a fancy date night or girl’s night out.
Of course, you can’t visit Palm Springs without exploring the cocktail scene. Tiki bars are all the rage right now but I knew I had stumbled upon a gem when I stepped inside Bootlegger Tikki and my favorite song from the movie Beetlejuice, Day-O, was blasting through the sound system. Pro Tip: Order the beef jerky from the bar snacks menu.
My second recommendation for incredible cocktails in Palm Springs is Truss & Twine which is the second venture of the same team who started Workshop Kitchen. Truss & Twine’s menu of classic cocktails is broken down by era including the Golden Age, Prohibition, Tiki and more. The place spoke to me so much that I went back twice. Don’t miss out on this gem!
Last but not least for What to Eat (and drink!) in Palm Springs, don’t miss Customs Coffee. The neighborhood coffee joint is located right at ARRIVE Hotel, making it a great spot to fuel up on your way out the door each morning to explore the local area.
Speaking of explore, now that we’ve covered What to Eat it’s time to talk about How to Burn it Off! Of course, with weather as beautiful as it is in Southern California, there was no way I was going to spend my time inside a gym this trip.
Whenever I travel, I love to carve out time for yoga to stretch my body out a bit after a long day in a tight airplane seat. The Saguaro Palm Springs offers outdoor yoga classes which are ideal for all levels.
Even if you don’t take a yoga class, be sure to grab a drink at The Saguaro just to check out this colorful, retro hotel.
For incredible photo opportunities and various hikes of all lengths, hit the road and explore the Palms to Pines Scenic Byway. Offering a full variety of ecosystems in the Lower Sonoran region, it is located in the San Bernardino National Forest.
Be sure to bring your camera, the sunset views from Coachella Valley Vista Point are incredible. While you aren’t facing the direction of the sun, you can’t beat the candy colored purple sky that appears.
Another fun activity that is ideal for people of all fitness levels is the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Offering guided nature walks, hiking, snow shoeing, cross country skiing and more, there is truly something for everyone, no matter what time of year you visit Palm Springs.
If you’re a long-time fan of the Biggest Loser TV show like I am, you might want to experience the Biggest Loser Resort, a JW Marriott property located in Palm Desert.
Offering high-quality health and wellness programs, a full service spa and first class amenities, it offers everything you’d expect from a JW Marriott plus hands-on nutrition counseling and exercise programs. The total body assessment tool was hugely eye opening and helped me learn more about my total body health, muscle mass and more.
The true highlight of my visit? Joshua Tree National Park. In fact, I loved it so much I’ve decided to write an entirely separate post dedicated to spending one full day in Joshua Tree. Keep your eyes peeled for that post coming soon!
In the meantime, let me know what destinations you’d like to see me cover in the future! I’m always taking recommendations and love hearing from you.
Your passport is waiting.
Disclosure: Greater Palm Springs coordinated my hotel accommodations, meals and activities during my stay. Photography by Alejandro Photography. I was not compensated to write this post. All thoughts are my own.
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