Every city usually has a weekend retreat within driving distance. Us New Yorkers have the Hamptons; a scenic, bumper to bumper three hour drive to the beach lol. The West Coast folks have beautiful Palm Springs; an equally heavy traffic drive, but the moment you leave LA in the dust, the smog lifts and you are transported back in time. Once you leave the big city and make your way to Palm Springs, you are in a city where the sun always shines and palm trees provide the perfect amount of shade while the fresh air gives you that extra breath you have been needing to take! It’s the perfect place for some much needed rest and relaxation.
My husband Josh is a Cali boy with many of his family and friends still living on the West Coast. While we were living in LA (over 5yrs ago), Palm Springs was one of the most popular spots for weddings and long weekend vacations. I personally LOVE Palm Springs and think it is the perfect retreat. Growing up in Connecticut I never really had the chance to experience the desert. In my mind, the desert might as well (had) been as far as the moon! I remember the first time I visited Palm Springs, I was mesmerized by the beauty of the dry terrain, framed by the gorgeous mountain landscape. As you all know by now, I am an old soul with a huge love affair with Elvis and most of his peers from that same generation (mainly anything from the 1950’s and 60’s). Palm Springs is a paradise for anyone with an affixation for that time period (like myself).
Palm Springs is located two hours inland from Los Angeles California, with its inhabitants being as mixed as the culture of the city. Palm Springs remains a historical and ecological wonder with great history ranging from the Agua Caliente Cahuilla Indians to some of the first pioneers to mid-century modern architects and home to some of the most renown Hollywood stars. In the 1920’s, Palm Springs became the weekend retreat for Hollywood. The city was within the “2 hour rule” for contracted actors, so it became the perfect getaway for those wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of LA. Palm Springs became a popular destination for wellness retreats, golf, tennis and many other activities that aren’t as easily accessible in LA. It still remains a popular destination for Hollywood actors and after all, how can we forget, Sony Bono was Mayor of Palm Springs! Today, Palm Springs is a fantastic place to visit whether you live nearby or travel from afar. It’s a quirky little town with lots to offer and let me tell you, if walls could talk…Boy Oh Boy! (Especially the walls in some of the old school restaurants, hotels and homes).
In a nut shell, my trip to Palm Springs can be summed up into three little words: Eat, Play, Shop!
While visiting my in-laws in Los Angeles, I decided to break off and take a there day girls trip to Palm Springs. I stayed at The Parker and it was absolutely incredible! I was obsessed with the retro decor, amazing food and endless photo-worthy places within the hotel. I did some research ahead of time, used my knowledge from my previous trips to the area and had a good sit down with the concierge in order to arrange our schedule while in Palm Springs.
I decided that along with the out-of-this-world breakfast at Norma’s at the Parker, I wanted to try an actual place where the Rat Pack frequented…so off to Melvyn’s we went! If those walls could talk…the bar was next to a full lounge surrounded by mirrored walls and a beautiful baby grand piano. The dining tables were enclosed in an atrium overlooking the beautiful mountains of Palm Springs. I enjoyed the most delicious Thai chicken salad I think over ever had! I was a very happy lady as I tried to imagine what it would have been like to dine next to Frank Sinatra or Sammy Davis Jr.
Le Vallauris is another restaurant I highly recommend with a gourmet French menu. The ambiance is beautiful as it is known for its tree-lined patio, making it an elegant place to dine. The atmosphere is upscale yet cozy with nighttime live music and delicious food. What more could you ask for?
I also recommend stopping by The Ritz Carlton, Rancho Mirage which overlooks the Coachella Valley! The Edge is an incredible steakhouse with a spectacular view overlooking a beautiful cliff-side view. If you aren’t in the mood for steak, no worries, stop by for a drink at the bar! The view is outstanding and worth seeing. A few more recommendations…533 Viet Fusión, Mr. Lyon and Workshop Kitchen. These are all great places to dine with great vibes and even better food.
There is always something fun happing in Palm Springs whether it be a Film Festival, Food & Wine Festival, Modernism Week or art galleries. In addition to all of the fantastic festivals, Palm Springs is well-known for their incredible golf courses, tennis clubs, wellness retreats and of course, yoga! Places like We Care Spa are dedicated to caring for your mind, body and spirit. There are numerous spas that cater to wellness and health in Palm Springs. L’Horizon Resort and Spa is another highly recommended resort for wellness.
Integratron: The Integratron is an incredible 38ft cupola structure designed by George Van Tassel. This is a one-of-a-kind experience where you can experience sound relaxation. The Integratron offers 60-minute sonic healing sessions that are designed to relax and rejuvenate the mind and body. You rest comfortably on a multi-wave sound chamber while a sequence of quartz crystal singing bowls are played. The result of the hour sound bath results in heightened awareness, peace and relaxation.
Some other fun places to visit are the Palm Springs Air Museum, The Palm Springs Historical Society and the Coachella Valley Museum & Cultural Center. The Palm Springs Art Museum is also worth seeing as it showcases some contemporary and Western art, basketry made by the indigenous Cahuilla Indians as well as a contemporary Glass Center. They also have regularly changing art exhibitions. It is also the ONLY art museum located between Los Angeles and Phoenix so you will definitely come across some unique items that won’t be found anywhere else.
If you are interested in Architecture, the Palm Springs Modern Architecture Tour is a must! Palm Springs is what many people call a “living museum” where you will find some of the most incredible architectural developments designed by 20th century architects. You will see homes of some of the most infamous Hollywood Stars and visit meticulously preserved historic neighborhoods that define glamor and sophistication.
The House of Tomorrow or Honeymoon House of Elvis Presley was at the top of my list! Within this neighborhood, each house proved to be more architecturally amazing than the next. Being the huge Elvis fan that I am, I could not pass up an opportunity to tour one of his homes (even if he only leased the house for a year)! Needless to say, it was an important year because this was the house where Elvis was living in when he got married and conceived his only daughter! Kind of a big deal!
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is the largest rotating aerial tramway in the world! It is supposed to be one of the coolest things to do while in Palm Spring and everybody raves about it. The team car travels over 2.5 miles along the stunning cliffs of Chino Canyon. The view from the top is supposed to be spectacular and you can enjoy lunch at one of two restaurants located at the Mountain Station. There are also two documentary theaters and 50-miles of hiking trails. Unfortunately, we were not able to go on this tour because it was FREEZING and snowing at the top of the mountain with record high winds. I’ll save the Aerial Tramway for my next trip!
Vintage Shopping is a must in Palm Springs! Most of the clothing is scooped up right from local estate sales. I can just image the jewelry and clothing being worn by these fabulous woman poolside straight out of the 60’s! Love it! The best place to find fabulous vintage clothing and accessories is The Frippery and Iconic Atomic! They are both located on North Palm Canyon Drive where you can also find great little places to eat and chic coffee shops.
All in all, Palm Springs has a little bit of everything for everyone! Whether you are in need of a wellness retreat, some adventurous hiking or just some delicious food and shopping, Palm Springs is the place to visit. It is a magical city in the middle of the desert, rich in history that is bound to bring out the “retro” side of you.