Curtis and I spend at least one week in Palm Springs every year, sometimes if we are lucky more than that. It is one of our favourite places to visit, the vibe is laid back, more and more great restaurants are opening and fantastic shopping! There is quite a lot to do and see around Palm Springs and great day trips too, but I will max out your 72 hours in Palm Springs. Lots of history is in Palm Springs with the Rat Pack to film making, and great architecture. It’s a dreamy combo of mid-century meets Moroccan meets Spanish influence. Palm trees and bougainvilleas line the streets while old cars (and people) drive up and down quiet neighborhood roads. For me Palm Springs is about sitting at the pool, sipping Pina Coladas and reading a great book between eating delicious food and drinking at cool spots. Check out my other guides on Where to Stay, Where to Eat, Where to Shop and a day trip to La Jolla.
Here is my suggested guide on spending 72 hours in Palm Springs.
72 Hours in Palm Springs
1. Find a pool and a cocktail (pina coladas!). Spend most (70%) of your time there.
2. Explore the architecture and culture of the desert.
3. Eat at Cheeky’s, El Jefe, Norma’s at the Parker, Sherman’s Deli & Chi Chi’s.
4. Wander in Joshua Tree National Park or visit Salvation Mountain.
Check into The Parker Palm Springs, The Saguaro or the Ace Hotel. All three are hip, beautiful places to stay. Each offer restaurants and bars on site and a cool vibe. Hop on the new, free Buzz shuttle (which arrives every 15 minutes) to downtown Palm Springs, and grab lunch at local favorite Cheeky’s or newcomer Wilma & Frieda’s. Cheeky’s has a bacon flight, yes that is right a flight of bacon! The bacon flight and the juicy local grass-fed burger with pesto fries won’t disappoint. After you are full, head to the nearby Palm Springs Art Museum. The spanking new Architecture and Design Center, a renovation of a 1961 building by Palm Springs starchitect E. Stewart Williams, is just a few blocks away. You’ll want to see the city from 8,516 feet up, on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, before dusk. Ride down at sunset to catch the San Jacinto Mountains and the Coachella Valley bathed in a dreamy pink light. For dinner, hightail it to Birba, a sexy bar vibe with delicious gourmet pizza and salad. Post-meal it’s all about drinks by the pool: either at your hotel or at the Hacienda Beach Club, in-the-know Coachella kids gather around a turquoise pool for orange liqueur margaritas and berry mojitos until the late hours.
Go light on the hotel breakfast. King’s Highway Diner, Norma’s at the Parker or El Jefe all serve up a mean breakfast. Spend the rest of the morning touring the city’s architectural masterpieces; we recommend the three-hour excursion with Palm Springs Modern Tours, or you can drive yourself with help from a map from the Palm Springs Visitors Center. Two must-see landmarks: Liberace’s mansion and Elvis’s Honeymoon Hideaway.
Grab lunch on the patio at Sherman’s Deli, an amazing Jewish deli in the heart of Palm Springs. Then spend your afternoon shopping for iconic Midcentury artifacts. Modern Way stocks original Florence Knoll sofas and rosewood Eames lounge chairs; at A La Mod you’ll find Nautilus swivel chairs by Vladimir Kagan, or maybe a leather and brass ottoman by Karl Springer. Don’t have the budget for $5,000 side tables? Duck into Raymond Lawrence for fun, colorful tchotchkes that could fit in a carry on: acrylic candelabras, Coachella Valley–made beauty products, and mod felted wool throw pillow covers. Once you’ve spent too much, head back to the hotel for a poolside nap. Start at the aptly named Bar for upscale small plates like the Tuscan kale salad or the asiago, baby clam and bacon pizza; there’s also a hefty whiskey list. Then it’s on to the Ace Hotel’s hipster Amigo Room. Next hit Palm Spring’s new watering hole, the dimly lit Bootlegger Tiki, for a flaming Gooney Goo Goo served under glowing blowfish lamps.
Stop for a hearty Sunday brunch at Workshop Kitchen + Bar, where chef Michael Beckman, churns out classic American fare: blue crab eggs benedict, Maine lobster breakfast burritos. You may not want to see Bootlegger Tiki again so soon after last night, but the adjacent Ernest Coffee is a must for a caffeine jolt. Once you’ve fueled up, head 33 miles northeast to Joshua Tree National Park. There you’ll find nearly 800,000 acres of otherworldly desert landscape where roadrunners and bighorn sheep roam. Check out the Cholla Cactus Garden and hike the three-mile trail to 3,371-foot Mastodon Peak to glimpse the Salton Sea. The nearby Natural Sisters Café serves delicious smoothies and fresh organic salads. From there it’s a 20-minute drive north to Integratron, a tricked-out domed energy machine built for “rejeuvenation” in the late ’50s (by appointment only). Sign up for the 60-minute Sound Bath, a sonic healing session that will leave you deeply relaxed. End the day with a plate of mesquite barbecue and live music at Pappy & Harriets, in the historic movie set village of Pioneer Town.
Other notable mentions in Palm Springs are the Salton Sea, Salvation Mountain, The Living Desert Zoo and Sunnylands Centre and The Palm Springs Air Museum.