101 GuidescityTravel

palm springs guide

by Grace Bonney

today’s city guide is devoted to sunny palm springs, california- which seems lightyears away from grey brooklyn today. jaime curtis of prudent baby created this fantastic guide to eating, shopping, site-seeing and staying in this fun desert city. jaime grew up playing tennis and golf with her mother at their palm springs condo and now works in palm springs for both her day job and upcoming book. she created a wonderful list of things to do and places to see in town so i hope you’ll enjoy her guide as much as i did.

CLICK HERE for the full city guide after the jump!

Palm Springs Design Guide

Palm Springs combines modern minimalism and old Hollywood glamor to create a perfect dusty, laid-back elegance. Past the industrial beauty of the turbine wind farms, and pressed up against the stark face of the San Jacinto Mountains, Palm Springs is the definition of a desert oasis, a modern design dream nestled in a dry, parched landscape. Modernist gems by architects like Richard Neutra and Albert Fray compliment the bungalows once owned by stars like Marilyn Monroe and Cary Grant in the Movie Colony neighborhood. Everywhere high style meets relaxed luxury; the city oozes modern inspiration.

Positioned at the entrance to the Coachella Valley, just a two-hour drive from both Los Angeles and San Diego, with desert temperatures hovering around 90 degrees well into the winter, Palm Springs is the perfect confluence of convenience and climate – an irresistible weekend retreat. The local population numbers about 40,000, composed of what’s affectionately known as the “Gay 90’s” (they’re either gay or they’re 90); lovers of art and culture as evidenced by the lively art and theater programs always available.


Ace Hotel – All kilim, ikat and army green with industrial fixings reworked to create an almost run-down, modern, laid-back desert charm. And adult snow-cones by the pool!

Parker – Jonathan Adler’s playful and imaginative luxury outpost with the best spa in the city, known as Palm Springs Yacht Club.

The Viceroy – Kelly Wearstler’s intimate paradise recalls 30’s films with it’s yellow and black décor creating a distinctive drama.

The Riviera – The recently renovated Riviera is a sexy revival of the classic Palm Springs hotel where big acts would test their material before heading to Vegas.

Colony Palms – This Spanish Colonial style hotel in the heart of the Movie Colony neighborhood was once owned by a mobster and now attracts young Hollywood with it’s unique style and delicious Purple Palms restaurant.

Movie Colony – Palm Springs on a budget can still bathe you in modern luxury.

Orbit In – This inn is all about atomic midcentury style

La Quinta Resort is an old-school luxury style resort with desert sports golf and tennis and a gorgeous setting under the mountains


Trina Turk and Trina Turk Residential are housed in an Albert Frey designed building with interiors by Kelly Wearstler; a must for upbeat Palm Springs style clothing and home accessories.

Design Within Reach Annex houses big markdowns on barely-scratched design classics, not to be matched anywhere else .

Modern Way for vintage beauties and modern classics

The Palm Springs outlet of famed Los Angeles boutique Room Service offers custom made furniture with dramatic sizing and bold shapes.

Retrospect offers restored midcentury beauties as well as lighting

Asylum is a local favorite with reasonable pricing on “accessible” modern furniture and unique décor; always a great place to stop for a last-minute gift – and they have an online store

A La Mod for well-edited midcentury modern

Studio 111 for classic, high-end 20th Century art and design, truly rare finds

M Modern hosts contemporary gallery shows while offering midcentury art and objects

Dazzles has midcentury furniture and a collection of amazing vintage Bakelite jewelry

Hedge is located a few miles into the valley in Cathedral City has an eclectic selection of midcentury modern pieces.

And Vintage Oasis is another favorite for midcenturty décor and accessories

House 849 has a more contemporary mix of lighting, accessories and tables

The Estate Sale – Palm Springs best kept secret (I can’t believe I am sharing it) is a consignment store filled with treasures from the valley’s residents; rare finds at unbelievable prices

Revivals is the resale shop of the Desert Aids project and is filled with trinkets and treasures

Angelview Thrift Marts have outlets all over the dessert stocked with great finds and profits benefit the Angelview Crippled Children’s Foundation

And if you’re in town on a Thursday night head downtown for Villagefest, with live entertainment and vendors selling vintage finds and handcrafted items

Outlets – On your way in or out stop in Cabazon at the Desert Hills Premium Outlets & Cabazon Outlets to hit up Barney’s, Prada, Gucci, and Saks or Nike, Crate & Barrel, La Crueset and Banana Republic.


Take a self-guided driving tour of Palm Springs architecture with this guide from the Palm Springs Modern Committee.

Take the Palm Springs Arial Tramway for a sky-high view of the valley.

Hike the Pacific Crest Trail in San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness.

Rent a Scooter and explore.

Visit the Palm Springs art museum.

Gamble a few dollars away at the Spa Resort and Casino right by downtown.

Sunday night is the best drag show in the desert at local favorite Toucan’s Tiki Lounge.


Canyon Flours Bakery for organic, gluten and dairy-free treats

The Tropicale is a must for the asian-inspired fish and a fiery patio.

Las Casuelas for a loud, authentic Mexican feast in a hacienda stretching a city block.

Or El Mirasol for a fine-dining experience of regional Mexican delicacies

Mr. Parker’s at the Parker; if you can’t stay there, at least eat there. No windows and Jonathan Adler’s signature style infuse everything from the flashlights used to see the menu to the food itself.

Citron at the Viceroy; similarly a must do if you aren’t staying at the Viceroy, just to dabble in the dramatic décor.

Copley’s Restaurant is located in what was once Cary Grant’s estate; waiters in tuxedos keep the charm alive.

Sherman’s Deli for an authentic Kosher deli experience.

King’s Highway at the Ace is a spare yet luxurious re-imagining of the roadside diner.

Matchbox Palm Springs has quickly become known for its “perfect pizza”.

Koffi has north and south Palm Canyon locations for the best coffee in the desert.

Spencer’s delivers a four star asian-influenced American meal right under the mountain

Hadley’s Date Gardens to taste the delicious fruit of local desert palms.

Trio features organic, local meat and produce for designer meals at accessible prices, in a clean, modern atmosphere.

John’s Restaurant is a local favorite diner for the basic food consistently made delicious.

Hamburger Mary’s is THE place to grab a burger.

Melvyn’s Piano Bar is a great little lounge.

Manhattan in the Desert is a little slice of New York with giant sandwiches and giant waits, but worth it.

Wang’s is the spot for Chinese food in Palm Springs.

Native Foods is a Southern California quick-service restaurant with quality tastes for vegans.

Cheeky’s for lunch and a “New Age” lime wine cocktail on ice is the perfect stop before heading back home. Yum.

Suggested For You


  • Palm Springs is such a great destination. Wanted to add the Air Museum, a drive by the mid-cent homes at El Rancho Vista Estates, and the Children’s Discovery Museum. All very doable with kids.

  • I was hoping to see more unique things to do in PS… not just the typical tourist things! Anyone have any others to add?

  • Palm Springs is tons of fun. My wife and I have visited there a few times. Definitely do a self-guided architecture tour if you like mid-century modern stuff…your head will explode it’s so amazing. It’s like “The Incredibles.” You can get the architecture map at the visitors center by the Arial Tram.

    Speaking of the Tram, amazing. Definitely do that and take hiking clothes with you. Lots of trails and walking to do up top and it’s absolutely gorgeous (and about 30 degrees cooler than the valley). Also, make your way to Joshua Tree National Park…perhaps the most serenely beautiful place I’ve ever been.

    Photos from my last trip…

    Horizon Moetel:

    Modern Homes:

    More Modern Homes:

    Mt. San Juacinto Top of Tram):

  • I’ve been visiting there since a little girl! We love to eat Mexican food at El Gallito (Cathedral City- Pam Desert) but well worth the drive, it’s another local secret and really one of the best authentic Mexican restaurants in town, go early it will be packed!

    There’s also the Desert Museum that is really great, and I can’t believe there’s no mention of the swap meet!

    The Swap Meet (at the College of the Desert) has great food vendors from locals, and is becoming more of an art market place as the handmade movement grows. You can get great fruit and food fresh – very much a farmer’s market. It runs through the winter (maybe year round) every weekend and is a not miss, quite the circus!

  • Thank you for posting this guide! For the past 13 years my family has traveled to Palm Springs during the holidays. We always feel like we know everything about the darling desert city, but your list has given us a few new things to try!

  • Also…

    For hiking try these two places, they are two beautiful natural landscapes in Palm Springs:

    For desert: Joshua Tree National Park

    For oasis: Indian Canyons

  • A great list, but there are a couple of mistakes that I noticed: the Palm Springs Room Service store has closed, sadly. Also, it’s Las Casuelas, not Las Consuelas. I very much cosign the Parker. It’s a lot of fun!

  • Perfect timing! We’re going to Palm Springs for a week, starting this Sunday. I was planning to just veg for the week, but I can see I may have to leave poolside and explore all of these wonderful places! Thanks!

  • Let’s not forget that when you are in Palm Springs you can take a beautiful scenic drive up the San Jacinto Mountains about 45 minutes to Idyllwild and go horse back riding or take in a craft class of some sort in the little village.. Beautiful area. Summer is great for camping.

  • I grew up in the desert, La Quinta to be specific. I am thrilled to see my home turf on design sponge. I was surprised not to see the McCallum theater on the list as well as the village pub which has great live music.. And I am sure every local has there fave. Mexican cuisine. I personally love El Ranchito in Old town La Quinta it’s a couple of blocks away from La Quinta Hotel and resort a must if you are in the area. And thank you for adding angelview on the list. My roommate and I being in our early 20’s live in a mid century house and love it. All our big pieces were purchased at angel view and fixed up. We could not be happier, especially knowing proceeds go to a good cause.

  • oooh, loving the guide Jaime. i adore palm springs and you’ve listed just about all of my favorite spots. makes me want to hop in the car and head east!

  • OH MAN!!! THIS IS TWO weeks late!!! i just got back from there for a girls weekend!!! :( You are my go to guide now whenever i GO ANYWHERE!! Next week is San Antonio and I have used your Austin Guide a little! It will be printed out and in our carry ons though, before we leave!! THANK YOU!! I guess I just have to go back to Palm Springs! WE did the Viceroy though, and Las Consuelas, so good!!!

  • i was born and raised in palm springs, nice to see that people finally are starting to appreciate it.

    however, I had to comment about the typo of one of my favorite mexican restaurants — it is spelled Las Casuelas. and also, I’m amazed that Tyler’s Burgers didn’t make the list. best burgers in town.

  • You forgot Johanas, a great Austrian restaurant. The last time I went to Palm Springs I went to a real estate open house. Fun!!! It is also fun to visit some of the little towns around Palm Springs. There are some good midcentury antiques farther afield.

  • This is so funny..I just got back from Palm Springs a couple days ago. It’s a great place. I did the Aerial Tramway and it’s really breathtaking…would definately recommend.

    I would also suggest that people also go to nearby Palm Desert and visit the El Paseo area. TONS of art galleries and great art. Prepare to pack a lunch and see tons of great art.

  • I will second the Living Desert Museum. Also another worthy activity not mentioned… catching some rays by the pool!

  • Don’t forget desert star bungalows for a vintage architectural small hotel. And of course Modernism Week in February. Robert ber architectural tours on defeats. Jake’s for delicious lunches. Buddy greco’s for a real music experience. And so much more!!!

  • Johannes is a really, really great restaurant. I’ll second Tyler’s (make sure you bring cash!), and I’ll add Pomme Frite, a French-Belgian joint on Palm Canyon and Cafe Scandia in a pinch (don’t bother with the salad). I also love Fisherman’s Market/Shanghai Red’s on Indian Canyon for a midweek meal. I could go on…There’s a lot of great restaurants out here!

  • We love the Del Marcos Hotel. Affordable and in a good location. My boyfriend is still talking about the pool a year later. A great place for a “get away.”

  • Thank you for your post. Great information. At Fox Rent A Car Blog we just wrote a similar post on Palm Springs. We like to give travel, lodging and dining advice about different cities. Your post is a great mix of such information.
    thanks for sharing.

  • If you are going to Palm Springs be sure to eat at Davey’s. Very retro without trying to be with good food and excellent service. Must have a cocktail there. Give the Rack of Lamb a try. Give La Tabalita a try in Cathedral City on Hwy 111. The best Mexican food we have found in the desert and we have been going for many years. You need to check out the Ace Hotel. They have done an amazing job. If you like to hike get yourself over to the Indian Canyons. Wide range of hiking possiblites and a beautiful oasis setting. You just can’t go wrong in Palm Springs.

  • thank you so much for doing these city guides. every time i go somewhere new, i always check the d*s city guide for a trusted place to see/do/eat. they are so handy.

  • I’m definitely enjoying the information. All Burberry Outlet is created with only the very best materials and top-quality engineering and design. Pandora charms style is the look that many fashionable folks are targeting.

  • just wanted to let everyone know that design within reach annex is now closed. we do have a few lovely shops not mentioned above-caldi caldi and elizabeth & prince in old town la quinta and a second shop on el paseo just opened!

  • I am so grateful for these guides. We are going to Palm Springs in February, and the first place I come for recommendations is the DesignSponge City guides!!!

  • For an Eat section update, I was very disappointed in Matchbox. The service was very poor and the food was just average. It was inexpensive and patio seating was abundant.

  • Great list of things to do in the area! It is always great to see people enjoy Palm Springs as much as we do.