Besides a couple weekends of chaos each year, Palm Springs is the ideal place in Southern California to relax, recharge, and have a little fun on a budget.
We spent the last two Sundays out there for special Coachella editions of A Sunday Kind of Love and racked up a solid wealth of experiences. Considering you probably deserve a vacation we decided to throw together a few recommendations for you — where to stay, where to eat and what to do.
Our go-to place to stay in the desert is Ace Hotel & Swim Club, an eccentric mid century hotel delivering a quintessential Palm Springs vibe. The rooms are charming and dog friendly, some with private garden patios and outdoor fireplaces. Two large pools accommodate both those looking to party and relax and you also have access to a spa, gym, cocktail bar, and a delicious '50s diner at your fingertips.
But if you always stay at Ace and want to try something a bit different, check out the Movie Colony Hotel (modernist townhouses with a sexy pool and jacuzzi open 24 hours) or the Sinatra House (for a particularly special weekend).
For a laid-back brunch spot where you never wait in line, get shaded outdoor seating, and are graced with large and tasty portions of authentic Mexican cuisine, El Mirasol Restaurant at Los Arboles Hotel is a must visit. The staff is warm and attentive, the margaritas are stiff, and the prices are more than reasonable. Come at the right time and you'll also enjoy great live entertainment — our brunch was highlighted by fantastic versions of "Besame Mucho" and "Girl From Ipanema."
One of Frank Sinatra's favorite hangouts, the classic, award-winning steakhouse Melvyn's is inconspicuously tucked into a beautiful two acre Spanish-style hotel in the heart of Palm Springs. The atmosphere is perfect for sipping on martinis, savoring a fine cut of rare filet, and enjoying an exquisite jazz trio. We were recently seated next to Jude Law. He was wearing a T-shirt but unless you're a movie star, bear in mind this is an old school, formal dining kind of spot, so slip on a dress or nice shirt, at least.
Considered the eighth wonder of the world by civil engineers, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is a remarkable and ambitious feat. Starting in the Sonoran Desert and ending up in an Alpine forest, the aerial tram car takes 12 minutes to get to the top and is one of three rotating trams in the world, spinning two complete cycles over each trip to give visitors a 360 degree view of the beautiful Coachella Valley.
At the peak, there is a classy bar and fine dining restaurant, as well as a plethora of beautiful hikes, primitive camp sites, and even burro rides! Temperatures are generally 20 degrees colder than the valley floor (snow is present all winter), so if you're looking for a place to escape the desert heat, we highly recommend a ride to the top.
We stop by Hadley Fruit Orchards every time we head to Palm Springs (and every time we leave). They have an incredible selection of nuts, dried fruit, chocolate, sweets, hot sauces, wines, ostrich eggs and more — the real reason everyone goes here is the date shakes though. Tasty and refreshing, they are one-of-a-kind treats that keep us coming back. Veterans should try the date and banana shake, which has a bit of creamier consistency and has slowly become our preference.
On your way in to town, throw down $20 on black jack at Morango Casino and see if you can turn it in to $100. Best case scenario you're drinking margaritas for free all weekend. If you missed it on your way out, no sweat. Gambling lives in Palm Springs too. There are a number of options but we favor the Spa Resort Casino, where drinks are cheap and the slots are loose (kidding we don't play slots).