A Guide to Adventure, Food, Shopping and Art in Palm Springs

Where to stay, what to do and where to eat in this California city.
 

Photo by Buddy Mays/Alamy

Palm Springs has long been known as a glamorous celebrity hangout, and it is renowned for its mid-century architecture, but the city also surprises with its unique mountain and desert vistas, growing local food scene and thriving artist community. In this diverse city, there’s truly something for everyone.

Outdoor Adventurer

Indian Canyons, photo by Robert Harding/Alamy

Where to stay: Located just outside of downtown, in the shadow of Mount San Jacinto, the Desert Riviera hotel is an urban retreat. The lush grounds of this 11-room resort feature palm trees and indigenous flowers, as well as an outdoor pool, communal barbecues and fire pits. Plus, the hotel offers complimentary cruiser bikes.

What to do: The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway takes riders from the edge of the city deep into Mount San Jacinto State Park for incredible views, hiking trails and cooler temperatures. A short walk from the tramway station is the Desert View Trail, a two-kilometre loop that leads to five scenic lookouts over the valley below.

Where to eat: Grab a sandwich to go—try the corned beef, pastrami and Swiss—from Sherman’s Deli & Bakery and then head south for a picnic at the Indian Canyons. The area contains a wealth of hiking trails, including the Andreas Canyon trail, which follows a stream that weaves through groves of California fan palms.

Foodie

Cheeky’s, photo by Audrey Ma

Where to stay: Located in the Uptown Design District, Alcazar Palm Springs is surrounded by trendy shops and restaurants. Local chef Tara Lazar owns this 34-room boutique hotel, which is on the same property as two of her restaurants: Birba, serving classic Italian fare, and Cheeky’s, a popular brunch spot.

What to do: Wander through the Palm Springs VillageFest on Palm Canyon Drive (held every Thursday night, year-round) to sample a variety of food and drink from local vendors—don’t miss the handmade tamales from The Tamale Guy. There’s also a farmers’ market, art vendors and various street performers.

Where to eat: Feast on cuisine from around the world at The Tropicale, where influences range from Thai to Italian, then head up the road to Bootlegger Tiki. Watch the “bar artists” create funky tiki cocktails like the Rum Ka Kai, made with kaffir lime leaf, agricole, London dry gin, lime, grapefruit, lemongrass and green tea.

Shopper

The Hyatt Palm Springs

Where to stay: Conveniently situated on Palm Canyon Drive (the heart of the city and a shopper’s paradise thanks to its plethora of shops), The Hyatt Palm Springs is a luxury hotel featuring all-suite guest rooms. The property also boasts two restaurants, easy access to walking trails and an outdoor heated pool with private cabanas.

What to do: The Uptown Design District is a celebration of the mid-century modern architecture and design Palm Springs is famous for. Hunt for antique treasures, designer dresses, vintage decor and contemporary art at the area’s many shops and visit Destination PSP for unique souvenirs inspired by mid-century modern design.

Where to eat: After you’ve worked up an appetite shopping in the Uptown Design District, head to Dish Creative Cuisine. If you’re craving light bites, check out the tapas menu in the bar area, or, for a full meal, take a seat in the intimate dining room for meaty mains like lamp chops, rib-eye steak and beef tenderloin.

Art Lover

Palm Springs Art Museum, phoot by Nik Wheeler/Alamy

Where to stay: To be close to downtown’s art galleries, book into Holiday House. The hotel’s 28 rooms feature oversized showers and Mark D. Sikes custom textiles. You’ll also find an impressive collection of artwork throughout the property, including pieces by Roy Lichtenstein and Banksy-inspired street artist, Mr. Brainwash.   

What to do: Head about 10 minutes out of downtown to the Backstreet Art District, a collective of galleries and working studios where you can see artists at work and purchase a unique piece.
After, visit the Palm Springs Art Museum to view everything from modern photography to ancient Mesoamerican art.

Where to eat: With high ceilings, crystal chandeliers and multi-coloured ceiling sails, the decor at Lulu California Bistro impresses as much as the food. The menu is diverse, but a local favourite is the Meatloaf A La Arturo—red-glazed Angus beef meatloaf topped with a tangy tomato sauce or savoury mushroom sauce.

Getting there: WestJet flies to Palm Springs 43 times a week from Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Toronto.

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