The allure of Palm Springs is hard to resist. Just ask Canadian entrepreneur Jaime Kowal, who never left after a winter vacation there in 2012. In the last two years, she’s opened three businesses in the city: The Amado, a hip vacation rental; Ernest Coffee, an uptown coffee shop; and Bootlegger Tiki, a tropical-themed watering hole. These are some of her favourite spots.
Where to Shop
“Trina Turk’s clothing boutique is so much fun. She has the perfect Palm Springs aesthetic,” says Kowal. For home decor, Kowal has a special place in her heart for Pelago. Their selection “is a subtle ode to mid-century modern,” Kowal says, “but it’s contemporary at the same time.”
Where to Dine
“The flavours just keep getting better and better” at Workshop Kitchen + Bar, Kowal says. “They did a beautiful job with their renovation. It honoured the history of the space while adding a new layer of elegance.” The roasted chicken is a must-try. “The gluten-free pizza at Birba is also delicious,” Kowal adds.
Where to Have a Drink
Not only does Bar have “great craft cocktails,” but “they also bring in amazing DJs and entertainment,” Kowal says. “Tuesday night karaoke at the Ace Hotel & Swim Club is another must, as are dirty martinis at Melvyn’s.”
“I love to have a boozy brunch before a weekend pool party,” Kowal says. “Places like the Tropicale have bottomless mimosas,” while the Sparrows Lodge has a “great poolside bar.” Her favourite, though, is the Purple Palm Restaurant & Bar at the Colony Palms Hotel. “When my girlfriends come to town, we always go for champagne and oysters by the pool at Colony Palms,” Kowal says.
Must-see Hidden Gem
Desert Hot Springs. This spa-town known for its natural hot and cold mineral water aquifers is about 20 minutes from the city and is home to Kowal’s favourite resort, The Spring Resort & Day Spa. “It’s a mini escape,” Kowal says. “Go as early as you want, book a massage and ‘take the waters.’”
Highlight of the City
Palm Springs’ festivals make it feel as if “there’s always something happening,” Kowal says. Modernism Week and the Palm Springs Photo Festival are her favourites, but the real highlight, Kowal says, is that “when something happens here, it always feels so easy to participate.”
Getting There: WestJet flies to Palm Springs 47 times a week from five Canadian cities.
Unusual Desert Attractions Around Palm Springs
Greater Palm Springs, and the surrounding area, is a luxurious retreat for sun-seekers, but these oddball attractions offer a glimpse into the eccentricities of desert culture. Visit a creationist museum inside a dinosaur or a dome created from plans allegedly delivered by aliens.