Photo: Matt Gush/Shutterstock

Where to Play, Eat, and Stay in Palm Springs

Palm Springs Insider Guides
by Robin Thomas Jan 11, 2024

Picture this: It’s the middle of December, and you’re laying poolside in 80-degree weather, with sunglasses and a refreshing frozen drink. This is the kind of dreamy lifestyle that those local to Palm Springs get to experience year-round.

Roughly 100 miles east of Los Angeles, the Greater Palm Springs region consists of nine cities: Palm Springs, Indio, Coachella, Desert Hot Springs, Palm Desert, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Indian Wells, and La Quinta. Though many people associate the area with the widely known Coachella Music Festival, Palm Springs has long been a favorite destination for bachelorette parties, golf enthusiasts, and celebrities needing a relaxing escape.

Whether you’re looking to enjoy modern architecture, marvel at beautiful desert landscapes, or just soak up the sun and relax, these are the best things to do in Palm Springs.

Things to do in Palm Springs

Take a desert Jeep tour

Hop in an open-air jeep and take a ride through the San Andreas Fault Zone with Red Jeep Tours by Desert Adventures. The arid landscape is a serene backdrop for a lesson on the fault zone, the history of the California desert, and the region’s Indiginous inhabitants. The tour guides are very knowledgeable about the land and answered all of our questions related to the area. If you want to get a closer look at things, book a tour that includes hiking through the desert for better views.

Red Jeep Tours: 74794 Lennon Pl ste b, Palm Desert, CA 92260

Get your surf on

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Photo: Visit Palm Springs

Surfing and the desert are not typically things that spring to mind in concert, but the Palm Springs Surf Club just changed that. The highly anticipated surf club opened its doors on January 1 and features a state-of-the-art wave pool that mimics actual ocean waves. The wave pool is programmed to curate the perfect wave for all skill levels, whether you’re a beginner looking to catch a calm wave or an expert that enjoys six-foot waves. If you’re like me and can’t surf at all, the club also has a lazy river, regular pools, water slides, and cabanas to hang out and enjoy. There’s also two on-site restaurants, multiple bars, and a surf shop.

Palm Springs Surf Club: 1500 S Gene Autry Trail, Palm Springs, CA 92264

Visit the Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza

In the heart of the city, this new cultural plaza is a celebration of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians who call Palm Springs home, anchored by the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum that shares the history and story of the tribe. Adjacent to the museum is The Spa at Séc-he, which occupies land above ancient hot mineral baths that are sacred to the Agua Caliente tribe and still bubble below Palm Springs. The spa features treatment rooms, outdoor pools and cabanas, mineral baths, and a salon.

Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza: Corner of N. Indian Canyon Drive and E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs, CA 92262

Take an upcycle paint class

Tap into your creative side by taking a paint splatter class at Superbloom Studios. You can bring an item from home to upcycle or choose an item from the studio. Each letter in the name Superbloom is tied to a color and a quality that represents the brand’s ethos – self-loving purple, unique orange, passionate red, equality pink, reflecting yellow, bold aqua, loyal blue, offline green, optimistic blush, and mysterious fog. I chose to get my creative juices flowing by painting a passport holder and luggage tag, and I appreciated that the owners modeled different painting techniques to help visitors along.

Superbloom: 292 W San Rafael Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262

Stroll through downtown Palm Springs

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Photo: Wild As Light/Shutterstock

Spending some time downtown is one of the essential things to do in Palm Springs. Centered around Palm Canyon Drive, the quaint downtown area features palm tree-lined streets, lots of restaurants, shops, and breathtaking views of the mountains. I found the strip to be easily walkable, which allowed for a better view of the many restaurants that donned open doors and ample outdoor seating. As you stroll the strip, be on the lookout for the Walk of Stars, similar to the Walk of Fame in Hollowood but featuring notable celebrities and local personalities with ties to Palm Springs.

On Thursday evenings, pop by for VillageFest, a street fair filled with vendors selling tasty treats, homemade crafts, and live entertainment. If you’re into art and history, be sure to stop by the Palm Springs Art Museum, or hop on an architecture tour to explore the city’s popular midcentury homes and buildings. And, of course, snap a photo near (or under) the famous Marilyn Monroe statue before you go.

Downtown Palm Springs: Palm Canyon Drive

Where to eat and drink in Palm Springs

Farm

A local favorite for breakfast and lunch, this Southern France-style restaurant features beautiful, garden-esque outdoor seating and a menu full of traditional French dishes using the freshest of ingredients. Start with the baked brie, then treat yourself to one of the restaurant’s sweet or savory crepes. The crab cake benedict is another standout.

Farm: 6 La Plaza, Palm Springs, CA 92262

Minerva’s

Nestled in the newly opened Life House hotel, Minerva’s is a poolside bar and restaurant named after desert activist Minerva Hamilton Hoyt. It serves plant-forward dishes that are as tasty as they are healthy. While all of the dishes left me salivating for more, the beet poke was the absolute star of the show with its vibrant colors, flavors, and textures.

Minerva’s: 1700 S Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92264

Canopy Wine Lounge

This one is for the wine lovers. Located right in the heart of Palm Springs, this elegant lounge features a variety of wines from all over the world. Take a seat on the outdoor patio where you can enjoy views of the San Jacinto Mountains while enjoying your wine and light bites.

Canopy Wine Lounge: 175 N Palm Canyon Dr Suite 150, Palm Springs, CA 92262

Wilma and Frieda

With locations in both Palm Springs and Palm Desert, Wilma and Frieda prides themselves on serving “comfort food with a twist”. Named after two grandmothers, you can expect a family friendly atmosphere with deliciousbreakfast and brunch fare. Whether you go for the blackberry custard french toast or the signature meatloaf and eggs, you can’t go wrong

Wilma and Frieda: 155 S Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262

Where to stay in Palm Springs

Tommy Bahama Miramonte Resort & Spa

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Photo: Visit Palm Springs

The Tommy Bahama team did a wonderful job of bringing the island vibes of the Tommy Bahama brand to the desert of Indian Wells. The resort’s 215 guest rooms and villas transport you to the tropics with the decor and overall aesthetic, and around the resort you can find a plethora of citrus trees that you are welcome to pluck for fresh lemons and oranges. As I walked around the property, the view of the mountains was the only confirmation that I was indeed still in Palm Springs, not the Caribbean. Guests can also take advantage of a spa, bocce ball courts, multiple pools, and on-site dining.

Tommy Bahama Miramonte Resort & Spa: 111 N Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262

Life House, Palm Springs

Life House opened in November 2023 in the space that was previously occupied by the Royal Sun inn. Think Old Hollywood with some modern flair. Aside from the pool house and resturant Mirnerva’s right out back, this hotel also has a chic indoor cocktail lounge that’s perfect for a nightcap before retiring to your room.

Life House, Palm Springs: 1700 S Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92264

The Thompson

Slated to open later this spring, the highly anticipated 168-room Thompson hotel is bringing more luxury to the desert. Paired with balconies with gorgeous views of the mountains, guests can also expect to see two pools, a Mediterranean restaurant, meeting spaces, and a wine-tasting room featuring wines from Napa Valley. The hotel will also have ground level retail spaces, a spa, and a gym. With reservations open for May 2024, this is sure to be a Palm Springs hot spot in no time.

The Thompson: 414 N Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262

How to get to Palm Springs

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Photo: Visit Palm Springs

The Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) is the easiest place to arrive in Palm Springs. More airlines are offering nonstop flights into Palm Springs, including Alaska Airline’s newly launched direct flight between New York City’s JFK airport and PSP.

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