Palm Springs: no longer just for golfers, Hollywood fat cats and the recently retired.
From Coachella to Stagecoach to Modernism Week, Palm Springs is back to its golden-era best, baby.
Best way to get there? JetBlue. On January 14th, New York’s Hometown Airline™ (and preferred carrier of your NY-based correspondent) will begin non-stop service to Palm Springs.
To celebrate, we put together a massive primer to help you plan your next trip. From architecture tours to world-class spas to a renovated boomtown hotel where some of America’s best Westerns were shot, don’t head west without it.
For the Culture Hound
In the ‘40s and ‘50s, actors had contracts that stipulated they must stay close to L.A. So they packed up their architects and went east to the desert oasis of Palm Springs.
Stay: The Avalon Hotel is a collection of bungalows that have been in service since the days of Marilyn Monroe. There are three pools, each with a secluded, quiet ambience. And the spa might be small, but it’s full service.
Eat: The on-site restaurant, Chi Chi, is gourmet poolside dining set to a Latin-American beat. Shrimp-stuffed chilis. Fermented yerba mate salads. Homemade popsicles. On Sundays, they do an asado (Argentinian-style BBQ) with live music. It’s a solid send-off.
Eat: Eight4Night is the area’s newest restaurant and the cider-brined duck breast is on everyone’s lips. You’ll also want to try the Brussels sprout mushroom toast. The onyx white bar and exposed ceiling add to its spacious feel.
Do: Palm Springs is an art exhibit in and of itself. The Palm Springs Museum of Art, home to a collection funded by the Annenberg Foundation in L.A., is a good starting point for understanding the city’s rich architectural history.
Do: Lloyd Wright. Jones. Lautner. All of the famous modernist architects designed homes in Palm Springs. Palm Springs Modernism directs you to the greatest hits as well as those you’d otherwise miss.
Do: The Modernism Week is the motherload of clean-lined, smooth-jazz-soundtracked ‘50s and ‘60s style. Architecture. Music. Cars. Events happen all over town and include tours of Sinatra’s Twin Palms Estates, discussions on Eames and Herman Miller, and cocktail parties.
For the Explorer
We’re sending you to Pioneertown, where you’ll be kicking it in a former backdrop for Hollywood Westerns like the Cisco Kid. It’s a total trip, with Saloon, Bank and Bathhouse still intact.
Stay: Pioneertown Motel was once a lodging for showbiz types shooting westerns. Now the rustic rooms have comfy beds blanketed in Native American-themed patterns, and though WiFi is available, you’ll want to unplug and look upwards at the stars come night.
Eat: Crazy Coyote Tacos is a hidden gem in the desert, one that won’t pop up on cursory Yelp searches. You gotta know about it. Their pollo tacos, covered in queso, chili verde and shredded cilantro, make this a detour destination for those in-the-know.
Dance: Everyone from Willie Nelson to local acts perform at roadhouse Pappy + Harriet’s. Thick and juicy burgers and shots of whiskey backed by cold beers make this a haven for those Joshua Tree bound. Book in advance, because it always sells out, regardless of who’s playing.
Do: Hiking Joshua Tree National Park is like walking through a Dr. Seuss story. Oh! The things you’ll climb: The Park’s the hulking red boulders make it one of America’s greatest climbing destinations. Definitely hike Willow Hole, a seven-mile round-trip hike through the rock formations.
Do: George Van Tassel built the domed Integratron thinking it could help us time travel via sound waves. Not so. But it’s still a surreal, highly therapeutic experience that’ll make you one with the universe — if only for an hour or so.
For the Gourmet
Stars went to Palm Springs to relax. It’s hot. It’s beautiful. It’s totally okay to sit by the pool all day and get your bronze on ... except for that 110-minute stint you spend at the spa. Relax thusly, man.
Stay: L’ Horizon is a bungalow hotel that just opened near the Ace and is its archetypical opposite. Its quiet, elegant, modish rooms are outfitted with vintage furniture and sport patios and outdoor showers.
Eat: The hotel’s restaurant, SO•PA, is worth the trip in and of itself. Chef Giacomo Pettinari is a Michelin-starred toque who trained at El Bulli so expect delicious molecular gastronomy. The breakfast and lunch are pretty solid, but dinner is anything but, with dishes like squid ink potato pillows topped with lobster, crustacean reduction, cipolotto and tomato concasse.
Eat: The menu at Rooster and the Pig changes weekly but the banh mi burger is always on there. Tucked into a strip center near L’Horizon, the Vietnamese spot is inventive and serves a rotating list of impressive craft beers. Worth the wait.
Eat: Do brunch at Workshop. This industrial chic farm-to-table spot, along with Birba, has been plating contemporary fare in the Palm Springs for a minute. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stop in for some duck egg huevos rancheros.
Do: Nothing. You’re here to relax. Spend time by the pool; L’Horizon’s is good for that. Read that book. And get some work done on your body. The hotel’s spa is world-class, with all services offered and free yoga on the lawn to help you loosen up before the rubdown.
Nota bene: Need more recs? Head over to Visit Greater Palm Springs for more info.