Weekend in Palm Springs – Get away in the Coachella Desert
March 9, 2019
by Aishwarya Nag Choudhury
I’d never seen anything like this before.
Traveling the city of Palm Springs was a completely new experience for me. I’ve been to many places in the United States, but this was different! As the aircraft descended, I was mesmerized by the hills of sand, looking like intricate wrinkles on the texture of the earth disturbed by scattered wind turbines. None perfect, yet all majestic in its own golden right.
Right in the midst of the desert sat the oasis city of Palm Springs – too glam to give a damn! This was also my first time on the West Coast and it only added to my excitement. I spent four power-packed days exploring the city, and I can’t wait to get back!
Lined with sprawling golf courses, planned streets, artsy houses and a downtown area that gives you all the feels – Palm Springs has an unparalleled good vibe. And it’s breathtakingly beautiful! So, if you’re too overwhelmed by the hustle and bustle of the big west coast cities, this little spot serves as the perfect breather for a couple of days.
Getting to Palm Springs:
There are a bunch of ways to get to the city. I flew into the Palm Springs airport, conveniently located close to the downtown area, serving as a perfect gateway to the most happening places in town. It’s a five-minute drive to a bunch of hotels, eateries, and bars. With an open concept design, it’s one of the prettiest airports I’ve seen in America!
If for some reason a flight to Palm Springs airport is not your best bet, you can try flying into Ontario Airport in San Bernadino. It’s located about 75 miles out of the city and takes about an hour and a half to drive into the desert. But it offers a few cheaper flights and is the second closest airport.
The SunBus system is also convenient—each ride costs $1 and buses offer free Wi-Fi. Once there, it’s easy to explore the area.
Where to stay:
There are so many options: from cute guest houses to high-end hotels. Pick according to your budget really! There are plenty of boutique hotels to pick from! One of my favorites is the ACE Hotel. It’s a lovingly restored mid-century modern property with lots of character, and a spa where once, you could spend all day!
But if you’re looking to avoid a bit of that pocket pinch that comes with boutique hotels, Palm Springs has some really cute hidden Air Bnb‘s. Condo’s overlooking golf courses, cottages in the dessert or downtown cabins: this city has some of the cutest Air Bnbs I have ever seen!
Food and drinks guide:
Choosing where to eat can be tough in a city like Palm Springs that spoils you at every corner! You can explore your taste buds and go on a food journey or take a dig at your fave comfort foods, whichever you like. Either way, there’s plenty.
I found this unassuming little place by the street called the Revel Public house that I really enjoyed. It’s more casual, like a dive bar but the had a great atmosphere, really long happy hours, and open concept, great food, and the friendliest staff! Another such place I LOVED was the Village Pub and Bar. It’s also right next door!
Chef-owner Engin Onural blends traditional Japanese technique with modernly global flair, resulting in one of Palm Springs’s hottest—and most genre-bending—new dining spots. Sandfish Sushi and Whiskey is a must try for those who enjoy cocktails sporting desert-foraged herbs. Looking for something straightforward? Sandfish is also home to one of the area’s best whiskey collections.
The wait on line is worth it at this Vietnamese fusion joint just on the other side of the Downtown gay bar strip. Rooster & the Pig serves the perfect mix of Vietnamese suited for the American palette. The casual atmosphere and small, shared-plate format invite you to linger around, making it really hard to leave!
Among other noteworthy places are SO.PA, The Purple Palm was a bit high end but great. If you’re looking for something more local make sure you hit up Cheeky’s. Yes, there’s always a line, and yes, it’s always a bit of a scene, but this place has a consistently fresh and inventive breakfast and brunch spread for years.
Top 5 things to do
This scenic tour is a must when you come to Palm Springs. This is the world’s largest Aerial Rotating Tramway. The journey to the top will show you some of the best views you’ve ever seen, but that’s not all! The top offers eateries, observation decks, and a museum to make it absolutely worth your while.
Probably the best $4 you will spend in your life! If you’re living at Ace it’s super close. It’s also a short walk from the downtown area.
Pro tip: Be careful. I back and sat on cacti twice while posing/ photographing
The Living Desert:
Okay, I am devastated I missed out on this experience but it sounds well, AMAZING. You can take tours with these tall friends, feed them during feeding hours and, yes, click as many selfies as you want. They’re apparently friendly and love company, which makes this one of the most popular experiences of Palm Springs. One more added to the bucket list.
This is a delight for both animal and nature lovers. There are a bunch of stables that take you out on guided horse tours and I went to this one called Smoke Tree Stables and spend the greater part of my day there.
I just had an amazing time hanging with the horses and chatting up guides, but the best was still to come. On my tour through the canyons, we walked through lakes and found an oasis!! Like the ones in the Disney movies!! Yes, let that sink in.
Well, this might not really be a thing to do, but I really enjoyed biking around and just exploring the city. Palm Springs is full of bright doors, and pretty walls. One of the MOST Instagram friendly cities I’ve been to so far! I highly recommend doing this. You can rent a bike from Bike Palm Springs and give yourself a tour.
All in all, I had a great four days in the desert and can’t wait to go back! Did I miss something fun? Is there somewhere I should go next time I’m there? Let me know in the comments.