If you live in Vancouver or somewhere on the West Coast, there’s a good chance you’ve been to Palm Springs. The 2.5 hour flight to the desert is the easiest getaway, whether it’s for a girls trip, wedding, or just when we’re in need of relief from the rain.
I go down every year to visit my parents who are living that blessed retired life. If you’re in need of a quick mental break, but the idea of taking more than 2 days off work gives you anxiety (just me? great), you really can’t go wrong. From the scenic desert landscape to the midcentury modern architecture (hello iconic pink-door house), it’s a very Instagrammable trip.
It’s also really fun — with the rise of Coachella and other events, there’s been a huge spotlight on Palm Springs and because of that, new restaurants, hotels and boutiques have been opening left, right and centre. And while I am a loyal to the classics, I do love to try out a new restaurant. Anyway, I put together a list of my favourite (old and new) places for brunch, happy hour, afternoon hangs and more. See below for my picks:
Pizza, pasta, cocktails, good vibes and a patio. Need I say more? This is a Palm Springs classic and always worth a shot. Waits can be long, be sure to reserve far in advance.
Anytime someone asks me for a restaurant recco in Palm Springs, I will ALWAYS say Workshop. It’s one of my favourites. The super modern and industrial space won a James Beard Award for best restaurant design (do you see why I like it so much now?), and they have the best burger I’ve ever had. Don’t forget to add the duck fat fries (cue drooling face emoji).
Brought to you by the new Rowan Kimpton Hotel, this swanky rooftop bar and restaurant has really, really good cocktails (does any spot in Palm Springs not have good cocktails? You tell me). The real kicker is that this rooftop spot has some of the best views of the San Jacinto mountains.
Okay, yes this is also at the Rowan Kimpton. I’m a huge fan, what can I say? This is a good spot to go for a more casual breakfast. It’s café style, so you order at the front and then sit down amongst the Palm Tree lined patio to enjoy a simple breakfast. Oh, what’s that, you have kids? Bring the kids. While you’re at it, order a mimosa because you’re on vacation.
Another favourite of mine, this popular brunch spot can be found at the Parker Hotel (you know the one, designed by Jonathan Alder who’s basically a Palm Springs god). They actually have a very extensive brunch menu, so if you’re travelling with picky eaters or friends with food allergies, this is a good spot for everyone. I personally like the banana-macadamia nut pancakes. Sometimes I fall into a food coma afterwards, but worth it.
This poolside bodega is located at the Colony Palms Hotel, which is a quaint boutique hotel with villas lining the picturesque pool in the middle. The restaurant patio is also poolside, so you can dine when people are swimming around (sounds weird, but it’s kind of cool). Apparently the restaurant was inspired by the hotel’s first owner who was a cool gang member from Detroit. What actually drew me to this spot was the beautifully tiled floors and printed wallpaper that is just too good to be missed.
Another one of the Parker’s great spots, this hidden wine bar is great for happy hour. Try one of the unique wines (no Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc in sight) and divulge in oysters, charcuterie or caviar if you’re super bad and boujee.
Truss & Twine
By the founders of Workshop (and located right next door), so you know it’ll be good. This industrial-inspired cocktail bar is a good after dinner spot. The cocktail menu is separated out by “ages” (like the Golden Age, Dark Ages and Prohibition) and on Saturday’s they have “disc jockeys” (i.e. trendy DJ’s).
Okay, I feel like tiki bars are a weird touristy favourite, so here it is. This classy take on the tiki bar has been around for a while and is always a good time. It’s tucked just behind Ernest Coffee (a great spot for coffee). Order the Gangsters Paradise, just for the name. Good for happy hour. Good for aprés dinner.
Everyone loves the Ace Hotel. Their Palm Springs location is no exception. The Amigo Room is a casual (but trendy, common you think I’d recommend any old bar?) cocktail bar. The best thing about it is the range of events and guests. They have trivia night, comedians, karaoke and more, just check hotel calendar to see what fits you best.
Get a day pass to the Ace Hotel’s Swim Club and hang by the pool. Check their calendar for events like weekend pool parties and more.
Take a yoga class or book a massage at the Parker’s yacht club-themed spa and start re-lax-ing. You deserve it.
Now, I would never recommend a gruelling Grouse Grind workout while on vacation. The Bump-n-Grind Trail and or one of the trails at Indian Canyons are low to medium difficulty. Don’t go in the middle of the day (unless it’s the middle of winter) because it’s hot, hot, hot.
Take an architectural tour. See some of the cutest houses and find out where all the celebs had vacation houses. If group tours aren’t your thing, download the Modernism Tour App and be your own guide.
If you have a day to kill, I would strongly recommend heading to Joshua Tree. It’s a 45 minute drive, but totally worth it for the ridiculously good-looking landscape. This is where EVERY blogger (not even kidding) goes to shoot because it’s just so damn pretty. Go for a hike around Lost Horse Mine or just take photos for your feed. No judgement.
The Parker is a Palm Springs classic. Designed by Jonathon Adler, you’ll find no shortage of colour-centric, mid-century modern pieces throughout. You can’t go wrong staying here, but I’d avoid it during Coachella season, unless you want to be bombarded by an army of festival kids.
A more budget-friendly hotel compared to the Parker, the Ace Hotel and Swim Club is a fun spot to go. Taking inspiration from classic swim club and kitschy camp decor, the Ace has a ton of events and things going on. It’s also kid-friendly, if that’s your thing.
The Rowan opened their first hotel in Palm Springs just over a year ago, and it’s not one to disappoint. I personally love the décor here, and it’s located right downtown on the main strip with easy access to all the shops and restaurants. The rooftop pool and bar isn’t a bad feature either.
This cute spot is also located right downtown and is home to Customs Coffee and the Ice Cream Shoppe, so you barely ever have to leave. Every Friday during the warm months they offer fun events like the Dive-in Movie Series, where you can go for a dip, sip a cocktail and catch a movie all at the same time. Their restaurant, Reservoir is also worth checking out for brunch.