The 7 Best Things to do in Palm Springs, CA
Palm Springs is such a magical place. Just a few hours outside of Los Angeles, and even closer to Joshua Tree, it's a sight worth seeing. Here are the 7 best things to do on your next trip to Palm Springs, California.
1. Indulge with an Aperol Spritz at the Parker Hotel Palm Springs // Before you visit the Parker, I highly suggest you check out Gray Malin's iconic, playful 'Welcome to the Parker' photo series. It's a fun, over-the-top animal series that inspired me to want to check out this hotel in the first place. And if you haven't heard of or checked out Gray Malin, do yourself that favor. He's my #1 favorite photographer. You don't have to be a guest to visit, and you can park within walking distance (if you want to skip valet). While you're there, be sure to check out the iconic orange door entrance, the poolside "Lemonade" area, the old pharmacy "Drugs" sign in the lobby, and the framed kiss lips as you walk upstairs in the front entrance.
2. Pop inside King's Highway (cool vibes, the food doesn't seem like anything to write home about; aka redesigned roadside fare), then order coffee, cocktails, light bites, and treat yourself to a pool day at the Ace Hotel & Swim Club Palm Springs. // You don't have to be a guest to enjoy the drinks and delights of the Ace (though, if you're not a guest, you'll have to buy a pool pass for pool access, which costs $20-$30, depending on the day, 12-6pm). Grab a glass of cold Stumptown cold brew or a craft beer to cool off. There are so many awesome photo ops. Be sure to stand in front of the big metal ACE letters out front, the marquee sign around the backside of the pool, and the obligatory photo in the pool with your giant swan, unicorn, or pizza floatie.
3. Ride the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway // Hop aboard this 10 minute gondola ride, and after 10-15 minutes and a double-digit temperature drop (trust me, you can go from sunshine to snow in a few minutes), you’ll be looking over beautiful Coachella Valley. Depending on your appetite, you can stop at the mountaintop restaurant, café or lounge, or hike into the San Jacinto Mountains. Because the temperatures are so variable, be sure to pack extra layers, warm socks, sunscreen, a bottle of water, and boots that are made for walking (all sorts of terrain). This activity makes for a fun group outing or date adventure!
4. Moorten Botanical Garden // I haven't been yet, but have been wanting to check this spot out for awhile. This botanical garden is packed with many varieties of cacti and other desert plants. The family-owned garden dates back to the 1930s, and houses 3,000+ specimens of plants from around the world. I imagine it makes for some fun planstagram or #ihavethisthingwithplants shots.
5. Cabazon Dinosaurs // Yep, I learned about this spot on an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians. Since I haven't been, I can't fully endorse it, but, but it sure looks like a fun (and gramworthy) stop for both kids and big kids alike. There are 100-ton Brontosaurus and T. Rex sculptures that once lured motorists on their way to Palm Springs to a 24-hour diner. At the very least, you can stop for a photo with Mr. Rex and walk into the dino museum gift shop, which apparently is located inside (yes, inside) Dinny the Brontosaurus’s belly.
6. Rent a Palm Springs Airbnb // Personally, I'd forego sleeping at a hotel and rent a retro Airbnb with a pool and a hot tub. You can visit all of the attractions, events, and bars that the hotels have to offer during the day, and crash with more space and privacy under the stars in a home rental. These listings usually book up quickly, so it's often best to find a listing you love, then plan your trip around its availability. There are several grocery stores in the area, so you can even pick up groceries and things for drinks, then dine like a king or queen at home, to mix it up. One year, we did surf and turf (steak and lobster) for Thanksgiving, thanks to the Costco in Palm Desert, instead of turkey, and let's just say, we didn't regret it one bit.
7. Get your morning coffee fix at Ernest Coffee // Whether you're looking for a Stumptown roast, pastries, quiche, or mimosas, Ernest's Coffee's got it. They're known for their latte art (and latte art competitions) and their minimal meets retro design. Go get your buzz on.
*Robolights (runs Black Friday until Christmas at a residence) // This was one of the highlights of a Thanksgiving trip we took one year to Palm Springs. It's the largest private, residential Christmas lights display in the United States. So, if you have a thing for National Lampoons' Christmas Vacation and have always dreamed of walking in a winter wonderland (in the desert), you must go. Bundle up, bring a thermos filled with hot cocoa or a hot toddy, and your friends or date, and it's guaranteed to be a desert date night to remember.