Things To Do In Palm Springs

I ended up in the desert by accident.

my husband and me beneath an orange tree at Sparrow's Lodge

my husband and me beneath an orange tree at Sparrow's Lodge

I won a trip to a resort in Sedona, AZ, and in an overzealous hurricane of emotion, booked two flights to Phoenix with credit card points. My husband's 30th birthday was coming up, so it seemed ideal that we could celebrate first in Sedona, then rent a car and drive the seven hours to L.A. to see friends. By living car-free in NYC, we were starved for some road-trip action and this seemed like the perfect occasion to go trailblazing through the desert.

I'll spare you too many details, but we'd booked our flights to Sedona during blackout dates for my free stay. It was only a day or two shy from acceptable dates, but the resort refused to honor our reservation. Now, without a specific reason to be in Sedona, I began looking for towns that were both on the way to L.A. and a reasonable drive from Phoenix.

Palm Springs, California, it turned out, is just the place. Thus began my love affair with the town and the desert. 

King's Highway has a photo booth ripe for gooey couple photos

King's Highway has a photo booth ripe for gooey couple photos

If you drive in from L.A., you'll be flanked by wind farms at one point or another. This always sets the mood for me, alluding to an experience that is both majestic and chill AF. You'll know you've arrived by the mountain ranges that tower all around you. Once I began to get a feel for Palm Springs, I knew I'd found my spirit city.

The reality is that I'm a pale white girl from New York City who has taken advantage of the desert's new hype. But in my mind, I am poolside (always), wearing a vintage gown, pale pink lipstick and green eyeshadow, swishing a dirty martini and swaying to Antonio Carlos Jobim. That's fantasy, but the reality is that I just feel happy when I'm in Palm Springs: a sunny desert town filled with lots of gay men and old people. My kind of people.

If you're headed there anytime soon, here are a few of my favorite spots in town.

the view from the pool at Sparrow's Lodge

the view from the pool at Sparrow's Lodge

Stay at the Sparrow's Lodge
Cozy cabin-like rooms, a veritable orange orchard, casual breakfast and coffee in the barn each morning, and a pool with a view of the mountains--these are just a few of the reasons I adore Sparrow's Lodge. It's a quiet, intimate respite from the newfound buzz of Palm Springs.

Brunch at King's Highway in the Ace Hotel
While I've eaten breakfast, lunch, and dinner here, I far prefer their brunch, teeming with multiple beverages (green juice, coffee, Bloody Mary & water, please), fresh fruit, and [insert delicious dish here]. Its airy atmosphere lends itself to a bright, lazy brunch, and the menu is a win/win.


Breakfast at Cheeky's
Note: PS doesn't have a that many high-note restaurants (especially those specializing in brunch). But Cheeky's is a staple. Prepare to wait at least 30 minutes, but it's worth it. From fresh green juices to bacon flights, hearty huevos rancheros to gluten-free waffles, they've got a variety of solid options.

Eat at El Jefe in The Saguaro
During my last jaunt to PS, I stayed at The Saguaro. The most notable part of the place (besides the view) was El Jefe. The fish tacos came highly recommended (and lived up to the hype). Even a simple breakfast of fruit, avocado, and scrambled eggs was noteworthy.

on a recent girl's trip, C and I enjoyed old fashioneds with a mezcal twist

on a recent girl's trip, C and I enjoyed old fashioneds with a mezcal twist

Cocktails at Bootlegger Tiki
Feel transported the minute you enter this nearly all-dark tiki bar, illuminated by a wash of red light. Thing is, they make actually good cocktails and have a knowledgeable bar staff. Munch on a snack of nuts and wonder if a ghost of the Rat Pack has saddled up next to you at the bar.

Dinner at Workshop Kitchen + Bar
Set in an stark, minimalist space, serving interesting but accessible new American cuisine, Workshop is a must-stop locale if you're in town. The food is great and the cocktails are always well made.


Hike Tahquitz Canyon Trail
Take a hike. Seriously. This two-mile trail loop leads to Tahquitz Falls and back. It's mostly climbing upward, but should be accessible for most active adults.

Dinner at Birba
Is it the best pizza I've ever had? No. Have I waited far too long for a table? Yes. While Birba has at times felt overrated, I had to include it in this list because 1. it has outdoor seating and 2. It's not bad. The food is consistently good, the cocktails are solid, and it's got a nice atmosphere.

Wondering why we left off Melvyn's? If you're going to be the youngest people in the room at an old-school, iconic steakhouse, I'd recommend waiting until you can visit The Golden Steer in Las Vegas (and if you do, get the Caesar Salad).

Every time I go to Palm Springs, I pick up new favorite spots, so I'll be sure to update this post when I revisit the town. Did I miss any places you love? Let me know! I'll try them when I make my next visit!