On weekends Palm Springs, California’s population seems to double as golfers, spa-goers, and Los Angeles’ finest flock for R&R beneath the desert sun. Good choice! Here’s what a perfect weekend combo of activity and blissful chillin’ might look like.
No doubt the first thing you’ll want is to put thoughts of work aside. What better than a soothing spa treatment? Palm Springs is the proverbial fountain of youth, with enough spas to keep you relaxed and rejuvenated year-round. Day spas proliferate along El Paseo, in Palm Desert, with more than 50 spas along it’s 1.5 miles. Or maybe you want to check into the intimate Two Bunch Palms Resort & Spa—known for its “hydroterra” mud treatments—in Desert Hot Springs.
Now spend the afternoon lazing by your hotel pool.
This evening stroll downtown Palm Canyon Drive, lined with superb restaurants, pubs and clubs. Shanghai Red’s is a fave of locals for live R&B, while rock is the music of choice at the Village Pub. It’s Friday night! When the clock strikes midnight head to Zelda’s disco or Costa’s Nightclub, the classiest dance club in the Palm Springs region.
Up early today for sunrise enjoyed in exhilarating style with a hot-air balloon ride courtesy of Fantasy Balloon Flights. Then, after breakfast at Rick’s, let local man-about-town and modernist expert Robert Imber of PS Modern Tours be your guide to modernist architectural gems and celebrity houses. Or hire a beach cruiser (some hotels offer free use) and guide yourself using a map from the Palm Springs Visitor Center.
In the afternoon explore the Palm Springs Art Museum. Justifiably the city’s pride and joy, the museum boasts a fantastic collection spanning local Native American baskets to classic Western paintings and contemporary glass art. Evening cocktails poolside at your hotel are a perfect prelude to, er, evening cocktails poolside at the Ace Hotel, where movies and live music are offered alfresco. For more highbrow fare, check out who’s performing at the McCallum Theater.
Beat the heat today as you hike the Indian Canyons: Palm Canyon is best for its huge stands of desert fan palms fed by mineral springs. Bighorn sheep, bobcat, and mule deer are often spied amid the cottonwoods, sycamores, and willows.
Next head south to the Living Desert Zoo & Gardens. One of the highlights of any visit to the desert region, this zoo astounds for its 400 or so animal species (cheetahs, oryx, meerkats, bighorn sheep) providing a complete introduction to desert ecologies.
End you weekend on a spectacular high with a late afternoon ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. The tram, which slowly turns through 360 degrees as it rises, delivers you amid the refreshingly cool (or, in winter, cold snowgirt) heights of Mount San Jacinto State Park. Linger for dinner at Peaks, perched at 8,526 feet at the aerial tram station. Talk about staggering views!