How to Spend a Weekend in Palm Springs

The palms of Palm Springs
The palms of Palm Springs | © Cody Board / Unsplash
Photo of Georgie Young
14 July 2020

With good weather, a laid back vibe and a buzzing arts scene, Palm Springs is well worth a weekend visit. For some inspiration, we’ve asked our local insiders how to spend a weekend here.

Palm Springs Mod Squad Architecture and Design Tours

Architectural Landmark
Map View
House in Palm Springs
© Taylor Simpson / Unsplash
Ask any architecture enthusiast where to find the best mid-century architecture in America and they’re likely to answer Palm Springs. The town is littered with clean-lined, futuristic-looking houses created by an impressive array of architects. To help guide your vision, jump on one of the Mod Squad Design Tours. It’s a great orientation activity when you first arrive as you’ll not only be filled in on the history behind these ultra-cool buildings, but you’ll also leave with a better understanding of where to go next. Recommended by local insider Jennifer Weil

French Miso Café

Cafe, French, Japanese
Map View
If the Mimosa Brunch sign outside this courtyard café doesn’t make you instantly want to head inside, the experimental menu definitely will. Combining the romance of Parisian cuisine with exotic Japanese flavors, French Miso brings a quirky vibe to Palm Springs’s dining scene. With only seven seats, eating here feels like you’re being let in on one of downtown’s best kept secrets. Go Japanese for mains: try the Bento for tender salmon served with crispy nori and miso soup. Then finish with passion fruit crème brûléea, a tropical twist on a classic French dessert. Recommended by local insider Jennifer Weil

Destination PSP

Map View

More than just a souvenir store, Destination PSP was born out of frustration with Palm Springs’s existing tourist traps. Its NYC-born owners couldn’t find anything to send back to the Big Apple that reflected Palm Springs’s vibrant design history and relaxed vibe so they decided to create their own. The store is packed with products that you not only want but will actually use, and its mid-century memorabilia and gifts are deliberately designed to make you feel like you’re taking a small piece of Palm Springs home with you. Recommended by local insider Jennifer Weil

Palm Springs Koffi North

Cafe, Coffee Shop, Coffee
Map View

Anywhere that can get away with spelling coffee in this manner must be worth knowing about, and it’s certainly true for this locally-loved independent coffee shop. There’s multiple Koffis all over town, but the original – and best – is in the newly-trendy Uptown Design District. Despite the sweltering desert heat, don’t be tempted to stay inside the air-conditioned interiors. Instead, make like the locals and go through the back door and into the relaxed courtyard to enjoy your cup of joe with Mount San Jacinto as a background. Recommended by local insider Jennifer Weil

Palm Springs Celebrity Tours

Architectural Landmark
Map View

During the Swinging Sixties, Palm Springs was almost overrun with celebrities who used it as a time out from Tinseltown. They fell so deeply for the weather and relaxed vibe that staying in hotels simply wouldn’t do, so they built whole villages of extravagant houses that still stand in all their glory today. You can learn more about this grand love affair on one of these celebrity tours. Expect to follow in the footsteps of movie titans like Elizabeth Taylor and more modern residents including Leonardo DiCaprio. Recommended by local insider Lauren Malestic

The Shops at Thirteen Forty Five

Shopping Mall
Map View

A collection of 11 boutiques and a handful of galleries hidden inside a mid-century modern building designed by E. Stewart Williams. It’s the kind of place where you can lose half the day wandering around and taking in the vintage-cool atmosphere. Its ever-evolving collection of items including art, homeware and clothing will please even the savviest of shoppers. What’s more, there are a couple of antique stores that are a veritable gold mine, if you’re willing to dig, of course. Recommended by local insider Lauren Malestic

Norma's: Parker Palm Springs

Restaurant, American, $$$
Map View
United States, California, Palm Springs, Parker Hotel
© Hemis / Alamy Stock Photo
If it’s brunch you want, it’s to Norma’s you must go. What it can do with breakfast needs to be seen (and eaten) to be believed. There are six different variations of Eggs Benedict alone. And once you’ve tried the Waz-Za? (fruit stuffed waffles with a crackly créme brûlée topping), you won’t be able to live without it. Add to that fun orange plush seating and slick white tables that borrow their color scheme from the city’s palette and you’ve got a trendy hangout spot, whatever time of day. Recommended by local insider Lauren Malestic

The Saguaro Hotel

3.6/5 (912 Reviews)
The Saguaro, Palm Springs
© Simon B / Alamy Stock Photo
You can’t miss this rainbow-colored resort. Built in 1977, it’s Palm Springs’s capital of fun and has one of the most active pool party scenes in Coachella Valley. The pool bar opens from – gulp – 10am. This means that, more often than not, the water will be filled with guests dressed wearing funky swimwear and shades whilst clutching margaritas from the safety of pool floats. Turn up on a weekend to catch one of the resident DJs blasting tunes late into the night, then rock up the next morning to recover via downward dog at one of the al fresco yoga classes. Recommended by local insider Lauren Malestic
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These recommendations were updated on July 14, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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