Palm Springs Travel Diary.

palm springs travel guide - the stripe

I am going to be really honest – I was not all that excited about Palm Springs. I was excited about the networking and the opportunity I had (it was more of a business trip — The Travel PRSA, a collective of PR agencies in the travel space – visitors bureaus, hotels, airlines, etc flew me out to speak on a panel where I gave advice on how to plan the perfect press trip). Getting the opportunity to meet all of those different folks in the travel space was absolutely amazing! I also knew I would love Palm Springs’ architecture (it’s the mecca for mid-century architecture which you may have gathered is a bit of an obsession for me.) Lastly, I had been dreaming about Mirage (the Mirrored House) since first reading about it a few months ago. Still, I was not entirely sold on Palm Springs as a whole.

I guess I was unsure about it because a) I didn’t know any better #dumbblogger, b) in theory, the desert wasn’t very appealing to me (I hate being hot and getting dusty/dirty) and c) I had visited with an ex-boyfriend a long long time ago (like 7 or 8 years ago) and we had an awful time.

I figured that I’d go out for a few days, give my talk, work on my tan, see some architecture, and get home ASAP!!! I was not prepared to fall in absolute love with this place… I am already thinking about how/when I can come back!

palm springs travel guide - the stripe

First of all, the conference was SO much fun. Meg was there too (she’s one of my oldest friends from blogging) and we had one really fun night. The conference hosted a meet-up at Leonardo Di Caprio’s Palm Springs home (if you saw my Instagram story, you saw it), and afterward we went out with our friend Kim… getting kicked out of The Parker (the truth is that it’s fun to say that but we didn’t actually pull any crazy antics to get kicked out… there was a private event – it was closed and we didn’t realize it), ultimately winding up at The Avalon (Kelly Wearstler’s gorgeous hotel) for vodka sodas and wine. It was one of those fun and silly nights where you feel more like you’re in your early twenties (versus your mid-thirties – HA!)

palm springs travel guide - the stripe, the arrive hotel
my cute room at the arrive

Where to Stay:

For the first two nights, I stayed at The Riviera Palm Springs, where the conference was held. For the second two, I stayed at ARRIVE. I cannot say enough good things about ARRIVE. It’s still a little bit under the radar as it opened up a little over a year ago but it caters to the same cool kid clientele as The Parker or The Ace. The pool area is really nice, as is the restaurant (Reservoir), coffee shop (Joshua Tree) and ice cream shop (technically not a part of the hotel but  right next store and soooo good!!!) The rooms are clean and modern (and also sound-proof – I’ve stayed at a lot of those minimalist-type hotels and been kept up all night by poolside music – not the case here!) I could not recommend ARRIVE enough – it’s really fantastic.

Other places I’d recommend: The Parker, The Ace Hotel & Swim Club, The Avalon, The Colony Hotel.

Getting Around:

Uber and Lyft are everywhere! You could rent a car but I just took uber everywhere. Oddly, pretty much every ride I went on was $6.30. The uber drivers are very nice and friendly… much better than NYC!

frank sinatra's palm springs hom
sinatra’s house!
the Kaufmann House | Palm Springs
the famous kaufmann house – the site for many a slim aarons photo!

Palm Springs Mod Squad Tours

Okay I realize not everyone is super into architecture but the Palm Springs Mod Squad tour is an absolute must if you are even a little into architecture and/or want to learn some cool, nerdy trivia about the city. I took The Essential Palm Springs Tour and it it was amazing. They pick you up outside The Saguaro and in 90 minutes, we learned so so much. Our host Kurt Cyr was friendly and verrry knowledgable.

A couple cool things I learned:

  • Sinatra bought his house in Palm Springs to celebrate making his first million. You can now rent it as a venue. At the time, there was nothing out there, so he would light up the two palm trees out front and tell his guests to look for the lights. He’d also hoist up a flag to show that cocktails were being served. He sounded like a fun guy (though, a bit of a philanderer). In the bathroom, you can still see the crack in the marble sink where Ava Gardner is said to have thrown a bottle of champagne when she caught him cheating.
  • All the big actors/actresses had homes out here. The reason is that back in the fifties, the actors were basically indentured to their movie studios – their contracts had a travel clause where htey couldn’t be more than 100-200 miles away from the studio… making PS the perfect escape!

MIRAGE, aka The Mirror House

This was so cool, and #1 on my list for Palm Springs. It’s up until October 31, 2017 so if you visit PS, GO!!!! Douglas Aitkin (the artist) covered a traditional ranch style suburban American house in mirrored surfaces. Set in the middle of the desert, it reflects everything around it, essentially disappearing into the Western landscape. It’s really, really amazing. It was originally a part of Desert X but stayed up for longer. It was only about a ten minute drive from our hotel and it’s nestled right where the San Jacinto Mountains meet the Coachella valley. An absolute MUST! There is no address for the house (just coordinates!) but this post will give you the proper directions (and also, as I learned, most uber drivers know how to get there.) I’d say that this house is worth the trip to Palm Springs alone, but I realize I may sound crazy.

palm springs travel guide - the stripe; palm springs tram

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.

Okay if you saw my Instagram Story you know I did not really like this. I’m still glad I did it though as it is a great way to see the city (and it only takes about ten minutes each way). The tram is located at the far end of town on the north side. It starts at the bottom and crosses 2.5 miles (and about 6,000 feet) over Mount San Jacinto State Park. It’s pretty cool as you start in the Mexican Sonoran Desert and end up in the Alpine wilderness. My problem is that I hate heights and have a terrible fear of falling. I’ve done things like this before and been fine, but the problem with this is that it (slowly) spins to allow everyone a great view of the valley below. In theory this is a great idea but it made me feel really sick. I broke out in hives. When you get to the top there is a lot to do – you can do a hike or a nature walk, there’s a really nice restaurant, and there’s even a movie theater. I did not stay very long as I was breaking out in hives and just wanted to get back down, but if you are unafraid of heights you should definitely do this (and eat at Peaks Restaurant – it’s supposed to be really nice!)

palm springs travel guide - the stripe; colony palms hotel palm springs travel guide - the stripe; colony palms hotel

Where to Eat:

I didn’t go out to eat thaaat much this trip but I highly recommend all three of these spots!

Truss & Twine is more of a cocktail bar than a restaurant but they have great small plates. The cocktail list is amazing and interesting; and the staff is very friendly and helpful. It’s a great spot to grab a drink or two and some light bites (I loved the oysters, and had a great cocktail with absinthe in it).

The Purple Palm was my favorite dinner of the trip. It was also the fanciest. The restaurant is located inside the ultra chic Colony Palms Hotel (pictured above). I brought a book, and sat and had a glass of wine and two appetizers (the ceviche and the raviolo – both were delicious). It was the perfect little dinner for one.

The Tropicale: I met two cute girls at the pool and they suggested giving Tropicale a try. It is so fun. Everything is pink and kitschy and verrrry Palm Springs. They have amazing cocktails and a super extensive menu (everything from pizza to Asian) but when I asked the waiter what the best thing on the menu was, his entire face lit up describing the miso glazed pork chop. Apparently, it’s famous. And so of course I had to try it. It did not disappoint. It was far and away, the best pork chop I’ve ever had. The glaze is delicious.

palm springs travel guide - the stripe; arrive hotel bicycles

Next time I visit, I want to go to the Joshua Tree. My friend Meg wrote everything you need to know, if you plan a trip!

palm springs travel guide - the stripe; arrive hotel reservoir restaurant cool tile floors palm springs travel guide - the stripe

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Comments

  1. You make Palm Springs look great, and actually a nice, humble place to travel to! The photos are beautiful!

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

  2. Emily says 6.2.17

    What a cool trip. I also haven’t been to Palm Springs in years and now am itching to go back. Love all the facts you included, never knew that about Sinatra’s house or the fact that movie stars had a specific radius to adhere to.
    xo,
    Em
    http://www.organicallyemily.com

  3. Tracy says 6.2.17

    I’ve heard so many mixed things about Palm Springs. I have never been nor was I ever interested. Thank you for sharing this post. Maybe as a day trip as I travel through Cali it would be good!

    Congrats on the panel, how exciting!

    Have a great weekend, Grace!

    • Aw thanks Tracy – it was an honor to be invited. I hope you take a trip to PS – it’s truly awesome! have a great weekend! xx

  4. Briana says 6.2.17

    It looks like you had so much fun! Love the photos.

    Briana | youngsophisticate.com

  5. Yet another one of your amazing travel reviews. Thank you so much for this! The photos are gorgeous!

  6. Jess Zimlich says 6.2.17

    That mirage house is insane! I feel like it’s something my sister would love 🙂 Palm Springs has been on my bucket list for some time now, I just need to make it happen!

  7. Jenn Lake says 6.2.17

    Such a fun guide, lady! Palm Springs really is such an amazing gem of a destination!

  8. Amanda Struss says 6.2.17

    You need to look into Sparrow’s Lodge. And their Wednesday & Saturday feasting table community dinners. We ran across it last year at my bachelorette party and ended up going twice for drinks. 21+ only for access and just pure, tranquil paradise at Sparrow’s. Thomas Keller is also an investor in the property, so that says a lot.

  9. diana pearl says 6.2.17

    I loved following along on your Insta Stories of this trip, and this post has me totally convinced — I need to get to Palm Springs! I love old Hollywood history and pretty architecture, so I think I’d be obsessed!! Thank you for the tips — have a lovely weekend!

    x Diana // Pearl Girl

  10. Victoria says 6.2.17

    Palm Springs is one of my fave getaways, especially with friends. If you go again and want company, let me know, because here’s a secret: Airbnb’s are very numerous there, extremely affordable and it’s easy to find ones with pools. I love visiting PS so much I did my bachelorette there! I also highly recommend going to PSYC the next time you are there — the spa at The Parker (it stands for Palm Springs Yacht Club — like the rest of the hotel, the decor was all done by Jonathan Adler and it’s a super beachy, nautical theme. They have these giant tents indoors that you can lounge under and it’s amazing). Another fun place for drinks (albeit a little bougie) is the Ritz Carlton in Rancho Mirage. They have a HUGE outdoor space and are up high on a mountain, so at night, you can sit around a fire pit with these expansive views of the entire desert valley. It’s pretty nice! 🙂 I’ve actually never done any of the architecture tours there as the groups I was with wouldn’t have been so into that, so now I’m dying to check that out!

  11. Wow I love your Palm Springs trivia, so interesting! Also it looks like you had such an awesome time, what a gorgeous place!

    I hope you have an awesome start to your weekend!
    Michael
    https://www.mileinmyglasses.co.uk

  12. Lindsay says 6.3.17

    I am with you – I couldn’t be less excited about Palm Springs, but after reading this post, I’d like to go. And I think I could kinda fall in love with the place!

    Also, love your second dinner notes – a girl after my own heart: solo dinner, a book and two appetizers.