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!
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!)
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.
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!
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 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!)
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.
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!