The Perfect Weekend in Palm Springs, California
Palm Springs is a desert oasis in Southern California. It offers sunshine, chic accommodations, the cutest cacti and delicious food. It’s conveniently located just about a 2 hour drive from Los Angeles and is a short flight from my home base of San Francisco.
A few weekends ago I spent 48 hours in Palm Springs with a group of my friends. We rented an incredible Airbnb with a pool and enjoyed one of the most relaxing weekends I’ve had in a long time!
In this post, I share the best of Palm Springs including what to see, where to stay and where to eat. I hope it inspires you to plan your own weekend getaway.
What to see
The ARRIVE Hotel is brand new and has two incredible restaurants and a pool that’s free of charge, even if you’re not a guest! It was co-founded by the 6th employee at Facebook and is located at the entrance into Palm Springs when you drive in from Los Angeles (maybe that’s why it’s called ARRIVE).
Check the events calendar before your trip to see if there is anything you'd be interested in attending. I visited the hotel on Saturday morning for a free yoga class and soon after found myself sipping a cocktail by the pool and eating brunch at Draughtsman, one of it's restaurants. I could have spent all day there!
The Parker Hotel
The Parker Hotel is a designer’s dream. When you pull up, you’re greeted with a gorgeous brise soleil, an architectural feature that reduces a building's heat by deflecting sunlight. It also makes for an incredible photo backdrop. The entire hotel was designed by Jonathan Adler and within your first 10 steps you’ll be blown away by how amazing this place is. Stop by to explore, take some pictures and have a cocktail at the Mini Bar. The Parker Hotel is located at 4200 E Palm Canyon Dr.
Salvation Mountain is a 50ft adobe structure covered in bright paint with the message, “God is Love,” painted on its side. It’s hard to explain without seeing it, so take a look at the pictures and you’ll see what I mean. When you arrive, you can climb up a yellow brick road past paintings of bright colored flowers, fun stripes and messages of love. There are also caves built around painted trees and other small rooms to explore.
Salvation mountain was build by a man named Leonard Knight, who said it was his tribute to God. It’s just about an hour drive from Palm Springs and well worth the trip. On my first morning in Palm Springs, I rented a car to drive to the mountain and when I arrived around 11am, the place was practically empty. Spend about an hour exploring the Mountain, the caves and the surrounding art installations.
Where to eat
Reservoir is one of two restaurants located at the ARRIVE hotel. They serve healthy, California cuisine with a poolside view. Order the avocado toast and an egg dish while sipping a Rise and Shine coffee cocktail. I recommend bringing your bathing suit so you can take a dip after brunch. Did you see the pool (the first picture in this post)? You won’t be able to resist the urge to dive in.
The Draughtsman is the second restaurant at ARRIVE, located just across the parking lot from the main hotel. The menu focuses on comfort food and craft beers and has an outside seating area with a giant connect four board.
They have a sandwich on the menu called the Bang Bang PB&J. It sounded a bit odd, but I decided to try it and was so glad I did. It’s a combination of cashew butter, Thai chile strawberry jam, cucumber, mint and Thai basil on hearty walnut bread. It was so delicious that I called the restaurant on the way to the airport to pick one up for the road. Order one for the table so everyone in your party can take a bite.
Ruben & Ozzy's
When we arrived in Palm Springs, we stopped by a market to grab some snacks for our Airbnb. While we were in line, we asked the cashier for some recommendations on where to get the best fish tacos and he immediately recommended Ruben & Ozzy’s. This is a very local spot that serves oysters, poke and even crab enchiladas. Go here for dinner and then explore the downtown area.
Where to Stay
I went to Palm Springs with six friends and we decided to rent a large Airbnb so that we could all stay together. It had a pool, a hot tub, full kitchen and a grill. I'd recommend deciding what works best for the type of trip you're looking to have. The hotels in Palm Springs are really nice, but you can also spend time at them without being a guest. Take a look at these accommodation recommendations below and decide for yourself.
I've stayed in a lot of Airbnb's over the past few years, but this one was by far my favorite. It is located in the Araby Cove neighborhood on the side of a mountain and has views of the desert and the most incredible pool and hot tub. The beds were comfortable and it was just a short Uber or Lyft ride from anywhere we wanted to go in Palm Springs.
If the Airbnb linked above doesn't work for you, here's a curated wishlist to check out.
Luxury Retreats is a luxury vacation rental site owned by Airbnb. It's prices are usually a lot higher than your standard Airbnb, but it's worth checking out the rentals, even if it's just for a bit of interior design inspiration.
A common theme of this post is the ARRIVE hotel. It's on my list for the best of what to see, where to eat and now where to stay. The ARRIVE hotel is just that amazing. The prices vary depending on the season, but the average cost per night seems to be around $300.
Parker Palm Springs
I've already gushed over the beauty of Parker Palm Springs in the what to see section, but it is also listed as one of the top 5 hotels to stay at on Trip Advisor. There are a variety of room types to choose from and the prices seem to range from a standard room around $300 to a more luxurious villa at about $1000 per night.
I was only in Palm Springs for 48 hours, so unfortunately did not get a chance to check out the ACE Hotel for myself. I have, however, heard rave reviews from friends of mine and thought it was worthy of adding to the list. From what I've heard, it's not for everyone. I'd recommend the ACE if you're with a group of friends looking to have a pool party and enjoy a sunny summer day. If you're more interested in a relaxing spa weekend, go with Parker Palm Springs.
TBP Insider Tips
> Getting there: The most convenient way to get to Palm Springs is to fly into Palm Springs International Airport. There are a lot of direct flights from major US cities. Another option is to rent a car and drive from Los Angeles, which is just under 2 hours away. While there are buses to take, your travel time could increase to 7 hours.
> Getting around: As long as you're staying in a hotel or an Airbnb close by the downtown area, it isn't difficult to get around town. While we rented a car to drive to Salvation Mountain, it isn't necessary to have if you plan on staying in the area. Uber and Lyft are both in Palm Springs, and you can rent bikes from many hotels or from Bike Palm Springs.
> If you do decide to rent a car, pick it up and drop it off right at the Airport. The airport is very close to downtown, so you won't be going too far out of your way.
> Palm Springs is the desert, so it can get very hot during the day but very cold at night. Be prepared and pack appropriately. I always recommend bringing layers in that type of weather. You'll need a swimsuit and light clothing, but also a jacket and a pair of pants for the evening.
> Palm Springs has very strict rules for quiet hours. You can view this and more of their local rules here. Palm Springs is home to many people and there's a good chance you'll be staying near their homes, especially if you're in an Airbnb. Be respectful and follow the rules.
> Palm springs is only about an hour from Joshua Tree, a gorgeous National Park with trees that look like they're out of a Dr. Seuss book. I didn't have time to visit during this trip, but I highly recommend it if you can!