January is typically a month that moves at a snail’s pace. Some might even say it’s the Monday of the year. This month at Fauxgerty, we’ve been fostering our foundation and focusing on strengthening our roots to prepare ourselves for the exciting year ahead. (We’ve actually been REALLY busy…) But it’s safe to say that after the hubbub of the holidays, there’s nothing better than taking a little time out to rest and reflect. Okay, and being poolside with a Paloma in hand for a couple of days doesn’t hurt either.
We’re kicking the new year off with a wander guide to one of our favorite resort cities in the USA: Palm Springs. And it just so happens to be that winter is the ideal time to visit, considering it’s located in the middle of the Mojave desert. (Seriously though, temperatures of 115 in September!) Elvis honeymooned there. Sinatra drank there. Hepburn lounged there. If you could use a little dose of summertime sun in the middle of the snowy season, look no further: Palm Springs is just what the doctor will order.
It’s the perfect weekend getaway being 100 miles east of LA, 123 miles from San Diego, and 250 miles away from Phoenix. Whether you’re traveling with your girl gang to celebrate a landmark life event or sneaking off the radar for a few with your significant other, this laid back luxury bubble is the ideal backdrop for making memories with the people you love.
Without a doubt, one of the best parts about Palm Springs is its housing situation, all thanks to Hollywood. Film and music stars from Los Angeles began to retreat there in the 1930s. Most agencies had a two hour “call out rule” which means that the talent had to be within a certain distance from the studio at all times in case they were needed for a shoot, or to film something last minute. Palm Springs is the Goldilocks distance to LA: not too close, and not too far. With the rise of the golden age of film, the housing in Palm Springs doubled in the 1950s to accommodate these stars and their lavish lifestyles. It has the largest concentration of mid-century modern residential architecture in the world. There are also more than 50,000 swimming pools- the most pools per capita. And lucky for us, there are so many fantastic hotels that are committed to capturing the aesthetic and essence of this bygone era.
The Ace Hotel & Swim Club is one of my favorites and seems to run the city. If you’re planning on staying at your hotel for the majority of your trip or don’t want to rent a car, stay here. Its restaurant, bar, pool, and events are enough to fill you up for a few days. The Ace also has bikes available for hotel guests. (The city is flat and super easy to navigate.) If luxury is the name of your game, pamper yourself at The Parker Palm Springs. It’s 13 acres of gardens, bungalows, and pools are the epitome of Californian Mid-Century glam. Even if you don’t stay there be sure to grab a drink or meal at one of their many food & drink outposts. The hotel and grounds of The Parker was redone in 2003 by Jonathan Adler. Looking for something a little bit more low key? The Saguaro is hip and affordable, making it a perfect accommodation for larger groups. This Pantone palace is its own sort of whimsical. They offer bikes to guests, host yoga, have yard games and hammocks to hang out in, and it's home to a fun tequila bar called El Jefe. Oh, there’s also an outside bar that serves frose right next to the pool. What more could you ask for? (Go ahead and ask for a mountain view/swimming pool facing room if you book.)
To be honest, Palm Springs isn’t a culinary darling. Sure, many restaurants are beginning to dish out notable fare, but it’s never been a city known for its remarkable culture of cuisine. Until now. These days, there are multiple spots popping up to put Palm Springs on the foodie map.
If you’re vegan but like the idea of gourmet frankfurters on Parisian baguettes, Frankinbun is not to be missed. Go for the food, stay for the wallpaper. Nestled inside The Ace Hotel, you’ll find King’s Highway Diner making itself right at home in a former Denny’s Diner. (Be sure to check out The Ace’s events calendar, they host fun stuff like Monday night bingo.) Birba has incredible gluten-free options along with amazing cocktail creations. (Closed Mondays and Tuesdays) Brunch doesn’t have to be a weekend only thing if you visit Cheeky’s. They’re open every day from 8-2 and don’t accept reservations. Or, if you feel like dressing to the nines for a swanky champagne brunch, make a reservation at the piano bar that Frank Sinatra used to frequent: Melvyn’s.
Start the day off with locally roasted organic coffee by hometown favorite Koffi, which has multiple locations speckled throughout the city. If Stumptown beans make you sing, hit up Ernest Coffee, which is connected to the libation establishment Bootlegger’s Tiki in the building that was once the original location of Don the Beachcomber’s Tiki restaurant in 1953. If rum and fruit is your jam, be sure to stop there at least once during your visit for one of their two happy hours hosted daily. The Amigo Room at The Ace Hotel is also a hip space to sit down for a sip. Bartenders shake up refreshing elixirs in this dank, dark, grandpa’s-basement-like bar that also boasts a dynamic craft beer list.
Aaahhh, shopping. Palm Springs is a vintage lover’s paradise. N Palm Canyon Drive is mid-century mecca, where you'll find multiple shops specializing in all things retro. Be it pool, park, or campside, The Frippery has great vintage clothing and accessories that fit right in with the desert-dwelling lifestyle. Vintage Oasis and The Deja Vu Room are also not to be missed. If you’re in town on a Thursday night, be sure to check out Village Fest from 6-9 located in the heart of downtown. It's a street festival where local vendors and musicians pop up and surrounding businesses stay open late.
Palm Springs is just the right size ball of clay to create whatever you want out of it. There are things to do- if you feel like doing them. The heat can be oppressive so if you do decide to venture outside of your accommodations, make sure you’ve got a reusable water bottle in tow along with sunscreen.
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is an alluring attraction that will acquaint you with the lay of the land. Built in 1963, it’s the world’s largest rotating tram car. It rotates slowly so you’ll get 360-degree views full of unique photo opportunities. The ride takes about 10 minutes and ascends 8,500 feet. Once you’re at the top, you’ll have access to a few restaurants, observation decks, gift shops, and hiking trails.
Visit “The House Of Tomorrow,” otherwise known as Elvis and Pricilla’s honeymoon hideaway. These two lovebirds lived here in 1966, and there is not a square room in the entire space.
Snap some pics in the Instagram famous Moorten Botanical garden and Cactarium. This charming gem of an acre opened in the 1930s and is still family owned and operated. It’s home to 3,000 species of cacti and succulents. The hand-drawn map you’ll pick up at the entrance sparks some serious joy. Note that it’s closed on Wednesdays, and hours are prone to change during the summer due to heat. Go early before the sun has time to scorch you, they open at 10.
Since you’re already in the area with a car, why not explore some sites on the outskirt of the city? Make sure you fill up your gas tank before leaving Palm Springs. Gas stations exist, but they are few and far between in the desert. A gallon of water in the backseat is also a necessity.
Have you even been to California if you haven’t visited Salvation Mountain? Leonard Knight created this outsider art made of adobe clay and hay. It is the story of a dedicated man so enamored with spreading the idea of “God Is Love,” that most of our life’s efforts will pale in comparison. Today, the 50’ high and 150’ wide site is run by volunteers who continue to maintain the grounds via donated paint and whole heart.
Just beyond the foot of the Santa Rosa mountains and the serenity of saguaros lies the picturesque oasis known as Joshua Tree National Park. Get there early, before it gets dangerously hot. Drive around the park, and pick a hike that suits your fancy. There are so many trails of varying difficulty, and some even give views of Mexico on a clear day. Mentally prepare yourself for dry heat in the am, and nearly freezing temps at night. If you’re camping, take extra care to pack accordingly. Airbnb’s in Joshua Tree are vibey and widely available. If you do stay in J Tree for a night or two, shop around at The End in Yucca Valley and be sure book a sound bath at The Integratron for an offbeat experience that will resonate long after your trip ends.
What goes around, comes around. Palm Springs has seen a surge of tourism within the past decade as it continues to host popular events like Coachella and Modernism Week. Be mindful of these festivals when you plan your stay. Although they're incredible happenings, these events do seem to interfere with the laid back flow of the city. Have you been to Palm Springs? What did you find most memorable?