Palm Springs

palm springs.

[spotlight series. natasha casemarlene marchewka]

[palm springs soundtrack. love like a sunset]


There’s nothing quite like escaping LA’s urban sprawl for a weekend in the desert. Driving east on the open road, past endless windmills and retro dinosaurs, to the sun-kissed oasis that is Palm Springs. Blues and browns dominate the desert scenery here. Mid-century architecture, roadside motels, color pops, and our favorite thing of all – The Parker Hotel. We first visited the Parker in 2010 on our maiden voyage to the Coachella festival. It was love at first sight. A colorful, kitsch and calm oasis amongst palm trees and manicured lawns. There are lush swimming pools, bocce ball courts and a lemonade stand. In winter, the firepit will keep you warm. Once here, there is no need to leave. If its springtime in Palm Springs, the desert flowers are in full bloom, and pink is everywhere. Hummingbirds, too. Come to the desert to rest and recharge. If you want more action though, there is definitely enough to keep you busy for a few days. Here’s how to spend a perfect desert weekend.

To caffeinate.

For easily the best coffee in town, check out Ernest. They serve Stumptown, and they get it.

If a juice is more your thing, head to Palm Greens Café. It’s not fancy, and it’s in a strip mall, but they do a mean smoothie or green juice if coffee’s not your thing.

And for something totally unhealthy and again, not so fancy, order the s’mores shake from Great Shakes. I mean, come on. You know you are in America when you can get s’mores in a cup.

To eat.

Brunch at Norma’s: for a breakfast bigger than your head. The food here is consistently good. The French toast will blow your mind. Even the fruit bowl will impress. Its not cheap, but it is wonderfully delicious. A perfect terrace to enjoy the sunny desert light.

Cheeky’s: this laid-back Palm Springs brunching institution is always busy. Be prepared to wait. The food is fresh and organic. Order the breakfast tacos, and try the “flights” of bacon.

Lunch at the ACE: the perfect poolside lunching (or casual dinner) spot. We always stop by here on our drive into Palm Springs. Order the lentil burger, or the kale salad with chicken. Great poolside-party-people watching.

The lemonade stand at the Parker. Need we say more.

King’s Highway at The Ace: housed in a retrofitted Denny’s, this is a cute retro-luxe diner, especially busy during Coachella. Come here for farm-to-table brunch or dinner offerings. DJ sets and live music, sometimes.

Birba: the same owners as Cheeky’s, this is a good alfresco dinner spot. Enjoy pizza and cocktails under the palm trees. Live music as well. Closed Monday and Tuesday.

Workshop Kitchen and Bar: our favorite desert dinner option. This impressive minimalist space, all concrete and wood, is the spot for fresh, seasonal and local food. The outdoor seating is tempting, but can get pretty hot out there, so go for a booth.

S’mores by the firepit at the Parker: the ultimate way to end your dreamy desert day. Order the s’mores tray and roast your own marshmallows over the fire, layering them in dark chocolate, and sandwiching them between graham crackers. This is insanely good. BYO bottle of red, and meet new friends by the fire. The perfect end to a perfect desert day.

To do.

Hang at the Parker: there is so much (or so little) to do here, you seriously don’t ever have to leave. Pool time, bocce, croquet on the lawn, ping-pong, s’mores by the fire pit, spa treatments or gym time.. It’s all here, and it’s all amazing. Our happy place.

Rent bikes (or borrow from your hotel) and cruise around downtown Palm Springs. Check out some of the design stores.

Visit the Kaufmann House for mid-century modern at its finest. Arguably Palm Springs’ most famous home, designed by architect Richard Neutra in 1946. Continue by taking yourself on a self-guided tour. Or time your visit with Mid-Century Modern week (February) for open home visits, architecture tours, talks, and cocktail parties.

Take the Aerial Tramway to the top of the San Jacinto Mountains for some knockout desert views of the Coachella Valley. Once there you can also hike Mount San Jacinto State Park.

Palm Springs Art Museum: visit here for western American art and craftworks. Free admission on Thursday evenings.

Coachella: a no-brainer if you like music, and you find yourself in the desert in April (along with most of LA). Founded by Paul Tollett in 1999, the festival (now held over 2 consecutive weekends) takes place at the Empire Polo Club in Indio (about 45mins from Palm Springs).

To sleep.

The Parker Palm Springs: sometimes described as an “adult-playground”, this Jonathan Adler-designed hotel is a lush and private oasis. A favorite at any time of year, we like to visit every other month. Once inside, there is no real reason to leave. Rest and recharge with poolside hang time, a good book in the hammock, a spa treatment, a round of croquet on the lawn, bocce ball, maybe take out some bikes, or the s’mores tray, with some red wine, by the fire.

Sparrows Lodge: one of the original restored getaways for Hollywood elite, this completely restored 1950s retreat, is somewhat hidden off the main road and has a charming modern rustic vibe and wonderful feeling of simplicity. An outdoor fire pit, veggie garden, swimming pool, and bar…it has everything you need for a totally restful Palm Springs stay. We love it here.

Airbnb: we stumbled across this boutique little airbnb rental when planning our recent visit (February 2015). A desert-chic hideaway, perfectly tucked away behind the city’s center. Behind its bright orange door lie five refurbed apartments surrounding a pool. Simple and clean, with colorful design touches, these rooms make a perfect base. You can choose to rent one room only, or book out the entire place – perfect for a group. There’s an awesome bbq, and plenty of sun lounges to lie poolside in the sun.

Ace Hotel & Swim Club: this is where you stay if you are wanting party, not rest. Swamped at Coachella time, these mod-retro desert digs is another good option for your Palm Springs visit. Think Navarro rugs, earthy tones, and vintage furniture. Live music, poolside parties, that kind of thing.  

Korakia: this gorgeous Moroccan-style pensione is a private and calm oasis tucked off the main drag. Known to host evening movies here, there is also a lovely pool. A good option if you are wanting something quiet and low-key.