Hipsters and Hollywood in Palm Springs
Some think of Palm Springs as a winter golf retreat for retirees or the resting place of old Hollywood relics. Others think of it as a once a year destination for hipsters pre and post Coachella (like us, the festival part not the hipster part). The reality: it’s all the above, which makes for an interesting mix and a town worth visiting!
We’ve been to Palm Springs several times and really only scratched the surface of what this sunny destination is all about. This time around we gave ourselves a mission to discover what has made Palm Springs so iconic for such a long time. No matter what, everyone we talked to loved it for one of or all of three things: the resort lifestyle, the food scene, and the art/design.
The Resort Lifestyle
From clothing optional (oh my) to boutique hotels, swim clubs and gated communities, it’s all about the resort lifestyle! For us, we were happily living it up at the Thousand Trails Palm Springs RV Resort and Campground! It may not be the Four Seasons or the La Quinta but the people were fun, the grass was green and we were surrounded by palm trees.
Its the perfect base camp for Thousand Trails members because…well, resort style accommodations in Palm Springs don’t get any cheaper!
The food scene
There are plenty of restaurants to discover, almost too many for one person to attempt to tackle. The tricky part was finding the good ones among the boring ones. We read several articles written by foodies and most came to the same conclusion: Typical bland boring resort food! But you know us, we love a challenge! After loads of research, dozens of conversations with the locals, and a few misses; here are our favs.
Cheeky’s brunch spot may be laid-back, but its menu is serious business. The crowd was mixed and it was all about fresh, organic ingredients and local fare. The menu states: juices are squeezed by hand, the sausages are made in-house and “scrambled eggs come custard style, if you like them more cooked, just let us know!” And the patio is dog friendly!
JIAO is modern, fresh and the perfect place for lunch on a hot day. The food is light and packed with bright flavors that leave you feeling refreshed. If you want something that won’t put you in a food coma, go for a salad or noodle dish here.
Koffi coffee seemed to be a local favorite and we had no complaints. It was our daily afternoon pick me up!
Kings Highway at The Ace is a Hipster hot spot and housed in an old Denny’s restaurant. It’s a retro-luxe diner that’s serves local, organic and artisanal fare, which is anything but traditional diner fare. It’s open until the wee hours and was the perfect place to meet up with friends! I would tell you more about it, but you should see what our friends Tire Treks had to say.
Las Cansuela’s was mediocre Mexican at best, but the ambiance packed the house. Eat somewhere else and then head over for drinks. They have live music almost every day and a dance floor where you can get down like it’s 1969. It’s perfect for a group or solo travelers looking for a good time.
One of the best ways to get a feel for Palm Springs is to hop in the car and go for a drive. The Desert Modernism Architecture Tour will show you where Hollywood relics once lived and give you reason to peep around really shi shi neighborhoods and not get the evil eye. After all, butterfly roof-lines are a modernist landmark and who doesn’t want to see where Frank Sinatra used to hang his hat! The map is $5 from the visitors center, and the self guided tour is a little uncomfortable at first cause you feel like a peeping tom, but after a few stops it’s kinda exhilarating.
The Design District is a far cry from the over populated, over touristy section of Palm Canyon Drive that has become so famous over the years. This short stretch of Palm Canyon Drive (1 block north of the tourists) between Tamarisk Road and Tachevah Drive, you’ll find one of a kind mid-century modern boutiques, and the home of the one and only Trina Turk Residential store. Not that we purchased anything, but it is fun to browse around and watch Jason sweat with each glimpse of a price tag!
Of course there are museums and galleries, but a walk through the land of Robolights was an experience that is beyond anything I have ever seen. It’s the largest residential light display in the US and a whimsical robotic winter wonderland. We had so much fun, there is a post coming soon to show you more of this interesting find. Until then, think of a futuristic winter wonderland set in the North pole…without the snow and surrounded by palm trees.
Getting out of Palm Springs
Escaping the desert heat is easy, not cheap, but easy. $24, ten minuets and 8500 feet later, the worlds largest rotating aerial tramway, affectionately known as “the Tram” to the locals, transports you to the San Jacinto State Park Wilderness. It’s a stark difference from the desert floor so pack a sweater, long pants, and don’t even think about wearing flip-flops. For the super adventurous ride up in the morning and hike over to Idyllwild for lunch. The views are vast and the Lookout Lounge is a nice stop after a long hike through the forest.
The bar may not be the best place to pick up a date but it’s a great place to make new friends! The group photo was just the beginning of a very long night filled with dinner, dancing, conversation and sore cheeks from laughing all night. In case you didn’t already know, people are what makes travel great! If you ever loose your faith in humanity or forget the kindness of the human spirit, take a trip. It’s good for the soul.
It’s your turn. Have you been to Palm Springs? Did we miss something spectacular (I am sure we did), tell us about it in the comments below.
Disclaimer: While we were compensated to film the campground (thanks Thousand Trails!)…all of our experiences and opinions are NOT purchased and are still our own.