Where to Stay in Palm Springs
It was once Hollywood’s playground, now it’s an almost literal oasis of fun, culture and outdoor activities just two hours from LA. Here's a list of our favourite places to stay in Greater Palm Springs.
The desert is a strange place to build a single house, let alone the nine cities that make up Greater Palm Springs. However, since the golden age of Hollywood, this area – nestled between the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa mountains and Joshua Tree National Park - has evolved from the celebrity’s retreat to a thriving oasis of culture, shopping and fun. It also boasts – somewhat ironically – the highest concentration of golf courses in the US (probably because they’re REALLY good at sand traps). How to make sense of it all? Take our hand, and we’ll show you the way. Hey, we’re Plum Guide. It’s what we do…
Desert Hot Springs
Palm Springs did wellness before wellness was even a thing, particularly in the town of Desert Hot Springs. As the name suggests, there’s an underground aquifer here which produces some of the world’s purest hot and cold mineral springs. The area is thus dotted with spas and pools, and myriad options for meditation, yoga and improving your inner beauty. It’s also home to the Mission Creek Preserve, a wildlands conservancy of quite exceptional outer beauty.
Looking to the town that gave the area its catch-all name, Palm Springs is where it pretty much started, around the 1940s and 50s. And, as a result, this Palm Springs is the architecture-lover’s paradise, dotted with stunning examples of mid-century modern buildings. Downtown is home to the Palm Springs Art Museum – think Picasso, Warhol, Lichtenstein to name but a few. Uptown has the Design District, with its vintage and home furnishing stores. Both are home to multiple independent outlets, from shops to bars to restaurants. With its very predictable climate, this means Palm Springs is simultaneously both very hot and very cool.
Just down the Coachella Valley lies Cathedral City. While all the region has strong artistic credentials, Cathedral City’s Public Arts Initiative probably gives them the edge on this score, with many works on display through the city, including the Fountain of Life which, given the region’s temperatures, you’ll probably want to splash through.
While quite luxury hotel-heavy, Rancho Mirage is not without its interesting trappings. Also, like the entire region, while you might be wondering where to stay in Palm Springs, it’s very quick and easy to skip between the nine cities. With the likes of Messrs Ford, Nixon and Obama taking downtime in Rancho Mirage mean it’s sometimes known as the “Playground of Presidents”, it’s a great spot to bring the family thanks to the very hands on fun of the Children’s Museum of the Desert. Stargazing is popular in the region – hey, it’s a desert, the skies are big and clear – and the observatory here is quite literally worth a look.
Maintaining the geographical themes, next up is Palm Desert, home to the McCallum Theatre – a state of the art performance space should you need a little Broadway in your life – as well as the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens – should you feel like feeding a giraffe. Different strokes, people. Different strokes… Palm Desert also scores highly on the food and shopping side of vacation life.
We’ve had springs, we’ve had deserts, and now we have wells – Indian Wells, to be precise. And, yes, the name echoes back to, well, wells. It’s a lush part of the region, with palm trees, gardens, more luxury spas, award-winning golf courses, an annual arts festival, and a burgeoning culinary scene. And an annual Ironman competition should your decision of where to stay in Palm Springs require a degree of insanity.
To La Quinta next, where the draws are quite similar to much of the whole Palm Springs region. Golf is more than covered here – it’s home to PGA West – ditto shopping, hiking, art, and decent dining. The Old Town maybe ironically named – it’s more teenager than pensioner – but it’s a fine place to stroll, with its cobblestone sidewalks, palms and bougainvillea, and some 30+ cafes, shops and salons covering all of your particular needs. There’s also a Farmer’s Market if great Californian produce is your attraction.
As we’re in the Coachella Valley, it won’t come as a surprise to find that the famous Coachella festival takes place in the area – in Indio, to be precise. Most of the year, the venue is the Empire Polo Grounds but, other times, it’s playing host to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, The Stagecoach Country Music Festival and many other similar events. There’s a reason Indio is colloquially called The City of Festivals. Indio is also home to a Palm Springs 'must see': Shields Date Garden & Café, home to the justifiably famous Date Shake since 1924. If your tastes lean towards the higher spends, you’ll also find Fantasy Springs Resort Casino here.
And finally… we come to Coachella, or 'the City of Eternal Sunshine' if you’re feeling poetic. This city’s rich Mexican heritage shines through here, particularly culinarily speaking in terms of local restaurants and the annual Tacos, Tequila, and Chavelas Festival. If your tastes lean towards the educational, or you want to see the farm side of your 'farm-to-fork' dining, book an agritour to one of the region’s local producers. It’s also home to the Coachella Walls which are, indeed, walls – just walls adorned with murals painted by local artists, celebrating the city’s people and history.