Palm Springs Weekend | A 2 Day Or 48 Hour Guide To Fun In The California Desert
Planning A Palm Springs Weekend??
Over the years, Palm Springs has become a very popular destination with festivals like Coachella and Stagecoach as well as properties like the Ace Hotel opening up. The desert is one of my favourite places in Southern California and I make any excuse to get out there. In 2014, I went to Palm Springs with my two best friends for a fun weekend slash birthday celebration and I went last summer (2018) and this summer (2019) with my boyfriend who visited from Spain.
Palm Springs Weekend/ 2 Day Guide
*Updated with new content July 2019*
I feel relaxed whenever I drive into Palm Springs.
**Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. There is no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, I may make a commission.**
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HELPFUL GENERAL TRAVEL TIPS
- Flights: Find a cheap flight using Skyscanner or Momondo. I like these two booking sites because they both search all websites and airlines around the globe including budget airlines.
- Accommodations: I use Booking.com or Tripadvisor to find the best rates on hotels. Hotels.com offers a free night after booking 10 nights
- Get up to $40 off your first Air Bnb stay by using this code!
- Travel Insurance: Having gotten sick on my travels in the past, I never travel without being insured. You never know when something may happen. For my round the world trip and extended long-term travel, I use World Nomads. For other trips, I have used Roam Right and they cover activities like extreme sports.
Palm Springs Weekend: Where To Stay
Parker Palm Springs
In 2014, when my girlfriends and I came out for my birthday, we stayed at the Parker Palm Springs. The hotel is a dream and I could easily move in. There is so much to do on the property, we didn’t even have time to experience it all. I love it! If you don’t stay at the Parker, at least drop in for a (spendy) meal or cocktail at Norma’s or Mister Parker, their restaurants on property.
Read Tripadvisor reviews for the Parker Palm Springs
Book your room at the Parker with cancellation on Booking.com
The Parker Palm Springs
Our suite at the Parker
The Riviera Palm Springs
Last summer (2018), my boyfriend and I did a quick night in Palm Springs. He was visiting from Spain last minute and we didn’t have anything planned so I drove us out for a quick visit. The Riviera is part of the Marriott Bonvoy family has been renovated recently (at least the building we stayed in), so I was quite happy with the under $75 deal that we found on Hotel Tonight App. The property does charge a resort fee like most places in the desert but it wasn’t too bad considering the price in total.
Because Palm Springs is so hot in the summer (low season) we spent most of our time indoors eating at restaurants, watching movies in our suite, and poolside (the pool gets way too busy on the weekends since there is a DJ playing music). One night I did order room service and the burger and fries were quite good.
Note for food ordering: I considered getting Uber Eats one night but a lot of places close early in Palm Springs and it was more convenient to get room service.
Read Tripadvisor reviews for The Riviera
Reserve your Riviera room with cancellation on Booking.com
Besides hotels in Palm Springs, I have stayed in a couple of vacation rentals (also a family friend’s casita in Rancho Mirage). In September 2011, I went with my friend Tom and we stayed in a timeshare that he had booked. It was in a condo complex that had a community pool.
This summer (2019), my boyfriend and I rented a place called The Wesley via Air Bnb. Because the summer is so hot and is low season in Palm Springs, we scored an amazing deal and even lower because we went during the week. As a bonus, there was only one other occupant in the 10 unit complex and we never saw them. We had the pool and common area to ourselves. Amazing!
If you have never used Air Bnb before, click on this link to get up to $40 off your first stay.
The pool area at our Air Bnb
Palm Springs Weekend: What To Do
With so many great resorts and spa in Palm Springs, it’s only natural to want to get some treatments while you are out there. During my Palm Springs weekend for my birthday, I treated myself to a massage at the Palm Springs Yacht Club which is the spa at the Parker. My massage therapist was excellent, so much so, I fell asleep! If you’re looking for a quiet spa vibe, it’s not that at the Palm Springs Yacht Club. It’s more of a fun place to go with friends. It was quite lively here and when you arrive they give you a shot of vodka before your treatments. Haha.
Palm Springs Yacht Club
YES at Palm Springs Yacht Club!
If you want to have a typically quiet spa experience I recommend driving to Desert Hot Springs and going to one of my favourite spas in the desert. The Spring is a small property with spa facilities. I’ve never stayed there but I have gone several times for treatments. The vibe is super low key and less expensive than most of the spas in the desert. I’m a huge fan!
The pool at The Spring
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
If you love views, go up to the top of Mount San Jacinto via the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Just an FYI: the gondola rotates. As you climb upwards you’ll see amazing views of the desert, landscape, and area. You can hike while you’re up there and it’s actually part of the Pacific Crest Trail.
Please note that depending on the time of year, even though it’s hot on the desert floor but cold up top!! I’ve gone up in November and while it was about 80 F/26 C on ground level it was 46 F /8 C up top. Cold!
Going up! View from the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
Palm Springs Tram
When you get to the top of Mount San Jacinto you can just look at the view or you can go for a hike. During a past visit to Palm Springs (November 2008), my late husband and I went for a hike along the Pacific Crest Trail for a few miles. When I went with my girlfriends in February 2014, there was snow on the ground and we were ill-prepared for the weather so we just took a few photos and went back down quite quickly.
A visit in November is perfect weather for hiking
I may have forgotten to tell my girlfriends it’s colder at the top. I didn’t expect snow! Sorry ladies!
Another hike I would like to do in the future is the Taquitz Canyon and see the waterfall. It was just too hot during my last few visits (July 2018 & 2019 so I think this just means I need to go out this fall to do the hike.
While this isn’t technically in Palm Springs, one of my must-dos on the way to or return from the desert is shopping at the Desert Hills Premium Outlets in Cabazon. If you know me, I love a shopping bargain. Since I was a teen on summer holidays with my parents, I’ve been coming out to this outlet. Some days it’s a miss and I don’t find anything but on past trips, I have found a purse that I was lusting over for an insane bargain price as well as other bargains. My boyfriend bought two pairs of Levi’s and two shirts for $118 which is unheard of in Europe. SCORE!!! My favourite outlets are Barney’s, J Crew, Saks Off Fith, and Nike.
Photo courtesy of Desert Hills Premium Outlet
Nike! Just do it and go shopping!
Woooo Celine Trio! I may have bought the forest colour. Yay!
You may be headed out to Palm Springs for a festival like Coachella or Stage Coach. Maybe you’re coming out for Modernism Week, Desert X, or the Palm Desert Food and Wine Festival. There are many events that bring visitors into Palm Springs from all over the world. Perhaps before you come, you can do a quick internet search to see if there are any fun things happening in the city. In 2014 and 2015, I went out for the day and enjoyed the food at the Palm Desert Food And Wine Festival. It was great to sample a lot of of the food from the local restaurants and gave me insight into where I’ll eat subsequent visits.
Every Thursday evening is the Palm Springs Village Fest. Palm Canyon Drive is closed off from car traffic and many vendors of all kinds set up stalls. You can buy knick-knacks, food, drink, you name it. I came out in 2008 and drove by it last week and it has doubled in size!
Palm Springs Weekend: Where To Eat
Palm Springs has so much to offer for dining. Over the years I have eaten at many of the great restaurants in the city. Here are a few of my favourite places that you should add to your list for your trip!
Koffi is the best place to get coffee in the Palm Springs area. They have a few locations in Palm Springs as well as Rancho Mirage. My boyfriend had a cinnamon bun there which was fantastic. We bought a bag of beans which were freshly roasted and amazing and made coffee in our Air Bnb since it had a grinder, French Press, as well as a pour-over filter. Remember to bring your own travel cup because if you dine in they don’t offer mugs here.
Coffee at Koffi! It’s good (I forgot my travel cup)
If you love breakfast and brunch you will be in heaven because Palm Springs has loads of options. Some of the places I can recommend are Norma’s at the Parker, Kings Highway at the Ace Hotel, Cheeky’s, and Rick’s Grill. Norma’s decor is very mid-century Palm Springs and designed by Jonathan Adler. Everything is delicious and it’s more on the splurge side of pricing. Eat out on the patio if the weather is not too hot! Kings Highway at the Ace Hotel will be filled with your hipsters and Ace clientele but the breakfast is pretty good. Cheeky’s has great breakfast cocktails, juices, and unique dishes like a bacon flight and sweet potato tots. The lines can get quite long so go early or expect a wait. Rick’s Grill is your typical diner food but if you’re looking for an awesome cinnamon roll, it’s very good.
Breakfast burrito time at Norma’s
Hello, scrumptious waffle!
Potato pancakes at Norma’s
Chilaquiles at Kings Highway at the Ace Hotel
Delicious breakfast at Cheeky’s
The cinnamon roll at Rick’s Grill
If you want a nice dinner out, I recommend Mister Parkers at the Parker. My girlfriends and I had my birthday meal here and the service was spectacular as was the meal. I had the filet with frites and it was done perfectly. If you just want to come for a drink, the cocktails here are excellent also.
One of the nights my girlfriends and I were in town for my birthday, we were craving pizza. Many friends who frequent Palm Springs have recommended Birba. We wanted to chill and enjoy our suite so we ordered pizzas, picked them up, and had a pizza picnic in our room. So fun!
Tasty pizzas from Birba
Birba picnic in our room!
A few other places to note in Palm Springs are Rooster and the Pig for Vietnamese food, Copley’s for your date night out, Workshop for your farm to table modern vibe dinner, Trio for affordable prix fixe dining at lunch and a colourful vibe.
If you are in an Air Bnb, hopefully, you have access to a kitchen or at least kitchenette or barbecue grill. Our Air Bnb this summer didn’t have a cooktop but had a microwave, toaster, and grill. So we grabbed a bag of beans from Koffi to make coffee for the rest of our stay and groceries from Trader Joes and Ralphs. Like everyone, I enjoy meals out but I also love cooking and staying in. My stomach also prefers if I don’t eat out every meal.
Day Trip From Palm Springs: Joshua Tree National Park
Last week while my boyfriend and I were in Palm Springs, we took a day trip out to Joshua Tree National Park. For many years I have been wanting to come out here but never made time. With 4 days in Palm Springs, we didn’t have any excuses. The weather was insanely hot but it was still worth the hour drive. It would be nice to go back when the weather is cooler and I can do some hiking since it’s so stunningly beautiful.
Exploring Joshua Tree
Where the streets have no name haha
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**Disclosure: I worked in collaboration with Palm Springs Tourism on this guide. Thank you to the Parker Palm Springs, Kings Highway at the Ace Hotel, and the Palm Springs Aerial Tram for their support. As always, opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. There is no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, I may make a commission**