Cradled in the flatlands of the famous Coachella Valley, Palm Springs has been turning heads since Frank Sinatra hosted happy hour parties beside his piano-shaped pool. Iconic for its Midcentury design, sunny disposition and tableau of tastemakers, here’s how to make the most of a Saturday in the desert oasis – if you can tear yourself away from your pool, that is.
Start the day in style at Norma’s (right) in the Jonathan Adler-designed Parker Palm Springs. Surrounded by the hotel’s lush grounds sprouting lemon trees and bougainvillea, the upscale diner takes breakfast so seriously it serves it all day (read: it’s cool if you waltz in for Nutella-Packed Jacks at 2 pm). Since a smoothie shooter comes standard with every meal, feel free to indulge in the Chocolate Decadence French Toast, or the The Zillion Dollar Lobster Frittata with caviar (priced from $100-$1,000 USD). But don’t worry, there’s also ‘Rabbit Food’ – the restaurant’s waistline-friendly fare.
Not that we’re suggesting you have to work off Norma’s big-plate breakfast, but a heart-pumping hike before the sun is sky-high is a win-win for burning calories and catching a bird’s-eye view of the valley. Just a few minutes from Norma’s, scale the Palm Springs Art Museum Trail where picnic tables await, perched over the valley; or the Araby Trail where your path takes you above Bob Hope’s iconic John Lautner-designed estate, carved into the San Jacinto mountains.
There’s a silver lining to stretching those legs between the desert’s boulders and brush: The spa. Just a few steps downwind from the trail at the Palm Springs Yacht Club (right), you’ll find a mod, nautical-themed retreat offering a co-ed dipping pool and boozy pre-treatment shots doled out before your massage, facial or natural nail service. If the spa really floats your boat, skip the hike and go from breakfast to relaxation, stat (Norma’s and the PSYC are a hop-skip away from each other).
For the perfect midday pick-me-up, perch yourself on a vinyl stool at King’s Highway and order this Coachella Valley staple: A date shake blended with vanilla bean gelato, almond milk and local dates. (Yep, the hike is probably a good idea!)
To find out what shops are dressing the desert’s retreats and physiques take a walk down one of Palm Springs’ most burgeoning blocks where Midcentury Modern galleries and boutiques line North Palm Canyon Drive in the Uptown Design District. And since you’re in the ZIP Code that invented poolside cocktail parties, dress the part in a splashy getup from desert designer Trina Turk – so on cue, you’re offered a mimosa when browsing.
In Palm Springs there’s a signal for each day’s denouement, AKA cocktail hour: sundown, when a kaleidoscope of color is cast over the retro metro. At this time, head to Mr. Lyons Steakhouse (left) for an old-school tipple in a marble- and velvet-clad environs harkening back to Hollywood’s heyday. Reimagined in 2015, the dining salon and lounge was given new lease on life by local restaurateurs known for creating the town’s it eateries (Cheeky’s, Birba and Chi Chi).
For dinner, find no-fuss decadence at SO.PA, the only restaurant in town lead by a Michelin-star chef. Intimate and chic with Lindsey Edelman chandeliers and a cozy fire pit, chef Giacomo Pettinari creates approachable gourmet dishes like Blistered Sea Scallop Carpaccio with a focus on nearby and organic fare. Top it off with a L’Horizon Classic, a cocktail blending vodka, apricot liqueur, muddled thyme, peach bitters and a Peat Monster whisky rinse, and you’ll wish your Saturday in Palm Springs could last forever (or, until the next drink).
Where to stay in Palm Springs