Luxury Escapes Guide to Greater Palm Springs

Hear the whisper of swaying palm trees, the call of glorious mountain ranges and the song of magnificent modernist architecture.

Hear the whisper of swaying palm trees, the call of glorious mountain ranges and the song of magnificent modernist architecture.

Let the soulful sounds guide you to the USA’s desert diamond: Greater Palms Springs. Just two hours from Los Angeles, located in the heart of Southern California’s Coachella Valley, this lush region plays host to some of the world’s best spas, delectable dining, and flowing good times.

Spanning across nine cities – Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Indio and Coachella – each distinctive city has its own energetic culture, lively nightlife, and opulent resort scene, all worthy of adding to your Californian road trip.

Attracting pleasure seekers from all ends of the globe, a thrilling Joshua Tree rock climb or hike through the Indian Canyons is sure to satisfy your adventuring appetite. Experience the sheer beauty of the region from a unique bird’s eye view inside a biplane or astonishing hot air balloon flight. Appreciate Palm Spring’s impact on mid-century modernist architecture with a tour through the retro-chic cities and townships, stopping along the way for a bite to eat at a transformed diner with a facelift like King’s Highway.

See the region come alive for Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival or stay a while and enjoy the unparalleled luxury golf courses, unique culinary experiences and delectable cocktail creations – all part of what makes Greater Palm Springs Southern California’s most sought after, relaxed resort paradise.

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Find your Palm Springs oasis

Things to see and do

Gaze from above on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Slowly rotate and climb over 8,516ft of natural landscapes from the comfort of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway cable cart. Journey above the cactus inhabited floor of the Sonoran Desert, the naked cliffs of Chino Canyon and the lush pine forests of Mt San Jacinto State Park. From the top, explore over 80km of hiking tracks, various observation decks and an onsite Natural History Museum or enjoy an indulgent meal at one of the two mountain restaurants. Spend as long as you desire among the greenery with trams scheduled from 10am on weekdays until 9.30pm (varying with the season).

Hike through the spectacular Indian Canyons

Spend a day exploring the colossal Indian Canyons. Nestled at the base of the awe-inspiring San Jacinto Mountains, the canyons boast more than 90km of lush hiking tracks filled with sensational rock structures, soft mountain streams, and dense palm vegetation. The three canyons – Murray, Andreas, and Palm – are the ancestral home of the indigenous Cahuilla Indians, and hold sacred grounds and ancient traditions within the land. The canyon trails vary in difficulty and are perfect for everyone, from beginners wanting to connect with nature to experts seeking a thrilling challenge – but don’t forget to pack your water and sunscreen.

Discover the hidden beauty of Tahquitz Falls

Combine the parched landscape of the desert in the Cahuilla Indians Reservation, located on the fringe of Palm Springs, with the cascade of falling water at Tahquitz Falls. Located at the mouth of the culturally significant Tahquitz Canyon, Tahquitz Falls is a breathtaking 60ft seasonal waterfall. Enjoy a solo hike to the awe-inspiring falls or indulge in a ranger-led trek to observe the falls as well as ancient rock art, native wildlife and plants, and to learn the vast history of this natural wonder.

Marvel on a Midcentury Modern Tour of iconic architecture

Ahh the architecture. Mid-century modern meets retro-chic along the lush streets of Palm Springs. Step back in time to appreciate the cities iconic ‘blast from the past’ personality with pastel front doors, flat rooflines and white Besser block features on a Midcentury Modern Tour. No matter your preferred design genre, there is something spectacular about the style of these homes contrasted against the desert landscape. Choose from a range of touring methods, from historic neighbourhood bicycle tours to elegant home interiors and stopping by former celebrity vacation homes.

Adventure through the Joshua Tree National Park

Gift yourself a day of natural desert adventuring through the mystical Joshua Tree National Park. For the outdoor traveller, this wonderous treasure can be enjoyed in seclusion with countless hiking trails for every level of explorer. Those looking for a challenge can ascend the grand boulder formations during a thrilling rock-climbing expedition. See the sites during the day and return under the cloak of darkness to witness the blanket of twinkling stars that illuminate the sky in this official International Dark Sky Park.

Bounce offroad with a Jeep Tour

Take your travels deeper into Joshua Tree National Park, and feel the wind in your hair as you roll through the unique landscape on an offroad jeep tour. Soak up the best views of the hidden and largely inaccessible gems deep within the rugged backcountry, which you would otherwise miss if you remained on foot. An expert local guide will be with you the entire time to point out the spectacular rock formations and unmatched views of the Mojave Desert throughout this unmissable five-hour adventure.

Sparkle at Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival

Live out your festival dreams at the world-famous, star studded, and entirely unmissable Coachella Festival. Established in 1999, this two-weekend-long festival sells out basically every year for a reason: it’s a music lover’s haven. With world-class performances and some of the most exclusive after parties in the country, Coachella is run with the utmost attention to detail. The layout of the festival sells itself – from the Ferris wheel in the heart of the grounds to the masterpieces of art peppered throughout the crowd, the event has moved beyond a simple display of music and art to a completely immersive experience.

Witness the masterpieces in the Palm Springs Art Museum

Lovers of innovation, culture, and all things art should not miss the stellar collection at Palm Springs Art Museum. This dynamic gallery showcases the finest in contemporary and classically timeless paintings, photography, sculptures, and glass art. The mid-century walls of the museum are home to permanent collections ranging from over 800 pieces of Michael Childers’ iconic photography to the limited time exhibitions and special event fundraisers of rotating artists. Become part of the vibrant crowd that flocks to the museum on a Thursday night from 5–8pm for free entry (first in, best dressed), or reserve a ticket online for US$16.

Yeeha your way through the Stagecoach Country Music Festival

Don your finest cowgirl hat and break in the cowboy boots for country music’s biggest event of the year – the Stagecoach Country Music Festival. Release your inner country spirit and dress the part for the three-day festival, with the first day representing an ocean of blue denim followed by tassels, summery ruffled dresses, and iconic jean-shorts. Pack your best picnic blanket and sturdiest lawn chair to claim your spot in the festival grounds, where you will sit, relax, dance, and most importantly sing your heart out to your favourite mainstream and up-and-coming country artists.

Fly high at the Palm Springs Air Museum

Whether you’re a history buff, airplane enthusiast or somewhere in between, a visit to the Palm Springs Air Museum is a must. Established in 1996, this contemporary living history museum is dedicated to educating civilians on the role of air power in preserving life throughout historical and current situations. Showcasing aircraft from various global wars, the museum also preserves artifacts and artworks significant to America’s air history. While you’re there, elevate your Palm Springs adventure by soaring into the sky in one of the museum’s authentically restored WWII aircrafts. Starting at US$125, this is a once in a lifetime experience.

Top places to eat and drink

Wilma & Frieda

Serving up hearty comfort food with a twist in the heart of Palm Desert is Wilma & Frieda’s forte. Gaining its namesake from the passionate owner’s two grandmothers, Wilma and Frieda, the restaurant is aptly stylish, welcoming and able to impress to an incredible number of guests at a moment’s notice. Serving up classic brunch dishes you know and love, from eggs your way and traditional pancakes, alongside some new favourites like churro waffles and the soy-rizo scramble all in a wonderful farm style setting.

4 Saints

Set against the breathtaking backdrop of the San Jacinto Mountains, enjoy the intricacies of Californian fine dining with an evening at 4 Saints. Venture to the pinnacle of Palm Springs, grab a quick cocktail or stay for a full dining experience to enjoy incredible desert views and fantastic hospitality. Guided by a traditional southern approach to cooking, the scrumptious menu makes the most of SoCal’s own ranches, vines, and natural coastlines. From the freshest seafood and prime meats, to bursting local fruits and vegetables brought to life on the grill – there’s much to be savoured.

Ernest Coffee

For caffeine-fuelled good times at the base of Palm Springs’s glorious mountain range, Ernest Coffee is the independent bean dealer worth stopping for. Named after the founding father of the tiki restaurant where the café stands, Ernest Raymond Beaumont Gantt, this coffee haven continues his spirit of delicious drinks, friendly catch-ups and vibrant fun. Serving up Stumptown Coffee daily, drop in for a takeaway on your way to Joshua Tree National Park, or stay for a while and relax on the patio with your favourite caffeinated beverage – made just how you like it.

The Pink Cabana

Bold, bright and beautiful, the Pink Cabana at Sands Hotel & Spa is fun and fresh take on the mid-century Tennis and Racquet Clubs of Palm Springs. Find a plush seat to relax in this colourfully furnished venue, whether you’re spending time dining on the moreish Mediterranean-meets-Moroccan menu or stopping by for a rejuvenating cocktail or glass of local wine. Boasting an impressive wine, cocktail, aperitif and digestif menu, this vivid venue attracts lovers of a curated drinks list from across the globe.

Tommy Bahama Restaurant & Bar at The Gardens

Sample a taste of island life at Tommy Bahama Restaurant & Bar at The Gardens while stretching out with a drink in hand on one of the best patios in America. Loved not only for its magnificent views of the breathtaking San Jacinto mountains, the brand’s stylish El Paseo destination is also famous for its incredible spread of fresh, coastal-meets-Mexican-inspired dishes and inventive cocktail list. The perfect spot to kick back with friends and watch the sunset while sipping away on a Baja Margarita or Raspberry Jalapeno Paloma and nibbling on mahi mahi tacos, coconut shrimp and blistered shishitos.

Sandfish Sushi and Whiskey

Two delicacies are better than one. At least that’s the mentality behind central Palm Springs fusion restaurant Sandfish Sushi and Whiskey. Slinging high-quality sashimi, curated hand rolls and mouth-watering nigiri alongside an impressive list of top shelf drops in the heart of the picturesque desert is their forte, and has been since 2018. Choose your own adventure with the delectable a la carte menu or leave the decision-making to award-winning chef Engin Onural and opt for the Omakase Chef’s Tasting Menu and be fully immersed in the Sandfish vision of great seafood and equally as good whiskey.

Workshop Kitchen & Bar

Step into an ultra-modern dining oasis encased within classic 1920s architecture and prepare for an indulgent and truly unique dining experience at Workshop Kitchen & Bar. While admiring magnificent views of the mountains above, become hypnotised by the venue’s passion for food through the variety of inventive and fresh creations. Dine on delectable in-season produce cooked the signature wood-fired way. From succulent seafood and prime cuts of meat to organic vegetables and homegrown herbs, everything is considered aesthetically beautiful and impeccably flavoured.

King’s Highway

Shaking up the classic American diner game, King’s Highway at Ace Hotel & Swim Club is a bohemian desert eatery and watering hole run by the owners of a popular New York bistro. Occupying a former Denny’s, the welcoming space offers elevated diner fare with everything from salmon lox and avocado toast to ricotta pancakes in the AM, and wholesome salads, sandwiches and burgers in the PM. Try a Date Shake or Bloody Mary with your brunch or come by after 2pm to refresh with a specialty cocktail, or pint of craft beer at the Amigo Room bar.

Counter Reformation

Just one of many outstanding drinks and dining options that calls Parker Palm Springs home, and a true standout for lovers of wine is the inventive and vibrant Counter Reformation. Self-described as “a shrine to great wine”, Counter Reformation offers a lively atmosphere with an impressive selection of wine. Take a relaxed seat along the bar’s edge and experience the Cave à Manger – sample the extensive curation of wines by the glass alongside an intricate menu of bite-sized delicacies and discover flavour beyond your wildest dreams.

Mr. Lyons Steakhouse

Paying tribute to the building’s original roots as the mid-century Lyons English Grille, Mr. Lyons Steakhouse continues the tradition of lovingly searing and serving premium cuts of meet to this day. Featuring a variety of steakhouse staples with a modern twist, find your space in the jazzy interiors and indulge in a delicate martini alongside a juicy cut, cooked just the way you like. Where indulgence reins supreme, guests are invited to revel in the impeccable service, sheer dedication to high quality ingredients and small farm championed menu when stopping by for an evening.

Lux moments

Experience personalised pampering at a luxurious day spa

After days in the elements adventuring the desert, treat yourself to a full body pamper day at one of Palm Spring’s finest spas. Indulge with a hot mineral bath in the sacred waters of The Spa At Sec-He or experience the unique sensation of floating in one of their unique magnesium-rich zero-sensory suites. For whole body rejuvenation, visit JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa’s array of pampering rooms, hair salon, yoga studio, delicious bistro, fitness centre and heated outdoor pool. Spend the entire day relaxing with personalised scrubs and facials, mesmerising massages, a relax in the Turkish steam room or the aromatic hammam.

Satiate your need for speed at BMW’s Performance Center

Kick your Palm Spring soiree up a notch with an adrenaline-pumping visit to the high-speed BMW Performance Center in Thermal. The first of two BMW driving tracks in the country, drivers at all skill levels are invited to engage in exciting daylong Driving School classes, or two-hour Performance Drive sessions. Test out your tight corner turns and speedy straights on a timed lap or jump in with a racing professional as they lead by example – either way, you will learn about the latest BMW models while brushing up on your driving skills.

Take in the beauty of Palm Springs sky high

Appreciate the sheer magnificence of this desert paradise from a new point of view with an exciting ride above the clouds. For an exhilarating journey overlooking the area’s mountain ranges, golf courses and serene sunsets, feel the wind in your hair while soaring in a 1940 Stearman biplane. If you’d rather something a little slower paced, Greater Palm Springs also offers incredible hot air balloon rides perfect for romantic occasions or simply admiring the breathtaking desert surroundings.

Journey your tastebuds through Palm Springs on a Tasty Tour

Experience the culinary joy of Palm Springs on foot with a fully immersive Tasty Tour along Palm Canyon Drive. Over three delicious hours, the tour will take you on a gastronomic journey to some of the area’s most significant and tasty food venues, providing you with a satisfied appetite and a newfound appreciation for cultural cuisine. Taste enticing flavour combinations and sample local beverages while learning about the cultural and architectural history of Palm Springs from local guides who are passionate about the region.

Test your climbing capabilities with a Cliffhanger Guides adventure

Get up close and personal with the amazing mountains of Joshua Tree National Park in a thrilling, but safe, rock-climbing adventure. Embark on a half or full day climbing expedition led by experienced, trained and certified Joshua Tree locals who can adjust the trip to suit your climbing skill level. From first timers to experienced climbers, there are options for individual or small group trips that cover technical instructions, or simply allow for exploration of the incredible national park. Choose your own rock climbing adventure and appreciate the world-renowned Joshua Tree from a new perspective.

Tee off at the Western Home of Golf PGA West

Treat yourself to a tranquil afternoon in a desert oasis practicing your swing and wandering around the grassy ranges of PGA West La Quinta. Located in the heart of the Greater Palm Springs region, this lush golf course offers nine incredible golf courses from the rugged terrain of the Pete Dye Mountain Course to the thrilling Jack Nicklaus Tournament Course. Play where some of the greats have triumphed at the foothills of the glorious Coral Mountain which rises from the stunning desert sands, sparkling lakes and lush grassy fairways.

Cheer from the VIP Lounge while catching a game at Acrisure Arena

Experience all the thrills of a world-class arena in the heart of America’s epicentre of music festivals with a VIP pass at Acrisure Arena. This brand-new oasis of musical performances and sporting matches provides impeccable hospitality, a variety of vibrant bars and eateries and an array of lounges and premium seating – perfect for those looking for a truly luxurious evening of entertainment. Catch world famous musicians and performers at their very best, and some of the countries most loved sporting teams go head-to-head while you kick back, enjoy the fantastic view and cheers a glass of bubbles in comfort.

Splurge on some goodies at The Gardens on El Paeso

Embark on an indulgent day of designer shopping and fine dining under the glorious palm trees at The Gardens on El Paeso. Relish a truly luxurious shopping experience in this bi-level open-air centre anchored by Saks Fifth Ave and spanning over 50 stores including Gucci, Tiffany & Co., Louis Vuitton and Bottega Veneta. Against an exquisite backdrop of premium desert scenery, treat yourself to a mid-day pick-me-up at Sottovoce Cafe, and relax at the end of your shopping exhibition with a prime cut of steak and a glass of specialty wine at one of the centre’s two steakhouses.

Relax with a gourmet picnic in Downtown Park

What better way to spend a balmy evening in Palm Springs than with live music and a delicious grazing board in lush parkland? Find a comfortable spot on the healthy turf and catch a revolving door of tribute bands and outdoor movies at Downtown Park Palm Springs while sampling some of the region’s finest cheeses, breads, fruits and wine. For a completely stress-free park experience, the friendly staff at The Picnic Table will take care of carefully designing the perfect picnic – from comfortable blankets to extensive table set-ups and cleaning up at the end of the night.

Get the VIP treatment with a desert photoshoot

Immortalise your treasured travel memories with a delightful desert-themed photoshoot in your choice of popular Palm Springs destination. Book your experience through Flytographer and choose your own shoot adventure. First, select a photographer that suits your vision, then choose between some of the region’s most-loved destinations to be styled and snapped – from Joshua Tree National Park to Moorten Botanical Gardens and Palm Springs Windmills. Round up your group of fellow travellers, strike a pose and level up your travel snaps in Palm Springs with this personalised photoshoot.