48 hours in Palm Desert
Friday: Enjoy a killer margarita on the patio at Armando's Bar & Grill ($$; 73-260 El Paseo; 760/346-0744).
Saturday: Check out the desertart collection.com Desert Art Collection & Sculpture Garden (free; 45350 San Luis Rey Ave.). Then rent a bike (from $25 per day) or a moped (from $62 per day) at Funseekers (73-865 State 111; 760/340-3861) and ride down El Paseo, making a stop at Imago Galleries (45-450 State 74; 760/776-9890), which, with its blue-chip artists, is practically the MOMA of the desert.
The nearby Palm Desert Visitor Center (72-567 State 111; 760/568-1441) is a good place to pick up bike-trail maps and explore the surrounding Eric Johnson Memorial Gardens (free), a multisensory setting of desert plantings.
The Gardens on El Paseo (73-545 El Paseo), an open-air shopping plaza, has a number of excellent dining spots, including Sullivan's Steakhouse ($$$$; 760/341-3560), for steaks and jazz, and Pacifica Seafood Restaurant ($$$; 760/674-8666), for oysters on the half-shell and cheap martinis.
Sunday: At the Living Desert ($13; 47900 Portola Ave.; 760/346-5694), mornings are a good time to catch the young animals ― like Maliki, a giraffe calf born in May ― at their most active. But first check for the next docent-led tour (11 3; no set times) of 50 California landscape paintings.