A Local’s Guide to Palm Springs
The epicenter of mid-century cool remains an essential destination.
There’s a reason Hollywood stars chose Palm Springs as their go-to getaway: The air was clear, the mountains stunning, and the striking desert compounds offered unparalleled privacy. Today, top-flight restorations sit alongside exciting new developments, making Palm Springs one of the top destinations for SoCal residents fleeing the city—for the weekend or forever. Here are some of our fave spots, with expert picks from local insider Kenya Knight.
1. Desert Chic
Taib and Kenya, our cover stars, run their eclectic and stylish boutique Soukie Modern in downtown Palm Springs. From rugs that really pull the room together to locally sourced antiques, there’s something for everyone’s digs.
2. Vintage Vibes
If you want to go all-in on mod desert fashion, look no further than iconic contemporary resort wear genius Trina Turk’s flagship store for vibrant swimwear, caftans, and more.
3. Glass from the Past
When designer Jonathan Adler needed to trick out The Parker Palm Springs with period-correct glassware, he sourced dozens of brightly colored bottles and vases from vintage housewares shop Bon Vivant, located in the Uptown Design District.
4. Sushi with a Twist
The idea behind chef Engin Onural’s Sandfish in Palm Springs is to marry top-flight bourbon with hand-crafted, high-quality sushi with a Scandinavian twist. We support this marriage.
5. Steakhouse Supreme
An elevated reimagining of old-school Palm Springs steakhouse Lyon’s English Grille, Mr. Lyons has all the nostalgic touchpoints plus contemporary flourishes: Think emerald green banquettes, Parker House rolls, Wagyu ribeye, and textbook executions of cocktails like the Vieux Carré.
6. Strip-Mall Score
The Vietnamese-American fare at Rooster and the Pig works well no matter what the temperature outdoors: Go with spring rolls on a scorcher; opt for pho when the weather’s cool.
7. Hike with Spirit
The Agua Caliente band of Cahuilla Native Americans who once populated Palm Springs in great number considered the Tahquitz Canyon a locus of great spiritual importance. Their descendants now oversee this spiritual site and hiking trail. Pay the entrance fee—and pay respect to the land and its stewards—with a visit to the site. An hour-long hike takes you past ancient gathering sites, petroglyphs, and stone grinding sites culminating in a lush, 60-foot waterfall.
8. Go Spike-Seeing
A “living museum of desert lore,” the Moorten Botanical Garden was established in 1938 and now plays home to 3,000 species of cacti, not to mention a handful of tortoises lazily lolling about. As an arboretum, it’s undeniably unique.
9. Quick Day Trip
High atop the San Jacinto Mountains, the alpine town Idyllwild has all the feels of a ski destination without the traffic. Just a 45-minute drive from Palm Springs, take this ultimate wintery day trip and enjoy the charming small town with its independently owned shops and restaurants. Bonus: Around the holidays there is often snow, which makes it all the merrier. Year-round activities include mountain biking, rock climbing, hiking trails, and camping.
10. Hilltop Views
Up a winding road and overlooking the entire valley, the slope-side perch at The Ritz Carlton Rancho Mirage helps you stay far above the fray.
11. One-of-a-Kind Luxury
Once the horse ranch of Gene Autrey, the 13-acre Parker Palm Springs started its life as the country’s first Holiday Inn. After being owned by TV titan Merv Griffin for years it was overhauled by designer Jonathan Adler in 2004. Lush gardens and unique art installations make for a fresh experience no matter how many times you visit.
12. Convivial Courtyard
Hammocks, a hot tub, and a centrally located pool are the stars of the courtyard at the 27-room Les Cactus, but our favorite pastime while staying a while is to pluck a piece of citrus down from the dozens of on-premises trees and give it a squeeze in the guest kitchen. Just add vodka!
13. Pool with a View
Two years ago the Kimpton hotel group’s The Rowan made a splash as the most stylish addition to downtown lodging. Its smart take on desert design includes guestrooms that tip a hat to mid-century without going overboard plus a rooftop pool with sweeping views of the mountains.