HEY FRECK FAM
I’m so excited to be coming at you with our very first city guide! Travel is so important to me, so far in 2018 I’ve been to SF, New Mexico, Detroit, London, Iceland, Joshua Tree, Seattle, NYC, Palm Springs, Arizona, Berlin, Nashville & Portland. I save my doll hairs like a mother, take side jobs, and do anything I can to make travel happen. Since deciding to regularly post to the blog, the very first thing I wanted to do was city guides. Meet your Ultimate Palm Springs Guide.
I’ve been to Palm Springs over 30 times in the last 5 years. I just got back yesterday and I’m going again in 2 weekends; I have a problem. Last week my friend told me “I’m like an old queen”– I’ve never been more flattered. I literally go any chance I get. I live for the sun and doing nothing but eating, drinking, pool-ing, chatting, and reading. First things first, let’s set the mood:
WHERE TO STAY
Alright, so in my opinion, there are only three places you need to know about. They’ll cover all your vibe bases:
If you’re with looking for an adult oasis, stay at Sparrows Lodge. This is hands down my favorite hotel in Palm Springs, it’s quaint & quiet, yet great for groups. People are having a good time, but in a late-20s early-30s way. They have a perfect breakfast, and the rooms are cabin-y in all the right ways without feeling cheezy.
If you’re looking for fun, party pool vibes, then you’re gonna wanna stay at The Ace. Listen, I know that everyone and their mother has stayed at The Ace. There’s a reason. This is where you’ll want to go with your best friends to get a lil burnt. Expect to be around other large groups, there are DJs at the pool every weekend, and they have a piña colada that is going to blow your mind.
Korakia Pensione is another magical option– it’s more photogenic than Sparrows Lodge, but it’s also a bit pricier. It’s uber secluded and the hotel is separated into two sections: Mediterranean & Moroccan. Each room is unique & curated, which I love because each time you go there feels different.
If you really wanna get fancy- go to L’Horizon. I’ve never been here but Freck’s COO, Des, was here last weekend for her anniversary. Don’t even look at the price if you need to know what a room costs before you book it, lol. It’s considered the #1 resort in California and will literally take your breath away.
- Holiday House– same owners of Sparrows Lodge, I haven’t stayed here but would like to. It’s all blue, so if that’s in your Instagram palette than check this place out. Right now the prices are really low because it’s a newer hotel, but I expect this will change.
- Arrive– the design isn’t going to blow your mind, but the prices are fair and the pool is great. I stayed here with my sibling when Arrive had only been open for a week or two and we had a wonderful time. I put it on the Palm Springs Guide because if you’re somewhere without a pool, this place is awesome and will let you swim as long as you’re ordering food or drinks.
WHERE TO EAT
Here’s where Palm Springs becomes a bit of a bummer: the food scene is a bit lackluster. I think what it comes down to is not the ingredients, but the culinary talent. I don’t mean that to sound like a jerk, just that anyone who is a seriously ambitious chef would move to LA or another city to further their career. That being said, these are the best restaurants in Palm Springs. Hands Down.
My favorite restaurant for dinner is called Rooster + The Pig. It’s Vietnamese and seriously so bomb. I’ve almost gotten in my car and driven from LA to PS just to eat here. They don’t take reservations and there is a line every weekend but trust me, it’s worth it. You can also order a drink at the bar and drink it on the patio while you wait. Do not miss the Panko Chicken Curry Ball. I pretty much only eat chicken at this restaurant- it’s marinated chicken rolled inside a rice ball that is then panko breaded and quickly fried so it cracks open, served over a bed of yellow curry that will melt your brains. I’m drooling. Other highlights are the jasmine tea leaf salad, lemongrass pork fresh roll, sauteed eggplant + the sesame beef lettuce wraps. Go see this spot for yourself, trust me. You can order a feast with drinks and get out of Rooster + The Pig for $35-40 each.
If you’re in a bigger group or don’t want to wait around, Birba is fantastic- same owners as Cheeky’s & Mr. Lyons, but I think this is their best venture by far. Birba is a lively, affordable restaurant with a killer outdoor patio. Some nights there is live music, call to get the deets and make a reservation because it gets packed. Think like pizza, pasta, antipasti. The Zucchini “spaghetti” is bomb, but you know me I’m always down for a vegetable 🙂 With drinks and dinner, I’d estimate about $25-35 per person.
For breakfast, I often find myself at FARM. It feels like your inside someone’s house in the south of France. It has a rad patio but during the day (in summer) it can get really hot, so try and go earlier in the day. I’m pretty sure you can only make dinner reservations here, but the wait has never been too terribly long for me. For breakfast, you’re looking at about $20-$25. They also do dinner here and a pre-fixe menu, but I’ve never had it.
Workshop Kitchen + Bar & Truss + Twine are right next door to each other and are by the same owners. Workshop has the coolest lighting in Palm Springs by this incredibly talented lighting designer based in Beruit, I actually did a huge project on it in college (I went for interior design). Go here for a fancy date night. It’s expensive and the food is great, but the ambiance is to die for. It looks like a church made out of concrete, and in 2015 won a James Beard Award for outstanding restaurant design. Hubba hubba. You’re looking at about $75-$100 per person so make sure you bring someone special.
- Jake’s for brunch. I’ve never been into Cheeky’s and I don’t eat eggs, so if you’re looking for that kind of a breakfast I would recommend this spot instead. Just something a little different. ($20-25 per person)
- Shanghai Red’s Oyster Bar. Ok listen, I’ve never been here but I have it on very good authority that this place is the shit. Divey atmosphere. Anthony Bourdain approved Fish tacos. Buckets of beer. I’m in.
WHERE TO DRINK
Drink at your hotel, duh. But if you’rere looking for somewhere to grab a cocktail before or after dinner, here you go:
Who doesn’t want a tiki drink when living out your best midcentury life? Head to Bootlegger Tiki, a tiny bar with velvet paintings of naked chicks and puffer fish pendant lights. Yes, you read that right.
Truss & Twine is where you go before your reservation at Workshop, or just to have an afternoon snack. As expected, the design is incredible and the cocktails are great. I had dinner here last weekend and I’m not sure if I would go back, and I think it’s because it feels too foofy for a bar. I tend to prefer dirty dive bars, but I also like nice things.. so I can’t really put my finger on why this didn’t do it for me. If I were to go back I would definitely recommend the beets with sea beans and the halibut. Skip the hanger steak. Drinks and dinner will run you about $40-50, cocktails are about $13.
Ok this is very important. If you’re in town on a Sunday evening, do not miss the drag show at Toucan’s Tiki Lounge. It’s seriously the best drag show I’ve been to in my life, the first time I went a bunch of the girls had been on Ru Paul. Yes honey. Shows are at 8pm & 10pm every Sunday and you can just walk in, no tickets needed.
WHAT TO DO
The only thing on your docket should be.. nothing. Chill by the pool, drink frozé, read, listen to your favorite podcast, you know the drill. But for the days that you’ve got a bee in your bonnet, here’s a list of my favorites.
Moorten Botanical Garden is $5 and a short visit. A 15-minute walk through will show you some unusual & unique cactuses that grow in the surrounding desert. You can also go on a guided tour at 10:30am or 12pm that’s free with the price of your admission. If anything, go for the gram. ; )
This trip I took the Palm Springs Arial Tram for the first time, and I can’t believe I didn’t go sooner! You soar up 8,000 feet into the sky and the tram car actually rotates while you’re inside- it’s like a ride. Once you get to the top there are a couple pretty flat walks (1/2 miles-ish) and some more intense hikes. You also can take your camping gear up there and camp overnight. This is a particularly lovely daytime activity during the summer because it’s about 30-40 degrees cooler at the top of the mountain. Pro tip: book a ticket in advance and actually secure a time (rather than buying a voucher), otherwise you’ll still have to wait for an opening.
The Palm Springs Art Museum is small and quick but has some heavy hitters. I’d definitely recommend checking it out if you have a free hour, and on Thursdays admission is free from 4-9pm (perfect pre-dinner activity if you ask me). Permanent collection tours are held on Thursdays at 5 & 7pm. The last time I was there, the exhibit focused on Women of Abstract Expressionism and included an Eileen de Kooning piece that I’ll remember forever.
Things I haven’t done but really want to:
- I’ve heard only great things about Sunnylands Center. It’s a massive estate with a historic house that was reopened in 2012 for the public. They do grounds tours, bird watching tours, yoga in the gardens, etc. (Lol, why am I so excited about the bird watching?) Check the event calendar to see what’s going on while you’re in town.
- This requires some planning, but if you know you’re going a couple weeks in advance definitely book a sound bath at The Integratron. It’s about an hour north of Palm Springs, so I’ve always wanted to hit it on my way out, but never have had myself together enough to plan it in advance. Hehe.
- Rent bikes and take a self-guided architecture tour! So fun.
- Palm Springs wouldn’t be the desert playground we know it as without Frank Sinatra. I’ve always wanted to stop by his grave, which is at 31705 Da Vall Drive inCathedral City. His space is B-8-151, and you can stop by the check-in area for a map of other celebrities if that’s your thing.
- Salvation Mountain is 90 minutes past Palm Springs from LA, which is why I’ve never done it. But I’ve always wanted to check it out & included it on the Palm Springs Guide because duh.
And there you have it! The Ultimate Palm Springs Guide (in my opinion). This is what my mates & I do every time we’re in the desert, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. What did you guys think, did I leave anything out? If you enjoyed this or would want to see anything done differently, give me a holler in the comments. As I mentioned, I want to start doing city guides on the regular, so I would love to hear your feedback!
xo, Remi (Freck Founder)