Palm Springs, California: The coolest places to visit, dine, and stay

Palm Springs, California: The coolest places to visit, dine, and stay

Desert trails

Text: Amelia Chia

Image: Sayher Heffernan
Image: Taco Bell

If you aren't going to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Palm Springs might not be the first place you think of when you book a trip to California. But the desert city holds its own, and there's more to it than meets the eye. Rolling in, the streets are wide, colours bright, and the sky an endless cerulean. Some will marvel at its picture perfection. Few will question the fact that it is very much a retirement town to the locals. But many will muse at its offerings, and this is where we come in, scouring the scenic playground for the coolest things that will appeal to every millennial out there.

Stay at Parker Palm Springs

Parker Palm Springs is one of those lauded hotels folk in Los Angeles rave about all year round. Designed by Jonathan Adler, the hotel is decidedly glamorous, with pops of cheeky insouciance —we're talking colourful poufs, a metal sign with the word "drugs" emblazoned on, and a seven-foot-tall bronze banana in the middle of the hotel lawn. Its massive grounds almost make any guest feel like they're in Alice in Wonderland, with a chance at stumbling across the hotel's different amenities, all hidden amidst the maze of manicured shrubs. There's an oh-so-cute lemonade stand, human-sized chess pieces, two stunning pools (one for adults only), and a nightly bonfire. Gourmands will also enjoy meals at Norma's and Mister Parker's, the hotel's casual and fancy dining outlets respectively. Finally, don't forget that prized snapshot in front of Parker's famed latticed-cement wall and tangerine-coloured doors. The only downside? A stay at Parker doesn't come cheap, but that Instagram-worthy shot might just be worth it.

Latticed-cement wall at Parker Palm Springs

Dine at King's Highway

What happens when an old Denny's is restored to life? Meet King's Highway, Ace Hotel's hip, eclectic diner that has everyone from elderly folk to young families walk through their doors. There's a relaxed vibe that is a far cry from Los Angeles' snobby dining scene, and heaps of room to unwind and have a leisurely meal. Try their open-faced tuna melt, served with a generous side of fries or salad, or the breakfast burrito if you're after a hearty meal. Good coffee in Palm Springs is hard to find, so you're best getting an iced latte here, because it doesn't go too wrong with Stumptown Coffee Roasters.

Check out the Taco Bell Hotel (or perhaps just their merchandise)

Nothing sings "Yas!" more than Palm Spring's pop-up Taco Bell Hotel from 8 to 12 August this year. Can you imagine? Your favourite tacos for breakfast, lunch, and dinner — with a room that reminds you of the crowd-pleasing fast food chain? Sadly, all 70 rooms sold out within two minutes of reservations going live, but the rest of us can still own merchandise from there. Will another fast food chain step up to the plate? Maybe a Shake Shack hotel? Let's see fans go crazy for that one.

The Taco Bell Hotel pop-up in August

Go on a Palm Springs door tour

Not quite the homes from Crazy Rich Asians, but the houses and villas in Palm Springs are some of the most gorgeous we have seen. Yes, to the point where there are maps of the city dotting out Palm Springs' best, and most photo-worthy doors on people's houses. There's the celebrated pink door, (with its very own hashtag #thatpinkdoor), the blue door, yellow door — the list goes on. Some of these homes now have signs prohibiting photos on their property (fair call), but you can still capture these famous doors from a distance.

That famous pink door in Palm Springs

Do a day trip to Joshua Tree National Park

The vast Joshua Tree National Park is replete with bristled Joshua trees, craggy mountain landscapes, boulders, and buttresses. Its calm serenity and otherworldly vistas attract artists, hikers, and dreamers alike. While the brave can embark on lengthy hikes and camp overnight, we think it's magical enough to drive through the park at sunset, armed with your best camera and companion. The Cholla Cactus Garden was our favourite place to watch the sun go down, before we set off on our one-hour journey back to the mid-century modernism of Palm Springs.

Find out where to get a good coffee in Los Angeles, California.

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