The Parker | By far my favorite destination in Palm Springs, The Parker, part of the Starwood group, is not just a great hotel but an incredible property - with gorgeous, lush grounds and flawless mid-century modern and Hollywood Regency decor by Jonathan Adler throughout. It has the unique ability to hold onto an old-Hollywood vibe and personality while still being incredibly modern. I want to live there - but since I can't, it's definitely inspiring the style of my new house in LA.
The Viceroy | While I haven't stayed at The Viceroy, it's another boutique hotel with a Hollywood Regency vibe designed by Kelly Wearstler with a super refined black-white-yellow color palette. It's high up on my list of places to stay!
The Saguaro | There's almost no way you haven't scrolled by a picture of The Saguaro Palm Springs (there's one in Scottsdale, AZ, too) on Instagram. The hotel is fun and cheerful, and more Sgt. Pepper's-era-1960's than hollywood regency, (a nice contrast to The Parker and The Viceroy). The rooms are... eh, nothing to write home about; the linens are rough and the beds aren't very comfortable, but they serve the purpose and the poolside is fantastic - with a great bar adjacent and a beautiful setting - with views of the mountains peaking over the hotel.
The Ace | Everyone knows the Ace for their brand of hipster-approved cool, but the most remarkable thing (at least in my opinion), is that the people at the Ace managed to convert a former Howard Johnson's motel into a major destination for the Coachella-set. Street cred aside, while the rooms at The Ace are pretty minimal (and a little bit unimpressive), what the Ace does have is a really awesome pool scene with a rotation of DJ's who bring a serious party.
Norma's | At the Parker Hotel, Norma's is by far my favorite place to grab a bite (or indulge in a leisurely 3-hour lunch) in Palm Springs. I may or may not have even joked to Ali that we head down to Palm Springs this weekend just to have brunch at Norma's... I quickly realized that was both crazy and excessive, but if time and money were no object, I'd do it. I dream about their fish tacos and fresh donuts (they're not gluten free, but to me they're totally worth the latent pain), and their smoothies (changed daily) are a perfect refreshment to the dry desert heat. Okay, maybe going for brunch isn't so crazy, after all...
Cheeky's | Located in the heart of Palm Springs' downtown area (and walking distance to lots of chic houseware stores and boutiques), Cheeky's is a bright and cheerful brunch destination (true to form, it closes daily at 2 PM). I can tell you what to order because the menu changes weekly, but the bacon flight and seriously legit Spicy Blood Mary's are mainstays that are worth the indulgence. Get there early and expect a wait - but it'll probably be worth it!
Citron | Located at The Viceroy, Citron is a nice finer-dining spot that still allows you to keep your attire desert casual. We went just before Valentine's Day and I admittedly felt a bit overdressed - but thought the sophisticated menu and price point warranted an upgraded look. We shared a few dishes and all were delicious, and the outdoor seating area with tiki-torched lighting overlooking the pool made for a fantastic romantic night out.
Kings Highway | Located at The Ace Hotel, the space used to be a Denny's (appropriate, since The Ace was a HoJo's), but has since been upgraded with gorgeous stained glass windows and fiberglass Eames chairs. I've only been for brunch, but let me tell you: this makes for some really good hungover people watching. Also, the food is good, with some mainstays from the other Ace locations - like moroccan eggs, avocado toast, and the five leaves burger, and locally inspired additions like date shakes.
Though I love to spend most of my time in Palm Springs lounging pool side, there are plenty of things to do in the valley aside from catching-up on vitamin-D and imbibing.
Palm Springs Sky Tram | One of the most incredible experiences in Palm Springs is to take a ride on the Palm Springs Sky Tram all the way up to the top of the San Jacinto mountains. My favorite thing about it is that in a short tram ride, you experience so many different geological zones - from dry and arid desert to lush forests with evergreen trees. It's stunning, and the air is so fresh and clean!
Palm Springs Art Museum | It's not the MoMA or LACMA, but for a relatively small town, the Palm Springs Art Museum has an impressive collection of contemporary arts across mediums - from sculpture to painting and photography. Currently on exhibition is a series of photos by Jennifer Karady, with environmental portraits of soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. The permanent collection also features Native American and Mesoamerican works.
Mid-Century House Tours | There are loads of guided house tours of Palm Springs (and I very much intend to go on one), but one of my favorite things is to drive through the valleys many residential neighborhoods (Indian Canyon, Palm Canyon, Twin Palms). I can't get enough of the colorful doorways and cactus-filled landscapes! One of my secret longterm goals is to actually have a little bungalow in the desert.... Someday! A girl can dream.
Shopping | I confess that, shopaholic that I am, I haven't fully explored the surplus of vintage and thrift opportunities in Palm Springs. Locals and visitors alike swear by Route 66 West (for an overflowing supply of costume jewelry), Secret Service (for a more curated take on vintage), and 20 First for mid-century modern home decor and furniture. There are also great new boutiques like Wil Stiles, and desert outlets from renowned designers like Trina Turk and Jonathan Adler (who are perfectly at home in the valley). If time permits (and trust me... you think you can get in-and-out of there in an hour, but you won't), the Desert Hills Premium Outlets in Cabazon are uh-may-zing; it has everything from Saint Laurent and Prada to Kate Spade and Calypso St. Barth, (check out the full store listing).