In the 1950s famed Palm Springs resident Frank Sinatra had a regular ritual; at 5 pm he'd raise a Jack Daniels flag to summon friends and neighbors by for a drink around his piano-shaped pool at happy hour. Thanks to Frank and other Hollywood icons-slash-Palm-Springs-regulars like Marilyn and Audrey, the desert oasis has been pulling people in ever since—no flag required. Easily accessible by car from LAX or its own airport near the center of town, here's where to stay, eat, and play for a weekend in the desert sun.
Still stuck in the Hollywood hideaway era, the Parker Palm Springs is the kind of hotel celebs and desert-darlings flock to for a quick and total escape. And escape you can. Inside a Jonathan Adler-designed mod-meets-vintage aesthetic that's splashed across every surface, while outside, palm trees tower above the manicured grounds like natural signposts that lead along pathways from pool to hammock, hammock to fire pit, and fire pit to guest room. Without a map you'll get lost, but that's the point.
Insider Tip: For something a little more traditional, smaller-scale, and highly service-oriented, check out The Willows Historic Palm Springs Inn. Restored by two LA-based doctors, the 1920's Mediterranean Villa is as exacting as the MDs who run the show—no lose ends here. High standards set the tone in every one of the eight guest rooms, bougainvillea-soaked gardens, and two-story waterfall cascading into a petite pool fronting of the breakfast dining room.
Breakfast: Breakfast in Palm Springs must start at Norma's, a cheery celebration of sustenance in an al fresco, upscale diner with citrus-hued shades, midcentury Bertoia-inspired chairs, and gleaming white tables. We love the complimentary breakfast smoothies, and after eating every last bite of our scrambled egg and bacon quesadilla with sour cream, guacamole, and salsa, we were fully nourished—seriously, until 5 pm!
Lunch: At Jake's, colorful salads and hearty sandwiches battle it out for MVP (most valuable plate) in a demure restaurant that's part Paris, part Palm Springs, and all fabulous.
Dinner: Recently planted beside Palm Springs institution Cheeky's, and owned by the same people, you'll find mouthwatering wood-fired pizza. Working his way up from dishwasher to pizza aficionado in Milan, it was co-owner Rossetti's dream to open open his own pizzeria, which he's done with Birba.
Tour the city's midcentury masterpieces on your own (grab a $5 Map of Modern Palm Springs at the Visitor Center) or with Robert Imber, a chatty and encyclopedic guide that's more socialite than bookworm. Robert is as retro as the homes he hawks, so call 1-760-318-6118 or email email@example.com to book.
Stacked between midcentury design and antique shops in the effortlessly cool Uptown Design District, scope out Trina Turk. She's a part-time Palm Springs resident and full-time designer with a penchant for clothes and textiles that epitomize the desert's colorful poolside scene.
Palm Springs is small enough to walk and cab your way around town, and many hotels offer complimentary bikes for guests. If you want to take an excursion out of town, like a skip over to the Desert Hills Premium Outlets or a hike in the Coachella Valley, we'd suggest renting a car for a day.
Photo credit: All photos by Trish Friesen