A Three Day Weekend in Palm Springs
Lunch at Gelina in Venice Beach: If you’re not flying into Palm Springs directly, grab an early flight in to LAX and stop in Venice Beach for lunch at Gelina. The restaurant is right in the middle of Abbot Kinney Blvd, the main drag, and surrounded on both sides by great boutique shops (including MedMen, a surprisingly high-end dispensary two blocks away where you can stock up while you wait for your reservation).
Plan on having a rager house party that rivaled your college Greek-life days. Palm Springs (at least the neighborhood we stayed in) is a city that strives to provide a very curated experience. Loud noises from your neighbor’s backyard polluting your peaceful outdoor moment is not that. Therefore, there are rules. Lots of them. No music outside, no visible trash cans on the street… we dinned out one of our three evenings and the last call at the restaurant was 10pm, because they were in a residential area. That said, sitting outside appreciating the setting, protected from view by a shield of manicured shrubs, makes it worth the extra effort required to make sure you act like a good neighbor.
Nestled in the Coachella Valley, Palm Springs is a small desert resort city with a population of around 45k known for it’s mid-century modern architecture. There’s tons to do for more active vacationers as well as consistently perfect weather for those of us that would prefer to sit back and relax by the pool.
Getting There (and Back)
While flying into Palm Springs Airport is ideal, it is not always practical. The airport is very seasonal and many of the flights only operate during the winter. Even during the high season, coming from Orlando on the east coast (and my fierce personal loyalty to Delta) meant that a flight into Palm Springs would have required an inconvenient layover. MCO to LAX it was.
Traffic in LA is notorious, and I’ve been stuck in my fair share of it. Luckily, on the Thursday afternoon drive from Venice Beach to Palm Springs and our Sunday morning drive from Palm Springs to LAX were both smooth sailing, just about two hours with out stops (of course, on the way out we planned for traffic and were pleasantly surprised that there was none, opting to not be angered that we lost out on a potential extra hour of sleep, but instead to be happy that we had an extra hour in the SkyClub for a pre-flight drink.)
There were seven of us, three couples and one best friend, in a large (but not excessive) house – the perfect mix to make sure there is always activity, but never an obligation to weigh you down. There are some great restaurants in town, but the highlights are sure to be the nights spent at the house with friends.
When you do go out, SO.PA is a great option to get your Palm Springs on. The restaurant is entirely alfresco, and the ambiance is as good as it gets. Being a Floridian (and used to a daily 3pm thunderstorm), I was a little bit surprised when it started to rain and the entire staff was confused as to the proper response. Luckily, I wasn’t the only Floridian around, and we all made our way quickly to one of the four tables that were covered, where the rain (and desert dwellers confusion with how to deal with it) only enhanced the atmosphere.
We made our way to Joshua Tree National Park for a (long) drive, and there is plenty else to do for the active types. Cool light shows, trails to jog, succulents to see, art museums that are small enough to be manageable for a quick morning trip, and a tram to take you to the top of a nearby mountain (watch for wind). If you do want to get away from the awesome house you rented, there are options.
Palm Springs is the perfect weekend getaway for a group of friends, the kind that used to see each other every day of their lives but don’t get to anymore. It’s not the place to recreate that epic dance party you and said friends may have had x number of years ago when you lived together as roommates. However, it is the perfect place to hang with your best friends in your temporary backyard in the middle of the desert surrounded by protective shrubs.
SO.PA Restaurant: http://lhorizonpalmsprings.com/sopa-restaurant
Joshua Tree National Park: https://www.nps.gov/jotr/index.htm
Palm Springs, CA, USA