The popular resort town of Palm Springs is located around 100 miles east of Los Angeles California, in the sheltered Coachella Valley desert. The greater Palm Springs area includes the resort filled towns of Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, and La Quinta. Each boasts a multitude of championship golf courses, fine restaurants, and Spa Resorts. The dry desert climate, pristine golf courses, and local attractions bring a large number of tourists from around the world to the area. Palm Springs generally experiences over 325 days of sunshine per year and exhibits mostly hot dry weather most of the year. In the winter, it still remains warm so many people flock there during the winter months. Temperatures between June and September regularly exceed 100 °F degrees during the day, so this is the low season for tourists. It’s easy to find cheaper hotel accommodations this time of year. To get to Palm Springs, it’s easiest to fly directly into the Palm Springs International Airport or the nearby LA/Ontario International Airport which is around an hour drive. You can also drive a car to Palm Spring from Los Angeles in around 90-minutes, depending on traffic.
The Palm Springs area has many of the world’s best championship golf courses, tennis clubs, Spa treatment resorts, outdoor sports, bars, dancing, nightlife and fine dining. This area is the most popular golf vacation destination in California and has more golf courses than any other region in California. The area boasts over 100 public & private golf courses with a total of over 250 miles of fairways. Local golf courses regularly host PGA and LPGA championship tournaments. Popular golf courses in the area include three PGA West courses in La Quinta, the Desert Willow Golf Resort in Palm Desert, the La Quinta Resort Mountain Course, the Shadow Ridge Golf Resort in Palm Desert, the Escena Golf Club in Palm Springs, the Mission Hills Golf Resort, the Rancho Las Palmas Country Club, and the Indian Wells Golf Resort. It may take you over three months to play all the golf course in the area.
If you are not a golfer, there are a number of interesting attractions and activities around the Palm Springs area. Countless visitors to the area love the panoramic view from over 8,500 feet elevation at the top of the Palm Springs Aerial Tram. The tram travels up to the top of Mount San Jacinto on suspended cables every half hour. The summit is the perfect photo opportunity, and you will find plenty of snow in the winter months. There are hiking trails near the summit and you can also enjoy a nice dinner on the summit at the Pines Café.
If you like the beauty of the desert and like to explore, you’ll find several popular Jeep tours and Hummer desert adventures. These tours offer trips through several desert oases, spectacular canyons, the Mojave Desert and the breathtaking Joshua Tree National Park. Springtime in Palm Springs provides a beautiful blooming desert that comes to life. Another popular way to see the desert is by horseback. If you like horses you can take an easy sunset or moonlight horseback ride which includes a cowboy barbeque dinner at the Crazy Horse Ranch. The ranch will safely teach you how to ride. You can also enjoy the area’s natural relaxing hot springs for that therapeutic relief, or simply hike some of the colorful canyons and pack a picnic lunch. Indian Canyon at the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation is a popular hike for its beauty.
There is plenty of good shopping in the area, as well as some popular cultural venues like the McCallum Theatre which offers symphony and live performances. The Palm Springs Art Museum includes a performing arts theater as well as a collection of fine art. You’ll also find plenty of swanky art galleries in the Palm Springs area, some which feature beautiful and rare Native American art. You can find awesome high-end shopping at El Paseo Drive in Palm Desert. El Paseo is the Rodeo Drive of the desert. The River Shopping Mall in Rancho Mirage has plenty of high-end to moderate shopping as well as some excellent restaurants. For the bargain shopper, you must visit the Desert Hills Premium Outlets in Cabazon which include shops from Armani, Burberry, Dolce & Gabana, Fendi, Gucci, Prada, Versace, and much more.
There are a number of world-class spas in the area that will pamper you like never before. Most of the high-end resorts will have full service spas for your indulgence. The Spa Las Palmas at the Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa in Ranch Mirage is one of the highest rated spas in the area. Swanky locals go there when they really want to treat themselves and splurge. Another popular world-class spa is the Spa Esmeralda at the Esmeralda Indian Wells Resort & Spa. This 13,000 square-feet spa provides an array of desert inspired treatments and includes waterfall spas and private outdoor cabanas and gardens. If you are looking for some less expensive spa treatments, there are plenty of spas in the town of Desert Hot Springs a couple of miles east of Palm Springs. You’ll find a few small resorts there like Miracle Springs that offer fairly affordable spa treatments and day passes.
Kids of all ages will have hours of fun at the popular Wet ‘n’ Wild Waterpark with 21 acres of wild water rides, including a large wave pool, 14 water slides, Flow Rider, and river tubing. Children can enjoy hands on fun at the Children’s Discovery Museum which features over 60 activities for them to participate in. The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens is a popular attraction with kid and adults. This unique zoo interprets the natural desert and all its varied plant and animal life, as well as many animals not found in the desert like Zebra, Camel, Cheetah, and Giraffe. The Palm Springs Air Museum is always a fun attraction with its large collection of historic World War Two planes to view up close.
SPA RESORT CASINO
You can play or stay at any number of Indian casino resorts in the Palm Springs area. Popular casinos include the Morongo Casino Resort & Spa in Cabazon, the Agua Caliente Casino Resort & Spa in Rancho Mirage, Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, Spotlight 29 Casino in Coachella, and Palm Spring’s downtown Spa Resort Casino. They feature plenty of slot machines, poker, table games, bars, lounges, entertainment, and live performances by popular artists. Most include luxury guest rooms and suites plus typical resort amenities like swimming pools, spas, room service and fine dining restaurants. These are not your typical Indian casinos.
Many top chefs have set up shop in Palm Springs bringing a variety of different cuisines and dining experiences to the area. Here are a few of VoyageMonkey’s favorite restaurants:
Trio – Locate on N. Palm Canyon Dr. in Palm Springs, Trio is a great American cuisine restaurant with a hip vibrant atmosphere and bar. They serve contemporary California comfort food including seafood, steaks, pasta, organic salads and a nice selection of trendy appetizers and dessert. The wines are great and the bar serves excellent premium cocktails. You can enjoy the restaurant’s relaxing outdoor deck and patio. The food is excellent, the prices are reasonable, and the service is very good. As well as being a popular restaurant for tourists, many of the locals dine here.
Le Vallauris – Located in downtown Palm Springs near the Art Museum, Le Vallauris is a favorite of the locals. Le Vallauris serves contemporary Mediterranean/French and California cuisine, and has the most festive patio dining ambiance around Palm Springs. The building is a restored historical landmark decorated with old-world French charm. The menu includes caviar, escargot, oysters, lobster, charred steak filet, veal, duck, and a daily Prix Fixe Menu. They feature an extensive wine list and a full bar with signature cocktails and wines by the glass. The food is delicious and the service is excellent. Prices are expensive. This is the perfect place for that special occasion when it’s time to splurge.
Copley’s On Palm Canyon - Visitors to Palm Springs enjoy the award winning Copley’s On Palm Canyon for its fabulous contemporary American cuisine, good personal service and relaxing ambiance. It’s located in the converted former guesthouse of golden screen actor Cary Grant. You can enjoy the mountain views while dining outside on the patio. Dinner entrees include prime steaks, seafood, duck, and lamb. You’ll find organic salads and a selection of appetizers like Hawaiian Ahi tacos and a seafood sampler. They offer a nice wine selection and excellent bar cocktails. The food & service is fabulous and the prices are moderate.
Miro’s - located in Palm Springs on S. Palm Canyon drive, Miro’s serves exquisite Mediterranean/Central European and Continental Cuisine. Recipes include Italian, Greek, German, Hungarian and Slavic. The menu includes tapas, escargot, seafood, Mousaka, wiener schnitzel, Hungarian goulash, rack of lamb, filet mignon, crispy duckling, and a daily selection of desserts. They offer an extensive international wine list and a full service cocktail bar. The elegant décor includes deep dark woods, white table cloths and contemporary art. You can enjoy outdoor patio dining as well. The food is excellent, the service is prompt and friendly, and the prices are moderate.
Morgan’s in the Desert – Located at the La Quinta Resort, this hacienda style restaurant includes a beautiful fire-lit courtyard, an elegant dining room, and a piano bar featuring live entertainment. This restaurant has been a favorite spot of the golden screen actors over the years. Established in 1926, Morgan’s serves contemporary American cuisine, including prime steaks and seafood, short ribs, pan roasted duck, assorted appetizers, desserts, and small share plates. Morgan’s offers a great wine list, wines by the glass and a full bar featuring signature cocktails like their tangerine-ginger margarita. Morgan’s serves delicious food and the service is professional and friendly. Prices are moderate to expensive.
Pacifica Seafood – Located on El Paseo in Palm Desert, this trendy restaurant serves the freshest seafood you’ll find in the desert. They offer a variety of chilled and hot seafood dishes as well as pasta and prime steaks. The menu includes items like oysters on a half-shell, a chilled seafood platter, ceviche, fish tacos, organic salads, lobster tail, filet mignon, grilled ribeye steak, braised short ribs, and various side dishes that are ideal for sharing. The restaurant has a nice wine list and wines by the glass. They have a full bar that offers premium cocktails. For the Martini drinker, they feature a vodka bar and have an outdoor lounge area with a view of the mountains. The food is really good, the service is great and the prices are moderate to expensive.
Spencer’s Restaurant – Located in downtown Palm Springs, Spencer’s serves classic American cuisine. The ambiance is elegant, yet casual and comfortable. They offer a lively fire-lit patio with spectacular mountain views. The patio is a great place to enjoy happy hour cocktails and appetizers. Spencer’s offers an expansive menu of seafood, steaks, chops, pastas, a great wine list and full bar with awesome drinks. The menu includes an extensive appetizer selection, Chilean sea bass, lobster tail, rack of lamb, veal chops, oysters, and various soups, salads and desserts. The food is superb, the service is excellent and you can’t beat the great ambiance. The prices are moderate to expensive.
We also recommend the following restaurants: Sullivan’s Steakhouse – Sullivan’s is located on El Paseo in Palm Desert and serves excellent steaks; the Chop House – Located in downtown Palm Springs, the Chop House features butchered in-house premium aged steaks & chops as well as seafood and shellfish; Las Casuelas Terraza (Palm Springs) and Las Casuelas Nuevas (Rancho Mirage) – Las Casuelas serves great Mexican food and drinks in a festive ambiance. Other popular restaurants include the high-end steakhouse chains of Mastro’s, Morton’s, Ruth’s Chris, Fleming’s, and the Hawaiian fusion cuisine of Roy’s. We also like the Kaiser Grill and LG’s Prime Steakhouse in Downtown Palm Springs, the bluEmber at the Rancho Las Palmas Resort, Catalan Mediterranean Cuisine in Ranch Mirage, Cork & Fork Restaurant in La Quinta, and Acqua Pazza California Bistro in Rancho Mirage For a reasonably priced great meal, try the Capri at Miracle Springs Resort in Desert Hot Springs (awesome steaks) or the Terrace Restaurant at the Hilton in Downtown Palm Springs. There are many other great restaurants to choose from, simply ask the locals for their favorite.
Aside from the casino resort hotels, there are plenty of luxury hotels and resorts in the Palm Springs area to choose from. Here are a few of VoyageMonkey’s recommended hotels:
JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort &Spa – Located in Palm Desert, the JW Marriott features waterways with gondolas that enter the lobby, a grand lobby atrium with waterfalls and large cocktail lounge, two championship golf courses, tennis courts, a nightclub, world class spa, multiple bars and restaurants, four swimming pools, and manicured landscapes. This is a fun resort that has everything. This is one of Marriott’s premier properties. This is a great resort for couples and families. The staff is friendly and aim to please.
The Westin Mission Hills Resort & Spa – Located in Rancho Mirage, the Westin sits on 360 prime acres featuring landscaped courtyards and waterways, two world-class golf courses, tennis, multiple swimming pools, water slides, bars & restaurants, 472 guestrooms and suites, as well as their state of the art spa. There is also the adjacent Westin Mission Hills Villas which offers spacious vacation villas that are great for families and groups wanting kitchens and multi-bedrooms. There is free golf-cart shuttle service that regularly runs the entire property.
Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa – Located on Bob Hope Drive in Ranch Mirage, the Las Palmas is a classy Spanish-Colonial style property with 444 guest rooms and luxury suites. The resort features fine dining at bluEmber restaurant, a 27-hole golf course, tennis courts, 100-foot waterslides, a meandering lazy river, a sandy beach, an oasis-style adults-only pool with fabulous oversized daybeds. There is also a spa pool at their Spa Las Palmas, one of the best rated spas in Rancho Mirage. This resort has a relaxing ambiance you’ll enjoy.
Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage – Located on Frank Sinatra Drive nestled on a hill-side bluff, the Ritz-Carlton offers spectacular views of the Coachella Valley below. Although they have 244 luxury guest rooms, the resort is still very intimate. The rooms are luxurious and spacious, with all modern amenities. You’ll find pools, poolside bar, patios, gardens, fine dining and a luxury world-class spa. The service is excellent and the staff is friendly. Expect typical Ritz-Carlton quality and service. You can’t beat the views this property offers.
Renaissance Esmeralda Indian Wells Resort & Spa – The family friendly Esmeralda Resort is located on the Indian Wells Golf Resort which features 36-holes of golf. The resort features a grand atrium lobby, luxury guest rooms and suites, one of the best day spas in the Palm Springs area, fitness center, tennis, fine & casual dining options, cocktail bars, whirlpools, multiple pools including a large sand-beach pool, gardens, walking trails and more. This resort has a nice friendly vibe that you’ll enjoy.
Other recommended resorts and hotels include the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells and the Westin Desert Willow Villas. If you’d like to stay in Downtown Palm Springs and be walking distance from all the downtown restaurants and shops, we recommend the Hyatt Palm Springs in the heart of downtown, or the Renaissance Palm Springs. Both of these downtown hotels are very nice. Other popular downtown hotels include the Hilton and the Hard Rock Hotel.
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