If you’re heading to Desert Trip this month, then you’re probably sick of the Oldchella jokes. But seriously, who cares? You’re about to see living legends The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Roger Waters and The Who, so screw the haters.
If you didn’t splurge on a $35,000 glamping set up, then hopefully you’re staying in nearby Palm Springs, one of the coolest towns around. These days, the city has officially become a young and hip international destination thanks to an influx of trendy restaurants, cool bars and hot hotels with DJ-manned weekend pool parties. Plus, there’s a calendar full of festivals that includes the world-renowned Coachella Music Fest, and now, of course, there’s Desert Trip.
Here, our guide to where you want to hike, drink, dine and hang out while in Palm Springs.
Hit the mountains
Because Palm Springs is wedged between multiple mountain ranges, you’re never without a magnificent view. Better yet, in just ten minutes, you can get whisked up Mt. San Jacinto thanks to the modern marvel the Palm Springs Aerial Tram. The two-mile ride alone is worth the price of admission, but once you’re at the top of the tram station, you’ll have more than 50 miles of trails at your disposal—from quick and leisurely loops with lookout points to a 10-mile out-and-back hike to the very top of San Jacinto, the second highest peak in SoCal. For hikes with less hoopla, head south of town to Indian Canyons where you can spend the entire day tackling multiple canyon hikes, including Andreas Canyon which takes you right smack through a real-life oasis, one of the largest in North America.
Gorge on delicious eats
One of the best burgers in town can be found at longstanding lunch spot Tyler’s (open a mere five hours a day), located in a tiny old Greyhound bus depot in the middle of town. For a swanky steak dinner, book a booth in the retro-glam dining room at Mr. Lyons, where you can indulge in a classic filet, bone-in rib eye or a 10-hour-roasted prime rib along with as many sides as you can stomach. If you’re looking for something a little lighter, have a steak salad and grab a martini at the bar in the adjacent lounge.
For your taco fix, wander over to the still-divey Shanghai Reds for a fantastic fish option. (Yes, fish in the desert can actually be good.) The best mole for miles can be found at either of Mexican eatery El Mirasol’s two locations. The downtown spot has a street-side patio and kitschy 1970s feel, while the uptown location has nicer courtyard seating.
Cool down with a cocktail
Despite being a bona fide tiki bar with a thatch ceiling and walls, you won’t find any frozen pina coladas or mix-laden mai tais at Bootlegger Tiki. The small spot does legit cocktails that blend fresh juices, syrups and carefully though-out ingredients—from cucumber bitters to cardamom-lemongrass syrup—to create seriously attractive drinks that you’ll want to post to Instagram. At the downtown bar appropriately called Bar, the drink menu stays as simple as its name with offerings like an Old Fashioned, Moscow Mule and Pisco Sour, along with a solid selection of whiskeys. On weekend nights, head out back for a round cornhole or bocce. And while seating at the bar inside Workshop may not be plentiful, the elaborate drinks are. The menu specializes in classics like the French 75 and Ward 8, and the menu gives imbibers a bit of history on each.
Hit a Pool Party
The Arrive, one of town’s newer hotels, hosts #assistedliving Sundays, complete with DJs, drinks and plenty of pool toys. The technicolor Saguaro Hotel has multiple DJs playing poolside every Saturday and Sunday along with special events—like the growing EDM music fest Splash House—throughout the year. And the Ace Hotel, one of the first on the block to host pool parties, is still going strong with its Swim Club scene on most weekends that attracts an eclectic crowd lounging the day away. Covers vary for non-guests depending on the day and event at most places, so check ahead of time.
If you prefer a place with a pool that’s more relaxed, the newly opened Monkey Tree has 16 rooms meticulously stocked with vintage furniture and cool art, along with a Scandinavian-style spa complete with cold plunge pool.