A First-timer’s Guide to Palm Springs
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Known as a playground for the rich and famous, California’s desert city is a hip place to hang – full stop. For your first trip to this hotspot, follow these travel tips on how to holiday like a celeb.
Stay at a hip hotel
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In the Palms Springs of your dreams, there’s always a swimming pool. And on that front this recently revamped hotel doesn’t disappoint. Enjoy the views of the amphitheatre-like mountain range from your day bed as you lounge by one of the two swanky pools or relax in a swing chair on the balcony of your room as you sip on a refreshing cocktail.
Celeb-spot at breakfast
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Set on more than five hectares of manicured lawns and landscaped gardens, the Parker Palms Springs is a magnet for celebrities. You could dine alongside John Travolta or Gigi Hadid at Norma’s restaurant, which serves breakfast dishes such as turkey and sweet potato hash with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce. Just don’t order the Zillion Dollar Lobster Frittata with 10 ounces of Sevruga caviar, unless you want to shell out $US1000.
Take in the architecture
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Palms Springs is renowned for its low-lying Mid-century Modern architecture. Explore some of the town’s most beautiful buildings on The Modern Tour (themoderntour.com), including the house where Elvis and Priscilla Presley honeymooned in the mid-’60s. If you’re lucky, you might also get a peek inside Sinatra’s estate (pictured), which features a piano-shaped pool.
Ride the tram to the top
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The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway will transport you from the base of the Coachella Valley up to the cliffs of Chino Canyon in 10 minutes. It’s the world’s largest rotating tramcar and, at the end of the journey, you’ll find yourself more than 2.5 kilometres above sea level, with glorious views of the rugged – often snowcapped – mountains, even on a blistering day.
Have a long, lazy lunch
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Recently opened Arrive is another great accommodation option in Palm Springs. If you’re not staying here, experience it as part of a relaxed lunch at the hotel’s on-site restaurant, Reservoir. It has views of chic North Palm Canyon Drive on one side and a stunning pool on the other. Be sure to order the Wagyu beef sliders and shrimp tacos with tamarind-chilli sauce.
Shop at the outlet mall
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Shopaholics, rejoice! America is renowned for discount outlets where you can buy high-end designer labels at staggeringly low prices, and one of the West Coast’s best is the Desert Hills Premium Outlets in Cabazon, a 20-minute drive from Palms Springs. Go crazy at Bally, Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Prada, Michael Kors, Salvatore Ferragamo, Tag Heur, Versace and many, many more.
Indulge in a spa treatment
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The oldest mineral springs resort in the United States, Two Bunch Palms is also the wellness mecca in this part of the world. “Take the waters” in one of two geothermal pools then make your way to the spa, where you can choose from an extensive menu of treatments. Our pick is the 90-minute Cahuilla Clay Wrap, which includes full-body exfoliation and a detoxifying wrap, followed by a soothing 40-minute massage.
Do a sunset jeep tour
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The hills of the Coachella Valley turn a blazing orange as the sun sets, bathing everything in a golden glow. This is the best time to see the region’s wildlife; we spotted an angry rattlesnake and a coy coyote during a Desert Adventures Red Jeep Tour of Joshua Tree National Park. Oh, and the sunset was magnificent, too. The company also offers tours of the barren and rugged landscape of San Andreas Fault zone.
Dine at a ritzy restaurant
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There are some excellent dining options at The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage. State Fare Bar & Kitchen is famous for its “farm-to-fork” menu, while Air Pool Bar specializes in Asian-inspired dishes. Make sure you arrive early, to give you time to enjoy the sweeping views of Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley from the hotel’s hilltop perch.