This last weekend, we flew down to California and spent some time in Palm Springs. Our friends had rented a house for the week and invited us to meet up with them. Um, did you say Palm Springs? Yeah, that didn’t take a lot of convincing.
I had never been to Palm Springs before, but it has always been at the top of my travel list. I am super obsessed with mid-century architecture, and boy o’ boy is this the place to go for it. All of the neighborhoods are pretty picture perfect. I could literally drive around looking at all of the colorful, one-of-a-kind doors and perfectly landscaped yards for hours. I mean, talk about real life #inspo for our own mid-century home. Aside from the houses, the hotels are just as dreamy and full of character, amazing food and endless Instagram photo ops. I felt like I was on a movie set with the mountain backdrop, colorful outfits and beautiful people. If I could just live in a Palm Spring bubble forever, I totally would.
Before we left for our trip, I had put together a list of all of the things I wanted to do while I was there. We spent a total of three days in Palm Springs. There were some road trips, colorful mountains, flamingo floaties, delicious cocktails, mid-century architecture and maybe one or two jumping cholla cactus run-ins. We definitely got around during our time in the desert.
Mid Century Neighborhood Tour
Norma’s at The Parker Hotel
On Friday morning, we drove from Pasadena to Palm Springs. Since we had reservations at Norma’s and were headed to the city of color, I decided to wear a vibrant striped jumpsuit, perfect for a brunch on the patio. We arrived in Palm Springs about an hour before our reservation time, so we decided to drive around and look at some of the mid century neighborhoods before hand. Every. single. house. was a.m.a.z.i.n.g. Some of the coolest houses are located in the Indian Canyon neighborhood. We went to the “That Pink Door” house and the “Party Lions” house, which is complete with two lion statues that get decorated differently every few days. I don’t think there is one house in that neighborhood that disappoints. It is definitely a mid-century lovers dream, so walk through the neighborhood and take in all of the vibes.
After we toured the Indian Canyon neighborhood, We headed back to Norma’s, which is located inside of the Parker Hotel. They do have street parking at the Parker, but it is super crowded, so we decided to go with valet parking. We walked through the famous orange doors and were instantly awed by the eclectic décor. The hotel is designed by Jonathan Adler and it absolutely amazing. From the inside to the outside, this place is a piece of art. The details that have gone into every nook and cranny of this place are so unique; the colorful vases, the owl macramé’ and the stylish seating, as someone who appreciates some good décor, I was definitely in design heaven.
Once we were seated on the patio under colorful umbrellas at Norma’s, the waiters greeted us with two shots of their daily smoothie special. It was a berry smoothie made with honey and it was delicious! The patio is bright and filled with happy colorful seating, bridal parties, couples and families alike and the menu is full of classic picks with a twist. I ordered a peach bellini, crunchy french toast and Thomas ordered a breakfast quesada filled with bacon, eggs, salsa, guacamole and Monterey cheese. One thing that I wasn’t expecting when I made the reservations for Norma’s was that the portion sizes would be so large, they were insane! My french toast was stacked about 5″ high, and neither of us could finish our meals, which isn’t a bad problem to have when you are spending about $30 on french toast. The staff was also super friendly and always made sure that we had what we needed, without being too over the top. They even offered to take a photo of the both of us, which obvi we took them up on. The next time that we are in town, we will definitely be coming back to The Parker Hotel to brunch at Norma’s, or who knows, maybe even have a nightcap at Mister Parkers
After we left Norma’s, we were ready to take on the desert heat. We decided to take a road trip to Salvation Mountain, which is about an hour and a half from Palm Springs. We cranked up the music and the AC and rocked out during our drive there. If you are using GPS through google maps, make sure to put in your destination as “Salvation Mountain”, and it should take you right there. I made the mistake of putting in an exact address and we got turned around a few times. The drive to Niland, where Salvation Mountain is located, is a definitely an interesting one. You start out on the freeway, and the road kind of goes through all of the stages of life. Eventually, you are driving on a super old damaged road, which then turns into a dirt road. You also pass by a lot of interesting stops, such as a border patrol check-point, the Salton Sea and quite a few ghost towns. Once you arrive, you can spot a few campers in tents, rainbow buses and old airstream trailers. I’m not sure the middle-of-no-where- desert is where I would want to camp out, but to each their own! Once you arrive at Salvation Mountain, It is actually pretty stunning. I cant believe that somebody made this crazy colorful mountain out adobe, straw and paint. Its pretty amazing to walk around and take in. A lot of people that we ran into were visiting from all different countries. One family was from France, another from China, so people really are coming from all over the world to see this 32 year old piece of art. For me, I would say that the drive from Palm Springs is definitely worth it at least once in your lifetime, and the memories and stories that come from the drive are definitely incentive alone!
After we left Salvation Mountain, we decided to stop at one of the view points for the Salton Sea. I mean really, you cant drive all that way, be that close, and not stop! We got out of our car and walked down onto the coarse salt banks to the water. It was so quiet and peaceful, so we just sat there on the edge of the sea for awhile and took it all in. The water isn’t anything that I would want to swim in, but the tranquility and gentle ripples of the water was such an odd, but beautiful sight.
Lunch at El Jefe
Moorten Botanical Garden
BBQ + Pool Time
During our second day in Palm Springs, we really wanted to just hang by the pool and relax, so we decided to spend the morning exploring. We decided to go check out the Saguaro Hotel and eat lunch at their bar, El Jefe. Something that is cool about The Saguaro Hotel is that you can actually buy day passes to their pool and enjoy the colorful surroundings. The hotel is like a rainbow you just can’t get enough of, and as someone who use to pray for rainbows every night as a child, for the second time in Palm Springs, I was on cloud nine. The lobby is also full of tables games, neon lights and fun furniture and every exterior door is painted in a different color, its pretty hard to not want to stay there!
The Hotel bar, El Jefe also has a really cool vibe to it. It is a Mexican restaurant decorated with western art, wooden tables and barstools, leather bucket chairs, cacti, succulent plants and to top it off, is stocked with a full tequila bar. For lunch, we ordered guacamole, which was AMAZZINNG, fish tacos, nachos and watermelon margaritas!
After lunch, we headed to Moorten Botanical Garden. You have to park on the street to get into this place, and it looked pretty busy when we pulled up. We were able to snag the last parking spot and headed in. The entrance fee is $5, but definitely worth it. Once you enter, they give you a map of the different areas you can roam around in and they also have plants for purchase, and different animals to observe such as turtles, birds andlizards running around. They also have a really cool cactiterrium that you don’t want to miss out on! If I wasn’t flying home, I would have taken home so many plant babies with me! On a side note, beware of the jumping Cholla Cactus! One of our friends barely grazed one and a little cactus ball broke off into his hand. It took about 10 minutes, some deep breaths (a few laughs and Instagram videos from us) a suggestion to go to the ER, and many pricks later for him to get it out. The scary thing about the Jumping Cholla is that they have the barbed spines, sort of like a fish hook, so it kept digging in deeper and deeper into his skin. We definitely watched a few YouTube videos about them on the car ride home. Who knew a botanical garden would be filled with so much fun and entertainment. Ha!
After our botanical garden excitement, we headed back to the house for an afternoon filled with sun, unicorn and flamingo floaties, the boys cooking up steaks on the grill, some rose for the girls and some of the best flashback songs from the 90’s and 2000’s. The house that we stayed at had an awesome pool, so it was nice to just hang out around the house without anywhere to be and just enjoy good friends, good food and the heat of the sun.
Morning by the pool
Brunch at the Ace Hotel
Lunch at In N Out
Desert Hills Outlets
On our final day we woke up pretty early and enjoyed the last few hours we had at the house next to the pool. We made fruit bowls for breakfast and just lounged for a few hours until it was time to pack up our suitcases and head back to LA to catch our flight.
For brunch, I had attempted to make reservations for us at the Kings Highway Diner, which is located at the Ace Hotel and Swim Club, a couple of days prior to our leave date, but everything was booked on open table. It was Mothers Day, so I image many people made reservations to take their moms out to brunch that day. Thus, I didn’t end up making it to the Ace, but I have heard such great things about this place that it will definitely be on my list of places to visit when I come back in the future. So take this tip, make reservations for all of your must have eat places and don’t end up like me! Luckily, this is my one and only Palm Springs regret.
Since we didn’t make it to the Ace for brunch, we had to make at least one trip to In-N-Out while we there. One of our friends that we were with had never been to an In-N-Out before, so we couldn’t deprive her! Even with it being her first visit, she ordered like a pro and even opted for some animal fries. We asked her what she thought and she said she enjoyed her lunch, but that her verdict was that Shake Shack is better. Oh well, we tried!
After we got back from In-N-Out we said our goodbyes, grabbed our suitcases and jumped in the rental car and headed out of town. On our way, we decided to take a detour and go off-roading to get an up close view of the wind mills. I was a little freaked out because even though it is off of the freeway, it is pretty deserted and has a lot of brush around, and hello, rattlesnakes! It is also extremely windy. I mean, I knew it was a windmill farm, but I could barely open by door! The windmills are pretty awesome though. They go on for miles and miles and definitely make for some awesome photos! After the windmills, we stopped at the outlets. I could literally spend hours at these things. They have some really great stores and such a variety! I would recommend going to them on your way to Palm Springs and picking up a cute outfit to wear for your trip!
Well, that wraps up our weekend in Palm Springs! We had such a great time and the weather was so nice. The colorful atmosphere, mid-century architecture, delicious food and trendy people make it such a fun place to be and I definitely wouldn’t mind going back in the hopefully near-future… Until we meet again, Palm Springs, until we meet again.
Photos of King’s Highway Diner were found on @kingshighwaydiner Instagram Feed and are not my original content.