The more chilled-out, younger sibling of Palm Springs, Palm Desert is an arid oasis in California’s Coachella Valley. About two hours from LA, Palm Desert can be accessed by car or via the Palm Springs airport, which is only about 20 minutes from Palm Desert itself. Whether you’re in town for Coachella, spring break, the BNP Paribas Open tournament, or just a relaxing weekend away, here are our picks for must-do activities:
Hike the Bump N’ Grind Trail
One of dozens of trails in the area, this route is particularly appealing because of its three mile loop and out-of-this-world views. At the apex of your climb, you can gaze out over the Coachella Valley, blue skies, and miles of mountains. Don’t forget water and sunscreen, though—temperatures hit the mid-90’s by late Spring.
Eat Dinner on the Balcony at Tommy Bahama’s
This restaurant is a classic desert staple for great food and ideal ambiance. From the restaurant’s ever-present scent of coconut to the relaxed music, dangling lights and outdoor seating, this restaurant is the epitome of tropical vacation joint. Insiders tip: be sure to save room for dessert—specifically the Malted Chocolate Pie.
Stroll Down El Paseo
This bustling street is home to over 250 retailers, ranging from Burberry to Apple to Stuart Weitzman. The mile-long drag is a shoppers paradise, and an excellent spot for people-watching. And once you’ve shopped to your heart’s content, there are a plethora of restaurants and cafes for a well-earned snack break.
Brunch at Clementine
Oatmeal Brown Sugar Brulee, an Avocado Tartine, a Truffle Omelette, and Belgian Crepes are just a few of the drool-worthy menu offerings at Clementine. The perfect spot for rebooting and refueling after a night out, Clementine is an eclectic, vibrant café with the option of dining in or grabbing some coffee to go.
Rent a Bike
Coachella Valley has no shortage of trails, and the variety of terrain makes it easy for an advanced, intermediate or beginning biker to find a suitable route. Some picks include the 11-mile Pinyon Flats loop (for an advanced rider), the lengthy Santa Rosa trail (26 miles—but the views are so worth it), or the more intermediate Hopalong Cassidy trail, which comes with stellar city views.
Get a Massive Acai Bowl from Fresh Juice
If you’re in the mood for a acai bowl the size of your head, this place should be #1 on your list. You can choose from a base of acai or pitaya, and add toppings like mango, raw agave, and hemp granola. They’ve also got killer fresh pressed juices to keep you hydrated, like “We Got the Beet” and the oft necessary “Hangover Helper.”
Visit The River at Night
The River isn’t actually a river—it’s an outdoor shopping and dining plaza, flanked by a massive (man-made) river that snakes through the marketplace. Although it’s a great spot to grab lunch during the day, nighttime is when the magic happens—lights ricochet off the water, the temperature drops, and musicians frequent its outdoor amphitheater. Oh, and they’ve got a killer Ben & Jerry’s that’s open until midnight on the weekends.