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You should visit Palm Springs in summer. Seriously. Yes, I know it will be really hot, but you’re going to spend most of the day in the pool drinking margaritas, so you won’t care about the heat.
And in the event you want to spend some of your time out of the pool, there are plenty of other things to do. This LGBTQ friendly town offers museums, tours, and great restaurants.
We’ve been visiting Palm Springs for many years and never tire of it. It’s stylish, relaxing, and fun. So whether you live in Southern California and want a weekend getaway, or you’re visiting from further away and want to explore the desert, this town won’t disappoint.
Where To Stay–The Saguaro Palm Springs
After almost three months of quarantine I was itching to get away. So when I heard that Palm Springs had given permission to their city’s hotels to open up I decided it was time to travel again. The Saguaro Hotel was among the first to open, so we booked a two night stay and hit the road.
You may have seen pictures of this hotel with its brightly colored walls. The lobby is also very colorful with slightly skewed decor. You may feel like you’ve stepped into a design centric comic book.
While this is not a luxury hotel, it is a really fun destination, and in my opinion among the best hotels in Palm Springs. Funky artwork can be found everywhere, from the lobby to the hallways and even the rooms. Twisted pool noodles can be found hanging on the wall of every bathroom. Technically they are art, but it turns out many families take them off the wall to use in the pool.
And did I mention the resident dog, Queso Fundoggo, who usually hangs out with the staff at the front desk? He even has his own Instagram account.
Most of our stay was spent at the pool. If you’re coming on a weekend, get there early to reserve your chairs. On Saturday there was an excellent D.J. playing a nice variety of music. And don’t leave without partaking of the margaritas. If you get hungry don’t hesitate to order from the poolside menu. I loved the sweet potato tacos so much I emailed the chef for the recipe. He kindly responded with detailed instructions. (Since I became a vegetarian in January I am really appreciative of well executed veggie dishes.)
What To Do in Palm Springs in the Summer
A Palm Springs summer will often reach temperatures above 100 degrees. So you have two options for sightseeing during the summer--appreciate the outdoor activities early before it gets too hot, or go indoors for the air conditioning.
There are two museums I’d recommend in Palm Springs if you’d like to stay indoors. The Palm Springs Air Museum features exhibits and aircraft from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Many of the docents are veterans and happy to provide in depth information about the exhibits. The Palm Springs Art Museum has over 12,000 objects rooted in modern and contemporary art.
Last summer I took the Palm Springs Windmill Tour and loved it, despite the outside temperatures of 100 degrees. Fortunately, most of the tour is spent inside an air conditioned bus. But it’s a wonderful opportunity to learn all about wind power and get up close to these giant wind turbines.
If you’re traveling with kids or grandkids, you’ll want to check out the Living Desert Zoo & Gardens in nearby Palm Desert. But it will get hot here, so plan to arrive when they open. When my kids were younger we loved to feed the giraffes and explore the animal hospital. They also offer educational sessions called Animal Encounters and Keeper Chats.
You simply can’t leave Palm Springs without sipping a date shake. And these are even better in the summer when you’ll need help cooling off. I’ve been drinking these for longer than I care to admit, and I never tire of them. There are two places I’d recommend for date shakes; Hadley’s and Shields Date Gardens.
If you’re short on time, plan to stop at Hadley’s on your way to or from Palm Springs. It’s located in Cabazon right off the 10 freeway. If you have more time, definitely go to Shields which is located in nearby Indio. Not only will you get a large and delicious shake, but you can also watch the famous film, The Romance & Sex Life of the Date.
Where To Eat In Palm Springs
I’m not going to provide an exhaustive list of Palm Springs restaurants. Instead, I’ll share a few of my favorite places where I’ve recently dined.
A long time favorite for locals and visitors is Las Casuelas Terraza. Located on Palm Canyon Drive in the heart of downtown Palm Springs, this family-owned Mexican restaurant always serves the classics like enchiladas suizas, chimichangas, and carnitas. If the weather’s not too hot, request an outside table.
Next door to Las Casuelas is pastel colored Lulu’s California Bistro which serves a great weekend brunch. You’ll enjoy three courses including an appetizer, entree and dessert. I personally recommend the bagel and salmon with all the fixings.
For dinner with a great view--or a special occasion--make reservations at Azucar. At the suggestion of my daughter, Jessica, we requested a table on the upstairs patio which allows for lovely sunset views of the San Jacinto mountains. Both the food and drinks at Azucar Palm Springs are delicious. I had a creative and tasty watermelon salad that I plan to recreate at home.
I've been visiting Palm Springs in the summer for many years and it never disappoints. If you just have one night to getaway it will be worth it, but if you can stretch it to two, that's even better. While I usually fill my travel days seeing as many sights as possible, in Palm Springs I just relax. And when I come home I feel so much better.