The Design Darling guide on where to stay, where to eat, and what to do in sunny Palm Springs, California!

design darling palm springs travel guide

How to get there:

You can either fly to Los Angeles and drive two hours or fly directly to Palm Springs. We caught a direct flight on American Airlines from Dallas to Palm Springs and loved landing just a ten minute cruise from our hotel. Fun fact: the Palm Springs airport is almost entirely outdoors as they get so little rain! Killing time before a flight is way more fun in the sun.

avalon hotel palm springs

Where to stay:

We loved the Avalon Hotel (formerly the Viceroy) for its central location, cool design, gorgeous pools, and yummy on-site restaurant. Seriously, I just wanted to Instagram every little corner of the property (and, let’s be honest, basically did just that). It’s also more affordable than the Parker, which we still checked out for brunch. The room was tiny but 1) it was beautifully decorated, 2) we’re used to living in New York apartments so we were pretty unfazed, and 3) we spent so little time in the actual room that it was basically a place to ditch our suitcases for the day and crash at night.

eight4nine palm springs

Where to eat:

Let’s just say our personal trainer was not impressed with our food logs when we got back from this trip as we pretty much ate and drank our way through the city. There are tons and tons of recommendations on this post but these were our favorite meals from the trip.

Chi Chi at the Avalon was the perfect poolside spot to grab lunch after we touched down in Palm Springs and were waiting to check into our hotel room. The fish tacos with mango salsa were the bomb dot com.

Workshop Kitchen + Bar is a minimalist haven with a killer cocktail menu (I had a French 75, Will ordered the M-80, and both were delicious). We walked in without a reservation and ate dinner at the bar, which made for excellent people-watching.

norma's at the parker palm springs

Norma’s at the Parker is “a five-star diner” that is not to be missed. There’s outdoor seating underneath an orange and yellow canopy and the waiters are dressed in orange and white stripes… It was my idea of preppy heaven. I wanted to order basically every item on the menu but we went with the lobster and asparagus omelette (insane) and nutella pancakes (how could you go wrong). This is definitely on our list of favorite all-time meals, not just for the food but for the setting and service as well.

Eight4Nine is a design lover’s dream come true. I’ve never seen a restaurant with so much hot pink so naturally I loved every second of our lunch there. We ordered a glass of rosé (when in Rome) and ate on the outdoor patio where people were dining with puppies in tow… I was pretty sure I’d died and gone to heaven. Basically if you come here and don’t Instagram something, you’re doing it wrong.

cheeky's palm springs

Spencer’s at the Palm Springs Tennis Club was a last-minute addition to our list of restaurants to try and I’m so glad we made it! We ate outside as the sun was going down (#earlybirdspecial) with lanterns hanging from the trees above our table… It was pretty magical and the perfect place to relive our favorite moments from the trip before flying back to Dallas the following day.

Cheeky’s is perhaps best known for its “bacon flight” (with flavors like apple cinnamon and jalapeño) but I enjoyed it just as much as a vegetarian. We waited 30 minutes for a table (even at 9:00 a.m. on a Monday!) but thankfully there’s a coffee cart next door at Birba (which I definitely want to try on our next trip) so I could get my fix.

design darling palm springs flamingos jw marriott palm desert

What to do:

See the flamingos! Oh man, this was such a highlight of our trip. It’s about a 25-minute drive from downtown Palm Springs but so worth the trek. The J.W. Marriott in Palm Desert has approximately 30 Chilean pink flamingos living on their property and I was in awe just watching them glide through the water and fall asleep on one leg. I might have gone a little National Geographic overboard on the photo taking but they are such curious creatures!

Explore. The architecture and the landscape in Palm Springs were so unlike anything I’ve seen on the east coast or elsewhere — I just wanted to drive around and take it all in. We cruised through a couple neighborhoods, stopping to take pictures of all the colorful doors. It was a little chilly in the mornings but warmed up considerably in the afternoon — once we got our bearings of the city, we realized we definitely could have comfortably walked to a bunch of places.

design darling palm springs travel guide

(Mini) golf. I don’t think we’ve ever passed so many golf courses in one city… But if golf isn’t your thing, Will and I fit in 18 holes of mini golf and had a total blast.

Just relax. I don’t even mean booking a spa day (though that might be a good addition to our next trip!). But we ate every single meal outdoors and, while it wasn’t quite warm enough to swim, spent plenty of time around the three pools at our hotel. It might not be the most thrilling thing on your itinerary but I can’t tell you how much that Palm Springs sunshine did for me in just three quick days! I came back to Dallas feeling totally reinvigorated — not to mention eager to book our return trip!

avalon palm springs

P.S. See outfits from Palm Springs here, here, here, here, here, and here.

P.P.S. See travel guides for Atlanta, Austin, NantucketNew York, and Paris as well as an ever-evolving list of favorites on my travel page!


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  1. Looks like so much fun, I think the flamingos are reason enough to book a flight! For sure added to my travel bucket list! Thanks for sharing!
    -Angela & Amy