Ah, November, when temperatures begin to not-so-subtly dip and Portlanders steel themselves for the months ahead of perpetually gray Pacific Northwest skies. But while stocking up on Vitamin D and investing in a sunlamp is all well and good, any local who’s been through a winter or two knows that nothing beats the real thing.
Our solution: embrace your inner snowbird and head south to California’s Palm Springs, a city experiencing a renaissance of sorts in the form of design, art, and a healthy dose of social progressiveness. With more than 350 sunshine-filled days (and temperatures barely reaching “sweater weather” even in November—for Northwest natives, at least), itinerary options span indulging in seaweed wraps and exploring local architecture to taking in natural scenery unlike anywhere else.
No matter your aesthetic inclinations, Palm Springs has lodging to match, whether your style skews upscale eclectic (think Holiday House, The Rowan, and The Rossi Hotel) or mid-century modern (The Three Fifty Hotel and historic gems like Amin Casa or Sparrows Lodge come first to mind). Really settle in by renting an Architecture Digest-worthy home (mid-century, of course) with room for the whole family.
Feeling inspired? Here’s how to make the most of a long weekend in paradise.
Go with the early wake-up call.
Skip the snooze button and start the day with a 3.5-miles guided hike into Tahquitz Canyon to a 60-foot waterfall on the Agua Caliente Reservation—pack plenty of water and wear layers for sun protection!
Back in town, get your culture fix at Palm Springs Art Museum—don’t miss Unsettled (through April 30, 2019), which explores the vast frontier of the Greater West through the lens of artists from Alaska to Central America. Architecture aficionados can dive into the museum’s Architecture & Design Center, home to permanent and temporary collections of drawings, photography, models, and archival material, along with more esoteric exhibitions like Scraps (through Jan 14, 2019), highlighting the environmental costs of waste in the textile and fashion industries.
For a bird’s-eye view of the city’s architecture by night, take a helicopter tour with Joiride (and for some natural wonder, try an excursion that sends you soaring over the desert instead). If you’re feeling like luck’s on your side post-flight, Spa Resort Casino in the heart of downtown has everything from slots to high-limit gaming—and did we mention the casino is open around the clock? Just off the casino floor is Cascade Lounge, with DJs and live music if you prefer a dance floor to slot machines. Fuel up at the The Corner Deli or Oasis Buffet, or stay awhile at The Steakhouse, known for its unfussy, fine dining fare and extensive California wine list.
Up the indulgence factor with a detoxing volcanic earth clay ritual at Azure Spa and Salon at the Riviera Hotel, followed by session in the custom Watsu pool. Or book a moisturizing Desert Rain Drench at The Spa at Colony Palms Hotel, where treatments are inspired by local botanicals (couples massages are also on offer if the mood strikes).
You might need to bring a bigger suitcase.
What if we told you Palm Springs’ vintage shopping scene rivals our hometown offerings? Don’t take our word for it, head straight to Sunny Dunes Vintage Row and dive into a trove of shops with one-of-a-kind inventories. And nestled between the Rat Pack-era celebrity neighborhoods of Old Las Palmas and The Movie Colony is the Uptown Design District, a haven of all things mid-century modern and home to a stretch of more than 50 boutiques and galleries. Don’t skip Trina Turk and Mr. Turk Menswear for retro-chic stylings from the eponymous fashion designer.
For locally made gifts (think Southwestern art and jewelry galore) stroll Thursday night street fair VillageFest or visit Destination PSP for Palm Springs-centric souvenirs. A favorite for holiday gifts, décor, and stocking stuffers, a visit to Just Fabulous is a must. Continue the modernist streak with a stop at fine art gallery and shop SHAG, The Store dedicated to the works of Josh Agle (aka SHAG).
Sip (and taste) your way around town.
At the base of the San Jacinto Mountains, find a Sunday brunch of Maine Lobster Benedicts and banana-stuffed French toast at local mainstay Spencer’s. For a menu of inventive, Austrian-inspired dishes spanning spätzeln to scallops try Johannes, and don’t sleep on the Dungeness crab-stuffed poblano at Azúcar.
Moving right along to happy hour, classic cocktails from gimlets to punch abound at Truss & Twine, and decidedly swanky EIGHT4NINE takes the “five o’clock somewhere” approach with small plates and cocktails on happy hour all day. For a heartier meal, grab a table at Workshop Kitchen + Bar—housed in a retrofitted movie theatre that garnered a James Beard Award for design—or get a taste of Old Hollywood glamour at Melvyn’s Restaurant at the Ingleside Inn.
Cap off the evening by heading to the rooftop bar at The Rowan for sipping while taking in the sunset, or immerse yourself in the speakeasy vibe of Seymour’s, tucked away in the back room of Mr. Lyons Steakhouse.
Already planning your next trip?
Events to consider booking a visit around: The 26th Annual Palm Springs Festival of Lights Parade (Dec 1) is a beloved holiday tradition featuring marching bands, signature floats, and of course, Mr. and Mrs. Claus. And annual event Walk of the Inns (Dec 14) offers a self-guided stroll through Palm Spring’s boutique hotels and historic properties—the tour is free, but donations of unwrapped toys are greatly appreciated.
Did someone say nonstop flights?
You can fly direct from Portland into Palm Springs International Airport in just under two and a half hours. Most accommodations are within a 10-minute drive, with car rental/drop off located right at the airport.
For more itinerary inspiration, check out visitpalmsprings.com.