Hipsters and music-lovers from around the world will descend upon the Coachella Valley for the 2012 Coachella Music Festival. If you’re one of the 225,000 fans hoping to catch a glimpse of acts like the Black Keys and Dr. Dre, consider spending some time exploring the attractions in nearby Palm Springs.
Where to Stay
In Palm Springs’ Uptown Design District is The Alcazar (from $79 per night), one of the city’s newest boutique hotels. Before its rebirth as a swanky desert hideaway, The Alcazar went by the name of the Pepper Tree Inn when it opened in the 1950s as a Spanish Colonial. With just 33 rooms, The Alcazar is now a stylish and modern respite. Paintings from a local artist hang in the lobby and the rooms, and an unfussy but fun pool area is the perfect spot for soaking in the Palm Springs sun. For a more romantic escape, Korakia Pensione (from $159 per night) is like a dream where delicate bougainvillea bloom and notes of jasmine fill the air. Orbit In (starting at $109 per night) is a retro-cool mid-century compound where you can spend afternoons playing shuffleboard poolside.
Where to Eat
Don’t miss The Alcazar’s two onsite restaurants, Cheeky’s and Birba. For breakfast, stop by Cheeky’s and order the huevos rancheros then make plans for pizza and cocktails at Birba that evening. A few doors down, Jake’s Ready to Eat is a quaint California bistro with a breezy, laidback feel that’s open for lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. The eclectic mix of Austrian and Asian cuisine at Johannes Restaurant is another can’t-miss, particularly Wiener schnitzel with red potatoes in a dill sauce (it’s a family recipe).
Where to Shop
Palm Springs is home to the original Trina Turk boutique, where you’ll find the designer’s signature “California chic” threads and limited-edition Mr. Turk menswear. Housed in a 1960s Albert Frey building, the clothing shop shares a wall with Trina Turk home and its collection of eye-popping decorative accessories. European sportswear mixes with cruiser bicycles and fashionable art at Wil Stiles, while Just Fabulous is a great place to pick up beautiful coffee table books, imported music and greeting cards from around the world.
What to Do
Study the architects, buildings and materials that made Palm Springs an international design mecca with PS Modern Tours. On your expert-led jaunt, you’ll discover famed architectural highlights from the city’s Hollywood heyday in the 1950s and 60s, stopping at homes once owned by stars like Zsa Zsa Gabor and Dean Martin. In need of some rest and relaxation? Book a treatment at Feel Good Spa at the shabby-chic Ace Hotel and then spend a day people watching at the pool. Speaking of pools, dive-in to Backyard Oasis: The Swimming Pool in Southern California Photography, 1945-1982 at the Palm Springs Art Museum before you leave. The photographic exhibit is a walk through the visual analogs of ideals associated with Southern California’s carefree lifestyle.