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The insider guide to Greater Palm Springs and the Joshua Tree National Park

Agave Grill & Bar.
Agave Grill & Bar.
  • Discover where to stay and what to eat and do on your trip to the southern United States

The nine ‘desert cities’ of Greater Palm Springs, southwestern United States, offer a remarkably diverse travel experience: from the vintage Rat Pack glamour of Palm Springs and the golf and spa resorts of Palm Desert; to the awe-inspiring nature of Joshua Tree National Park.

STAY:

Mid-century modern masterpiece - Palm Springs

One way to be immersed in the history of the region is to stay in one of Palm Spring’s iconic mid-century homes. Many are available for rent on platforms like HomeAway and Airbnb. You could be staying in mini architectural masterpiece!

The Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort, Spa & Villas - Rancho Mirage

This relaxed, good-value family resort includes a hotel with concierge service, a full spa, championship golf courses, restaurants, and adjacent self-catering villa apartments. Expect heated pools, water slide, and whirlpools, as well as tennis courts and a basketball court. For adults there is also an adults-only pool area, spa and sauna, as well as activities like horse riding and cycling. Dining options include the contemporary Italian Pinzimini restaurant with golf course view terrace.

The Westin Desert Willow Villas - Palm Desert

I just loved this resort from the moment I arrived; maybe because there were frozen margaritas and a cheese board with crackers at check-in! The setting is beautiful, with spectacular views over the championship golf courses to the Santa Rosa mountains. The villas are well-appointed, with private terraces or balconies. The king size beds have Heavenly signature bedding; the contemporary kitchens are ideal for a self-catering holiday; and the stylish bathrooms come with Heavenly bath robes and amenities. The team, led by general manager Jim Moran really knows how to make guests feel welcome.

The poolside atmosphere is great; there are BBQ grilling areas where you can prepare meals outside, but also a pool bar, coffee shop and restaurant if you don’t want to step foot in the kitchen.

EAT:

The Purple Room

Billed as the ‘Desert’s Premier Supper Club’, The Purple Room was undeniably popular with the Rat Pack in the 60’s. Today Michael Holmes’ Purple Room endeavours to capture the glamour and fun of that era with nightly live entertainment, drinks, dinner and dancing.

Azúcar.

Azúcar.

Azúcar - Palm Springs

This new farm-to-table restaurant in the charming La Serena boutique hotel offers dishes with Spanish and Mediterranean influences.

Agave Grill & Bar

Executive chef Carlos Mares at The Westin Desert Willow Villas Resort heads a kitchen that is adept at creating family-friendly holiday, all-American favourites like gourmet burgers or tasty nachos as well as more sophisticated dishes such as sea bass with herb crust or fresh kale from his kitchen garden, lightly fried in olive oil with salt, pepper and parmesan. It’s a great place for cocktails too.

Morgan's in the Desert - La Quinta

This hacienda-style restaurant continues the tradition of when Hollywood celebrities would escape to the desert for the simplicity of ‘good food, good drink and good friends’. Choose from the vintage cocktail menu before ordering a classic Caesar salad and the short ribs from the grill.

DO:

Joshua Tree National Park

This is where two deserts meet; the high Mojave and the low Colorado. Discover a surreal landscape of vast boulders, unique Joshua trees, and beautiful cacti. Day trips by car are easy from any of the nine desert cities – or you can plan ahead and book a camp site, enjoy the hiking trails or rock climbing. Entry is 25 US dollars for a seven-day vehicle permit; camping, climbing permits and guides are extra.

Village Fest - Palm Springs

This Thursday-evening street fair brings together arts, crafts, food, and entertainment.

Palm Springs Art Museum

Three locations in Palm Springs and Palm Desert. The flagship gallery and theatre is surrounded by a sculpture garden. Admission is free.

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

The world’s largest rotating cable cars take you on a ten-minute journey to the wilderness of the Mt San Jacinto State Park. If you don’t fancy discovering the hiking trails, enjoy the restaurants and the view from the observation deck.

Golf - Palm Desert

There are said to be around 100 golf courses among the desert cities. For example, guests at The Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort can enjoy two PGA championship courses: the Pete Dye course and the Gary Player Signature Course.

The Spa at Mission Hills - Palm Desert

This spa and wellness centre specialises in signature honey treatments, such as massages and scrubs, using honey from the resort’s own desert hives.

The Shops on El Paseo - Palm Desert

Imagine Bond Street or Rodeo Drive in the desert, and that’s El Paseo – plenty of high-end brands in an upscale setting. There’s even a Wolfgang Puck Kitchen + Bar, for a stylish family meal.

Desert Hills Premium Outlets - Cabazon

Just off the motorway, west of Palm Springs, you’ll find the perfect excuse to stop before heading back to the airport – find plenty of international brands at outlet prices.