San Francisco, CA

Weekend Road Trip: A Modern Take on Palm Springs

A. Kuehn

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After a year of lockdown, Californians are itching to get out of their homes and back into the world. Warmer weather and ample outdoor activities make Palms Springs a perfect destination for a springtime weekend away, whether you're coming from LA, San Francisco, or anywhere in between. Check out these top recommendations for reengaging with familiar favorites and new novelties in the Greater Palm Springs area.

Day One

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Do: Joshua Tree National Park

Engage with the desert and reclaim your inner wildness against some the stunning background of Joshua Tree's stunning rock formations, fuzzy cholla cacti, and iconic yucca varieties. If possible, go early. Mornings are both cooler and calmer, giving you plenty of space to park, play, and snag those enviable Insta-shots. Sunrise in the Cholla Cactus Garden, a nature walk through Hidden Valley, and sunset at Keys View are highly recommended and also wildly popular, so plan ahead. If you exit the North entrance, be sure to stop by the massive fan palms at the Mara oasis.

Eat: Natural Sisters Cafe

Located just outside the West entrance of the park, Natural Sisters offers organic plant-based food and drinks that are locally sourced and totally tasty. Try an avocado quinoa burger or a crisp chopped salad. Silky smoothies and refreshing juices hit the spot after a morning in the desert. Call ahead and pick up your order as soon as you arrive.

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Visit: Cabot's Pueblo Museum

If you've finished the park and fancy a trip to nearby Desert Hot Springs, you'll find aunthenic history, peaceful respite, and fascinating stories at the pueblo-style home of humanitarian, artist, and visionary Cabot Yerxa, the man who discovered the springs for which Desert Hot Springs is best known. Tour the tiny rooms of his handbuilt home, browse the artisan work in the trading post, learn the story of a true pioneer, and relax in the shaded courtyard.

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Stay: Hicksville Trailer Palace

Keep the party going all night long beside the pool and under the stars at this totally trendy and fabulously fun trailer oasis. From the frilled-out Fifi to the eccentric Pee Wee carnival trailer, each trailer accommodation is brimming with personality and tricked out with customized details, from a wet bar to a record player with vintage posters and artifacts galore. The property includes an adult ball pit, mini golf course, shufflleboard, rooftop hot tub, and a jukebox that keeps the tunes rolling. Aside from designated family weekends, this secret hot spot is adults only.

Day Two

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Do: Explore the Desert X Art Exhibit

As you move through the Greater Palm Springs area, be sure to stop at a few of the massive art installations created as part of this year's Desert X project, which features compelling work from international artists who use their craft to encourage engagement with ideas, emotion, and the desert landscap. Download the Desert X app for easy access and short explanations of nearby installations. You won't want to miss Nicholas Galanin's iconic "Never Forget" located near the Palm Springs Visitors Center or Ghada Amer's "Women's Qualities" located in the lush gardens of Sunnylands.

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Eat: Margaritaville

Kick back and throw back at this tropical paradise, which opened last fall in the former home of Riviera Palm Springs. Choose from a variety of Margaritaville-inspired dining options, including the down-home Come Monday Cafe, where you can share a plate of decadent chilaquiles and dig into an order of fresh fish tacos, and the poolside 5 o'clock Somewherer Bar, where there's something for everyone any time. Looking to have one too many? Opt to spend the night here and recover the next day at Palm Springs' largest resort spa.

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Stay: Azure Palm Hot Springs

If you can make it back to Desert Hot Springs, it's worth the drive (only 20 minutes) to stay at the only geothermal mineral springs spa in Calfornia. Retreat into the Himalayan Salt Room, sweat it out in the sauna, take a sunset dip in the open-air pool, and then soak in the healing waters of the hot springs from the comfort of your own suite. Spa suites include spacious concrete soaking tubs that tab into underground waters. Treat yourself to an epicurian facial or a deep-tissue massage and refresh your body with juices and snacks from the in-house cafe.

Day Three

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Eat: Brunch at Lulu California Bistro

No weekend away is complete without a good brunch, and Lulu's offers one of the best in town. With three courses for just $19.95 and choices like the avocado and ahi tuna tower, south of the border scramble, award-winning chicken pot pie, and Lulu's signature triple-chocolate cake, you'lll want to get there early (they open at 9:00 am) and take your time noshing.

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Do: Take guidend tour with Modern Tours Palm Springs

Get a thoroughly modern eductation and see some of Palm Springs' most noteworthy and iconic buildings and homes at your own pace and from the comfort of your car with one of Modern Tours' guided audio tours. Choose from the Celebrity Home tour, Modernism Top 10, Modern Architecture 101 and more. Customized Google map availbe to help you navigate your way.

Bonus

If you make it to Palm Springs April 8-18, you'll have the added bonus of participating in Modernism Week. Take in-person tours (many self-guided) or participate in online programming April 15-May 15.

Photos courtesy of Hicksville Trailer Palace, Lulu California Bistro, and Greater Palm Springs Convention and Visitor's Bureau

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People are the worst. And the best. And everything in between. They have brilliant ideas and create horrific and fabulous things. I am deeply curious about and fascinated by the human animal, and I love sharing its stories with others. I call San Francisco home, but consider the world an equal-access territory. My work for News Break centers largely on local culture events, U.S. travel destinations, and trends in the food industry at both the macro and micro level.

San Francisco, CA
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