Palm Springs, CA

Golf, Spa, Eat, Repeat…. Why To Spend A Weekend In Palm Springs

Becca Blond

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Becca and Poppy at Agua Caliente Resort in Palm SpringsBecca Blond

Beneath a layer of sheets, I'm laying face down on the strangest massage table I've experienced. It is a bed with a mattress made from quartz rocks and feels a bit like laying on thick, slightly pebbly sand, which is far more comfortable than it might sound. Infrared rays will soon penetrate my body. I’m at the award-winning Sunstone Spa at Agua Caliente Resort Rancho Mirage in Greater Palm Springs about to experience the Restored Energy Massage, which my body tells me I’m in desperate need of. The only Forbes Five-Star rated spa in California in 2021, Sunstone also ranked 19th on Spas of America’s Top 100 in North America list last year. With all this clout, I’m more than ready to see if the treatment lives up to the hype.

An hour later, I’m officially impressed.

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The massage table at Sunstone Spa.Becca Blond

Utilizing Shiatsu, Thai and Reflexology techniques along with a massage with heated aventurine and flourite gemstones and a fabulous foot scrub, this treatment re-energizes and relaxes my body and brain. When I return to the spa for a second treatment 48 hours later I’m no less satisfied.

The 90 minute Therapeutic Arnica Massage is an intense experience with its deep pressure and lymphatic drainage elements. But it hits all the right pressure points and the infrared heated table with a vibrational session along with a heated back pad, more heated stones and quartz infused oils are sensational.

Located about 100 miles east of Los Angeles, in the Sonoran Desert, Greater Palm Springs encompasses nine towns, including Rancho Mirage, where I’m staying for the weekend. Palm Springs has long been known as Hollywood’s favorite playground. The tradition began in the 1920s when silent film stars would trek out to the desert for weekend retreats and continued through the Golden Age of Cinema in the 1950s and 60s, when celebrities like Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby and Gregory Peck would come to clear their minds and play some golf.

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Poppy in downtown Palm SpringsBecca Blond

Today it is still a star-studded hot spot that hosts the Coachella Music Festival each spring and is a very LGBTQ+ friendly destination. Palm Springs is also famed for its mid-century modern architecture, boutique shopping, and excellent restaurants. It’s just a 45-minute drive from Joshua Tree National Park, which is well worth exploring if you have an extra day.

I'm here for the weekend exploring the area with my service dog Poppy (Note: Agua Caliente Resort is not dog friendly, but I have a psychiatric disability that Poppy is trained to assist me with so she travels with me everywhere in the US, Mexico, and Canada). We are also joined by our influencer friend Rene (@ownbyfemme).

Stay, Play and Dine at Agua Caliente

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Rene (@ownbyfemme) and I at the pool at Agua Caliente.Becca Blond

A Forbes four-star resort, Agua Caliente Casino Resort and Spa is my favorite casino resort outside of Las Vegas. It is located just 10 minutes from downtown Palm Springs and 20 minutes from Palm Springs International Airport with direct flights from major hubs across US.

The rooms and suites are contemporary and feature heavenly deep soaking tubs as well as super comfy beds. They are also spacious with large windows featuring desert and mountain views. The casino itself is bright and clean and you can choose from a mix of live tables and slot machines. If gambling isn’t your game, however, the resort is still worth a stay. Besides the above mentioned spa, it also has a large pool area with hot tubs, sun-loungers, cabanas and food and drink service.

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The Steakhouse.Becca Blond

For dinner, Rene and I headed to The Steakhouse, one of a number of dining options on property. It serves up some of the best food I tasted in Palm Springs. The Wine Spector award-winning restaurant has a traditional steakhouse vibe with low lights and comfy seats.

Begin with the jumbo lump crab cakes that come with an avocado relish and whole grain mustard sauce that melts in your mouth. The chilled king crab legs and oysters on the half shell are also excellent.

When it comes to mains the A5 Miyazaki Wagyu New York Strip paired with lobster tail is an experience you won’t soon forget. There is also a full line-up of USDA prime steaks as well as signature dishes like seared hand dived scallops, truffle stuffed chicken breast and red wine braised short rib. The Sunday Brunch here is also legendary.

Other Palm Springs Experiences

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A hand-crafted Mezcal cocktail at Tac/QuilaBecca Blond

You'll definitely want to pay. a visit to to downtown Palm Springs. The city is very LGBTQ+ friendly and the main street is lined with unique boutiques and plenty of restaurants. Although Agua Caliente is not dog friendly, the city of Palm Springs is very much so. And Poppy had a great time exploring and taking photos for her Instagram (@jetsetpup). We paused for lunch at Tac/Quila. It serves the best modern Mexican downtown along with curated cocktails. Sit on the patio if its not too hot or inside the cool air-con dining room and order the fajitas.

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is another must-do in town. It travels along the cliff face of Chino Canyon up to Mount San Jacinto State Park. Once you reach the top you’ll be at an elevation of 8,516 feet and even on the hottest summer days you’ll want to bring a jacket as the temps are significantly colder up here (super refreshing when it is hot).

The Palm Springs Art Museum is also a popular attraction. It focuses on contemporary art in the form of paintings, photography and sculpture and is housed in a modernist architect Albert Frey’s former home built in 1963.

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Willie's Modern Fare has a creative menu.Becca Blond

Back in Rancho Mirage, Willie’s Modern Fare is well worth a dinner visit. With a romantic, candlelit outdoor patio and a large indoor dining space, Willie’s serves up seasonal, freshly prepared drinks and craft cocktails. The dishes are beautifully plates and are American and European flavored creations. The Demitasse Trio of Soup starter is truly suburb and so unique. Three tea cups of soup are served: one is cream of asparagus, the other wild mushroom with truffle oil and the third is a tomato bisque. All will delight the senses.

Tee Time at Indian Canyons Golf Resort

Palm Springs is also a famous golf destination. To tee off on the same greens that have hosted the likes of Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan pay a visit to Indian Canyons Golf Resort. The 36-hole facility is set on 550 acres and features two distinct courses that is each a reflection of its time. The South Course is a par 72, 18-hole championship coursed redesigned by Casey O’Callaghan in 2004. It has four large lakes that come into play on six of the holes, but its most unique feature are the 5 five par holes. The course is also home to more than 850 palm trees and features rolling mounds and fairways.

The North Course is where the Rat Pack used to play. Classically designed it meanders through Palm Springs’ “Canyon” region, which is home to a number of authentic mid-century modern homes as well as gorgeous mountain views and little wind. It has six challenging water hazards, the largest of which is found between the 9th and 19th holes and boasts a historic Walt Disney fountain shooting water jets more than 100 feet in the air.

Indian Canyons is just one of more than 90 golf courses in the area. The La Quinta Resort & Club at PGA WEST has five public courses including a Pete Dye-designed TPA Stadium course ranked in the 100 Greatest Courses by US Golf Magazine.

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Becca Blond is an award-winning travel and lifestyle writer with a focus on luxury and adventure travel, travel with dogs and mental health. She is the author of more than 30 Lonely Planet travel guides across five continents. Her work has also appeared in US Weekly, The Los Angeles Times, The Denver Post, The Points Guy, Thrillist, Afar Magazine, Matador Network, Culture Trip, Trivago Magazine and many others. Before joining the travel writing world she was a breaking news reporter for the Colorado Springs Gazette. She lives in Denver, Colorado and travels with her service dog Poppy.

Denver, CO
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