Itching to get out of your home for a mini break? Palm Springs is the ideal destination for dipping your toes back into travel. A trip to the desert is only about a two-hour car ride from Los Angeles (you’ll know you’ve arrived once you pass the somewhat creepy yet mesmerizing windmills), and once you feel that warm sun on your face (average temperatures range between the 80s and 90s in the spring), you’ll feel like you’re officially OOTO. The high desert is not only full of natural beauty, but also ultra-cool art installations, delicious cuisine and totally unique architecture. Here are the best things to do in Palm Springs right now.
Editor’s note: Please remember to mask up and follow social distancing protocols while traveling and be sure to check up on the state’s health and safety guidelines before you go.
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© Hadley Fruit Orchards
Image credit: Hadley Fruit Orchards
1. Have a Date Shake at Hadley Fruit Orchards
We know you’re eager to reach your destination, but Hadley Fruit Orchards is one road stop you must make on your drive to Palm Springs. A Palm Springs institution, this roadside stop sells dates, all sorts of nuts and downright delicious date shakes. These are the types of dates that always leave you satisfied—go for the Medjools—and their date shakes are the treat you know you deserve. And happily, now vegans and lactose-intolerants alike can rejoice: Hadley’s recently added vegan date shakes made with non-dairy milk to their menu. Yum.
47993 Morongo Trail, Cabazon, CA 92230
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The impressive Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage is an incredible 200-acre estate, once home to media magnate Walter Annenberg and his wife, Leonore. They welcomed leaders from all industries to their modernist winter home, including Queen Elizabeth, Frank Sinatra and President Obama. While the interiors are still closed due to COVID-19, you can explore the lush grounds (including 12 man-made lakes and a nine-hole golf course) on three available tours: a guided 45-minute landscape tour by shuttle, a 90-minute guided estate bird walk or a 60-minute guided historic walk.
37977 Bob Hope Dr. Rancho Mirage, CA 9227
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This past year was certainly one that required some introspection (maybe too much if you’ve been cooped up alone) so why not turn your thoughts to examining the desert, as both a place and as an idea. Desert X is a completely free exhibit featuring incredible contemporary art installations all throughout the desert cities. The exhibition runs through May 16, but different exhibits are open at varying times, so be sure to check the calendar to know what is open during your Palm Spring visit.
44-985 Province Way, Indian Wells, CA 92210
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If you’re feeling a sense of wanderlust, the recently renovated spa at the Sands Hotel will give you all the vibes of a Moroccan escape. Indulge in restorative treatments like the Sands Body Scrub or a much-needed Royal Deep Tissue Massage. The spa combines traditional Western techniques with detoxifying minerals and botanicals from all over the world. After a day of seeing the sights, you deserve a little pampering, no?
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Copley’s is the quintessential Palm Springs restaurant bringing together gorgeous mountain views with Hollywood nostalgia. Located in the beautiful courtyard of the former Cary Grant estate, enjoy award-winning chef Andrew Copley’s elevated American cuisine featuring local ingredients and tropical flavors. An evening spent in this casual yet sophisticated spot where service is consistently top-notch is the perfect way to unwind after a long day.
621 N Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262
© Carolyn Hebbard/Getty Images
Image credit: Carolyn Hebbard/Getty Images
6. Check out the views aboard the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
Sure, Palm Springs looks cool from the ground but what about from up above? The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway happens to be the world’s largest rotating tram car and takes passengers on a dizzying two-and-a-half mile journey along the cliffs of Chino Canyon to Mt. San Jacinto State Park. The whole trip only takes about 10 minutes but once you’ve reached your destination, it’ll feel like a totally different world as you take in Coachella Valley down below. Here you can choose to just hang out at the top or hike deeper into the San Jacinto Mountains. Tip: Bring a sweater, temperatures drop on top.
1 Tram Way, Palm Springs, CA 92262
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1. Concord, Massachusetts
The first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired here. Add to that the fact that some of the most cherished American literary figures—Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott and Henry David Thoreau—all lived (and felt inspired) here at one point. Note to self if you visit: Do not skip Walden Pond.
Where to stay: If you want everything within walking distance (for the most part), the Colonial Inn is your best bet. Originally built in 1716, it’s been properly modernized, but allows you to fully immerse yourself in the historic nature of the town. (There are even rumors that some of the rooms are haunted.)
2. Edgartown, Massachusetts
OK, so you have to take a short ferry ride to visit this super-cute Martha’s Vineyard town, but it’s worth the trip to see the old whaling port, bustling with old-school Americana and celebrity sightings. (We’re talking about you, Barack Obama.)
Where to stay: It’s a toss-up between the Harbor View Hotel (which was recently renovated and comes with views of the Edgartown lighthouse) and the Christopher (tucked away on a quiet street, but with a beach-meets-Victorian vibe). Each are located right in the heart of downtown.
3. Woodstock, Vermont
It’s no surprise that most of the buildings in this tiny (and quintessential) New England town—founded in 1787—are on the National Register of Historic Places. Located in the Green Mountains, the town boasts just about 3,000 residents, plus plenty of things to do and see, from perusing the Woodstock Farmers’ Market to catching live music at the Woodstock Town Hall Theatre.
Where to stay: While the town itself has much to explore, the luxurious Woodstock Inn & Resort comes fully loaded with four restaurants, a spa and golf course, not to mention stunning accommodations that are both quaint and posh.
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4. Stockbridge, Massachusetts
Um, Norman Rockwell used this town in the Berkshires as inspiration for his work. That is all.
Where to stay: The Red Lion Inn—located right in the heart of Stockbridge—is full of antiques and old-fashioned charm or you could try staying one town over in Lenox at the ultra-charming 11-room Gateways Inn.
5. Bristol, Rhode Island
The vibes are chill in this seaside town—so chill that you could actually commit to getting around without a car. (The East Bay Bike Path kicks off here and you can ride it all the way to Providence.)
Where to stay: A Colonial federal-style home that has been converted into a bed-and-breakfast, the William’s Grant Inn is located on a tree-lined street and within walking distance to all of Bristol’s restaurants, shops and museums.
6. Exeter, New Hampshire
Sure, it’s home to the infamous private school (Phillips Exeter Academy), but it’s also home to an assortment of mom-and-pop shops, restaurants, art galleries and some of the best foliage you’ll ever Instagram.
Where to stay: The Exeter Inn is quintessential New England—think stately trees, a romantic courtyard, elegant architecture—and Phillips Exeter is practically in its backyard. (The exploration begins now.)
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7. Bar Harbor, Maine
This town offers ocean views and artisanal (and adorable) ice-cream shops. Plus, you’re a hop, skip and a jump hike away from Acadia National Park.
Where to stay: It’s called the Saltair Inn for a reason—this waterfront property takes its cues from the Frenchman Bay it looks out at. Open all four seasons, nab a room (there are only eight) before they’re all booked up.
8. Newport, Rhode Island
Yes, the mansions—like the Breakers—are epic. But so are the sunsets, the coastal walkways and all the charming (regular-sized) homes.
Where to stay: Located on the edge of Narragansett Bay, the Vanderbilt combines gilded age luxury and glamour with a relaxed energy and plenty of charm. (Did we mention there’s a seaside pool, too?)
9. Chatham, Massachusetts
Located on the Southeastern tip of Massachusetts’s bent “elbow,” Chatham is a vibrant part of Cape Cod—home to beautiful beaches, but also plenty of culture, from the Chatham Shark Center, which focuses predominantly on the Great White, to the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, a nesting and feeding habitat for migratory birds.
Where to stay: Check out the Chatham Bars Inn, which features it’s own private quarter-mile beach and on-site farm in addition to a spa, pool, tennis and golf. (Plus, it’s pretty hard to beat these views.)
10. Camden, Maine
Right on the edge of Penobscot Bay, this postcard-perfect seaport has it all—mountain views, delicious seafood nearby and (made in Maine) wine.
Where to stay: Fresh off a renovation, the Captain Swift Inn is a boutique hotel with nine unique guest rooms—some even have private decks—and a candlelight breakfast experience that is not to be missed.
11. Sugar Hill, New Hampshire
There are approximately 500 year-round residents in this quaint little spot, nestled on the edge of the beautiful White Mountains. But a visit to this small town will make a big impact. Tip: The local country store makes its own cheddar from scratch, so don’t miss out.
Where to stay: About the White Mountains…the Sunset Hill House has sweeping views of them, not to mention access to the world’s oldest golf course (guests can play nine holes) in addition to pristine gardens and a pool.
RELATED: The 10 Most Charming Small Towns in New Hampshire
12. Mystic, Connecticut
Home to the pizza pie made famous by Julia Roberts (#TBT), this town’s reputation extends well beyond that. Go for the Mystic Museum of Art and the Mystic Aquarium (home to beluga whales!); stay for the water views. (And, OK, a slice of that delicious pizza.)
Where to stay: At the Whaler’s Inn, a boutique hotel located in the heart of a bustling maritime village, guests have the option to choose from five adjacent properties—from the historic 1865 House to the adults-only Hoxie House—in which to stay.
13. Wiscasset, Maine
It’s frequently referred to as the prettiest town in Maine, but Wiscasset is also known for it’s old-fashioned charm. Case in point: the Maine Heritage Village, which is chock-full of stores featuring Maine-made products. But there’s also the food (ahem, Red’s Eats earned the accolade of best lobster roll in the state) and there’s also plenty of architectural landmarks worth checking out. (Psst…the town is also home to the world’s smallest church, per the Guinness Book of World Records.)
Where to stay: Just six miles outside Wiscasset, the Newcastle Inn earns rave reviews for its daily home-cooked breakfast and uninterrupted views of the Damariscotta River. (Just pull up an Adirondack chair.)
14. Kennebunkport, Maine
It’s the Hamptons of Maine if you will—a small yet ritzy town beloved by presidents and celebrities alike. Dock Square is the focal point. There, you’ll find al fresco dining hot spots mixed in with shops, art galleries and more. If the sea and surf is what you’re looking for, Goose Rocks Beach is a can’t-miss with a three-mile stretch where you can just meander.
Where to stay: Choose from any one of the nine properties within the Kennebunkport Resort Collection (say, the Grand Hotel or the Tides Beach Club) and you’ll experience first-rate hospitality and easy access to the best of the area.
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15. Washington, Connecticut
It’s what the fictional town of Stars Hollow from Gilmore Girls is based on. Enough said.
Where to stay: The Mayflower Inn & Spa feels more like a retreat than a hotel. Expect four-poster beds and an English countryside vibe. And definitely do yourself a favor and leave enough time for a glass of wine on the porch.
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© Cheri Alguire/Getty Images
Image credit: Cheri Alguire/Getty Images
7. Grab Lots of Water and Go for a Hike at Indian Canyons
Who knew there was more to hiking than Runyon Canyon? Start your day off by exploring the many beautiful hiking trails that make up Indian Canyons. Our favorite one is Tahquitz Canyon, which features a 60-foot waterfall you can cool off in. Admission is required and take note, Indian Canyons will be closed April 25 to May 2.
38520 S Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92264
© We Care Spa
Image credit: We Care Spa
8. Escape to the Ultimate Celeb-Favored Wellness Getaway at We Care Spa
If you’re in need of a detox, this is the place for you. We Care Spa has been getting celebrities ready for red carpet events since 1986. They offered colonics way before colonics were cool (OK, maybe not “cool” but you know what we mean) and juice fasts before Pressed Juicery was even a nugget of an idea. During your retreat, you’ll be guided through a liquid nutrition and detoxification program. If that sounds hard, know that you’ll have options like their floating bed—which simulates the feelings of being in the womb—to lie on, as well as a ton of relaxing spa offerings.
18000 Long Canyon Rd, Desert Hot Springs, CA 92241
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Palm Springs is teeming with retro mid-century vibes you’ll want to bring home with you once your trip is over. Head to The Shops at Thirteen Forty Five to shop the 15 boutiques tucked inside the iconic 1955 building designed by E. Stewart Williams. From designer home furnishings to one-of-a-kind hats, it’s like a museum of luxury items you’ll wish you could display at home (even if they’re slightly out of your price range).
1345 N Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262
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A new restaurant on the Palm Spring’s scene, Bar Cecil pays homage to its namesake, Cecil Beaton, a British photographer and designer, who “lived between classical charm and new world rebellion.” An iconic bon vivant, the Beaton Experience is a nod to the man who enjoyed the finer things in life. The dining event includes a menu of six wine-paired pre-fixed courses for $350 per person (available for you and up to seven of your nearest and dearest). The menu is an assortment of the chef’s select dishes, and includes their $50 martini. Over the top? Yes. Worth it? Also, yes.
1555 S Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92264
© Dayna Goldman
Image credit: Dayna Goldman
11. Have a Fitcation at the Beautiful la Quinta Resort
If you’re in Palm Springs you’ll likely already be sweating but get the maximum benefit by taking advantage of one of the many outdoor workout classes available at La Quinta Resort and Club. Their fitness center offers all the hits: spin, Pilates, strength training, yoga classes, you name it. Sign up in advance here.
49-499 Eisenhower Dr, La Quinta, CA 92253
© Visit Palm Springs
Image credit: Visit Palm Springs
12. Hop on a Bike for a Self-Guided Architecture Tour
Palm Springs is full of mid-century modern architecture that is unlike anywhere else in the world. Several hotels, like the Ingleside Inn, are located near these homes and offer complimentary bikes with your stay. The Visit Palm Springs website offers a great self-guided tour which begins at the Palm Springs Visitor Center and takes you through some of the town’s coolest-looking homes, including Swiss Miss Houses featuring the A-frame entry, a home owned by Leonardo DiCaprio, tiki architecture and Desert Modernism.
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The Parker is worth a visit alone, just to admire the Jonathan Adler decorated hotel, which amongst tons of eye candy features a prominently hung “Drugs” sign over in the lobby. Head to their on-site restaurant, Norma’s, which is famed on both coasts (the original is in NYC). Its open-air terrace is brightly colored and allows you to admire the grounds of the hotel, while tucking into extravagant dishes like their Chocolate Decadence French Toast or their Seared Maine Lobster and Asparagus Omelet. Reservations are recommended and can be made on OpenTable.
4200 E Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92264
© Kevitivity – Kevin Stanchfield/Getty Images
Image credit: Kevitivity – Kevin Stanchfield/Getty Images
14. See Some Dinosaurs on Your Way Out
If you noticed a dinosaur off the side of the road on your drive into Palm Springs, you’re not hallucinating. Cabazon Dinosaurs is the closest thing you can get to Jurassic Park and we’re totally cool with that. Admission is $13 and if you visit soon, some of the dinosaurs may still be in their holiday decor—Easter and Valentine’s Day, to be specific.
50770 Seminole Dr, Cabazon, CA 92230
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