Do you like cacti? Palm trees? Giant dinosaurs? Incredible Mid Century Modern architecture? Being warm? Delicious vegan food? If you have said yes to any or all of the above there is a very good chance you will like Palm Springs. I adored it!
I’d wanted to go to Palm Springs for yonks. The playground of Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley back in the day, getting to see the sun-drenched vistas of my instagram feed come to life was incredible. It was even more hip, relaxed and beautiful than I’d imagined. Trust me that within minutes of arriving, there’s a very good chance you’ll be saying “PS I love you”!
Here’s where I went and what I ate:
Location: 1775 E Palm Canyon Drive
Price: $34 for two meals, soft drinks + tip
Good for: Beautiful, healthy and tasty food. Diverse menu, really friendly staff.
Bad for: I just can’t fault this place.
Whether it was the extraordinarily refreshing lavender lemonade or my Southern Fried ‘Chicken’ waffles with kale, caramalized onions, roasted sweetcorn and sriracha maple syrup everything I ate and drank at Native Foods tasted incredible. The waffles were so fluffy and the chicken perfectly spiced. The menu also offers tacos, sandwiches, burgers, and lots of desserts. This is the original Native Foods location – they are now located in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Colorado, Oregon and Chicago – and I would urge you to look out for them if you can.
This meal was extra-special as I also got to meet pals I met via instragram years ago in real life (I also got to meet their superstar cross-eyed cat, Chester). They were so charming and funny, and a reminder of the magic of the internet and social media sites like instagram. Already looking forward to eating with lovely friends at Native Foods another time (and soon I hope!)
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Location: 119 S Indian Canyon Drive
Price: $50 for two pizza, boozy drinks + tip
Good for: Tasty pizza, friendly service, great value.
Bad for: I have no complaints about Bill’s whatsoever!
A really casual, relaxed spot, there was something special about Bill’s that I just loved. Bill’s serves up speciality pizzas some with jazzy names like the “Elton John” and offer vegan cheese as a substitute – for a couple of extra dollars – instead of the mozarella. You can either customise one of their pizzas or build your own. I ordered one that came with loads of sun-dried tomatoes, fresh basil and pine nuts and it was delicious. They serve gluten free pizzas too, so this would be a great spot for a party where there are lots of varying dietary needs. It was so friendly too. Superb.
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Ben and Jerry’s
Location: 110 S Palm Canyon Drive
Price: $11 for two small tubs of ice-cream + tip
Good for: Lots of vegan flavours as well as dairy ice cream and toppings
Bad for: Not the cheapest ice cream, but not mega-pricey
As you are probably aware Ben & Jerry’s now sell their vegan ice cream in the UK, Canada and the USA (amongst other places) and reader, it’s delicious. After polishing off an entire pizza at Bill’s you might have thought I’d be too full to eat anything else. Well you’d be wrong. It was time to pop around the corner and grab an ice cream nightcap. This scoop of Almond Brittle dessert – with salted caramel swirls and pieces of almond brittle was really creamy, light and tasty. Would recommend to a friend!
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Kaikou Ramen Poke & Sushi
Location: 155 S Palm Canyon Drive
Price: $55 for loads of food and soft drinks + tip
Good for: Big portions, good value, really friendly service, patio seating
Bad for: All good, baby!
After a slight planning blunder: we had wanted to go to Frankinbun to try their Vegan Chili Dogs and uh-maz-ing looking Tornado Potato (google it!) but hadn’t realised they close at 5.30pm Monday thru to Saturday, so we happened upon Kaikou Ramen Poke & Sushi and decided to try them out. Great for veggies and vegans: serving edamame, tofu, vegetable tempura, salads, sushi rolls and udon noodle soups, they were also really friendly. Good value, plus it was lovely to eat outside and enjoy a deliciously warm October evening. A solid spot in Palm Springs. I’m sorry I gobbled my food without taking a photo. Oops.
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It was great getting to visit my first Trader Joe’s of this roadtrip, if you’ve never been to a Trader Joe’s you might not understand my obsession. I think of them as America’s Waitrose: they sell all kind of fancy things you never knew you needed, but oh baby you need them. I’m not alone in loving Trader Joe’s either I know. This instagram account dedicated to the vegan friendly products they sell is handy. I devoured these cookies I bought at the Trader Joe’s in Palm Springs.
Where we stayed:
We spent our two Palm Spring nights at the absolutely fabulous Orbit In. And I am so so glad we did. Comprising of nine incredible studios, each uniquely furnished with designer items from the icons of mid-century design, there’s a relaxing swimming pool, spectacular mountain views, a complementary cocktail hour, a healthy breakfast, free bikes, cans of free pop in the fridge, great hosts… I could go on. This was one of the most perfect places I’ve ever stayed and I long to return. If I could live here, I would. In a heartbeat!
I had been tempted to stay at either the Saguaro or the Ace hotel as they both looked really swanky. Look at the rainbow colours of the Saguaro! Check out their instagram to see how retro the Ace hotel’s restaurant, King’s Highway, looks. I couldn’t pass up on the Orbit In’s charms but the good news is that you can always visit the bars/restaurants at the Ace or the Saguaro if you want to scope them out.
Places we liked to drink:
As regular readers know there are few things in life that get my heart racing quite like a tiki bar does. I was stoked to learn that Palm Springs have their very own tiki bar in Bootlegger Tiki. A mix between a Tiki lounge and a speakeasy, there’s the moody lighting and rum-tastic cocktails that get me giddy. So much fun.
Beer fans rejoice! Fame Wine and Cigar Lounge have your backs. If you’re not a fan of cigar smoke then you might want to sit out front in the fresh air, either way this charming bar stocks lots of fancy things to drink.
Places we liked to visit:
Ariel Tramway – OK dear reader, I won’t beat around the bush, the Ariel Tramway was a surprisingly white-knuckle experience. You journey in the world’s largest rotating tram car, and travel over 2.5 miles along the breathtaking cliffs of Chino Canyon up to the pristine wilderness of the Mt. San Jacinto State Park. During the 10 minute journey, tram cars rotate slowly, offering picturesque, spectacular (and a little terrifying) views of the valley floor below. At the Mountain Station – 8,516 feet up – there are restaurants, observation decks, and over 50 miles of hiking trails. Take warm clothing, as it might be balmy in the dessert but it can be a bit chilly at the top of the tramway. To get here prepare to spend $5 on parking and $26 per person.
The Cabazon Dinosaurs are a short drive from Palm Springs and are a perfect example of the kind of kitsch roadside attraction that makes my heart burst with joy. Featuring two enormous, steel-and-concrete dinosaurs named Dinny the Dinosaur and Mr. Rex. the Cabazon Dinosaurs have been knocking about since the 1960s and are best known for their appearance in the film Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.
The Moorten Botanical Gardens were so beautiful. For $5 each you get to see the world’s first cactarium and enjoy an acre of beautiful plants. Aside from falling into a cacti and having to ask the nice lady at Moorten Botanical Gardens entrance for some tweezers to remove all the spikes from my body (spoiler: try not to fall into a cacti as it really hurts!) my largest regret was that I couldn’t buy loads of the little cactis to take home to my London flat. They were so so fancy!
Elvis’s Honeymoon Hideaway – our wonderful friends showed us where the iconic mid-century modern mansion, which was once the home of Elvis & Priscilla Presley, is located and it was so fun to check it out. You can take a tour and events are held there too. I would very much like to move in please. Thanks.
Salvation Mountain – so it’ a bit of trek to get here. I’d say it’s a drive of at least 90 minutes each way from Palm Springs, but it’s like nothing else. A visionary environment covering a hill in the Colorado Desert, near Slab City and several miles from the Salton Sea, it is glorious. Leonard Knight’s brilliant “outsider art ” masterpiece is resplendent with not only biblical and religious scripture, but with flowers, trees, waterfalls, suns, bluebirds, and many other fascinating and colorful objects. Salvation Mountain’s 50 foot height and 150 foot breadth is made totally of local adobe clay and donated paint and is truly unique.
Joshua Tree National Park – If you have lots of time in California you might want to explore Joshua Tree National Park. Characterized by rugged rock formations and stark desert landscapes, it’s named after the region’s twisted, bristled Joshua trees. Located where the cactus-dotted Colorado Desert and the cooler Mojave Desert meet, the landscape is home to a fascinating variety of animals. America’s National Parks are a magical, soul-stirring treasure. If you ever have the chance to visit one, I’d take it!
Back to Palm Springs and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend that you walk or bike around town if you can. It’s a great way to get a feel for the place, spot your dream house (there will be zillions possibly!), check out hidden bars and shops and work up an appetite!
I had an inkling that I’d love being in Palm Springs and I really did. The pace of life was so chilled, the people so friendly, the mountain views so spectacular, the plants so beautiful. Palm Springs is a popular vacation spot and with very good reason. It’s a joy!