Courtesy Riviera Spa
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Courtesy Riviera Hotel
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Courtesy Hacienda Cantina
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Courtesy The Saguaro
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Courtesy the Tonga Hut
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The secret is out: Palm Springs is booming. Since January 2012, over a dozen new hotels have opened, bringing the number of lodging options into the hundreds. Restaurants, museums, bars, and pools are opening with no end in sight. The vacation destination is returning to its glory days as a Hollywood hideaway and attracting everything from ultra-modern day pools to revived tacky tiki bars. Here are nine reasons to plan your next weekend getaway:
1. You can day drink in style: The new Hacienda Cantina & Beach Club has scaled the ranks as one of Palm Springs’ most touted daytime pools. Sleek steel and wood design ushers some contemporary style to this gloriously dated town. It doesn’t err too much on the sides of either “college spring break” or “retirement vacation,” but instead offers a swanky place to sip margaritas in the pool or lounge in a cabana while a DJ spins you into trance. The pool reopens at the end of September.
2. You can late night drink in style: Palm Springs’ first fullly-fledged tiki bar, the Tonga Hut, opened this year, serving as a tribute to the region’s Desert Polynesia design roots. The retro wood walls and dim lighting accented with neon lights, Pacific Island woodcarvings, and mod furniture give the place a relaxed but funky vibe. But don’t get too cozy—the potent mai tais tend to liven up joint as the evening progresses.
3. Your inner architect can geek out: This November, the Palm Springs Art Museum will open its new Architecture and Design Center in downtown. The classic mid-century building, which was recently designated as a historic site, will have a glass pavilion to showcase the regions’ timeless and up-and-coming architects and designers.
4. You can go organic at brunch: A restaurant called “Farm” in the middle of the arid desert may seem like an oxymoron, but this spot manages to get its hands on fresh greens and organic vegetables. Their intimate patio is just as refreshing as their chilled cucumber soup. For brunch, the croque madame and banana crepes are highlights.
5. You can do dinner, cowboy-style: Newcomer Smoke Tree BBQ Bar & Grill shows off a little cowboy flair with hearty dishes like slow-roasted tri-tip with horseradish sauce. The vibe is Old West modern, with reclaimed wood, moody lighting, and desert décor.
6. You can sunbathe on Astroturf: Beyond the sparkling lights of downtown lies the recently opened Saguaro hotel, with all the cheekiness you’ve come to expect of a Joie de Vivre property. The rooms are like terrariums of the past, with deep purples and burnt oranges. Outside, the pool is the centerpiece of the hotel, with a lively crowd getting down to top 40 hits in the pool or sunbathing on the AstroTurf while nibbling on tacos served poolside. Bonus: they offer complimentary daily yoga and cruiser bikes.
7. You can get a little Hollywood glitz to rub off on you: The best hotel to soak up Palm Springs’ history is the Riviera Hotel, on the outskirts of downtown. The property is a tribute to Hollywood glamour and days when the Rat Pack, Sonny and Cher, and other icons hung here on the reg. Now the recently updated Chiki Pool boasts a mellow tiki-chic pool scene with cabanas and fluorescent furniture, and the restaurant, Circa 59, serves al fresco dinners among swanky oversized white leather chairs and red glass chandeliers with a view of the firepits and pool.
8. You can hang out with an early Facebook guy: Ezra Callahan, the sixth employee of Facebook, will soon be luring the Bay Area tech crowd to the desert, with the opening of his 32-room boutique hotel in early 2015, that will have a pool, outdoor firepits, and daybeds.
9. You can get there with ease: Fall in Palm Springs means fewer crowds than in the winter months. That leads to lower flight and hotels rates, while the weather is still near-perfect. Nonstop round-trip flights from SFO on United and Alaska Airlines start at $170 and Virgin picks up flights in October, starting around $200.
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