Villa Royale’s Guide to Palm Springs
In Palm Springs, the desert draws you in with its quiet beauty and natural allure. Here, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite spots in and around the city. For more options, check out our neighborhood guide online here. And as you plan future trips, please double check with businesses sites directly as, given safety measures in place and state regulations, hours and operations may be affected.
A must-stop (and new one at that) is Bar Cecil, the latest venture by the masters at Portland-based Lightning Bar Collective. Pronounced ‘sessel’ pays homage to renaissance man and expressionist, Cecil Beaton’s life work and art. Here, you’ll find eclectic design, creatively crafted cocktails and inventive dishes that inspire.
Housed in a former movie house in the historic El Paseo Building in uptown Palm Springs, Workshop - a 2015 James Beard Award winner for “Best Restaurant Design” – calls to visionaries with its sleek modernism and farm-to-table fare. Dress to impress with a cocktail at the bar before dinner.
Whiskey and sushi may not seem like a conventional pairing but trust us, Sandfish brings a new level of taste to the table. The restaurant was a dream of Chef Engin Onural who is sushi certified by the Japanese government and has represented the U.S. in the World Sushi Cup. Here, keep it simple with one of the Japanese Whiskey’s on the list or go all in on the nine-course Chef’s Tasting menu.
For a healthy day of adventuring, swing by Chef Tanya’s Kitchen, vegan deli and marketplace. Our pick? Grab a Chupacabra Chick’n sandwich with thinly sliced seitan filets and avocado. It’s a dream.
Paul Bar may be Palm Springs best kept secret. The speakeasy-esque bar is artfully hidden among a strip of shops in on the edge of town. Often, you’ll find the owner welcoming guests in wearing a spiffy bowtie.
Head to the cozy digs of locally owned bar, Dead or Alive. Settle in with a craft beer or one of the regional wines on the menu any day of the week but on Fridays, don’t miss their DOA sessions of rotating live jazz performances from 8-11 p.m.
A crowd favorite among the Villa Royale team is Bootlegger Tiki. Located in the Uptown Design District where the famed Don the Beachcomber stood since 1934, the Palm Springs hot spot continues the Tiki traditions retaining the Polynesian theme with blowfish lights, thatched palm walls and a new menu of Tiki boozy beverages.
Palm Springs Art Museum is the largest cultural institution in the Coachella Valley holding more than 12,000 pieces of modern and contemporary art, including an Artist in Residence Pop-Up Studio program. While the museum may be closed for the moment, you can still experience the exhibits virtually from their permanent collection including works from Gerald Clarke, artist, cowboy, university professor, tribal leader.
Art abounds in Palm Springs, with annual events like Desert X and an abundance of public art works – from sculptures to murals - spread across the city. Plan a leisurely day out, riding around Palm Springs on our Electra bike, tracking down your favorite piece of work.
Founded by Chester “Cactus Slim” Moorten, one of the Keystone Kops of the silent film era. As the genre faded, Moorten retreated to the desert with his biologist wife Patricia and founded the “World’s First Cactarium” known today as Moorten Botanical Garden. The duo also installed landscapes for Frank Sinatra and consulted for Walt Disney’s Frontierland amusement park, which later became Disneyland. Still family-owned, the one-acre garden houses more than 3,000 species of cacti and desert-adapted plants.
Owners Kenya Knight and Taib Lotfi friendship started seemingly worlds away over an affinity and appreciation for design. Realizing the similarities in warm climates, unique architecture and design in the places they called home – Morrocco and Palm Springs – their vision for Souki Modern was born. The Shops at Thirteen Forty Five is where you’ll find their boutique filled with Morrocan style rugs, stylish handbags, pillows and more.
Celebrating its 25th anniversary last year, Joshua Tree National Park is registered an International Dark Sky Park. It just so happens the prime Milky Way season typically runs June through August. So, bring your binoculars. Villa Royale sits just under an hour from the park.
For a truly tranquil experience, map out hikes through the Indian Canyons, all located within Agua Caliente Cahuilla tribal land outside of Palm Springs. Each has its own distinct character. Tahquitz Canyon, one of the most popular, holds a 60-foot waterfall, which doubled as the entrance to Shangri-La in the 1937 film classic, Lost Horizon. Andreas Canyons offer footpaths that follow alongside colorful rock formations, twisting and turning into Murray Canyon. At trails end here, you’ll reach Seven Sisters, a stunning terraced waterfall when the rains been steady, and the waters are flowing.
For hiking enthusiasts, the 2.2-mile South Lykken Trail offers a moderate trail with a mix of steep switchbacks and spectacular views. Wildflowers blanket the mountainside in the winter rainy, with bighorn sheep making an occasional appearance. Views of Palm Springs from the top of the 756-foot climb are insta-worthy. So, take a moment to catch your breath and enjoy the view. To access the south trailhead, the Greater Palm Springs tourism team recommends parking along the side of South Palm Canyon Drive near where the road intersects with Murray Canyon Drive.