Trade the Snow for Some Desert Sunshine This Winter
Don’t get us wrong, we love the East Coast—the food, the history, the constant excitement—we’re just not super into the idea of freezing our butts off in weather below 30 degrees, especially when we have the evergreen warmth of Palm Springs in our backyard. The Greater Palm Springs area has long been a refuge for people escaping the chill of winter.
With daytime highs in the 70s and nighttime lows in the 40s, Palm Springs certainly has its colder season, and you can find the occasional sprinkle of snow in high desert locales like Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms. But for the most part, you’ll just need to pack a light jacket and plenty of swimsuits.
Ready to warm up this winter, SoCal-style? Here’s our 48-hour itinerary for snowbirds in Palm Springs.
To kick off your getaway, we recommend checking in at the Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs. Located smack dab in the middle of Palm Springs’ downtown area, this hotel is perfect for someone who wants to spend a lot of time on hotel grounds as well as someone who wants to walk around and explore the beating heart of the city. This pet-friendly hotel’s chic design makes a nod to the city’s enthusiasm for all things midcentury modern, and it offers plenty of amenities so you can get the full Palm Springs experience, including a yoga mat in every room, nightly social hours, free bikes to ride around and a stunning rooftop pool and restaurant.
Speaking of the Rowan’s rooftop pool, after checking in, we definitely recommend slipping into your swimsuit and heading up to splash around and sip on some handcrafted cocktails and nosh on light bites at High Bar. It’s an oasis that’s perfect for soaking up golden hour sunshine and breathtaking views. As for ordering, we recommend pairing the poke nachos with the Desert Breeze or the pork belly sliders with the Fool’s Gold Rush.
6 p.m. Dinner at Kiki’s La Quinta
Freshen up and put on something nice—it’s time for your reservation at Kiki’s La Quinta! After opening its doors in September 2023, Kiki’s La Quinta has quickly become a local favorite for its quirky design, warm service and fabulous food and drink menus. Kiki’s is perfect for date night, but honestly, we’ll take any occasion to pull up a chair and chow down on some butternut squash arancini, bucatini carbonara and forest mushroom pizza—leaving room for an Espresso Martinetto cocktail and a Torte Tenerina for dessert!
8 p.m. Sky Watcher Star Tours
If you’re traveling from a big city on the East Coast, it’s probably been a minute since you’ve gotten to enjoy a starry sky. Treat yourself to a stunning and brilliantly lit night sky with expertly led stargazing through Sky Watcher Star Tours. In this two-hour experience, you can cozy up in a comfortable outdoor setting and take in the beauty of the stars and their histories. Sky Watcher offers private and public tours as well as different outdoor experiences like starlight yoga, sound baths and movies under the stars. Bring layers—it gets pretty chilly at night!
8 a.m. Coffee at Everbloom
If you’re like us, you’re willing to drive 30 minutes for some delicious coffee—especially if that coffee is from Everbloom. This locally owned coffee shop was founded by two born-and-raised Coachella Valley residents. The syrups are housemade, and you’ll find coffee with a strong focus on quality and craft. Another thing we love about Everbloom is their batch drinks. Grab a half-gallon (about six servings) of matcha, chai, latte or cold brew—one trip can last you a while! Note that some of these batch drinks take a day to prep, so place your order online for pickup in advance.
10 a.m. Brunch on the Patio at Norma’s
Palm Springs is a place that takes brunch very, very seriously, and one of our favorite spots for the best meal of the day is none other than Norma’s. A part of the Parker Palm Springs, Norma’s is serving up all the decadent breakfast and brunch favorites all day and night—and that includes the cocktail menu. For us, it can’t get better than basking in the Palm Springs sun on Norma’s patio while enjoying a mimosa and a stack of James Beard Award-winning potato pancakes, but there’s something for everyone on this menu.
If you’ve ever had the oddly specific dream of taking to the skies and reaching an elevation of over 8,500 feet on the world’s largest 360-degree rotating tramcar, then you’re going to love the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Buy a ticket and enjoy a smooth, gentle ride to the peak of the San Jacinto Mountains, where you can continue the adventure with a hike through the Mount San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness Area. It’s a great chance to see spectacular views and some snow in California (before riding back down to the sunny streets of the city).
1:30 p.m. Lunch at FARM
After a bit of adventure in the morning, you deserve some rest and relaxation. With a menu inspired by the South of France and a gorgeous garden setting, one of the best spots in Palm Springs for lunch is none other than FARM. Our favorite items for lunch have to be the brie sandwich, the croque madame and the savory champignons et fromage crepe, but with ingredients this fresh and a menu this thoughtful, you really can’t go wrong—unless you skip on one of their delicious cocktails.
3 p.m. Mojave Flea Trading Post
Whether you promised everyone back home that you’d bring them souvenirs or you want to treat yourself, don’t miss out on browsing through the Mojave Flea Trading Post. This marketplace features merchants and makers from Joshua Tree, the Coachella Valley, Los Angeles and beyond, all housed within a beautiful 10,000-square-foot space. From artwork and home decor to apparel and vintage treasures, you can find something for everyone on your list here—just be sure to carve out enough time to let yourself wander and enjoy.
4 p.m. Ice Cream at Kreem
On East Palm Canyon Drive, you will find the cutest ice cream shop in town—it probably caught your eye earlier on this trip, and now it’s time to get the inside scoop. Kreem offers classic ice cream flavors like vanilla or cookies and cream along with more creative, artisanal scoops like prickly pear or blackberry and goat cheese. Kreem also boasts a range of decadent vegan flavors like ube and horchata. Order a cup of coffee to wash it down for the perfect way to end the day before heading back to the hotel for dinner (or a sweet treat before enjoying Palm Springs’ nightlife).
If you’re in town on Sunday, we recommend heading over to the farmers market in La Quinta! It’s no secret that California offers an agricultural bounty, and a farmers market is—in our opinion—one of the best ways to explore and appreciate locally grown produce and artisanal products. Snack on and taste the delicious flavors of the Coachella Valley while perusing through food and craft vendors, and be sure to pick up some packaged snacks for your flight home!
Local Insight: If you get there early enough you can catch a yoga class and coffee and pastries.
If you loved all that airtime on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, you’ll also want to check out a hot-air balloon ride with Fantasy Balloon Flights. As expected, these hot-air balloon rides are as exciting as they are peaceful, allowing you to get an aerial view of Greater Palm Springs’ natural beauty. Fantasy Balloon Flights are available in the Palm Springs area from September to May (weather permitting), and the experienced staff can always be trusted to create a truly memorable and wonderful experience.
For an elevated shopping experience, look no further than the famous El Paseo Shopping District. Known as the Rodeo Drive of the Coachella Valley, the El Paseo Shopping District offers a plethora of boutiques and department stores for any kind of shopper, whether you’re into luxury handbags, natural skincare, local craftsmanship or mostly just in it for the snacks. There are also plenty of restaurants in the district: Some of our faves include Il Corso, Molé and Wilma & Frieda.
Before heading out and concluding your Palm Springs adventure, we recommend taking a moment to appreciate the area and its history. For some, that could look like taking a Red Jeep Tour; for others, it could be taking a hike on a nearby trail. For this itinerary, we recommend visiting the Sunnylands Center & Gardens, where you can wander through a beautiful garden designed by The Office of James Burnett or tour the historic Annenberg Estate. Many a world leader was hosted by Sunnylands when Walter and Leonore Annenberg called it their winter home, and that legacy lives on today with the center’s environmental and communal efforts.
Born and raised near the Pacific Coast, Jordan Nishkian is a California girl through and through. She graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a BA in Creative Writing and a BA in Anthropology, and her favorite place to be is curled up in a comfy chair with a book in her hand and a pen in her hair.