If you are looking for instagrammable back drops and a good old splash of colour you just can’t beat Palm Springs. Once the playground for the hollywood jetset, then turned seedy gambling town and now LA weekend getaway fave, Palm Springs is as quirky as they come.
We had started our drive to Palm Springs from Anaheim where we had enjoyed DisneyLand the day before (you know the Disney drill so we’re not blogging about this - plus, we went on a day when all the local schools had just finished high school so it was uncomfortably packed. And they cancelled the fireworks. Sob!) It’s an easy 1hr 40 drive to Palm Springs which will feel like a world away.
One of our favourite things about driving in California is the range of landscapes and vegetation and you can take this one step further with the (somewhat, terrifying) Palm Springs Aerial Tramway which will whisk you up from the desert floor, guiding you through five vegetation zones to the San Jacinto mountains where the air is cool, the redwoods grow proudly and the vision of the Coachella Valley is hard to tear yourself away from.
Palm Springs city centre is pretty dinky which is just as well as you’ll likely want to spend your days poolside in any case and most of the hotels have decent bars and restaurants. We’re obsessed with Ace Swim Club - a sun soaked Ace Hotel in a converted motel accompanied by a great restaurant: King's Highway (an ex-Denny’s) ; the key lime pie sparked an obsession with it in our household and many a weekend is dedicated to attempting to recreate it. The cocktail bar The Amigo Room also puts on nights that spill out on to the terrace and airstream, poolside.
Should you venture outside of your hotel there’s a couple of super fun tiki bars like The Tinga Hut and Bootlegger Tiki. Every Thursday downtown throws VillageFest, a night market full of local products, the usual market tat and some interesting street performers. A man dressed in a full Predator outfit playing the Game of Thrones theme from a boombox and putting on a spoken word performance about it being ‘The Year 3033’ will not be forgotten any time soon.
We didn’t have a chance to spa it up while in Palm Springs but we hear that the Two Bunch Palm Resort a short drive from Palm Springs is pretty damn good and our beloved Ace offers treatments as well. So maybe you really don't need to leave the hotel!
If you aren’t content simply soaking up the sun, tiki cocktails and vintage goodness mini escapes like the Cabazon Dinosaurs, Joshua Tree or some outsider art are only a short drive away.
Heading back to the coast after Palm Springs we’d highly recommend Laguna Beach. Put your preconceptions from the name to one side and you’ll find an adorable beach town with good food (Tortilla Republic, Gina’s Pizza) and plenty of art to keep you busy - the town is referred to as an ‘art colony’ after all! The town also aims to claim fame of inventing the smoothie (The Orange Inn has a Guinness World Record to prove it!) and has an awesome Town Greeter, Michael who you’ll see out and about on his bicycle literally greeting people and making their days better. Well, this is the USA after all!
We can’t leave you in Laguna Beach without forcing you to go to Taco Loco taco shack. Holy mother of mexican food, this stuff is crazy good. And at only a few dollars a taco you can go crazy trying whatever you fancy from blackened swordfish to good old carne asada.
If you’ve been singing phantom planet to yourself throughout this series, you are not alone (it was our last dance at the wedding after all!) When staying in Laguna Beach just pop along the coast to Newport Beach for some Ryan and Seth reminiscing. Be warned, there’s no sites here from the show except the ‘Newport Beach’ signs as much of the show was filmed around and about California.
If you do go there head for Alta Coffee & Roasting Co for an epic breakfast and cup of joe. We fell completely head over heels for the spot when we spied that their house hot sauce was by Dexter Holland’s brand (yep, of the Offspring)!