Travel Diaries

Palm Springs Six Ways

by Joy Pecknold

After vacating the White House and before vacationing on Necker Island, Barack Obama enjoyed three days in Palm Springs. And who can blame the man formerly known as President for making a desert pit stop—the city is an oasis of arts and leisure. Lazing by the pool is a typical and perfectly acceptable modus operandi, but on a recent weekend getaway I discovered six side activities to complement the sun and chlorine.

Palm Springs long table dinner

Under a canopy of lime treats and lights, The Barn Kitchen at Sparrows Lodge hosts long table dinners twice a week—Chicken Wednesdays and Steak Sundays. The meals are rustic and supremely satisfying, and the family-style set-up allows for lively discussion among friends and strangers. Reservations are a must as they book up lightning fast.

Joshua Tree

Coachella isn’t the only way to rock out in the desert. Joshua Tree has its fair share of rocks, namely Jumbo Rocks, Wonderland of Rocks and Split Rock. Needless to say, that’s what makes it a great place to rock climb, but cowering below them is marvelous enough.

Pappy and Harriet's

There’s the rock ‘n’ roll variety too, in Pioneertown, a short drive north. Through the 1950s, it was a faux frontier town where Westerns were filmed. Today, one of its cantina-inspired structures houses Pappy and Harriet’s, a bar, restaurant and live music venue. Some well-known performers have dropped in to play sets here, including Robert Plant, Paul McCartney and Vampire Weekend.

Parker Palm Springs

Whether or not one decides to overnight at the Parker Palm Springs, it’s a popular drop-in spot for cocktails and, for those documenting their trip on Instagram, a beautiful backdrop. Grab a drink at the bar, stroll through their sprawling gardens and snap away. Getting a shot in front of the white brick wall on the way out is customary.

Palm Springs Art Museum’s Architecture and Design Center is another photo-worthy location. Opened in 2014, it occupies a restored mid-century building right downtown. The current exhibit, “MetaModern,” features iconic modernist design items, such as Eames chairs, reconfigured by contemporary artists.

Palm Springs is better

The reward for all that posing? Two scoops of champagne sorbet from the Ice Cream & Shop(pe). As the ampersand suggests, they don’t just serve up cold treats. In the other half of their space, where the #palmspringsisbetter neon sign lives, they stock cool gifts and accessories, including sunglasses and flamingo pool floats to use on the next trip.