Long before the crowds of hipsters, models and Kardashians descended upon the Coachella Valley, Palm Springs was the OG Hollywood hangout. We’re pretty sure we’re not alone in being super bummed (but also excited… twins!) that Beyonce had to bow out of her Coachella Music Festival appearance, so we thought you might need some alternative inspiration this April for your upcoming trip to the desert.
Palm Springs is full of hidden treasures, so we went straight to the experts to get the lowdown on the best of the city. Lauren Coleman (a PS native), Tiff Horn and Sarah Kissell are the brains behind a gorgeous new magazine celebrating the arts, aesthetic and unique woman power behind Palm Springs, DUNES. (Photos from the first issue above and below.) Here, they dish on their faves.
BEST PLACE TO EAT
“We love El Marisol Mexican Restaurant at Los Arboles Hotel. It’s been around forever, the food is spicy and the margaritas are strong. In addition to this, we love Palm Greens Cafe. They have a lot of healthy vegan options and smoothies. In the summer crushed ice with watermelon juice is so refreshing.” (Editor’s note: the vegan date shake is a must!)
BEST PLACE TO DRINK
“I have always been a huge fan of Melvyn’s Piano Bar. It’s still living in the old Palm Springs tucked away behind Palm Canyon. Also the Avalon Hotel a few doors down is very reliable and Mr. Lyons in the bar if you want some good snacks with your drinks.”
BEST PLACE TO PEOPLE WATCH
“There are tons of natural desert hot spring spas. Two Bunch Palms is the most reputable, and it’s good for observing the locals interacting with the out-of-towners. The Parker Hotel (above) was just updated and has many observation areas, the bar and the pool being prime. [At the Ace Hotel], the Amigo Room offers good acoustic sets in the bar during the week and DUNES‘ own showgirl Shirley Claire, puts on quite a show calling out bingo on Monday nights at King’s Highway (below).”
BEST HIDDEN TREASURE
“There are a few shops together tucked away on Perez Road, very Palm Springs-style home furnishings and books. For clothing, our favorite designer vintage shop The Fine Art of Design in Palm Desert. Nicholas and Luisa are extremely helpful and the selection there is incredible!”
BEST OUTDOOR ACTIVITY
“We love a hike in the Indian Canyons (above). It is super beautiful this year with all the water. And, we always love to stop into Moorten Botanical Garden to say hello to Clark and his doves.” (Editor’s note: You’ve definitely seen the latter on Instagram.)
Now that DUNES has given you the tour, here are our personal favorite swaps for the Coachella experience.
BEST ALTERNATIVE CONCERT VENUE
Ditch the massive crowds in Indio and head to Pioneer Town instead. Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneer Town Palace (above) is a hidden host to some major bands with a more intimate setting. The indoor/outdoor bar has Western vibes in the best way and they’re also renowned for their chilli.
BEST ALTERNATIVE ART INSTALLATION
From Modernism Week to the film festival, you are guaranteed to find something celebrating the arts in Palm Springs. The city and its supporters are truly dedicated to a thriving arts and culture scene. This year was the first for Desert X, an area-wide exhibition. Featuring 16 artists with installations spread across the canvas of the Coachella Valley, there are too many must-sees to name here (like “Mirage” by Doug Aitken above). It ends on April 30th, so go. Now.
Photo by Lance Gerber
BEST ALTERNATIVE PARTY
Head to the colorful doors of The Saguaro (pronounced Sa-wah-ro, and pictured above) on the weekend for amazing tacos and watermelon margaritas first. Then wander over for one of their much-loved pool parties. Who needs the Sahara Tent when you have DJs poolside?