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Getaway Guide: Palm Desert
Travel

Getaway Guide: Palm Desert

Step aside, Palm Springs; there's a second desert city here to shine! We’ve got the guide to spend a perfect weekend getaway in Palm Desert.

Roubina Al Abashian

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5 min read

February 27, 2022

Just east of Palm Springs is the gorgeous City of Palm Desert. This town is home to award-winning golf courses, awesome country clubs, and mouth-watering eateries. But the most eye-catching part of Palm Desert is its breathtaking nature, which you can experience thanks to the abundance of outdoor activities available. Whether you want to see the city on a hike or take a swing in the courses, one thing’s for sure—you won’t have a dull moment. So pack your bags, it's time to explore the gorgeous Palm Desert. 

Day 1

A major center of growth in the Coachella Valley, Palm Desert is a popular retreat for "snowbirds" from colder climates.

Arriving

No matter which city you live in Southern California, Palm Desert is never too far away, meaning you’re in for a short ride. Blast your California road trip playlist and head for your weekend getaway to the desert. To avoid last-minute confusion, we advise you to have your stay figured out beforehand, but if you haven’t yet, don’t worry—here are our favorites.

If you’re all about that glamorous life, head straight to the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa, one of the top-rated hotels in Southern California. This Palm Desert hotel promises a luxurious, fun, and tranquil stay. You will be spoiled with five pools, mini-golf courses, and gondola rides through the waterways surrounding the hotel. You’ll also have access to world-class restaurants and spas—all this, and you’ll be a walking distance from the award-winning golf courses of Palm Desert.  

But if you’re on a tighter budget, fear not—you’ll still get to enjoy your time here without breaking the bank. Our favorite Airbnb in Palm Desert is Paradise Off El Paseo. The three-bedroom, two-bathroom Airbnb in California is perfect for a quick desert getaway with friends. Enjoy the pebble tec pool, jacuzzi, and waterfall while being only steps away from the popular El Paseo District.

Desert Willow Golf Resort is the City Of Palm Desert's municipal golf course and has two championship courses: Mountain View and Firecliff.

Afternoon

In Palm Desert, you’ll encounter a handful of the best golf courses in California, the Desert Willow Golf Resort being our top pick—we can’t think of a better way to spend the afternoon than showing off your skills. But first, you need to have lunch. Desert Willow Golf Resort has one of the best eateries in the City of Palm Desert, The Terrace Restaurant. Start off with the popular coconut shrimp served with pineapple salsa and Asian sauce. Then, order the pan-seared fish tacos with tortilla chips and guacamole on the side. 

With food out of the way, it’s time to enjoy a few hours of golf in Palm Desert. Choose between the beginner-friendly Mountain View or Firecliff courses—the latter is more suitable for skilled golfers. Enjoy the water features and gorgeous views of the surrounding Santa Rosa Mountains as you give your best on the course. 

Consider yourself a foodie? Make your way to Palm Desert for a gastronomic adventure or two; you won't regret it.

Evening

After getting worn out on the golf course, you’ll want to have food before engaging in more activities. Head over to the local favorite Grill-A-Burger. With a huge selection of burgers, you’ll need a little help to choose. If you think you can handle it, go for the extremely spicy Devil's Revenge Burger. But if flamin’ hot food isn’t your cup of tea, order the yummy What a Friend We Have in Cheeses—don’t underestimate the amount of cheese in this burger. 

From there, make your way to the McCallum Theatre to watch an awesome performance. The critically acclaimed entertainment venue stages spectacular productions ranging from all genres of music to drama and ballet. The theater boasts a state-of-the-art sound system, so you know you’ll be having a good time anyway. After the show, return to your Palm Desert hotel or Airbnb and get a good night’s sleep—an exciting day awaits you tomorrow.   

Day 2

Palm Desert has seen more residents become "full-timers", mainly from the coasts and urban centers of California.

Morning

It’s a new day in Palm Desert, CA, so put on your sturdy shoes because you’re about to trek one of the coolest hiking trails in Southern California, the Bump and Grind Trail. The earlier you wake up, the less you’ll have to endure the desert heat—don’t even wait for the sunrise to embark on the adventure. The four-mile loop hike is moderate with an elevation of almost 1000 feet. As you climb up towards the end of your journey, you’ll be rewarded with magnificent views of Palm Desert. Feel free to take a moment to yourself and soak in the beauty of the city. 

After your morning workout (and having a unique experience of Palm Desert), you get a well-deserved breakfast at Wilma and Frieda. Their churro waffles are better than anything you’ve ever had, whereas their chicken, sausage, tomato, and goat cheese omelet is out of this world. Don’t forget your cup of coffee before you leave—you need to be fully awake for the day.

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens' mission is desert conservation through preservation, education, and appreciation.

Afternoon

Early afternoon is the perfect time to visit one of the Golden State’s most amazing art museums, CODA Gallery. Here, you’ll find the finest contemporary art collection created by emerging and established artists from all over the state. You can even purchase any of the paintings, sculptures, photographs, and glass art on display. To add to your artsy experience, head to Daily Grill Palm Desert for food art. The blackened ahi tuna salad and filet mignon are pure perfection and super satisfying. 

No visit to the City of Palm Desert is complete without stopping by at the best zoo in California. The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens celebrates wildlife and desert plants from around the world. Covering 1,800 acres of land, this top attraction in the Golden State is where you’ll meet African cheetahs and Australian wallabies.   

Palm Desert has metamorphosed from a sandy cove at the foot of the Santa Rosas into a sprawling shopping, entertainment, and recreation mecca.

Evening

Unfortunately, it’s almost time to leave. But before you say your goodbyes, you need to have one final meal at one of Palm Desert’s top restaurants. And what better way to end your trip than by dining at Guillermo’s Restaurante. Start your dinner with the Ensalada Tropical—the mixed greens, mango, bell pepper, pumpkin seeds, and avocado mix with lime vinaigrette dressing is super refreshing. Oh, and you need to get their Burrito De Pollo; to put it simply, it’s perfect. 

You can happily head back home now, knowing that you’ve covered most of the best things to do in the deserts of California. You know you’ll be coming back! 

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