Palm Springs, CA is paradise. Tucked away in the desert is a city full of modern architecture, rainbow doors, chic boutique hotels, and colorful murals. While Palm Springs is small, it’s packed with fun things to do, unique areas to visit, awesome pools, cool hotels, and more top-notch restaurants that one person can eat through. I spent a week running around Palm Springs with another Instagrammer friend to find all the best IG-worthy spots and great a big city guide for you! These are my top things to do in Palm Springs: An Instagramer’s Guide to this desert city! Read on to find all my Palm Springs travel tips, where to take photos, plus what to pack for your trip!
CUTE HOTELS IN PALM SPRINGS
This is the rainbow hotel you see everywhere on Instagram. It’s also where we stayed in. I loved the colorful walls, cute decor corners and the theme that even carried into the rooms. Ours was a pink and purple room! Another nice thing about the Saguaro is they have cute bikes you can use for free.
Despite having all the visuals, I do have to mention our problems with staying here. Long story short, I’ve traveled all over the world and the service and experience of staying here as a guest is probably the worst I’ve ever encountered. They lost our reservation in their system more than once, so much we were half expecting them to turn us away when we checked in. Each day we would get a knock on our door at 8am asking us when we’d check out even though we were staying for almost a week. Almost every day the front desk would deactivate our room cards because they thought we were checking out that day. When getting new ones, they never once asked for ID, which is a big safety red flag. One faulty card is a mistake, 4 times is bad service. I could list many more problems, but the bottom line is that the Saguaro has their decor game on lockdown, but not their service game. For that, I suggest stopping by here for an afternoon at the pool or photos but stay the night somewhere else.
We had breakfast here and I loved how cute this place is! They have a wonderful sunshine mural and great big ACE letters in the parking lot. Rooms are scattered about, so there are a lot of trees on the property. Some of the rooms had outdoor patios, others had outdoor fireplaces. I also have a friend who got married here and loves this hotel!
This hotel is where I want to stay next time we visit Palm Springs! It’s a Mediterranean-style resort with tons of nature, pretty strings lights and the feeling that you just walked into Greece. Plus, the pool looks like heaven!
A luxury hotel that’s full of yellow – my favorite color!! It’s on the pricey side, but the decor and amenities can be worth it. If you can’t afford to stay the night here, make sure to at least visit the pool one afternoon or dine at one of their restaurants.
TOP THINGS TO DO IN PALM SPRINGS
There are so many fun things to do in Palm Springs! We spent 6 days there and didn’t do nearly all the things on my bucket list. That being said, here are my favorites.
Palm Springs if full of tourists or retired couples. Aka, it’s pretty easy and safe to bike around. Plus, most hotels offer bikes to ride for free. If your hotel doesn’t offer bikes, I recommend Bike Palm Springs, as they have fun, colorful bikes to choose from (perfect for photo ops!)
Palm Springs has the BEST doors! There’ll be one of every color in a neighborhood. You can read my full Palm Springs Doors Tour Guide here.
Day Trip To Joshua Tree
Joshua Tree is about an hour away from Palm Springs, so it’s the perfect day trip to take! I recommend visiting Skull Rock as a starting point. Go for either just the sunset like we did, or bring hiking gear to explore the park more.
Not all hotel pools are equal. Many allow outsiders into their pool area for a day fee. If your hotel pool isn’t that great, or you’re a little bored of sitting by the same one all week, grab your towel and start exploring Palm Springs via pools!
Palm Springs is full of rich people, many of them gay. That translates to incredibly good thrift shopping. Like, really nice stuff, all over the place. Furniture, dresses, jewelry. You name it!
Moorten Botanical Garden
This cactus garden is such a magical place. It’s only $5 to enter and makes such a fun place to do a self-guided or full tour. If you’re driving, you can also buy cacti here! I took home a bunch of plants for my apartment. Read more about this fun place + see photos here.
BEST RESTAURANTS IN PALM SPRINGS
Oh my, does Palm Springs have amazing places to eat! We tried really hard to visit as many as possible, but we could spend a whole month eating out. Below are the places we ate or restaurants that came highly recommended to us by friends or locals.
I LOVED this place! We drove by it a few times before realizing it was there. Their catchphrase is “Come for the sausage, stay for the wallpaper.” They have the cutest custom wallpaper, it’s really a very charming and colorful place to stop for lunch. I recommend trying the flight of sausage (so you can try more!) My favorites were the vegan sausage and the chicken/waffle.
Come to lunch or bunch here! The floor is so freaking cute and it’s right by the hotel pool, so you’ll have a good view. They have a variety of menu items. I suggest the hummus plate or burger. It’s a bit on the pricey side, so split an app or even come for a happy hour cocktail.
Located in the Ace Hotel, this place has major 70’s vibes in all the right ways. I felt instantly relaxed, the best way to start the day. I loved my huevos rancheros and hot cuppa coffee!
We didn’t get to stop here, but friends said it’s the best steak in the whole town. They also apparently have amazing cocktails. Apparently, the rat pack used to hang out here back in the day, so the history of this little joint is off the hook.
Craving some patio time? Come here! I think mainly locals come here and I could see why – it’s not on any list of top places to eat in Palm Springs (so I don’t think a lot of tourists swing by.) The services is wonderful here. We sat on the patio, great for people watching. Try the mac and cheese with a cold beer.
Another one we didn’t have time to visit, but comes highly recommended. Birba is a great date-night spot. It has a beautiful patio with string lights and a large variety of Italian dishes.
Retro vibes, tasty ice cream and outdoor seating. Need I say more?
PALM SPRINGS DOOR TOUR
As mentioned above, Palm Springs is home to the best doors in the world. Modernism is a very popular design style of homes. Many owners paint their front doors bright, fun colors. Some even dress them up with floaties or other decor. My favorite part of Palm Springs was biking around the Indian Canyon area to visit all the best doors – like that famous pink one! Again, you can find my favorite houses and addresses in this blog post.
WHAT TO PACK FOR PALM SPRINGS
Palm Springs is a desert city, which means that the days are hot and, unless it’s the dead of summer, the nights are cool. Because of that, you need to pack warm weather clothes and some light jackets for the evening. This city is colorful and vibrant, so it’s the perfect place to pack those loud pieces!
I hope this helps you plan your trip to Palm Springs! Leave a comment below if you have any questions or things to add!