Palm Springs in 48 Hours
Updated: Aug 13, 2021
Tall, earthy-colored mountains paint every corner of the town's backdrop, streets are laced with palm trees, buildings stand together uniform in architecture as if in an army, the air is coated in a thick layer of sheer, dry heat and the only source of color is the occasional pinkish bed of flowers that lay among the varying hues of cactus greens and mountain browns—that's Palm Springs.
Palm Springs is located roughly 2-3 hours (depending on traffic) from Los Angeles, and it's the perfect long weekend getaway. I'd probably recommend not going it the middle of July, but if you must, it can be done, you just have to prepare for the temperatures to get up to 120 degrees, and thus, bring lots of water. Without further ado, here's my Palm Springs travel guide on the best things to do in Palm Springs, the best hikes near Palm Springs, the best hotels in Palm Springs and the best places to eat in Palm Springs.
Best Hotels in Palm Springs
Truthfully, we only stayed at two different hotels in Palm Springs, but we loved them both for very different reasons, so here's my review:
The Saguaro Hotel & Pool | Affordable—Located in the heart of Palm Springs, The Saguaro was the perfect way to kick off our summer trip. While the rooms weren't necessarily my favorite (I truly believed they could have infinitely improved the atmosphere if they just took out the over-head lighting), the pool definitely made our stay a great one! They have their own restaurant and bar inside the hotel called El Jefe, which we enjoyed (and were able to grab coffee at in the mornings), and the pool had its own bar outside. Plus, the hotel is just a short drive from downtown Palm Springs and the Indian Canyons.
Sands Resort & Spa | Luxury—I wished we had spent more time here, but alas, this was our "nice" accommodation and could only afford one night. Sands Resort & Spa is located a little further off the beaten path, but that's OK because you really don't need to go anywhere else while your here! I love special hotels like this—you know, the ones that hand you iced Moroccan mint tea when you arrive? This was an extremely boutique hotel, I'm talking 46-rooms-total boutique, so the pool didn't need to be that large because there aren't that many people staying at the hotel on a given day. Even the pool seating was fabulous, and the pool drinks were amazing! They also had an absolutely amazing restaurant on-site called the Pink Cabana that I highly recommended making a reservation for (as it's super popular for non-guests as well). All-in-all, if you can afford the stay, I highly recommend the Sands.
Best Hiking in Palm Springs
From Joshua Tree to the Indian Canyons, there are lots of options for hiking in Palm Springs.
Andreas Canyon | Indian Canyons—This trail was sort of a surprise. We were actually planning to hike the Tahquitz Canyon Trail, but when we arrived, the guides told us that the waterfall was dried up and the majority of the trail was in the sun (before you make fun of us for turning around, it was 115 degrees outside). However, they noted that the Andreas Canyon had a bit more shade and a running waterfall, so that felt like the clear choice to us. I couldn't believe how beautiful the combination of over-grown palmetto trees and desert cacti could be, but wow, this trail exceeded expectations.
Entrance costs $9 for adults, $7 for seniors and/or students and $5 for children.
Barker's Dam | Joshua Tree—Hiking Joshua Tree is not for the faint of heart. If you thought Palm Springs was hot, add another 5-10 degrees to Joshua Tree. Nonetheless, this National Park brought a beauty so unreal, I honestly thought I was on another planet all together, or at the very least, inside a Disney World ride line. I wish we had had time to hike more trails, but the sun was blistering after one hike. Barker's Dam was a great, pretty easy hike for some nice views. There's a small incline, but the elevation brings you to the best view on the trail. There's not a ton of wildlife in Joshua Tree, but we did see some rather unique creatures like the Antelope Squirrel and the Kangaroo Rat.
Entrance costs $30 per vehicle, which was $10/person since there were three of us.
Best Restaurants in Palm Springs
Though Palm Springs isn't necessarily none specifically for their food, we manages to find some great restaurants in Palm Springs.
El Patron—This was probably one of my favorite stops in Palm Springs. El Patron was the most causal restaurant we stopped at, but when you get a free beer with your taco combo, you know you've made the right decision. The frozen margaritas are nice on a hot day, but they're very sweet (they make for a good dessert)!
The Pink Cabana—Located inside the Sands Resort & Spa, The Pink Cabana makes for an incredibly fun way to spend the day at the pool or enjoy a meal! The decor is inspired by the tennis clubs in Palm Springs in the 50s & 60s, and the food is amazing, but be sure to make a reservation as the restaurant is frequented by both hotel guests and residents.
Tac/Quila—Amazing food, do not recommend if it's 110+ degrees outside. Tac/Quila actually had some of the higher quality dishes in Palm Springs, but they leave all of their doors and windows open, making for a very warm environment. I recommend the shrimp tacos and corn appetizer if you can handle the heat (literally and figuratively; the shrimp tacos were spicy).
El Jefe—Located inside the Saguaro hotel, El Jefe is a fun, quick stop for a Mexican food craving! They have some great specials: Taco Tuesday from 6-9 p.m. and happy hour Monday-Friday 3-6 p.m.
In N' Out Burger—Not only is In N' Out Burger one of the most popular fast-food eats in the West, but it's also probably one of the cheapest meals you'll have in California. Nonetheless, it's popular for a reason, and I highly recommend ordering your burger "animal style."
Zin American Bistro—Exactly as it sounds, Zin American Bistro is your average American Bistro so I wouldn't necessarily recommend spending a whole meal here, however, they have a great food + drink happy hour Sunday-Friday from 4:30-6 p.m. at the bar or on the patio.
If you're looking to experience Palm Springs on a budget, these food + drink happy hours are KEY. Meals in Palm Springs can get pretty pricey pretty quickly.
Ernest Coffee—Though this was the only coffee shop stop we made in Palm Springs, I did thoroughly enjoy my pistachio rose cold brew! I love a good house-made syrup and Ernest Coffee provided.
Pro tip: Make a pit-stop in LA on your way in if you're coming from LAX! You can visit a fun landmark like the Santa Monica Pier and then head to Trader Joe's to stock up on drinks + snacks.