Palm Springs and Joshua Tree

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My brother Oliver was supposed to deejay with renowned local DJ Day at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs last week. Unfortunately, the set got cancelled due to a party that was booked in its place, but we decided to hit up Palm Springs anyway and pay a visit to Joshua Tree, a favorite of Oliver’s. As always, I was on a quest for good food. Did I find it? Kind of.

We checked into the Viceroy hotel just a few blocks from Palm Springs’s main drag of Palm Canyon Drive. We planned on hitting up Joshua Tree National Park (about a 45-minute drive) and then cooling off at the pool later.

On our way out of town, we stopped at Sherman’s New York-style deli for a very tasty and thinly sliced corned beef sandwich on rye—don’t forget the pickle. Suffice it to say the town’s retiree population was well represented there.

Palm Springs is surrounded by wind turbines.

Joshua Tree has amazingly large boulders, giving it a moon-like quality (Andrew easily climbed into the hole in that rock).

Getting an aerial view is just too tempting. The park feels like a jungle gym for grown-ups.

Had to get this: dog on the left; owner on the right. You just knew that dog was thinking, “How’d I end up with this guy?”

This is a favorite spot of rock climbers, and apparently a few weddings have been held at the top. (Related: How to have a small wedding.)

We caught the last hour of sun before it dipped behind the mountain at the Viceroy. (Good sweet potato fries, but a communal thumbs down on the margarita mix.) Otherwise, the hotel had a very friendly staff, pool chair scouting was stress-free (no throwing a book down on a chair at 8am to reserve it for the day), two of the three pools are adults-only (yes, please), and I liked the Los Angeles bungalow design. Also, they offer a “Breathe Easy” package online which entitled us to 25% off all drinks and food.

We opted for dinner at Taqueria Tlaquepaque after DJ Day deemed the hotel’s recommendation of Las Casuelas too touristy and the pool waiter said the food at El Mirasol wasn’t that good. It was okay; the Mexican rice was probably the best I’d had—soft and fresh, not dried out.

A visit to the Ace Hotel, where Oliver was staying.

The Ace mini bar—on the bathroom counter—is not so mini.

The Ace pool

We continued on to The Parker hotel (of NYC’s Le Parker Meridian) for a drink.

Reviews were mixed on the Parker’s eclectic decor, but I thought it was intriguing (this was one of several design nooks). The $16 margarita and $8 double espresso we ordered were met with shock (what happened to the already-pricey $12 cocktail?). Judging from the clientele, this seemed to be the hotel for people who normally stay at the Chateau Marmont, want the luxury, and are used to the prices. The only drawback (besides the gold bar you need to pay the bill) is that you could be anywhere; it didn’t feel like it embraced the Palm Springs personality.

The next day we did some window shopping. Palm Springs is known for its mid-century modern furniture and antique stores. Here, Trina Turk.

Finally, some brunch at Cheeky’s, where they make their own sauces (nothing pre-made), source local and organic ingredients when possible, and serve grass-fed beef. Here, Blondie’s Eggs Benedict with bacon and sautéed arugula on Deb’s cheddar scone with hash browns.

Original Joe’s scramble: grass-fed ground beef, spinach, and Parmesan

Grass-fed burger with Fontina cheese and bacon with pesto fries on a brioche bun

We couldn’t resist the “Bacon Bar”: Nodine’s Smokehouse Applewood, Maple, and “Xtra Thick” bacon slices; Jalapeno bacon quarantined on the right.

Overall, I wouldn’t say Palm Springs is a foodcentric town. Rat Pack-era steak houses seem to be the norm, which is fine if you like piano players and shrimp cocktail (I heard Melvyn’s is a great one to visit). Chain restaurants like Ruby’s Diner and Cold Stone Creamery dot the main strip, but maybe it’s enough to enjoy the quirky Palm Springs vibe and check out some cool couches. I know I’ll be back sometime soon to explore again.

Other “Weekend” posts:
Napa Valley
Cabo San Lucas
Day trip: Tijuana
Portland, Oregon

San Diego
Los Angeles
Milwaukee (Yes, Milwaukee!)
Madison, Wisconsin

Nov. 07 2010 |
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