(credit: Viceroy)

(credit: Viceroy)


Desert playground to yesterday’s Hollywood elite, Palm Springs still draws big names like this paradisiacal place did when Frank Sinatra and his cronies held court back in their heyday. The difference now? Today’s visitors cross all demographics to access a destination that lures in the rich and the famous as well as just regular folks who crave the dry heat while embracing a full range of hotels, attractions and restaurants that abound here, all accessible by car at only an hour and a half away from downtown Los Angeles.
(credit: Saguaro Palm Springs)

(credit: Saguaro Palm Springs)


The Saguaro
1800 E. Palm Canyon Drive
Palm Springs, CA 92264
(760) 323-1711
www.jdvhotels.com

Get a hipster’s taste of Palm Springs’ magic by booking at the resident cutting-edge hotel called The Saguaro where every day is a party at this two-year-old haunt. Punches of color can be seen throughout this cheerful boutique retreat, including in the in-house Tinto where Jose Garcia dazzles with his innovative cuisine influenced by Spain’s best Basque bites. Meanwhile, roving exhibits hit the public walls adjacent to this spiffy hotel’s lobby. Through July, 2014, local abstract artists Bruce Kimerer and R. Michael Schwertfeger, both members of the Palm Springs Art Museum’s Artists Council, offer their brightly colored creations. Their inspirational pieces, all for sale with portions of each purchase going to the aforementioned museum, were picked to complement the fun-loving property and its brightly hued exterior at a scintillating resort that comes complete with a popular swimming hole. In fact, this watery star of the desert often encourages impromptu pool parties held on The Saguaro premises on a regular basis.

(credit: Ritz Carlton)

(credit: Ritz Carlton)


Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage
68900 Frank Sinatra Drive
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
(760) 321-8282
www.ritzcarlton.com

The big news in the Southern California desert communities is that the Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage finally opened after years of anticipation about what this prominent property would offer. The answer is a uniquely splendid place to stay where relaxation and luxury go hand-in-hand. Looking down into the Coachella Valley from atop a mountain, this distinctive retreat gravitates to the desert below in a number of ways, including spa treatments that incorporate indigenous plants and herbs as well as innovative techniques (try the hammock massage, done outside for the effect of what this spa team terms “zero gravity”). On-the-spot dining also depends on what’s fresh in the area for a full-on California cuisine experience. And, for working types, a business center operates on the premises as well as an abundance of meeting and function space, indoors and out. Pets are welcome at this fancy outpost.

(credit: DesireeEaglin.net)

(credit: DesireeEaglin.net)


The Living Desert
47900 Portola Ave.
Palm Desert, CA 92260
(760) 346-5694
www.livingdesert.org

To beat the inevitable heat, get an early start at this fascinating Palm Desert attraction that combines a zoo with a botanical garden about 15 miles from Palm Springs proper. During your visit, you will learn plenty about the flora and fauna indigenous to this part of Southern California as well about all living things found in the far reaches of the world’s deserts. Among a number of unique opportunities, you’ll get up close and personal with geckos assigned to their own gulch, you’ll take a safari out of the African village of WaTuTu and you’ll get to interact with a giraffe as you feed this lanky fellow who towers over everyone but is as sweet as can be. And that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg at this captivating outpost that has been erected to engage as well as educate and help preservation efforts move forward as far and as fast as possible.

Related:Best Summer Backpacking Trips Near OC

(credit: Copley's)

(credit: Copley’s)


Copley’s on Palm Canyon
621 N. Palm Canyon Drive
Palm Springs, CA 92262
(760) 327-9555
www.copleysrestaurant.com

Back in time, Cary Grant reigned at the site of this seminal eatery located in the heart of Palm Springs since the restaurant was once used as the mega movie star’s guest house. Now a divine dining spot serving upmarket American cuisine driven by celebrity chef Andrew Copley, this desert mainstay is as romantic as it is famous. An open-air patio equipped with spray mists are on offer, as is memorable cuisine like tandoori salmon from Scotland, duck breast wrapped in prosciutto and Australian barramundi, pan roasted and accompanied by pea and potato puree infused with mint. Like the latter, an herb garden on the premises inspires all kinds of menu items. Basil ice cream, anyone?

(credit: Viceroy)

(credit: Viceroy)


The Bar at Citron
Viceroy Palm Springs
415 S. Belardo Road
Palm Springs, CA 92262
(760) 320-4117
www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com

Craving a place in which to go back in Palm Springs time when the biggest worry you ever had was what drink will actually quench your thirst? Head to the in-house bar at the Viceroy where memories are recaptured through nostalgic sounding drinks like Sweet Heat, a 123 Organic Silver Tequila-based cocktail with zip thanks to an added dash of jalapeño. Too hot to handle? Try any number of libations, from carefully curated wines and aperitifs to a stunning assortment of beers and classic concoctions, all served with a smile by arguably Palm Springs’ friendliest bartenders.

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Los Angeles freelance travel writer Jane Lasky, contributes to publications such as Travel + Leisure, Vogue and Esquire. Her weekly sojourning column ran in 40 newspapers for 20 years. Jane is anything but an accidental tourist. Check out her articles on Examiner.com.