The Steele Maiden: A Travel Guide to Palm Springs, California

A desert oasis. A modernist paradise. A tastemaker’s escape. However you want to categorize Palm Springs, after years of having it on my travel bucket list, I couldn’t wait to get there and find out what all the fuss was about for myself. The verdict? All of the above. If you plan it right.

For instance, as a destination getaway from gloomy New York in the month of March? Perfect. But a visit in July and you’re going to be scorched with temps regularly nearing 120 degrees. And then there’s the matter of getting there. We flew to LA and rented a car for the 2-3 hour drive southeast towards the Mojave Desert. However, if you’re short on time there are more and more direct flights into Palm Springs that will save you from that often traffic-jammed road trip.

Now that you’re there – you want to pick a home base. We stayed at the Ace Hotel & Swim Club and have nothing but great things to say. While I can definitely see it getting overrun later in the season (hello Coachella madness), it felt like an Adult summer camp when we were there in the best possible way. The rooms had everything we needed and nothing we didn’t, live music at the Amigo Room on Friday night, endless drinks by the pool during the day, fire places and a hot tub for getting cozy when the desert temps dip at night and King’s Highway restaurant for elevated diner food. Fun fact: King’s used to be a Denny’s before they renovated it into the hipster haven it is now. And the Ace Hotel & Swim Club was born.

The Ace sits on the southern end of the main strip that runs through Palm Springs, along with The Parker (which I’ve also heard great things about) and The Saguaro (we’ve stayed at the Scottsdale, AZ outpost of this colorful hotel and loved it too). Even if you don’t stay at one of these higher end places, I highly suggest stopping by to grab a drink and see the grounds. Instagram heaven my friends.

Aside from sipping cocktails by the pool, you’ll want to do a bit of exploring in town. While I seriously wish we had more time to explore the vintage shopping scene – there’s a return trip in our future for sure – we did have time to eat the best cone of ice cream I’ve had since… maybe ever.. and visit Moorten Botanical Garden, a succulent lover’s dream. From there – rent a bicycle or take a drive and go house hunting. The desert boho meets mid-century modern rancher’s are unlike any homes I’ve seen anywhere else in the country and while you may not be able to see the inside, the gates and well-manicured lawns are enough to gape at.

While this may not be the vacation of choice for adventure lover’s (unless you trek out for some desert camping), it’s certainly a picturesque paradise that feels both infinitely cool and seriously relaxing. Which after a long, hectic winter in New York is exactly what we were craving. Have you been to Palm Springs? Tell me what I missed so that I can catch it next time!