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Ace Hotel and Swim Club. Photo: Brian Vernon
Ace Hotel and Swim Club. Photo: Brian Vernon

Out and about in Palm Springs

When the sheer size and nature of the wilderness overwhelm you, here are a few ways to let your hair down in Palm Springs.

Photo: Brian Vernon

Pappy & Harriet’s

The coolest venue in the New Old West. People from all over SoCal – and the rest of the world – flock to this old Western stage set, turned biker bar, turned scruffy hipster haven. Legendary artists such Paul McCartney and indie heroes such as The Pixies have played here.

Pappy & Harriet’s

53688 Burns Canyon Road, Pioneertown

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Pioneertown Motel

The desert chic factor is strong at this one. At this “boutique motel” within stumbling distance of Pappy & Harriet’s, you can lay your head to rest after a day of hiking and maybe a bit of booze and music in the evening. A few rustic hip rooms for the design-conscious traveler.

Pioneertown Motel

5240 Curtis Road, Pioneertown

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Joshua Tree National Park

Want to visit a science fiction-like planet, while still on Earth? Joshua Tree might be one of the closest things to that ¬experience available. Engulf yourself in the scorching sun, bizarre plants and rock formations reminiscent of -human-like figures.

Joshua Tree National Park

6554 Park Blvd, Joshua Tree

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Rimrock Ranch

Another design-centric oasis, a five-minute drive from Pappy & Harriet’s, in the middle of the high desert north of Palm Springs. Shaped over 12 years into its current state by surfwear entrepreneur and musician Jim Austin, as part home, part rental and part event space.

Rimrock Ranch

50857 Burns Canyon Road, Pioneertown

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Photo: Brian Vernon

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Say what you will about lying by the pool with a cocktail in hand – after a few days, the Palm Springs heat gets to you. That’s only one of the reasons to take this – the biggest rotating tramway in the world – to the top of the San Jacinto Mountains, and the cool, often snowy, scenery of a Pacific Northwest-esque park. From desert heat to an alpine forest in minutes.

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

1 Tram Way, Palm Springs

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Coachella Music & Arts Festival

The quintessential contemporary American music festival, that brings the most influential, innovative acts in popular music, as well as America’s elite tastemakers, celebs and fashionistas, to the lawns of Empire Polo Club, every April. for a two-weekend bacchanalian party.

Coachella Music & Arts Festival

Empire Polo Club, Indio

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Bootlegger Tiki

It’s easy to love the decor and cocktails equally at this former home of ‘50s Polynesian kitsch king Don the Beachcomber. Intimate, dark and all you could want from a tiki bar.

Bootlegger Tiki

1101 North Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

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Photo: Brian Vernon

Desert X: “Mirage” by Doug Aitken

This site-specific installation was the main attraction at this year’s Desert X, a biannual open air exhibit all over Coachella Valley. Open until this winter – with mirror walls that seem infinite.

Desert X: “Mirage” by Doug Aitken

1111 West Racquet Club Road, Palm Springs

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Idyllwild Arts Academy

The quaint little mountain getaway of Idyllwild next to Palm Springs, is known as one of the 100 best small art towns in the US, and this school is its pride – where high school and postgrad students continuously give performances in theater, film, music, dance and visual arts.

Idyllwild Arts Academy

52500 Temecula Road, Idyllwild

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The Integratron

For the definitive desert New Age happening without stimulants, make a reservation for a “sound bath” session at this psychedelic mecca, where you’ll listen to meditative sounds.

The Integratron

2477 Belfield Blvd, Landers

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Palm Springs Modern Tours

Probably the best way to familiarize yourself with the abundance of modernist architecture in Palm Springs is to hop in the six-passenger minivan of modernist-specialist Robert Imber, for a three-hour ride, usually starting with Lloyd Wright’s splendid 1924 Oasis Hotel.

Palm Springs Modern Tours

2901 North Palm Canyon Drive Palm Springs

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Workshop Kitchen + Bar

New American cuisine in a renovated movie theatre space, that has managed to get critical acclaim both for its food and interior design. The trendiness factor is overt, but self-aware.

Workshop Kitchen + Bar

800 N Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

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Sparrows Lodge

A restored 1950s retreat extraordinaire, where 20 modern rustic rooms surround a pool, bar and fireplace. If The Ace feels like it’s too much nonstop action for you, find the calm here.

Sparrows Lodge

1330 East Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs

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Melvyn’s Restaurant & Lodge

To evoke that desert vacay glam of the past, stop by this restaurant and lounge inside of the Ingleside Inn, where the food is exquisite, cocktails alike, and where you can swirl it on the dance floor while seeing which celebrities of the past used to hang here - like Frank Sinatra.

Melvyn’s Restaurant & Lodge

Ingleside Inn, 200 West Ramon Road, Palm Springs

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Coachella Valley Brewing Company

Brewmaster Chris Anderson has outdone himself with this fairly recent and immediately lauded microbrewery, focused on beers using local agricultural plenteousness. Do a taster tray and discover desert IPAs that’ll quench your thirst, and make a lasting impression.

Coachella Valley Brewing Company

30640 Gunther Street, Thousand Palms

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Text: Erik Augustin Palm

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