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Guide to North Palm Springs

palm springs sign

By Barbara Beckley

Located just north of the vibrant Uptown Design District, North Palm Springs exudes a distinct charm that sets it apart as a destination of its own within Palm Springs. You could call North Palm Springs the “Gateway to Palm Springs.” It’s genuinely the moment you’ve arrived! Living out those iconic pics of beautiful people in top-down convertibles motoring through the desert to fun, fun, fun!

This neighborhood offers a serene escape while still being within easy reach of all the city’s amenities and attractions. With its lush palm-lined avenues and an array of vintage boutique shops, restaurants, art galleries, and resorts, explore its unique blend of natural beauty and artistic flair. From outdoor adventure to indoor playgrounds, let’s get the party started!

Windmills & Welcome to North Palm Springs

Cruising in from LA, the windmills wave “hello.” Remember when Tom Cruise dodged their rotating blades in the “Mission Impossible” flick? You can see and learn about these amazing wind turbines with Palm Springs Windmill Tours guided and self-guided excursions.

windmills

Stop for selfies at the “Welcome to Palm Springs” sign to let everyone know you’re HERE. Take more pics by the visitor center’s mural—a micro-backdrop of palms, pools, the tram, mid-century architecture, and more. After posing, pop into the Official Palm Springs Visitor Information Center for brochures, maps, PS-themed gifts, souvenirs, apparel, and expert advice and assistance on where to stay, eat, shop, and visit all the attractions.

Tramway Gas Station now the Palm Springs Visitor Center

While at the Palm Springs Visitor Center, but sure to get a selfie at the custom mural.

palm springs welcome sign mural

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Look up! The road outside the visitor center leads directly to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. This is not surprising since the visitor center was originally the Tramway Gas Station, built in 1965 by mid-century master architect Albert Frey. Thrill to mountain and valley views in the world’s largest rotating tram cars, ascending 8,516 feet to the pristine wilderness of Mt. San Jacinto State Park. Hike, camp, take a guided nature walk. Shop for tramway-themed gifts. Enjoy sweeping valley views everywhere, including Peak’s Restaurant, the Lookout Lounge cocktail bar, and Pine’s Café.

palm springs tramway

North Palm Canyon Drive

Back down on North Palm Canyon, you can get a head start on Palm Springs’ signature enjoyments—shopping, cocktails, dining, nightlife, poolside stays, and more.

Vintage Shopping at its Best!

So hip, several finds don’t even show their names – just “vintage” in the window. Fashionistas know that Bustown Modern is the go-to for the best in beautiful ‘60s Mod apparel and ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s hipster wear. “I specialize in mod vintage clothing with a feminine look,” says Owner Anessa Woods, who wears what she preaches.

Melody Note Vintage. Yup, the owner was in the music business. It shows in her vintage men’s and womenswear collection from the ‘50s to the late ‘90s. This is the go-to for vintage bellbottom jeans—part of the sizeable collection of vintage Levis and denim, along with loads of cool mod wear.

melody note vintage

And Gypsyland. Oh my gosh! You must pose outside with the classy mannequin, sitting on a bench wearing a ‘50s sundress and a doggie head mask! Then go inside. It gets better! Rooms are full of stunning and crazy-cool vintage clothing, accessories, and home décor.

Gypsyland front signage. A woman is seated wearing a pink dog mask.

Dispensaries with a Twist in North Palm Springs.

Locally owned Emerald & Sage Dispensary and Art Gallery has a tale to tell. Once a restaurant where Sinatra hung out in the 1950s, the “Sinatra’s Curtain” art installation is in the same corner as the Rat Pack’s booth! Peruse, and maybe purchase, the rotating exhibit of artwork by local artists on the walls. And top-of-the-line dispensary products on the shelves. Also locally owned, the Golden Smoke Shop 2 sells top-tier vapes, including E-juice, water pipes, hand pipes, hookahs, nectar collectors, atomizers, tobacco, exotic sodas and snacks, cigars, apparel, and more.

Hotels for Everyone!

From hide-away hip to big and splashy, seven properties offer a variety of great stays.

For ultra-chic, the Mahala Palm Springs micro-resort by Palm Springs-based Town & Desert features 14 custom-restored mid-century guestrooms around the pool. “Like a living canvas of art and design, with custom furnishings and ‘supergraphics’ by a Barcelona-based designer,” enthuses owner Dave Dean.

Mahala hotel room 2

Want a pool vibe? The 101-room L3 Oasis Hotel boasts two pools and two Jacuzzis. Divide your sun time between the Bamboo Pool, with 120,000 gallons of saltwater, and the freshwater Riviera Pool, relaxing in a cabana or lux teakwood lounger. And take time outs in the freshwater Jacuzzis.

Live the Hollywood dream at The Palm Springs Hotel midcentury inn. Sleep with your favorite star in one of the ten guestrooms, each named and themed after heartthrobs, including The Presley, The Deluxe Sinatra, The Newman, and The Retro Raquel. Circular windows, a mix of mid-century and industrial flair, and bright orange furnishings around the bright blue pool set a cinematic tone.

A modern living room with a sectional gray sofa, white designer chair, shaggy area rug, and a large monochromatic wall art above the couch. Glass doors lead to the exterior, and the room is brightly lit with natural light.

Mid-mod for adults only (18+) defines The Cole Hotel, with 30 delightful rooms. You don’t have to be on your honeymoon to luxuriate in the 600-square-foot Honeymoon Suite, with wrap-around windows (reminiscent of the Elvis Honeymoon House windows) overlooking the valley.

cole pool

Go Greek! The blue and white façade welcomes you to 41 individually decorated suites with sitting areas, kitchenettes, and cookware at the Mykonos Desert Suites. It is fun in the sun with two pools, a hot tub, a golf putting green, and even a Zen Garden. (There is also a coin-operated washer and dryer.) This is available through Airbnb.

Are you bringing your dog? The Inn at Palm Springs invites you and your pooch to enjoy “a comfy, clean, and convenient” stay in one of its 18 rooms, each uniquely styled with contemporary furnishings. Laze by the heated pool. A business center is at the ready (if you need to).

inn at palm springs lobby

Unique and unusual pool furnishings and amenities like City Cruiser bicycles make a fun time at The Infusion for you and your doggie. Warm wood tones and custom décor —a mix of modern and rustic—define its 62 guestrooms. And the spacious pool area—oh, my. Chill in an adjustable electronic cabana, on a unique turf daybed, or in the shaded beach pebble beer garden.

Swaying palms and green lawns surrounding the large pool and hot tub invite you to relax the day away at the 107-room Day’s Inn by Wyndham. Many guestrooms are family-size, with microwaves and balcony and patio views. Added perks include a gym and laundry facilities.

Tip: You can often find the best hotel values in North Palm Springs.

Legendary North Palm Springs Restaurants

From Michelin Guide to long-time favorites, North Palm Springs hosts several of the city’s most notable eateries.

Savor Michelin Guide 2023-recommended cuisine at Boozehounds, where doggies are super welcome and even have their menu! For you, perhaps the amazing “Maguro Tataki’ salad of local mixed greens topped with Tamari garlic butter-seared tuna, avocado, fried shallots, and creamy sesame dressing! Or “Miso Chilean Fish & Chips,” with 48-hour miso-marinated Chilean seabass beer batter fried. For Fido, the “Weenie-tini” dog martini, with chicken broth, chicken whipped cream, and doggie biscuit crumble, “is the favorite,” says general manager Tom Vasquez.

Boozehounds-Dogs
Credit: Jenna Murray

Then, dine old school at Billy Reed’s Palm Springs. Everyone does at this throwback to 1975—the year it opened. Sit in leather booths surrounded by wood and Tiffany-style lamps. Nosh on American comfort food—but not your mom’s comfort food. From omelets to “Billy’s Philly” steak sandwiches, Caesar salad to prime rib and salmon, these are all made with top-quality fresh, often organic, ingredients.

Have French for dinner. Freddie’s Kitchen at The Cole specializes in French-California cuisine by French-born Owner/Chef de Cuisine Frederic Pierrel, from “French Escargot a la Bourguignon” to “Peppered Elk Medallions” and “Tahitian Vanilla Bean Crème Brule.”    

Award-Winning Nightlife

The one-and-only! Celebrate a festive night out at Toucans Tiki Lounge & Cabaret. Established 20 years ago, it’s home to the city’s longest continuously running drag show, Tommi Rose & The Playgirls’ “ICONIQUE.” Plus, drag nights like “Latin Fever Mondays” and “Lips, Looks & Lashes” and its “Live on Stage” series showcase top-tier cabaret and performance talent. Voted the desert’s “Number One Gay Bar,” “Best Dance Club,” and “Best Drag Show.”

interior of Toucans

The Racquet Club Center

 This is just too easy. Fabulous vintage and contemporary collectibles, art, eateries, and an escape room – all in one place! Racquet Club Center is located at the corner of W. Racquet Club Road and North Palm Canyon Drive.

Bon Appetite

 Pop into dog-centric 4-Paws Coffee Company for handcrafted coffees – think “Honey Vanilla Lavender’ and “Salted Caramel” lattes – also specialty shaken iced teas, house-baked scones – order the double chocolate – and sandwiches. Owned and operated by coffee-industry veteran Lanette Howard for “the love of coffee, food, and animals,” ask for the whipped cream “Pup Cup,” topped with a dog biscuit for your doggie. It’s free! In addition, check out the dog-themed merchandise. Arguably, Palm Springs’ most extensive selection of Koons Balloon Dog-style items.

Enjoy cuisine from southern Italy’s Puglia region at Palmina by Puglia restaurant for dinner. Inspired by his mother’s cooking, Puglia-born Owner/Executive Chef Antonio Zito dishes up authentic fare from savory braciola and pasta like the signature “Spaghetti Zito,” tossed in white wine, oil, and lemon zest with roasted garlic, parsley, black pepper, fresh diced tomatoes, and shrimp; to finger foods and pizza, using generations-old recipes, and locally sourced ingredients. Don’t miss the live jazz on Saturday nights.

A man with a cheerful expression wearing a black shirt and beige pants, with his hands clasped in front of him. He has slim-framed glasses and short brown hair. The image background is transparent with some graphical elements.

Vintage, Contemporary, and Hard-to-Find Quirky

The store that started it all. The Modern Way, open for 25 years, is Palm Springs’ first vintage furniture and accessories business. It is a gold mine of mid-century modern furnishings, vintage audio, mid-mod art and objects, seating, tables, and chairs.

If you’re a fan of fun and quirky items, you’ll love Haus of Re[x]. It’s a major SoCal source for hard-to-find Kidrobot designer toys, including large-sized Labbit and BearBrick collectible figures – all in stock! Just walk in and buy one! Also, unexpected finds like a signed poster-size photo of a German movie star – who lives in Palm Springs and “comes into the shop daily,” says the manager. It is all part of the sizeable collection of vintage and new collectibles, furnishings, and furniture.

haus of rex

Serious collectors (in all price ranges) frequent Boomerang for Modern for carefully and personally chosen top-quality classic modern furnishings, lighting, and accessories. Most are vintage from local estates; some are new from the original manufacturers and craftspeople. It’s no surprise that it’s the retailer for Herman Miller, Flensted Mobiles, Cherner Chair, Roland Simmons Lumalights, Josh Herman Ceramics, and Santa & Cole lighting.

Boomerang interior

If you want to something quick to eat, there is a Carl’s Jr in the center and a Del Taco across the street.

Art in North Palm Springs

Palm Springs Art + Design Gallery is home to Bridges Over Time and the Koren Gallery, which showcase 20th—and 21st-century decorative arts worldwide.

Escape to Adventure!

Be a wizard. Rob a bank. And more at the Escape Room Palm Springs, boasting SoCal’s largest escape room games. Seven unique rooms test your skill and comradery with up to 10 friends and family. Even better, this escape room is private—it’s only your group playing. Moreover, don’t worry. All the rooms are unlocked, so you are free to leave at any time.

escape room

Indian Canyon Drive

Get your “license to chill” at Palm Springs largest and liveliest hotel – Margaritaville Resort Palm Springs. Couples are friendly, family-friendly, friends-friendly, and doggie friendly. Two huge pools and pool bars. Six eateries and bars. The largest resort spa in Palm Springs has excellent treatments, including dog massages. True! Choose from 398 guestrooms and suites from standard to the 1,761-square-foot, two-level Jimmy Buffett Suite for six. And for parties and conventions, you’ll find more than 40,000 square feet of event space.

margaritaville palm springs

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