Remember when Coachella was just a little mom-and-pop music festival only Southern Californians knew about? If you do, you'll be forced to date yourself even while you collect your street cred. The point is that the behemoth is as big-deal as ever with a last-minute Lady Gaga swap, killer culinary line-up, over-the-top glamping options, and of course, all those pretty-people parties. So yeah, you'll be kinda' busy all weekend, but if you can swing a few extra days to de-festival in Palm Springs after everyone's headed back to work, well, do it! (Or just plan another, more low-key trip this spring.) Here, some ideas for cool new spots to hit after the music's over.
First thing's first: Go see Desert X. The one-of-a-kind art exhibition is made up of 16 different installations — ranging from a mirrored house that blends into the landscape...
...to an underground bunker holding a President Kennedy figurine — by different artists in different locations over a 40-mile stretch. Grab a map and see a few of the works, or sign on for a multi-hour bus tour and check every single one off the list (other than the one some jerks have stolen, but that's another story). It runs through April 30, so this is your chance.
Where to Stay
In the sophisticated category, you can splurge on the uber-luxe L'Horizon, a renovated William Cody hotel with gorgeous grounds and 25 sleek bungalows with floor-to-ceiling windows, patios, and outdoor showers, all set around a guests-only pool and cocktail bar. Its onsite upscale restaurant SO.PA, dotted with trees, sculpture-like chandeliers and fire features, might just be one of the loveliest outdoor dining experiences in town.
After a serious renovation, the historic La Serena Villas (a swizzle stick's throw from downtown Palm Springs), just unveiled its stylish new incarnation with 18 rooms housed in single story Spanish-style buildings, each done up with hand-picked furniture, Moroccan-inspired tile, and private patios equipped with claw-foot tubs and firepits. Look for its restaurant Azucar to open later this month and a rooftop bar to follow this summer.
For a true taste of mid-mod, get your groove on at The Monkey Tree Hotel, a 1960 Albert Frey property that was brought back to its bright-and-airy glory (after a recent stint as a clothing-optional resort) by new owners last year. The grounds are now dotted with yellow-and-white chaise lounges and the 16 rooms feature far-out vintage furniture and art. Guests also have access to a Scandinavian-style spa with a hot tub/dry sauna/cold plunge pool circuit.
Outside of Palm Springs, if you don't want to stray far from Coachella's Polo Fields, The Chateau at Lake La Quinta is a newly refurbished intimate little hotel. Rooms have hardwood floors, quirky chandeliers, and a touch of Hollywood Regency style, along with patios and not-so-easy-to-find-in-the-desert water views thanks to the man-made lake the hotel sits on.
For bit more action that's still paired with a laid-back vibe, check in at Arrive, a year-old boutique hotel that tips its hat to the midcentury architecture that surrounds it with clerestory windows and butterfly rooflines and encourages mixing and mingling with multiple firepits, comfy cabanas you don't have to reserve (hooray!), marble ping pong tables, and a Sunday pool party. The latest addition to Arrive's culinary lineup comes via the shiny new Draughtsman, with garage-style roll-up doors, tons of outdoor seating, even more games, and a menu that's heavy on burgers, craft beer, and gastropubby fare like chicken pot pie, and fish and chips.
It's not new, but Ace Hotel and Swim Club, the desert-cool hotel that put Palm Springs on the hipster map eight years ago, has a hefty lineup of DJs, live music, art installations, and parties all spring long, including its 12-day Desert Gold that coincides with Coachella. A few months back, chef Carlos Salgado of Orange County's lauded Taco Maria partnered with its restaurant, King's Highway, to revamp the menu, adding dishes like fried sturgeon tacos in handmade heirloom corn tortillas and salmon al pastor as well as a few Latin-inspired cocktails. (Don't miss aloe-spiked mezcal sipper Bitter Truth.)
Where to Drink
Of course, there are more drinks to be had around every palm tree-lined corner because this is, after all, Palm Springs. The buzziest bar right now is Uptown's Truss & Twine, where the drink menu is divided into categories like Golden Age (think Old Fashioned and Gimlets), Dark Ages (highlighted by a White Russian with coffee-infused gin), and a smattering of tiki drinks. Across town, find your way to the boozy backroom Seymour's, a dimly lit lounge attached to Mr. Lyons steakhouse that's oozing with retro cool and churning out classic cocktails in addition to house creations like the whiskey-and-walnut-liqueur Little Owl.
If you find yourself cocktailed out (hey, it can happen), wind down at wine bar Counter Reformation, tucked away in the swanky Parker hotel, offering up a well-curated selection of vinos by the glass, half glass, and bottle.
Where to Shop
On your way out of town, make a stop in the Uptown Design District, where — even if you're not in the market for anything (yet) — it's worth gawking at the groovy goods. The glamorous A La Mod offers one-of-a-kind furniture like 12-foot velvet couches and custom-made backgammon tables. Flow Modern, owned by a pair of interior designers, has a little bit of everything, from retro glassware to vintage jewelry to serious art.
Modern Way, one of the town's longest-running vintage furniture shops is full of Instagrammable pieces like a Pierre Cardin laminate buffet, Lucite champagne chairs, and vintage stereo systems that can run you in the tens of thousands of dollars… which just might be what they'll be charging for Coachella passes soon enough.
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