Best of Palm Springs
There's plenty more to do in Palm Springs than lounge poolside. See our Palm Springs Shortlist map of cool places. Also, use the recommendations of Esri staff members who reside in the city—Neal Dinoff, Galen Harry, Andrew Mounsey, and Randy Reetz—to stretch out during your leisure time at the Esri Partner Conference, March 23-26.
Best Coffee: Koffi
515 North Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs | 760-416-2244
A secret garden courtyard out back known only to locals affords beautiful mountain vistas. Neal says a lot of customers bring their dogs along: “Coffee, puppies, and free Wi-Fi!”
Best Breakfast Downtown: Pinocchio in the Desert
134 East Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs | 760-322-3776
Recognize it by the statue of Marilyn Monroe outside the front door striking her iconic breeze-blown-skirt pose. Big, comfortable morning fare.
Best Breakfast a Little Ways Out: Sunshine Café
36815 Cathedral Canyon, Cathedral City | 760-328-1415
A tiny blue shack opposite the IMAX theater on Cathedral Canyon, a quick ride east from downtown on Highway 111. “I like the Mexican omelet,” Andrew says. “My wife likes the banana nut pancakes.”
Best Cheap Meal: Cheeky’s
622 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs | 760-327-7595
Imaginative California cuisine for breakfast and lunch, and nary an item on the menu tops $12.
Best Happy Hour: Lulu California Bistro
200 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs | 760-327-5858
A 10-minute walk from the Convention Center. Happy hour (up to 50 percent off) is more like happy day; it begins at 11:00 a.m. and lasts until closing. Just sit at the bar and you’re good. If you prefer a table, Neal says the $19.99 three-course prefix dinner is the way to go.
Best Pizza: Bill’s Pizza
119 S. Indian Canyon Dr., Palm Springs | 760-325-5571
“I usually stay away from pizza,” Randy says, “but Bill’s is a hard one to stay away from.”
Best Place to Choose a Table Outdoors: Escena Grill
1100 Clubhouse View Dr., Palm Springs | 760-778-2737
You’ll find it attached to the Escena Golf Club. Patio seating offers dramatic views of the golf course and the looming San Jacinto Mountains. Great for Sunday brunch.
Best Indian, Hands-Down: Monsoon Indian Cuisine
555 S. Sunrise Way, Palm Springs | 760-325-2700
“Of all the Indian places I’ve tried,” Randy says, “it’s the best. The service is fantastic.”
Best Fine Dining: Copley’s
621 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs | 760-327-9555
Upscale American cuisine served in Cary Grant’s old getaway. Sit on the patio around what was once the swimming pool. But never mind the setting. “You go because the food is good,” Neal says, “especially the Hawaiian ahi tuna tacos appetizer.”
Best Mex for Those Who Know Mex: El Mirasol
Best New York-Style Deli Minus the Manhattan Prices and Hostile Waitstaff: Sherman’s Deli & Bakery
401 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs | 760-325-1199
784 N. Indian Canyon Dr., Palm Springs | 760-459-3605
Let the gringos flock to Las Casuelas. For the real deal, try El Mirasol. Its new, second location on Indian Canyon Drive is inside the Los Arboles Hotel, near the Convention Center. Galen, who grew up in Waco, lived in Austin, and worked in Houston and Dallas, says the food tastes like home: “Reminds me of what I used to get in Texas. More Tex-Mex than Cali-Mex.” Neal adds, “I really like their chicken pepian in pumpkin seed sauce.” Pumpkin seed sauce me!
For when nothing but three tiers of pastrami on rye will do. Says Galen, “Very popular. Very busy. Very good.”
Best Afternoon Well Spent: Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
One Tram Way, Palm Springs | 888-515-8726
There can be a 30-degree difference in temperature between the desert floor and the destination of the aerial tramway, which deposits you 8,500 feet high, near the summit of Mount San Jacinto. While ascending, the tramcar rotates 360 degrees. So bring a jacket, and a Dramamine.
Best Free Evening: Palm Springs Art Museum
101 Museum Dr., Palm Springs | 760-322-4800
No admission charge during the weekly Thursday night street fair on Palm Canyon Dr., the city’s main drag. Enjoy the modern and western art and the amazing glass collection. Afterward, take in the scene, called VillageFest, with musicians, food vendors, and a farmers’ market.
Best Tucked-Away, After-Hours Live Music: Shanghai Reds 235 S. Indian Canyon Dr., Palm Springs | 760-322-9293
Stroll through the Fisherman’s Market & Grill on your way to this no-frills dive bar, where you can hear some serious, bluer-than-cobalt blues.
Best Campy Late-Night Fun: Palm Springs Follies
125 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs | 760-778-7654
The Rockettes meet Betty White—retired showgirls in feathers and beads. “It’s hysterical,” Neal says. “It’s one of the things you have to do once, like the circus.”
Best One-Stop Home Furnishings Shopping: The Alley
333 South Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs | 760-320-5664
Just in the event you decide you want to move here. Has everything you’ll need to spruce up your new house: table linens, cookware, picture frames, utensils, pillows, etc. “A great place,” Randy says.
Best Short Outing to Get Your Apple Store Fix: El Paseo
73-445 El Paseo, Palm Desert | 760-862-9710
The main shopping district in Palm Desert, about 15 miles outside Palm Springs. Head for the southwest corner of El Paseo Drive and San Pablo Avenue.
Best People Watching: Matchbox
155 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs | 760-778-6000
A pizza bistro, as its proprietors call it, located on the second floor of a plaza. Sit out on the balcony and watch the pedestrian parade on Palm Canyon Drive below.
Best Local Hiking/History Lesson: Indian Canyons
38500 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs | 760-323-6018
Part of the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation, the area where Native Americans settled in Palm Springs. Natural springs feed a series of palm oases. Lots of hiking options. A calming retreat just outside downtown.
Best Reason to Beg the Boss for an Extra Day Postconference: Joshua Tree National Park
74485 National Park Dr., Twentynine Palms | 760-367-5500
It’s an unfinished trip if you don’t make it to Joshua Tree, about 45 miles east of Palm Springs in the Mojave Desert. Andrew says you can get it done in four hours if you’re disciplined: Drive around, stop, take pictures. Repeat.
Best Risk of Trespassing Citation for Fleeting Glimpse of Frank Sinatra’s Pool: Sinatra House
1148 E. Alejo Road, Palm Springs
Sinatra’s former Palm Springs vacation home is now a fancy rental property. A big brick wall surrounds the place, but if you have some bounce in those legs, you can jump up, grab the top of the wall, and peer over at Frank’s old pool in all its piano-shaped excess. It can be done—we have the bruises to prove it.