When it comes to choosing a destination for an escape during the early spring months, selecting the right locale can be a tough one. With Florida, you risk weather that isn’t always cooperative. Ditto for some Caribbean resorts. One place you can bet on great weather, along with the charm of Old Hollywood glamour and an array of interesting cultural and pampering options, is the quaint city that LA’s chic set escapes to for regular weekend downtime. While the West Coast entertainment set loves the desert, apparently so do some of the most notable names in Nashville. Each March, The Warburton draws a number of celebrities to participate in several days of celebrations to benefit St. Jude Children’s Hospital. A few of those that you’ll see soaking up the desert sun are Steve Cropper, Rascal Flatts members, Jamie O’Neal, Charles Esten and Kim Carnes, who actually rents a house for a month because she loves the area so much.
There is also the draw of Modernism Week and ongoing tours focused on mid-century architecture and design—the possibilities for new discoveries are endless. While we have an exciting desert feature planned for our first magazine edition, we decided to offer a few of the highlights in advance just to get you thinking about a Palm Springs/Palm Desert vacation of your own. In determining how to select the “best of the best” in the area, there was no better choice than Influencer and TV Host, Dawn McCoy. She’s not only an ambassador for the area, but escapes here for multiple weekends and holidays throughout the year. If anyone knows how to make the best of the timeless vibe here, it’s Dawn. Here are a few of her favorites to put on your own planning list:
Best spot for sipping a classic martini:
Bar none, at least one martini in your life has GOT to be sipped at The Parker Mini Bar … preferably served extra dirty – with extra olives – because, people, Palm Springs cocktail culture is nothing if not indulgent. With jade green marble and mysterious bartenders who call to mind the bartenders Stephen King was nostalgic about, it’s worth a visit to The Parker Palm Springs just to savor a sip. And, don’t even get us started about Mr. Parker’s swanky dinner “club” just down the hall.
Best pool vibe:
Nothing beats your own private pool party at one of Acme House Company’s luxury vacation rental homes. Most of my most beloved memories here in Coachella Valley involve weeks spent in an Acme home, relaxing in a colorful float, a cold beverage in my hand, a hand I love holding mine, or the listening ear of an inspiring friend. As for hotel pools? The Sands Hotel & Spa with its pink decor and Moroccan cabana vibe throughout just make me smile and Hotel Paseo’s pool sparks wanderlust in us all.
Store to find Palm Springs-inspired fashions:
All desert dames know that Candice Held is where it’s at, but we also suggest bringing your best caftan for the impromptu cocktail hour that’s pretty much standard here on any desert trip – and, for that? The magical Monica Mahoney is a must.
Spot for vintage clothing:
Picture it. You walk into a boutique, The Fine Art of Design in Palm Desert, that surely resembles Elizabeth Taylor’s closet. Pastel hatboxes abound atop the racks of decadent vintage dresses, cool caftans and vintage couture that would make Zsa Zsa Gabor jealous. And then there’s owner Nicolas, known as the vintage godfather of the desert, sitting behind his desk like Bosley in the original Charlie’s Angels. Don’t even get me started about those golden swan water faucets in the ladies’ room behind the snowy-white Mod Podge glittered door.
Where to find mid-century home décor:
Christopher Kennedy – described as the Ralph Lauren of the West Coast – is not only my dear friend and design coach, but he also designed my boho-chic meets Palm Springs meets Old Hollywood home on the outskirts of Beverly Hills. And, I’m not exaggerating when I say that he DESIGNS the desert. His store of the same name reflects that classic midcentury desert style with sophistication, whimsy… and, a bit of cheekiness.
Place to grab a green juice or smoothie:
Speaking of “cheeky,” Cheeky’s is a Palm Springs institution that is known as much for its delicious, decadent cuisine as the wait for that cuisine. But as anyone, local or tourist alike, will tell you, it is WELL worth that wait. While I always start with the green juice (it really is one of the best I’ve ever tasted), the Bloody Mary is not to be missed. As for what to soak all that up with? I’m a chilaquiles devotee myself (simply smitten with that tangy tomatillo sauce), and our table can’t leave without sharing at least one corn pancake with blueberries or the monkey bread.
Your go-to for vintage mid-century housewares:
Many of my most cherished pieces in my home – such as the 1980s cream silk swivel chairs in my office that would make Sue Ellen Ewing jealous, my swivel balcony cane chairs that I had lacquered in Dunn Edwards’ Loch Ness (a brilliant black-green), and my pink parakeet painting replete in pink velvet matting and gold frame – all came from the Antique Galleries of Palm Springs. It’s an adventure in itself!
For a romantic dinner:
The ultimate insider tip if you ask me (and, well, you are doing just that) is Mr. Lyon’s—the Palm Springs native’s happy place. While Katy Perry opted to host Orlando Bloom’s birthday party here one night while we were dining, where it’s REALLY at is the bar during happy hour where a juicy prime rib, appetizer of pimento cheese, wedge salad and William Hill house Cabernet will bond you with your babe without breaking the bank.
PSYC at The Parker is my go-to. Like something straight out of The Great Gatsby, it feels more like a yacht club from the 1930s than a day spa. With a “Moroccan Dream Tent,” soothing massages, salt water pool and salads on demand, what starts out as a simple massage can easily transpire into a decadent day getaway with your girlfriends.
For a girls’ night out:
Start with the essentials: hair and makeup. And, why leave your desert hideaway when the hair and makeup team can come to you? With choices like All Tressed Up and Just Blowdrys who can pamper you and your girls in the comfort of your home, you get more pool time and NO salon time. It’s perfect while sipping prosecco before you head to the most popular bachelorette party go-to dinner joint in town: Birba. Birba is chic, modern dining with a fireside feel and wood fired pizza. As for me, I sometimes switch it up and take my globetrotting gals to Mister Parker’s for dinner, where Van McCoy’s “The Hustle” plays on a loop and martini and steak dinners flow like turmeric shots in Hollywood. Next, head to Quadz, to which I was introduced by my fun friends, Ross Mathews and Salvador Camarena. Picture it: Everyone standing around, cocktails in hand, cheering on as nostalgic, retro music videos play on TVs hung up high. Think Liza Minelli, Cher, Olivia Newton John and Barbra Streisand. It’s both all too much and just enough – just like the icons on the screens, themselves. But, you’re not done there, ladies. Nope. You’ve got some nightcaps to enjoy.
Best nook for a nightcap:
The place where Steely Dan is perpetually playing and stolen kisses with strangers are the standard. Seymour’s. Seymour’s. Seymour’s. Did I say Seymour’s? To me, it is THE definition of “nightcap.”
Best family-friendly spot:
The JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort is an expansive property and the perfect place for families who need a little “extra” in their accommodations. Pink flamingos at the entrance, gondolas in the turquoise blue water inside and black swans out back make for very happy kiddos, and the bottomless mimosas on demand at the Sunday Brunch make for very happy parents. An expansive property, their Sunday brunch at Rockwood Grill is no different. Between Pastry Chef Dom Kem’s pleasing – and pretty – pastries and Chef Gerald Rose who is known almost as much for his smile as the smiles he puts on the pancakes he designs to resemble guests’ faces, this place is all smiles for kids of all ages. The memories you make with the giraffes and other wildlife at The Living Safari will live on with you for a lifetime.
Classic dining experience:
Frank Sinatra’s favorite place to savor a steak – none other than the iconic – and, incomparable – Melvyn’s. The Steak Diane is what the local fabulous, fierce and ferocious order.
Best shopping day trip:
A trip to the desert isn’t complete without a trip to El Paseo where couture legends, such as Escada, Louis Vuitton and Gucci, neighbor nicely with local faves like nouveau Cali couture, Grayse, and the colorful, retro-inspired styles of Trina Turk and Candice Held.
Most Instagrammable photo-ops:
The flock of flamingos at JW Desert Springs, the giraffes at The Living Desert, the entrance and swings at The Parker, the pastel hat boxes at The Fine Art of Design (and, their perfectly-lit dressing room, may we add), the pool at Acme House Company’s Villa Carmelita (also known as “the Sonny & Cher House”), and the “Before I Die” wall on El Paseo in Palm Desert are all fantastic places to grab a quick photo for social.