Vacation in Palm SpringsPalm Springs – Summer Camp With Booze
Pool-lounging. Croquet. Naps taken exclusively in hammocks. Think adult summer camp, every day of the year. It’s called Palm Springs.
This is a place where debauchery is accepted – often encouraged – with a healthy dose of vodka. Served poolside, obviously. From beach cruisers to booze-infused lemonade stands to Alice in Wonderland-sized lawn games, your child and inner child will finally see eye to eye. Throw in a devil-may-care attitude and, for the full experience, a vintage Cadillac convertible, and you’ve got next-level leisure.
Good For: Couples, wedding parties, groups of friends, and families. There’s something for everyone in Palm Springs, and its relaxed, friendly vibe, along with its proximity to Los Angeles, makes it an easy escape from real life.
- Beach cruising down palm-shaded streets to sip gimlets at the Viceroy.
- Superior antique shopping. Keep your eyes peeled for rare gems.
- Driving 45 minutes north to Joshua Tree National Park, then onto the Integratron to align your chakras with a Sound Bath. Hippie? Yes. But it’s an experience you’ll never forget. (Reserve in advance.)
- Indulging your inner tourist and taking the Aerial Tramway. The highest point, at 8,516 feet, offers an impressive view of Coachella Valley – this time without the crop tops, cutoffs, and flowered headbands.
Sure, grandma raves about Palm Springs. She’ll never forget that titillating hour spent with a certain member of the Rat Pack after Pop passed out from his eighth martini. (You’ll never forget it either, try as you might.) The city, a palm-lined desert valley set against the rugged San Jacinto mountain range, has long been a getaway for the rich and famous. Being near Hollywood helps, as does the 350 days of sunshine per year. And yes, Palm Springs has its fair share of retro charm, upon which local businesses are not afraid to capitalize.
Take the Ace Hotel & Swim Club. Renovated from a former HoJo, the Ace has embraced its ‘50s aesthetic with panache. It’s cool-kid kitsch at its finest – from the boho-chic bathrobes to the classic rock playing on your iPod dock. Wake up to griddle coconut French toast and peppered bacon at the Kings Highway (a former Denny’s). Then hop a beach cruiser or Vespa – the hotel offers both – and breeze down the highway into town. Browse a Mad Men-worthy selection of mid-century antiques, then head back to the Ace and stretch out poolside. Play “count the American Apparel swimsuits.” Sip craft cocktails. And when you’re tuckered out from the sun, retreat to your room, close your camp-flaps (also known as curtains), and settle in for an afternoon nap.
At night, the Ace offers a range of activities including karaoke, electronic music, and dancing... sometimes all at once. Depending on your threshold for ironic ensembles, this may not be your thing. In that case, it’s perfectly acceptable to build a fire on your personal patio, order room service, and gaze at the stars. Ultra-luxury it is not, but the Ace is fun, and sometimes, that’s all you’re after.
If you happen to be feeling more “civilized lawn sports” than “makeout sesh behind the dining hall,” there’s Parker Palm Springs. This Jonathan Adler-designed resort offers an entirely different campy experience: think East Coast WASP on acid. So, yeah – still lots of fun. From the moment you enter Parker, escorted by a staff adorably outfitted in fuschia and white, you get the same feeling you got in high school when that one mom said, “If you’re going to drink, I’d rather you do it in the safety of our home.” It’s essentially a playground for grownups, complete with pools, a lemonade stand, a giant chess game, and, obviously, croquet. And booze – plenty of booze. Even the hotel’s promotional materials encourage immature behavior.
Choose an Estate Room, a Patio Room, or a Suite. We like the two-bedroom, two-bath Gene Autry Residence, since we’re always down with celebrating a singing cowboy. Settle in before exploring the resort’s 13 enchanting acres. Grab a dirty martini at the mirrored Mini Bar (literally – it’s tiny), and take your new profile picture under the blazing DRUGS sign. Then, head into Mister Parker’s, because nothing prepares a body for a night of revelry like a porterhouse and California Pinot. The next morning, squeeze in a game of tennis before brunch at Norma’s – the West Coast counterpart to the NYC favorite. Head to the PSYC spa for shot of cucumber-vodka and a deep-tissue massage. They’ll even let you choose your own playlist. Then, stake your claim on a plush lounger by the saline pool. If the bombshell across the way looks a lot like Christina Hendricks, that’s because it is. Play it cool. Send over a mojito. Actually, make it two. After all, in the famous words of Mr. Sinatra, “If you ain’t loose, you can’t swing.”