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Palm Springs has been a vacation destination for both upscale travelers and people wishing to visit Joshua Tree National Park for a century.
Although native people, and later Mexican explorers and European settlers have lived in this area for far longer, it was developed as a resort community in the early 1900s. At first, it drew health tourists who sought a dry environment to treat various ailments.
Later, it became a playground for people who enjoy high-end shopping, upscale restaurants, and unique and stylish small resorts and hotels. Palm Springs still fits that bill today.
Due to its proximity to Los Angeles, and Hollywood in particular – just under two hours away, it was and is popular with the rich and famous who wish to get away. It’s also a hot spot for for retirees who want to spend their golden years in a pleasant small city in the desert. Further, it’s a lovely stepping-off point for hikers and campers who wish to explore the surrounding parks and wilderness.
Today, 1.6 million people visit Palm Springs annually, and as a result, tourism is a major factor in the city’s economy. There are over 130 resorts and hotels in Palm Springs – quite a lot for a city with a population of only 45,000.
If you’re visiting Palm Springs, there are numerous neighborhoods and properties to consider. Most hotels are quite well-rated, and there’s plenty to do in this area to keep vacationers busy for a weekend, a week, or longer.
If you’re wondering where to stay in Palm Springs, read on to learn about some of our best recommendations. You’ll love almost any Palm Springs hotel that you try, and you’re sure to have a vacation there that’s one to remember.
TL;DR: Best Places to Stay in Palm Springs
Best Areas to Stay in Palm Springs
- Best area for first-timers/tourists – Downtown Palm Springs
- Best area for budget travelers – Racquet Club West
- Best area for luxury travelers – Tennis Club
- Best area for safety – Old Las Palmas
- Best area for families – Movie Colony
- Best area for adventures – Chino Canyon
- Best area for nightlife – Downtown Palm Springs
- Best area for younger travelers – Downtown Palm Springs
- Best area for history lovers – Movie Colony
When to Visit Palm Springs
When is the best time of year to visit the Palm Springs area? Any time of year is great! This lovely small town in the desert is beautiful and pleasant all year round. Of course, it’s a desert, so it can get rather hot in the summertime, and it’s cooler in the winter.
When the sun goes down in any month, the temperature drops, so be sure to bring a jacket. But, for the most part, you can expect sunny and beautiful warm days every day when you visit Palm Springs, no matter what the season.
As a result, Palm Springs hotels keep their pools open all year, and there is almost always outdoor seating open and available at local restaurants. You can enjoy hiking in the San Jacinto Mountains and in nearby canyons and golfing on the many area golf courses.
You’ll have plenty of outdoor time even in months that we traditionally think of as winter. The area only gets about four inches of precipitation each year, so you don’t have to worry about many rainy days.
Of course, if you don’t like intense heat, then you’ll probably want to skip this area in August and September. The average daily temperature during those months can be as high as 102 degrees daily.
Palm Springs is busiest in the wintertime as people go there for a warm desert vacation when the northern part of our country is covered with snow. Highs then are in the mid-70s most days. The best time to visit to avoid crowds and for perfect weather is springtime and fall.
When you stay in Palm Springs, it’s easy to see why this town has always been a playground for the rich and famous. It’s lovely! The sun is almost always shining, the weather is almost always warm, and the stars in the sky are almost always visible at night. No wonder it’s a place that draws the other kind of “stars,” too.
See Related: Free California Travel Guide: Printable Guide to Travel
Where to Stay in Palm Springs
1. Chino Canyon & Racquet Club West
There are nearly 60 separate and unique neighborhoods in Palm Springs, and each has its own vibe and character. However, some are strictly residential and have no hotels to offer. Two adjacent sections of town that many visitors like are in Palm Springs’ northwest corner.
Chino Canyon and Racquet Club West offer easy access to downtown and freeways and also to food, dining, businesses, and services without being in the middle of everything.
Chino Canyon is nicknamed “Little Tuscany” due to its similarities to the Tuscany region of Italy. You’ll find palm trees and villas on a boulder-covered hillside in this neighborhood, and it’s close to the San Jacinto Mountains. You can ride the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to the top if you’d like to hike them.
Estates once owned by Elvis, Howard Hughes, and JFK are in this neighborhood, and both residents and visitors alike find it to be a quiet and relaxing neighborhood while still being close to town.
Racquet Club West is across North Palm Canyon Drive from Chino Canyon. In this neighborhood, you’ll find large lots with large homes, apartment buildings, and condos.
Many of the homes in this area were designed by famous mid-century architects, and anyone who loves midcentury modern architecture will love checking them out. This neighborhood was also home to the Racquet Club of Palm Springs, a famous resort that opened in 1934 but sadly was demolished by fire in 2014.
Either of these neighborhoods is a good choice for anyone wishing to visit the Palm Springs area but wanting to stay on the outskirts of town. They also offer easy access to the north entry points of Joshua Tree National Park.
Accommodations in Chino Canyon & Racquet Club West
See Related: Where to Stay in Joshua Tree National Park: Best Accommodation Options
2. Vistas Las Palmas & Old Las Palmas
South of the above neighborhoods a bit, you’ll find the Vistas Las Palmas and Old Las Palmas neighborhoods on the western side of North Palm Canyon Drive.
Old Las Palmas is another residential neighborhood with homes in many historical architectural styles, and many Hollywood celebrities own homes there even today. Vista Las Palmas is similar as far as celebrity residents go, but the homes are decidedly midcentury in style.
Both of these neighborhoods offer exciting sights for any visitor who loves viewing American architecture. The hotels and resorts in this area are mostly situated on North Palm Canyon Drive, but these incredible, historic, wealthy neighborhoods are just steps away.
When you stay in these neighborhoods, or either of the two that follow, you’ll be close to major Palm Springs attractions. The Palm Springs Art Museum, the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum, the Palm Springs Historical Society are our top picks.
The Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center is very cool, too, along with countless dining and shopping options. All four of these neighborhoods border directly on Downtown Palm Springs.
Accommodations in Las Palmas & Old Las Palmas
See Related: Best Day Trips From Palm Springs (Ranked!)
3. Movie Colony
One of the most popular and famous neighborhoods in Palm Springs is The Movie Colony.
In the 1920s, Palm Springs changed from a destination for visitors seeking to improve their health to a playground for the rich and famous. This was the first neighborhood to see the transformation unfold.
Throughout Hollywood’s Golden Age between 1927 and 1969, The Movie Colony was the neighborhood in which it was crucial for Hollywood celebrities to own homes and to see and be seen. Today, The Movie Colony neighborhood is still quite exciting.
There are some incredible homes in this area that were built during the early days of Palm Springs’ rapid growth. Many different architectural styles are represented in this neighborhood, although Spanish Colonial Revival style homes are especially common. People like Marilyn Monroe, Cary Grant, Bob Hope, and Frank Sinatra all owned homes here at the peak of their careers.
Again, The Movie Colony borders Downtown Palm Springs, so you won’t be far from the action if you choose to stay in this part of town. It’s just north of the central part of town and just east of Old Las Palmas. A visit to top-rated restaurants and shops is just a walk or a short drive away.
Accommodations in Movie Colony
See Related: Best Places to Visit in Southern California & Things to Do
4. Ruth Hardy Park
Ruth Hardy Park, also known as Movie Colony East, is another lovely Palm Springs neighborhood. It’s a great place to stay if you want to be near everything yet not in the middle of all the hustle and bustle and action of the city.
This is a residential area that borders on the park for which it is named, a 22-acre, dog-friendly park with public tennis courts, basketball courts, playgrounds, and plenty of green space for relaxing and enjoying the surroundings.
The park, named in honor of a city council member who contributed many innovative ideas during the city’s early development, is popular with visitors and residents alike, and if you’re staying nearby, you’re sure to fall in love with its beauty and vibe.
If mid-century modern design is your thing, then you’ll love staying in the Ruth Hardy Park neighborhood. It was one of the earliest developments in the area, and it’s full of beautiful architecture and old-growth shade trees.
Frank Sinatra’s lavish Twin Palms estate is in this area, and you’ll feel his presence as you explore the area’s streets. You’ll also love the incredible views of the San Jacinto Mountains.
Accommodations in Ruth Hardy Park
See Related: Best Hotels & Places to Stay in Calabasas, California
5. Historic Tennis Club
The Palm Springs Tennis Club was founded in 1937 to meet the tennis and social needs of the rapidly growing wealthy population of the area. The Tennis Club neighborhood that grew up around it is one of the city’s oldest.
Trust me, you can live like the rich and famous for a few days while you stay in the Tennis Club neighborhood of Palm Springs — if you can afford it. It’s one of the most expensive areas in the country.
If you’re someone who is seeking Palm Springs luxury, then you’re going to like this neighborhood because it is full of upscale and exceptional boutique hotel properties. Furthermore, it’s packed with high-end restaurants that offer incredible fare from esteemed chefs from all over the world.
This is also a lovely neighborhood due to its location on the west side of town. You’ll love the mountain views and access to popular hiking trails, along with the close proximity to everything that Downtown Palm Springs has to offer.
Accommodations in Tennis Club
See Related: Best Road Trips in California (+ Scenic Drives)
6. Downtown Palm Springs
Downtown Palm Springs is truly the center of it all in this small city in the desert. Although Palm Springs is rather spread out with its many neighborhoods, you’re sure to at least spend some of your vacation in the downtown area. So, you might as well stay there if you can!
Not all downtowns are in the middle of their respective cities, but Downtown Palm Springs truly is, and the rest of the city has grown up around it. In this lively neighborhood, you’ll find shops, two sculpture gardens, a theater, bars with live music, galleries, the famous Walk of Stars, and more. It can get a bit noisy and active at night, but that might be exactly what you seek.
Accommodations in Downtown Palm Springs
See Related: Where To Stay In Los Angeles: Best Areas & Neighborhoods
7. Warm Sands
Warm Sands is the neighborhood that abuts Downtown Palm Springs on its south side. It’s small at only one-half square mile in size, but it’s very historic and diverse. Visitors who wander into or stay in this neighborhood will find easy access to the downtown area and its easy walking distance to daytime activities and nightlife.
The homes in Warm Sands were mostly built between the 1920s and 1960s, and many are excellent examples of Spanish-style homes. There are also a lot of historic resorts in Warm Sands, many of which are still popular with celebrity guests.
Accommodations in Downtown Warm Sands
See Related: Best Vacation Rentals in California
8. Tahquitz River Estates
South of Warm Sands but still close to Downtown Palm Springs is Tahquitz River Estates.
This neighborhood was first developed in the 1930s with small Spanish Revival homes, but today, quite a mix of architectural styles are present, including midcentury modern and contemporary homes. Due to the mix of styles found here, many architectural walking tours focus on this area.
Tahquitz River Estates is toward the end of South Palm River Drive. On this main strip, there are lots of vintage shops and interesting restaurants that will interest even the most discerning diner without breaking the bank.
Accommodations in Tahquitz River Estates
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Henry Pearson, once the leading authority on the rubber industry in the United States, bought land in Palm Springs in 1926 with plans to develop it. He dug a well to supply water to his own home and the homes he planned to build in this neighborhood.
Harry didn’t hit water until that well reached 630 feet – making it the deepest well in the area. He named the neighborhood Deepwell Estates for this reason, and the name stuck.
In the 1950s, the land was sold and subdivided, and famous architects from around the globe were enlisted to design midcentury modern homes here. Consequently, this is one of the most popular neighborhoods in Palm Springs for people who appreciate this architectural style.
Deepwell is quiet and relaxed. Everything in the area has a bright and retro look – most of it is original, but some were designed to match the area later on. Restaurants on East Palm Canyon Drive are quite popular and offer all types of cuisine in eclectic settings, and there are quite a few hip boutique hotels to choose from in Deepwell.
Accommodations in Deepwell
See Related: Best Hotels & Rentals In La Jolla, California
10. Palm Desert
Palm Desert isn’t actually in Palm Springs. It’s an entirely different city that is only a few minutes away. Many people who visit the Palm Springs area choose to stay in Palm Desert for a variety of reasons. First, it’s away from the hustle and bustle of the city of Palm Springs – even though Palm Springs is a small city, it can feel rather busy at times.
Second, although it was founded originally around the same time as Palm Springs, it grew up much later. The population of Palm Desert was just 11,000 in 1980, but today it’s over 50,000, making it one of the fastest-growing cities in California. This means there are lots of newer hotels, restaurants, hotels, and attractions – and this may be a draw for some.
Third, Palm Desert is a great choice for outdoor sports enthusiasts. It’s full of beautiful golf courses – there are thirty within a ten-mile radius from the center of town – and tennis clubs are popular in Palm Desert, too. Plus, Palm Desert is not far from the southern entrance to Joshua Tree National Park, which makes it a big hit for hikers and people visiting the area to enjoy the national park.
Palm Desert is a great choice for families who want to visit the Palm Springs area. It’s truly the best of both worlds. You can enjoy the modern amenities and offerings of Palm Desert while still enjoying the beautiful and incredible town of Palm Springs, just a short distance away.
Accommodations in Palm Desert
Things to Do in Palm Springs
There are lots of things to do when visiting Palm Springs. Lots of travelers simply visit Palm Springs to relax – and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. Who doesn’t love just sitting by a pool in the sun in the desert all day, followed by a night out at an exceptional restaurant?
However, if you’re the type of traveler who likes to see things and participate in activities while traveling, then you certainly won’t be bored in Palm Springs, either. Certainly, many people are drawn to Palm Springs due to the incredible architecture all over town.
Even if you don’t think looking at buildings sounds like a good time, you should give an architecture tour a try while you’re in town. You’ll definitely learn a great deal, and you’ll leave with a much bigger appreciation for both Palm Springs and numerous architectural styles than you had before. You also might enjoy a tour to see celebrity homes, which will certainly have a strong architectural component as well.
There are quite a few points of interest and museums worth checking out in Palm Springs too, from the extensive Palm Springs Air Museum – which contains one of the largest collections of World War II aircraft in the world – to the Palm Springs Art Museum – which showcases works by artists from California to far beyond. Palm Canyon Drive offers enough stores and boutiques to keep any shopper busy for hours.
Although many people visit the Palm Springs area for its city aspect, some of the best things to do in this area are in nature. Of course, Joshua Tree National Park is a major draw here, but it’s only one of many natural areas near Palm Springs that are worth exploring.
You can take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to the top of San Jacinto Peak for incredible views and to reach the starting points of dozens of unforgettable trails. Explore canyons like Indian Canyons, Tahquitz Canyon, and Palm Canyon, and don’t miss spots like the nearby Coachella Valley Preserve and Moorten Botanical Garden, either.
Golf enthusiasts will love playing rounds on any one or more of the dozens of spectacular golf courses in this area as well. Bicycle tours of this city can also be a lot of fun – if you visit before the peak summer heat hits.
See Related: Best Tours in Palm Springs, California
What is the nicest part of Palm Springs to stay in?
Most parts of Palm Springs are simply lovely. The fact that this city is relatively new compared to many others in California means that hardly any of it is rundown or forgotten, and new development is all created to keep the city’s unique character alive.
Older buildings are well-cared for, and it’s clear that they are valued by residents and business owners. With that said, however, some parts are nicer and are more upscale than others. If it’s luxury that you seek, then you’ll especially love the Tennis Club neighborhood.
Is Palm Springs a walkable city?
Palm Springs is walkable, and you can enjoy sidewalks in most areas. The question of walkability, in this city’s case, is simply distance. It’s easy to walk to and around Downtown Palm Springs from the neighborhoods upon which it borders, but if you’re staying in the neighborhoods more distant from downtown, you’ll probably want to take a cab or rideshare (or drive your own car) to visit it.
Where is the best place to stay for nightlife in Palm Springs?
Palm Springs is, on one hand, a party city, but on the other hand, a sleepy bedroom community. Much of this small city is residential, and many of the residents enjoy quiet evenings without noise or distractions.
However, if you’re looking to go out on the town, you won’t have any difficulty finding places to go. Downtown Palm Springs is full of bars and restaurants, and many offer live music. Truly, you’ll be able to find places to go out at night on most sections of Palm Canyon Drive, just look around, and you’re sure to quickly find a scene that perfectly suits you.
Is it better to stay in Palm Springs or Palm Desert?
Many people who visit the Palm Springs area choose to stay in nearby Palm Desert. Palm Desert is pleasant and is full of country clubs, golf courses, galleries, venues, and attractions, but it’s much more recently developed than Palm Springs.
If you’re looking to experience the true Palm Springs and all that goes with it, then you should stay in Palm Springs itself. If you’re looking for more of a golf resort-style vacation, then you might prefer Palm Desert instead.