Scenic serenity.

Planning Your Trip

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This desert retreat has everything you need for a weekend away or a full-on recharging departure from the everyday. The resort’s design embraces all that sunny Palm Springs has to offer, while the dining and local activities will keep you fortified and engaged. Here’s what to bring.

Planning Your Trip
What to Pack

Hiking boots are a smart thing for any active traveler to pack since The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage is a short jaunt away from Joshua Tree National Park. This otherworldly park full of cactuses and rocky vistas has amazing hiking trails that are just rugged enough to require solid footwear that can protect your ankles and give you full knee support.

Evening Chic

Desert nights have an innate feeling of glamour. Remember that Palm Springs began as a retreat for Hollywood’s Rat Pack — Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin defined the casual but confident wardrobes that still dictate what to wear in this sandy hotspot.

Desert temperatures can drop considerably when the sun goes down, so bring a light cotton sweater or warm scarf that is easy to wrap around your shoulders and deploy when needed.

Weekend Getaway

Make sure to pack clothes that let in the breeze and still show off your stylish side. Lightweight layers and smart accessories will be the best choices as you head into this stylish desert encampment.

A cotton tote or lightweight backpack is good to have if you plan on doing any shopping or gallery perusing. That way you don’t have to worry about having room in your weekend bag to bring your purchases home.  

Both men and women will be smart to bring along a straw hat to protect their faces from the desert sun. Bring your own or check out the many options on sale at the hotel’s Spa Boutique.

Spa Retreat

If you’ve finally made time for a trip that’s all about relaxation and rejuvenation, congratulations. Do as the locals do and bring comfortable, active-ready layers that won’t make getting dressed a distraction from your well-deserved R&R.

The fitness center offers many types of yoga and Pilates classes so make sure to pack your yoga gear. If you want to up your heart rate, also think about bringing sneakers to attend Desert Boot Camp or adult cycling.

Planning Your Trip
What to Reserve

This desert oasis is home to some of the best dining, nightlife and golf in Southern California. Here’s what to put on your to-do list.

Southern California isn’t as well-known as its northern brother Napa Valley for innovative cuisine, but the options are just as exciting. The State Fare Bar & Kitchen at The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage is a farm-to-fork restaurant that crafts dishes made with ingredients from the finest purveyors in the local Coachella Valley. Edge Steakhouse sits on a cliff, offering unparalleled views of the desert valley below. Or you can experience a Parisian feast at Le Vallauris, a local French restaurant known for its celebrity clientele and lobster bisque.

Outdoor bars and lounges are a Palm Springs signature, and the resort’s Air Pool Bar is one of the city’s best. Start with the Coachella Cooler, which includes a delightful hint of cucumber, then head out on the town for some local fun. The party starts at The Lounge at Agua Caliente. This sleek lounge can go from dance floor to concert stage on any given night. Removed from the hustle and bustle of the table games and ringing slot machines, The Lounge offers a relaxing spot to sit back with a drink and enjoy the night. Most nights, live music and tribute bands take the stage. Other nights, you might find yourself doing your best rendition of Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" during a karaoke session. During football season, The Lounge turns into one giant tailgating party. An admission charge includes all-you-can-eat appetizers while you and your buddies watch the game. Ask the hotel concierge about reserving a table with bottle service.

Spa offerings at The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage are enriched with holistic, indigenous herbs and plants that enhance treatments designed to awaken the senses. Reserve the Desert Wildflower Poultice Massage, which combines century-old techniques with indigenous organic herbs and heated herbal poultices that release tension and induce a deep state of relaxation. A local favorite is the Indigenous Desert Clay Wrap, which will uplift your senses, detoxify your skin and refresh your spirit with a body brushing and clay mask wrap created out of local desert clay.

There are more than 100 golf courses in the Palm Springs area, and resort guests have access to six of the best ones. The Desert Willow Golf Resort offers two courses, both surrounded by breathtaking desert mountain views. The nearby JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa boasts two 18-hole championship golf courses, both designed by legendary course architect Ted Robinson. Last but certainly not least is Indian Wells Golf Resort, which has two 18-hole courses and is the host of Golf Channel’s Big Break and the PGA’s Skins Game.

Morning
  • Breakfast Alfresco. 

    Breakfast at Norma’s is a five-star experience offered all day long. The always-buzzy open-air terrace is great for people watching as you dig into Norma’s lemon custard and blueberry jam doughnuts and banana-macadamia nut flapjacks topped with whipped cream. If you’re counting calories, healthy options jokingly labeled “rabbit food” are on the menu.

  • Tee Off. 

    Palm Springs is home to more than 100 of America’s top golf courses. Guests at The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage can enjoy privileges at some of the area’s most exclusive country clubs, including the nearby Desert Willow. Hit the greens early to beat the heat.

Midday
  • Peel and Eat 

    Grab a table on the outdoor patio and a bucket of peel-and-eat shrimp at Shanghai Reds Oyster Bar. This local favorite is on the main drag but remains off the radar of most visitors. Locals swear it serves the valley’s tastiest fish tacos.

Afternoon
  • Pampering For Two. 

    After a round of golf, relieve sore muscles at The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Rancho Mirage. Carved into the earth on multiple levels, the spa offers the ultimate oasis of relaxation. Enjoy a customized side-by-side treatment — the Desert Wildflower Poultice Massage combines century-old techniques with indigenous herbs to release muscular tension.

Evening
  • See the Stars. 

    Catch a show at McCallum Theatre. Named for a pioneering desert family, the McCallum hosts big-name acts such as Bill Murray and Yo-Yo Ma and Broadway-style plays like “Kinky Boots” and “A Chorus Line.”

  • Provençal Dinner. 

    On Friday and Saturday evenings, Farm offers a five-course prix-fixe dinner that makes for the perfect date spot. The bougainvillea-covered patio bistro has a blackboard menu, white tablecloths and live music.

Late Night
  • Ole Blue Eyes. 

    Stop by Frank Sinatra’s old haunt, Melvyn’s Restaurant, for after-dinner drinks and dancing. Celebrity photos line the lounge walls and a pianist plays old-school favorites and pop numbers beside the dance floor.

Morning
  • But First, Coffee. 

    Jump-start your day at Ristretto, For Coffee Lovers, which features perfectly crafted lattes and straight-from-the-oven baked goods.

  • Valley Views. 

    Ride the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, the world’s largest rotating tram car, over 2½ miles to Mount San Jacinto State Park, which sits at an elevation of 8,516 feet above sea level. Wear your sneakers or hiking shoes. From the top, you can access 50 miles of hiking trails and snap photos of the breathtaking cliffs of Chino Canyon from the various observation decks.  

Afternoon
  • Soak It Up. 

    In the foothills overlooking Palm Springs, just 15 minutes from downtown, healing mineral spring water feeds the 20-plus spas of wellness mecca Desert Hot Springs. Soak in the palm-shaded lithium-rich pools at Two Bunch Palms, then dine on sustainable, organic fare, such as cauliflower kale tabbouleh and hemp seed veggie burgers, at the spa’s restaurant, Essence.  

  • Geek Out on Design. 

    After ogling the stunning homes and buildings of Palm Springs and its surroundings, learn more about their history at the Architecture & Design Center, which specializes in mid-century modern architecture and design.  

Late Afternoon
  • One Shake, Two Straws. 

    The desert environs are ideal for growing dates, and someone, no one knows who for sure, had the brilliant idea of mixing them with ice cream, creating the unofficial drink of Palm Springs, the date shake. Locals will debate which restaurant or shop sells the best sweet, creamy treat, but the unassuming Windmill Market is a contender because it uses real dates (rather than a purée).  

Evening
  • Stargazing Safari. 

    Go on a stargazing Jeep tour with Desert Adventures. The three-hour trip starts on the private 800-acre Metate Ranch on the San Andreas Fault and journeys through a natural palm oasis, an incredible box and slot canyons, and an ancient fossil bed. When the sun sets, you’ll be treated to a dazzling diamond-studded sky.  

  • Steak Dinner. 

    Have a romantic meal at The Edge Steakhouse at The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage. The glass-enclosed dining room has a dramatic cliff-side setting, from which diners can take in the illuminated valley 650 feet below. A carnivore’s delight, the restaurant boasts its own dry-aging room and stellar wine list. Don’t miss the slow-braised lamb shank, served with charred broccoli rabe and lemon confit vinaigrette.

Morning
  • Healthy Start. 

    You’ll be lying poolside a lot in the desert heat, so start off on a healthy note with breakfast at Mod Café. This good-for-you Uptown eatery has a veggie-focused menu of dishes such as root vegetable hash and a long list of smoothies, juices and health shots.

Midday
  • Modern Masterpieces. 

    Yes, you can ogle the region’s striking mid-century modern architecture on your own, but a tour with Palm Springs Modern will provide fascinating context. The tour covers about 35 miles and covers iconic buildings such as the 1946 Kaufmann House by Richard Neutra and the trilevel mini-estate of media tycoon Howard Hughes. You’ll also learn about the valley’s most-famed architects, including E. Stewart Williams and Sean Lockyer. You’re certain to have house envy by the end of the three-hour tour.

Afternoon
  • Shop Till You Drop. 

    From retro light fixtures to curvy couches, Palm Springs is a mecca for mid-century interiors. Hit the retail-packed Uptown Design District and browse Mad Men-worthy furnishings and fashion. Don’t miss the Trina Turk boutique, featuring the designer’s signature bold frocks. If vintage is your thing, head to A La Mod for housewares and the Frippery for clothing.

  • Alfresco Dining. 

    Score a seat in the courtyard at Jake’s, a laid-back American bistro in the Uptown Design District known for its excellent weekend brunch. Order the signature mimosa (spiked with clementine vodka and blood orange juice). The eclectic menu has dishes ranging from a crab cake Benedict to a Cubano sandwich.

Late Afternoon
  • Sun and Spa. 

    Beat the heat and enjoy desert views from the Vista Pool at The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage. Then treat parched skin to an aloe vera body wrap at the resort’s 16-treatment room spa.

Evening
  • Dinner With the Stars.

    Mister Parker’s is a Palm Springs institution so beloved by the Hollywood set that Leonardo DiCaprio has rented out the entire space. The dining room has a Prohibition-era vibe. A white grand piano greets diners at the entrance and the walls are lined with pop and abstract paintings from the late 1960s. Dim lighting creates a sultry scene as you dine on decadent dishes such as steak tartare and foie gras.

Morning
  • Desert Hike. 

    Rise early and make the hourlong drive to Joshua Tree National Park. Two distinct desert ecosystems, the Colorado and the Mojave, come together in this iconic American park. Bring your camera to snap photos of its zig-zaggy, namesake trees. The area is a mecca for hikers and rock climbers. For a low-key trek, follow the 3-mile 49 Palms Oasis Trail through rugged desert to a surprising grove of native fan palms.  

Afternoon
  • Wild West. 

    A visit to Pioneertown, just north of Palm Springs in the Yucca Valley, will take you back in time. Built in the early 1940s as a set for movies and TV shows, today, the tiny Old West is home to shops, restaurants and live Western entertainment.  

  • Legendary Barbecue. 

    Originally a movie set, Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace is a Southern California landmark known for its delicious Santa Maria barbecue cooked with mesquite instead of the traditional red oak. The tri-tip steak is the house specialty and the nachos Von Rabbit is a nod to local rocker Jesika von Rabbit. Check the calendar, as this venue is known to pull in big-name acts.  

Afternoon
  • Home Tour. 

    Now that you’ve seen the exteriors of some of Palm Springs’ legendary homes, step inside one of them. Sunnylands, a 200-acre estate in Rancho Mirage originally owned by Walter and Leonore Annenberg, opened to the public in 2012. Built in 1966 and designed by A. Quincy Jones, the home originally hosted world leaders, including President Richard Nixon and more recently President Obama. Tours last 90 minutes and cover all 23 bedrooms. Save time afterward to stroll the cactus-filled gardens.

Evening
  • Farm-to-Table Food and Cocktails. 

    The latest darling of Palm Springs dining scene, Workshop Kitchen + Bar serves a creative market-driven menu and some of the city’s best cocktails. Arrive early for a drink at the bar. The Palm Springer — vodka, pineapple juice, grenadine and angostura bitters — is a house favorite. Indulge with the braised pork cheek fries and the JBF burger, topped with pastrami and truffle mayo.