Palm Springs has been a popular holiday destination for Americans since the 50s, and it still attracts thousands of guests each year! Despite being in the middle of the desert, this sprawling oasis is home to pool parties, luxury hotels and excellent hiking trails.
It also hosts a variety of events throughout the year – including the world-famous Coachella music festival.
This large desert city can be tricky to navigate as it clings along the side of a mountain range. Many visitors opt to stay in one of the smaller nearby towns to avoid the bustling centre, whilst those that do choose to stay in the city will find an eclectic range of neighborhoods waiting to be discovered.
It’s important to have a good overview of the different areas in the city before planning your itinerary.
That’s where we come in! We’ve figured out the five best neighborhoods in the Palm Springs area, and categorised them based on what kind of traveller they are best for. Whether you’re looking for pool parties, palm trees or paradise we’ve got you covered.
So let’s dive right in!
Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Palm Springs
- Where to stay in Palm Springs for the first time – Downtown Palm Springs
- Where to stay in Palm Springs on a budget – Indio
- Best neighborhood in Palm Springs for families – Palm Desert
- Where to stay in Palm Springs for nightlife – East Palm Canyon Drive
- Coolest place to stay in Palm Springs – The Mesa
- Hike along the Skyline Trail – this is one of the easiest tracks in the city, and ends with unbeatable views across the area
- Copa Nightclub is the place to be to experience the best of Palm Springs nightlife, with rotational DJ sets and great cocktails
- Ruddy’s General Store Museum is a unique cultural attraction that lets you jump back in time to a 1930s style wild west general store
Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our highest recommendations for places to stay in Palm Springs.
Best Airbnb in Palm Springs: Colorful Oasis
Airbnb Plus is a new service that gives visitors the opportunity to stay at some of the most stylish apartments available in their chosen destination! Colorful Oasis is one of these apartments, with a trendy pool terrace and plenty of space.
Bikes are also included, as well as a small drinks cabinet.View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in Palm Springs: Caliente Tropics
Not only is this one of the best-rated hotels in the city – it also hosts one of the most well-known pool parties! This makes it an excellent choice for younger visitors looking to hit the Palm Springs party scene.
It comes with a tiki-themed pool.View on Booking.com
Best Luxury Hotel in Palm Springs: Desert Riviera Hotel
As the highest-rated five-star hotel in Palm Springs, the Desert Riviera Hotel had to take our top spot for luxury accommodation! This gorgeous hotel gives guests easy access to the Mesa, East Palm Canyon Drive and Downtown – three of the areas mentioned in this guide.
It also comes with top-notch facilities.View on Booking.com
Quick Summary: The Best Places to Stay in Palm Springs
Downtown Palm Springs
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East Palm Canyon Drive
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It’s easy to see why Palm Springs has attracted visitors from across the United States for decades. With gorgeous resorts, beautiful hiking trails and a bustling party atmosphere year-round thanks to the favourable climate, there really is something for everyone in this desert resort town!
Palm Springs tends to attract an older crowd – and has long been a firm favourite with LGBTQ+ travellers – but events like Coachella and year-round pool parties have made it an attractive destination for younger visitors.
Downtown is the heart of the city, and where you will find most of the main attractions of Palm Springs. Most of the hotels and entertainment venues are based along Indian Canyon Drive and South Palm Canyon Drive – with Indian Canyon being slightly more budget-friendly.
Just south of Downtown Palm Springs you will find East Palm Canyon Drive – another major tourism street that is becoming increasingly well known for its pool parties. Both of these neighborhoods are great for nightlife, but East Palm Canyon Drive tends to attract a younger crowd.
Just west of East Palm Canyon Drive you will find The Mesa! This trendy neighborhood is mostly residential – making it a good spot to soak up the local culture and enjoy a calmer atmosphere.
Though very well connected to the city centre, the Mesa has a unique atmosphere that has attracted the hipster crowd in recent years – despite the high prices associated with the area.
If you’re on a strict budget, Indio is a separate town that is only a short journey from Palm Springs proper! Though not as packed with attractions and facilities as Palm Springs, Indio has some excellent budget dining options and benefits from the same climate and proximity to hiking trails.
This makes it a great choice for hikers on a strict budget.
Right in the middle of Indio and Palm Springs is Palm Desert. This laid back town is a favourite with families and couples looking for a more easy-going getaway in the desert!
Like Indio, it is well connected with Palm Springs however attractions are geared more to those looking for a quiet break.
Still undecided? Check out our extended guides below!
5 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in Palm Springs
Let’s take a look, in more detail, at the five best neighbourhoods in Palm Springs. Each caters to different interests, so be sure to pick the neighbourhood that’s right for you.
Downtown Palm Springs is the heart of the city and where you will find the vast majority of attractions! For first time visitors, Downtown is easy to get around and well connected with other parts of the city for those that want to explore further afield.
Even for those attending Coachella, there are regular shuttle services from Downtown Palm Springs to the festival site.
In terms of nightlife, Downtown Palm Springs is where you will find most of the typical bars and clubs! These have a fairly mixed crowd – but they run year-round, and are the perfect way to get to know the locals and other travellers alike.
Things to See and Do in Downtown Palm Springs:
– Hike along the Skyline Trail – this is one of the easiest tracks in the city, and ends with unbeatable views across the area
– Copa Nightclub is the place to be to experience the best of Palm Springs nightlife, with rotational DJ sets and great cocktails
– The southern end of Downtown Palm Springs is popular with LGBTQ+ travellers, for whom we recommend heading to Hunters Palm Springs for nightlife
– Ruddy’s General Store Museum is a unique cultural attraction that lets you jump back in time to a 1930s style wild west general store
– Historic Tennis Club is an upmarket neighborhood just next to Downtown with some laid-back attractions – we recommend Certified Farmers Market
– There are too many great restaurants and cafes to list – but we love LG’s Prime Steakhouse for their fantastic, all-American cuisine
Best Airbnb in Downtown Palm Springs: Colorful Oasis
The standards of service available at this Airbnb Plus apartment are second to none! A drinks cabinet is included with cocktail making equipment, and the pool comes with floats and sun loungers for you to use at your leisure.
The house is beautifully decorated in a contemporary style.View on Airbnb
Best Hotel Downtown Palm Springs: La Serena Villas
La Serena Villas is an adults-only resort – perfect for couples wanting to indulge in a child-free vacation to Palm Springs! There is a luxurious pool area with sun loungers, and the on-site bar sells some fantastic cocktails.
Free high speed WiFi is available throughout, and a continental breakfast is included.View on Booking.com
Best Luxury Hotel in Downtown Palm Springs: Alcazar Palm Springs
For a little bit of an upgrade, you can’t go wrong with this magnificent four-star hotel right in the heart of Downtown! Each room comes with either mountain or pool views, and the pool itself has a laid-back atmosphere and plenty of sun loungers.
There is also a business centre on-site.View on Booking.com
Though officially a different city, Indio is within the greater Palm Springs area and is the closest neighborhood to Coachella Music Festival! This makes it one of the most popular areas towards the end of April, though for budget-conscious travellers it is well worth considering year-round.
Many of the hotels and restaurants here are considerably cheaper than those in Palm Springs City.
What’s more – it has some great attractions in its own right, and the lower levels of tourism outside of the festival season give it a more local feel! Indio is the perfect choice for backpackers that are happy to stay outside of the main strip.
Things to See and Do in Indio:
– By far the most well-known attraction in the area is Coachella Music Festival, which features performers from across the globe
– The Coachella Valley History Museum is another great attraction that features artefacts from the indigenous peoples that inhabited the area
– Indio Open Air Market is a popular attraction with locals and visitors alike – it has both food and souvenirs, as well as some antique stalls
– If you’re more interested in regular high street shopping, Indio Fashion Mall has a great selection of international brands
– sm’Art Studio and Gallery offer contemporary art exhibits of artists from across the Southern California area
– The region is known for its fantastic Mexican cuisine – head to El Mexicali Cafe, one of the highest-rated Mexican restaurants in the city
Best Airbnb in Indio: Relaxing Desert Retreat
Another excellent one for larger groups, this Airbnb apartment can sleep up to ten people – perfect if you are wanting to stay nearby during Coachella! The kitchen is well equipped with modern appliances, and the lounge comes with a TV connected to both cable and streaming services.View on Airbnb
Best Hotel Indio: Quality Inn & Suites
The Quality Inn are known for their budget-friendly comfort – making it the perfect choice for those visiting the Palm Springs area on a shoestring! Rooms come with free WiFi and cable TV service, and complimentary breakfast is provided every morning.
There is also a small business centre on-site.View on Booking.com
Best Luxury Hotel in Indio: Indian Palms Vacation Club
There aren’t any luxury hotels in Indio – but this collection of vacation suites is the next best thing! With the potential to sleep up to six residents, they are a particularly excellent choice for larger groups visiting the city.
It is located right next to the Indian Palms Golf Course.View on Booking.com
Also a separate city, Palm Desert has been a popular tourist destination for as long as Palm Springs itself! It has a more laid back atmosphere, making it more appealing for families visiting the region.
It still enjoys a great location surrounded by mountains with a warm climate throughout the year.
The main strip running through the city is home to plenty of family-friendly restaurants (and even bars), and the hiking trails are only a short walk away from most hotels. Palm Desert has regular public transport services to Palm Springs, as well as some great local tour companies.
Things to See and Do in Palm Desert:
– Head to the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens where you can enjoy up-close views of local flora and fauna
– Right next to the Living Desert is the African Village – a working replica of a typical village from sub-Saharan Africa
– The Bump and Grind Trail is the most popular hiking trail heading into the nearby mountains – there’s also a mountain biking trail alongside it
– Westfield Palm Desert is one of the largest malls in the area – with international and local clothing brands, as well as a great food court
– Take a look at the latest exhibits at the Palm Springs Art Museum at Palm Desert – featuring artists from across the world
– Keedy’s Fountain and Grill is the perfect spot for a family dinner – they do free refills on drinks and typical American fare
Best Airbnb in Palm Desert: Palm Desert Oasis
Another excellent Airbnb Plus property, Palm Desert Oasis is perfect for families that want to vacation in style! There is a private garden area where guests can unwind after a long day of exploring – or enjoy a tasty breakfast that was prepared in the ultra-modern kitchen.
There are also two bathrooms.View on Airbnb
Best Hotel Palm Desert: Holiday Inn Express Palm Desert
Another well-known brand for budget-friendly comfort, you can’t go wrong with a stay at the Holiday Inn Express! Right in the middle of a bunch of golf courses, this is an excellent option if you want to stay within walking distance of most of Palm Desert’s best attractions.
Breakfast is included.View on Booking.com
Best Luxury Hotel in Palm Desert: Sands Hotel and Spa
This beautiful five-star hotel is truly the epitome of luxury right in the heart of Palm Desert! Rooms come with power showers, upmarket toiletries and cable TV services – as well as high-speed WiFi throughout.
The on-site restaurant serves Mediterranean cuisine throughout the day, and a free breakfast in the morning.View on Booking.com
Though Downtown Palm Springs is the main nightlife hub in terms of bars and clubs – East Palm Canyon Drive is where you will find all of the best pool parties! These tend to have a more youthful atmosphere than the city centre clubs – so are better for younger travellers wanting to head out in the evenings.
Pool parties aside, East Palm Canyon Drive can be a little sleepy during the day but nevertheless has some fantastic cafes! It is well connected to the city centre by a short walk or public transport journey.
There are also some great tour companies based along the strip for those wanting to explore further afield.
Things to See and Do in East Palm Canyon Drive:
– The Saguaro Hotel has the most well-known pool party – it’s open to outside visitors, and operates on multiple dates throughout the summer
– Caliente also offer an excellent pool party – though a bit more laid-back, it has a resident DJ and is highly popular with the SoCal crowd
– Indulge in a little retail therapy at Smoke Tree Commons – from high street to outlet shopping, there’s a little bit of everything at this outdoor mall
– For older visitors, PS Underground is a popular nightlife venue where you can enjoy a delicious dinner and world-class cabaret performances
– Palm Springs Mod Squad are a new tour company that are already making a splash on the Palm Springs tourism scene with their alternative offerings
– Like Downtown Palm Springs, East Palm Canyon Drive is not short on dining options – we like Native Foods for their modern take on indigenous meals
Best Airbnb in East Palm Canyon Drive: Mid-Century Elegance
This stunning apartment harks back to the mid-century style that was popular back when Palm Springs first became a major tourist destination! It comes with gorgeous views of the nearby mountain range – making it a great place to wake up every morning.
There’s also a private grounds area.View on Airbnb
Best Hotel East Palm Canyon Drive: Caliente Tropics
This tiki-themed hotel is an attraction in its own right – hosting one of our recommended pool parties! Even when not hosting a pool party, there is an excellent bar on-site serving a variety of delectable cocktails, and cabanas surrounding the pool for when you need a break from the parties.View on Booking.com
Best Luxury Hotel in East Palm Canyon Drive: La Maison Hotel
This gorgeous five-star hotel comes with excellent reviews – perhaps thanks to the free wine and beer provided every day! They also provide complimentary bicycle hire, as well as guided hiking and cycling tours of the nearby mountains.
The large pool area has barbecue and sunbathing facilities.View on Booking.com
Once a sleepy neighborhood known for its tourist condos and retiree crowd, the Mesa has since transformed into one of the most up and coming districts in Palm Springs! Still a mostly residential area, hotels are starting to crop up around the Mesa – giving you the opportunity to mingle with locals whilst staying in one of the hippest parts of town.
The Mesa is right next to East Palm Canyon Drive, and is only a short walk away from Downtown Palm Springs! This makes it one of the best-connected parts of the city – especially for those that would rather spend their evenings in a more peaceful setting.
Things to See and Do in The Mesa:
– Moorten Botanical Garden is a gorgeous natural park area where you can admire plant life from across the United States and the rest of the world
– Josie Johnson National Park is right next to the Mesa – and the South Lykken Trail takes you high up into the mountains
– Head to Indian Canyons Golf Course for a relaxing game – they also have an excellent clubhouse offering drinks and light bites
– Modern & More Bike Tours operate from the Mesa and have a few options available where you can explore the city’s history, culture and nightlife
– Deli Optimum is a family-owned restaurant that is a beacon for the modern regeneration of the area – they have the best sandwiches in town!
Best Airbnb in The Mesa: Palm Springs Getaway
Another gorgeous mid-century style accommodation, this Airbnb is right in the heart of the Mesa – making it our top pick for getting to know this hip neighborhood! Located within a larger complex, guests have access to swimming pools, hot tubs and an extensive fitness suite.View on Airbnb
Best Hotel The Mesa: Rodeway Inn Palm Springs
Though one of the most basic hotels in our recommendations, Rodeway Inn Palm Springs offer excellent rates on their rooms – perfect for budget travellers visiting the city! A large buffet breakfast is provided every morning featuring favorites from across California. They also have laundry facilities.View on Booking.com
Best Luxury Hotel in The Mesa: Desert Riviera Hotel
This gorgeous five-star hotel is perfect for anyone looking to splurge during their time in Palm Springs! Though actually on East Palm Canyon Drive, it is only a short walk away from the Mesa – giving you easy access to both areas.
Rooms come with modern technology to ensure ultimate comfort.View on Booking.com
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Palm Springs
Palm Springs is a surprisingly eclectic destination in the Californian desert! Long known as a popular destination with retirees and the LGBTQ+ crowd, it has since gained popularity with the young crowd thanks to the great pool parties throughout the summer and, of course, Coachella Music Festival every April.
For the best area, we have to go with Downtown Palm Springs! This area truly has it all, and for those that want to explore further afield, it has the best connections with other parts of the city and surrounding towns.
That being said, each area has its own charms – and we hope this guide has helped you plan your upcoming trip to this desert oasis!
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!
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