Poolside chic. It's been in Palm Springs' DNA since Marilyn, Frank and a galaxy of Hollywood stars posed and played by its legendary swimming holes.
The fun continues today. Poolside is where you want to be day and night, sipping a cocktail, dining on delicious cuisine, relaxing in the luxury of a private cabana, dancing to the hippest DJs or enjoying big splashy family fun at Palm Springs' amazing waterpark.
So get ready — set — and dive into cool pool perfection.
Whatever your style, your waterfront table awaits.
Plunge into Palm Springs cocktail culture with before-dinner drinks by the pool in the country western-meets-midcentury modern chic of the Sparrows Lodge. Opened in 1952 by MGM actor and "Lassie" TV producer Don Castle as Castle's Red Barn (rumor says Elizabeth Montgomery married the first of her four husbands here), it's a sought-after hideaway since returning to its original luster in 2013. Sip wine, champagne, craft beers and bloody marys made with soju rice wine under the two-story open-air "barn." Bar service only. www.sparrowslodge.com
For a contrasting treat, pair glamorous '60s Hollywood Regency style with the flavors of local chef extraordinaire Tara Lazar at Chi Chi at the Avalon Hotel (formerly the Viceroy). "Soulful Latin standards with a dash of cheeky California wellness," is how Lazar describes her cuisine, which is served poolside under white canopies surrounded by lush gardens. Locals rave about her cochinita pibil. "The Spicy Peruvian" cocktail — pisco, agave, lime, cucumbers and serrano peppers — makes a perfect accompaniment. Breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. www.avalonpalmsprings.com
Fine dining with a pinch of gangster lore makes the Purple Palm at the Colony Palms Hotel a poolside go-to. Named for the Purple Gang of Prohibition bootleggers, one of whom opened the place in 1936 as a mob clubhouse, it's a perfect outdoor spot to sip a Manhattan, an aviation or other classic libation at the poolside bar. Then choose from oysters on the half shell, chipotle-braised short rib, bacon-crusted salmon and other delicacies. Indulge in the monthly Chef's Table Series; upcoming highlights include tacos with beer partner Lucky Buddha on July 29, and cuisine by Chef Dominick's in West Hollywood on Aug. 19. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. www.colonypalmshotel.com
Step into the cozy elegance of Europe and savor AAA Four Diamond Award modern continental cuisine at Europa Restaurant nestled amid the stately gardens and fountains of the Villa Royal Inn. Have drinks at the bar overlooking the pool, then choose from signature salmon in parchment, double crown rack of lamb and other sunny Southern European dishes in the elegant dining room. As a guest of the inn, enjoy pre-dinner cocktails and heavy hors d'oeuvres at the poolside terrace and relax under shady cabanas. Dinner only. www.villaroyale.com
Pool Play Time
Join the party — Coachella style — at Hacienda Cantina & Beach Club. Young sun worshippers groove to live DJ music, play bocce ball and share pitchers of margaritas, mojitos and the Hacienda's own rum and vodka punch around the poolside bar. Chef-created street tacos, tamales and salads add to the mix. Reserve a posh private cabana with TV, fridge and other amenities, and order in from your own personal server; fish bowl-size drinks, bottle service and taco platters for 10 are available. The hipster vibe bleeds over to the restaurant, lounge and cantina for lunch and dinner. www.haciendacantina.com
Mark your calendar for Splash House on Aug. 8-9. It's the summer's coolest Vegas-style pool party. Nonstop celebrity DJs, cocktails, food and activities like Twister games and disco bingo redefine fun in the sun at Hard Rock Palm Springs, The Saguaro and the Hilton Palm Springs — all of which host Splash House activities. Shuttles loop between the venues so you won't miss a beat. www.splashhouse.com
Enjoy pure pool relaxation at the Hyatt Palm Springs free Aqua Libre pool parties, where DJs spin tunes every Saturday afternoon through Labor Day. You don't even have to be a hotel guest to get in on the fun. On Aug. 8 and Sept. 5, the desert's first "Silent DJ" disco parties will rock the night. You'll get a wireless headset, with one channel featuring the DJ's live set and a second channel with a different playlist. www.palmsprings.hyatt.com
Grab the kids and dive into family fun at Wet 'n' Wild, the desert's premier water park. Extended summer hours mean you can splash to your heart's content until sundown in the gigantic pool and on loads of water slides (one is seven stories high), with raft and family rides available. Reserve a semiprivate cabana for up to 16 and enjoy food service, free inner tubes and other perks. Several eateries serve classic hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza and sundaes. Two pool bars pour anything your heart desires. And don't miss the special summer events: Dive-in Movie nights, which wrap up July 31 with a screening of "Big Hero 6"; and for partygoers 21 and over, the final Wet 'n' Wild Wednesdays after-hours pool party will rock until 11 p.m. July 29. www.wetnwildpalmsprings.com
—Barbara Beckley, Content Solutions Writer