Fear not the heat: Those looking for the ideal three- to four-day getaway from Los Angeles should seriously consider a long weekend in Palm Springs this September.
Palm Springs Art Museum
First things first … Cut out Thursday morning and head east on Interstate 10. Once you arrive in town, make the Palm Springs Art Museum your first stop — admission is free from noon on Thursdays through September thanks to a sponsorship from the City of Palm Springs.
The beating heart of the Coachella Valley arts scene, the Palm Springs Art Museum is a cultural hub housed in a classic midcentury building. The museum features cutting-edge contemporary exhibitions, with a permanent collection of significant works by historically important artists, ranging from west coast modernists to contemporary Native American practitioners. An outdoor sculpture garden creates a cool oasis to enjoy coffee or lunch. Discerning art enthusiasts and casual museumgoers will find much to love here.
Word to the wise: If you don't make it out to the desert in time for free admission on Thursday, you can still get in gratis if it's Second Sunday (a.k.a. the second Sunday of each month), when your ticket is covered thanks to the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation. If it isn't … well, you'll just have to pay for admission, which really isn't much: $12 for adults, $10 for seniors 62 and older, and $5 for school-ID-carrying students and teachers.
The Palm Springs Art Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., except for Thursday, when open hours run from noon to 8 p.m., and Wednesday, when the museum is closed. The museum is located at 101 Museum Drive in downtown Palm Springs. The museum's classically cool little sister, the Architecture and Design Center, is nearby and houses the museum's exploration of architecture and design.
Each Thursday at the year-round Village Fest, a flurry of vendors set up booths along Palm Canyon Drive, creating a sort of funky makeshift swap meet and the ultimate destination for those seeking the most unique and idiosyncratic in top-quality artisanal crafts, street foods, art and more.
This crazy-quilt of sellers offers everything under the warm desert sun, from olive oil to aloe vera gel, photography to piña colada candies, and jewelry to jams. And that's just scratching the surface. (Perusing the Village Fest vendors list is recommended for an idle post-lunch afternoon at the office; it will give you an idea of the extent of the offerings.) Many of the permanent shops that line the street are also open this evening to sell their own unique offerings.
If shopping bores you, turn your attention to the city's entertainment and dining offerings, located within and near Village Fest. Genre-spanning live music, culture-spanning fresh food, spirited dance performances and horse-drawn carriage rides are mixed in with perfectly balmy evening nights.
Village Fest occurs on Thursdays from 7 to 10 p.m. June through September, and from 6 to 10 p.m. October through May.
Hike, ride, escape …
Once you've absorbed all of the delights you can handle, why not spend the rest of the weekend doing nothing? You've earned it — and this is a getaway, after all. An amazing array of places to stay is one of the ways Palm Springs differentiates itself — from tiny, intimate bungalows to new, beautifully branded hotels to mid-century hideaways. Most accommodations are within walking distance to Palm Canyon Drive.
No matter where you stay, Palm Springs is the picture-perfect destination for kicking back and ruminating on how good you've got it now that you're out of L.A. for the weekend.