Palm Springs and Coachella Valley, California (+ Gluten-Free) Getaway Travel Guide

Palm Springs is the best escape for Southern Californians, located just two hours away from nearby large cities, and a straight-shot off of the 15 and 10 East. It’s the ultimate desert oasis, surrounded by mountains and national parks, and stained with memories of the Rat Pack, Bono, Marilyn Monroe and other Hollywood icons. It is where vintage meets modern and the birthplace of tiki and mid-century design.

I’ve been traveling there with my family since I was a young kitten, and it remains one of my favorite spots in the world. Gorgeous natural surroundings, amazing cuisine, great coffee, vintage shopping, mid-century homes and furniture, miles of hiking, hot springs and a tiki culture. Is there much more you need from a vacation destination? It’s also affordable, just as long as you avoid the tourist heavy weeks of Coachella (April), White Party (April), and Modernism Week (February).

Please find “*hosted” next to any of the places I was hosted. As always, all opinions are expressed as my own.

Coffee

Ernest Coffee Co.

As far as we are concerned, there isn’t anywhere else to drink coffee, or matcha, in Palm Springs. Trust us, we’ve tried them all. This is the only small batch coffee shop in the area, and they change their specials each season, keeping you and your taste buds on the edge of your seat. And if they haven’t ran out of Cherry’s Famous (vegan/gluten-free) Rugelach - buy a box. You won’t regret it.

unnamed-11.jpg


Breakfast

MidMod Cafe

A newer cafe with great vegan and gluten-free options, using local and organic ingredients. Actually, almost everything can be made gluten-free. They even have a dedicated fryer for french fries and flautas. They also have bowls, plates, juices, burgers and more. Let the waiter know of any dietary restrictions. The staff is kind and we were impressed with the level of service. Be sure to say hello to the manager, Chris, if he’s there. No reservation is required.

Spencer’s Restaurant

We’ve been regulars of their brunch for years. This award-winning restaurant is tucked away underneath a canopy of trees, next to a historically famous tennis club. They have plenty of delicious gluten-free items (their Eggs Benedict is my fav) and are knowledgeable about cross-contamination. Also, open for lunch and dinner. Reservations are recommended.

unnamed-1 copy 2.jpg

Essence Restaurant at Two Bunch Palms Resort & Spa

You can read more about the hotel connected to this restaurant down below. But this restaurant is located on the premises, and has quite a few gluten-free (I love their gluten-free waffles and whipped oat milk) and vegan options. We generally eat breakfast here when we stay at the hotel, but non-guests can dine here too. Make sure to speak with the chef regarding your food restrictions. Also open for lunch and dinner. Reservations are optional.

IMG_3455.JPG

Lunch  

Palm Greens Cafe

I’m also a regular of this little hippie organic spot. Same owner as MidMod Cafe. They have anything from juices to bowls and plates, with vegan and gluten-free options for just about any item. Ensure your server understands your food restrictions, as they are always accommodating. Also open for lunch and dinner. Be mindful of their summer ‘hours.’ No reservation is required. P.S. ALL of their desserts are vegan and delectable.

Aspen Mills Bakery

I crave this place every time I leave the desert. They have locations in Palm Springs, La Quinta and Rancho Mirage, and make the best sandwiches. They are extremely celiac safe. They bake their gluten-free sourdough (vegan) and multigrain breads at the Rancho Mirage location that has a gluten-free kitchen. They also mix the batter for their muffins and cookies there. When they bake desserts at their other locations, they use separate, celiac-safe equipment and seran wrap them immediately. And when they make your sandwiches, gloves are changed, paper is placed down, and gluten-free equipment is used. It’s no wonder this place always has a line. *Hosted

DB916956-12CC-4637-AA0D-9280CBEDC1F5.JPG

Haus of Poké

Delicious and fresh poke that’s gluten and dairy-free. Light, cool, and filling, this is the perfect choice for a quick meal on a warm desert day. They also offer yummy boba drinks, and have a location down the street, in Rancho Mirage.

Dinner

Sandfish

Wow. This is the new kid on the block, and I am so glad they are here. If you don’t fall in love with the cool Scandinavian interior, you will definitely fall in love with the mouth-watering sushi prepared for you by award-winning chef, Engin Onural. And if whiskey is your thing/something you can do, then you will really be in love. They are versed in celiac disease, and we were shown the safe and unsafe options. Everything was delicious. Reservations are highly recommended.

Azúcar

Close your eyes and imagine if Frida Kahlo curated a restaurant. Seriously one of the prettiest interiors, and their food is delicioso. Most of their menu items are naturally gluten-free, or can be modified as such. I’m obsessed with their tacos and the La Serena Lettuce Wraps. They are open for both lunch and dinner, and reservations are recommended. *Hosted

IMG_3556.JPG

Eight4Nine

Located in the Uptown Design District of Palm Springs, this place fits into the chic neighborhood. Their menu has many gluten-free options, and the kitchen is able to take extra precautions if they are aware of your restrictions. They have amazing salads, plates and desserts. Their interior is beautiful, however, eating on their patio on a warm night is just as gorgeous. They are also open for lunch, and brunch. Reservations are recommended. *Hosted

Mr. Lyons Steakhouse

Open since 2015, it is one of the chicest restaurants in town. It’s truly mid-century Hollywood meets modern in both architecture and design. Using ingredients sourced from local farms, sustainable Chef Eric Dandee makes incredible dishes, like salmon and pureed parsnips. He went above and beyond for my gluten and dairy-free meal, and can accomodate most food restrictions. Reservations recommended.*Hosted

Not ready to end your night after dinner? Then checkout Seymour’s, their speakeasy that’s on-location. Talk about that old Hollywood feel.

Dinner and Show at Michael Holmes’ Purple Room Supper Club

Where Franky, Sammy, Dean and their pals got the Rat Pack started, and where the energy of that era comes back alive. Located inside the Club Trinidad Hotel, you might miss this gem, if you didn’t already know about it. A full-course dinner, classic cocktails, and a nostalgic live performance. The kitchen staff was very accommodating to my needs, and what I could and couldn’t eat on the menu. They also offer Sunday brunch and show. All of your senses will be in for a treat. Reservations are recommended. *Hosted

Dessert

Ice Cream & Shop(pe) at Arrive

Craving ice cream? This place has your vegan ice cream dreams covered, and is right across the street from Sandfish. The interior is bright and cheerful, and they sell a lot of Palm Springs essentials. They also have gluten-free cones.

Drinks

Bootlegger Tiki

Did you know tiki culture had one of its first starts in Palm Springs? This cute little tiki bar, with the most delicious cocktails and mocktails stands in the same location as the once revered Don the Beachcomber restaurant. But like, no joke, it’s really small. So, get there when they open, if you’re hoping for a table. P.S. It is right next door to Ernest Coffee.

unnamed-17.jpg

The Amigo Room at Ace Hotel & Swim Club

Can’t afford to stay at the Ace? You can still join in on the fun by heading to the Amigo Room, their bar. They have some great themed-nights, like karaoke. Don’t leave without a photobooth photoshoot.

Things to Do

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway and San Jacinto Mountain State Park

Does anything sound more exciting than taking the world’s largest rotating aerial tram for 10 minutes and over 8,500 ft up to San Jacinto mountain? Didn’t think so. It’s surreal to go from playing in the desert, to playing in the snow at the top. It’s always at least 30 degrees fahrenheit cooler up at the top, and if you’re feeling ambitious (and weather permitting), you can hike to San Jacinto peak.  Or, if you’re feeling really ambitious, you can hike all of the way to Idyllwild. For those not ready for anything too extreme, Mount San Jacinto State Park has quite a few family friendly trails, like Deer Springs Tail, which is one of our favorites. There is a gift shop at the top, and even a restaurant with GF and vegan options, called Peaks Restaurant.

Palm Springs Windmill Tours

If you are nerdy like us, you’ve probably driven past the famous wind turbines of the desert and wondered how they operate. This tour answers all your questions more, giving you a comprehensive history of wind energy. You also get to see and know the turbines up close and personal.

unnamed-23.jpg

Palm Springs Art Museum

One museum, with three unique locations to showcase different art. The Palm Springs location was designed by E. Stewart Williams, and has contemporary, modernist paintings and sculptures (including an outdoor sculpture garden), western American art, Native American and Mesoamerican art and artifacts, contemporary studio glass art, modern architecture and design, photography and graphics. The Annenberg Theatre is also located on site. All three locations host great exhibits, and every Thursday night is free to the public, as well as the second Sunday of each month. The location in Palm Desert is always free to enter.

IMG_6838.jpg

Moorten Botanical Garden

A botanical garden lover’s dream! This ‘living museum’ has been around since 1938, and only costs $5 to visit. It features more than 3,000 varieties of plants from the world. A personal favorite, would be the world's first Cactarium (coined by the Moortens), a Quonset hut overflowing with exotic desert plants. The garden benches make for the perfect place to meditate, or have your next instagram photoshoot. They also have a nursery you can shop in, and rent out their space for social events. Keep in mind, they are closed on Wednesdays. *Hosted

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

I had heard of the zoo, but thought, it wasn’t worth visiting, considering San Diego has a world renowned zoo which I am already a member of and frequent regularly. Well… I was pleasantly surprised. This a big zoo, and has some truly amazing exhibits focusing on the desert ecosystem. We actually became members because we liked it so much. They even have hiking trails on the premises!

unnamed-46.jpg

Cabazon Dinosaurs

If you’re ever driven to Palm Springs on the 10E, or if you’ve seen Pee-wee's Big Adventure, then you KNOW the Cabazon Dinosaurs. And did you even go to Palm Springs if you didn’t get a photo with them? Not sure.

unnamed.jpg

Bicycle Tour

Other than walking tours, bicycle tours are my favorite. It’s such a fun way to get to know any city you’re in. This is great for people of all ages, as they even offer electric bikes to use! Our tour went through some of Palm Springs’ older neighborhoods and into the Andreas Canyon trailhead. From there, we got to go on a scenic nature hike that included incredible amazing rock formations, stream crossings, shady palm trees and desert canyon scenery. Our guide knew about everything from architectural history, to the history of the Agua Caliente tribe, archaeology, botany, and more. They also offer bike rentals, jeep and van tours, as well as canyon tours. Looking forward to check out their other tours soon! *Hosted

IMG_6854.jpg

VillageFest

Each Thursday night, blocks of downtown Palm Springs are closed off for a festival of over 200 booths full of unique food (a few GF options too), handcrafted items and art. Think of an extra large farmer’s market. It’s fun for everyone.

Luxury Chartered Celebrity Bus Tour

What better way to get to know the history of old Hollywood in Palm Springs, then on a 26 passenger luxury charter bus with an award winning guide! Our guide told us all about what was once “Hollywood’s Playground,” and some of the interesting stories that came with. We visited famous neighborhoods, including the homes of Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Liberace, Elvis Presley, Bob Hope, Sonny and Cher, Elizabeth Taylor, Leonardo Dicaprio and many others. With just a two hour distance between Hollywood and Palm Springs, it’s no wonder why the desert feels like a natural extension of that world. *Hosted

Walking Tour of the Famed Palm Springs Tennis Club Neighborhood

The Historical Society hosts 10 really interesting and different walking tours throughout the week, focusing on various topics and neighborhoods in town, from architecture, to glamour, to Frank Sinatra’s old Neighborhood, and others ranging from 1.5 - 2.5 hours. I had the pleasure of going on the Celebrity Haven - The Tennis Club Neighborhood Tour (2.5 hours). With yellow umbrellas provided (great for the bright sun), we learned quite a bit about the overall history of Palm Springs. We were given an overview of the architectural history of the city, including how the city captures the essence of  “The Atomic Age” better than any other place, and was a key location for Modernist design. The historical society also runs the McCallus Adobe Museum, the Cornelia White House Museum and Welwood Murray Memorial Library, and admission is free. Check out their website for other events. *Hosted

Self-Guided Palm Springs Door Tour

Head to #thatpinkdoor and enjoy an entire neighborhood of fun ‘instagrammable’ doors! Please respect their properties and do not trespass.

Palm Springs Cultural Center

Serving the entire Coachella Valley, the Palm Springs cultural Center offers programs like the Palm Springs farmer’s markets, live performances, film festivals, art installations, lecture series. They are very diverse in their programming, and have a connection to over 100 community partners. It’s a hub for the community as an affordable place to conduct programming. Definitely check out their events calendar! *Hosted

Desert X

Desert X is biennial themed art show comprised of outdoor installations that are placed throughout the Coachella Valley. You pick up your treasure map at Ace Hotel, and you get to plan out a road trip, locating the treasures that are art. It is very cool, and very thought-provoking.

Hiking

Tahquitz Canyon

This three-mile round hike is gorgeous, and leads you to a 60-foot waterfall half-way through. Entry is not free, but it’s worth it. They also have guided tours which I’ve heard great things about.

Indian Canyons - Palm, Andreas, and Murray Canyons

I love how beautiful these trails are along or through a gorgeous oasis. There is also a fee to enter, and it’s worth it.

IMG_6743.jpg

Whitewater Reserve - The Wildlands Conservancy

A pit-stop on the PCT, this is on the 10W, and it’s so beautiful. We had a lot of time hiking here in the fall, and playing in the cool water. It’s free to enter, park, and recreate.

***Whitewater Preserve and Whitewater Canyon Road are currently CLOSED due to massive flood damage on 2/14/19. They hope to reopen by September but will remain closed and inaccessible until Riverside County has repaired Whitewater Canyon Road.

They will post updates on the road condition and reopening in multiple locations: 

Website: https://www.wildlandsconservancy.org/preserve_whitewater.html

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/WhitewaterPreserve/

Instagram: @whitewaterpreserve

Ladder and Big Painted Canyon Trails in Mecca

Slot canyons and ladders in the middle of the desert - How does that not sound like a good idea? Mind you, this is a bit of a drive outside of Palm Springs.

Shopping

The Fine Art of Design

Voted one of the best vintage shopping spots, and for good reason. Everything is color coded, and beautiful. Wouldn’t wait for a rainy day to spend your money.

elizabeth&prince

A very hip men and women’s boutique, full of clothing, accessories and more. As they put it, this boutique is quite thoughtfully curated and will quench everyone’s thirst. They have three locations in the valley, so be sure to check them all out.

The Frippery

Another great vintage store, that will have all of your bases covered, whether you’re ready to rock resort wear by the pool, look glam walking down El Paseo, or just Joshua Tree boho-chic.

Mitchells Palm Springs

A men and women’s vintage store, filled with lightly used designer threads. They have clothing, accessories and furniture to choose from.

The Shops at 1345

A hidden gem, literally. Without knowing what it is, you might have passed it, like I have many times before. It’s honestly only boutique mall I need to visit while in the valley. It is comprised of various shops, all local designers and or owners. You have to know, to know this gem, and now you do. You’re welcome.

unnamed.jpg

Iconic Atomic

More vintage store recs? We’ve got you covered. This one is a cute, and relatively large vintage store, filled with all of your vintage needs. Did I mention it’s right next to Ernest Coffee/Bootlegger? We love going in and finding pretty clothes, accessories, etc (it caters to both men and women). Be sure to say hello to Julian if he’s working. He’s kind of our Palm Springs favorite.

Coachella Certified Farmers Markets

I personally love visiting farmer’s markets when traveling. Depending on where you are in the valley, there is likely a farmer’s market nearby. Check out what’s locally growing and organic. And just in case Ernest ran out of your rugelach, be sure to stop by and grab some at any of the market. Make sure they are selling there ahead of time.

Deja Vu Vintage Finery

This is the perfect place to find anything from the 1950’s on. Mid-Century looks for both men and women. Affordable pieces to high-end brands.

Thick As Thieves

This little shop is stuffed with all of the cuteness, from gifts, to clothing, handmade goods, and local items. They also rent out their adorable back room for events, and host workshops.

IMG_7038.jpg

El Paseo

Palm Desert’s version of Rodeo Drive. Complete with all of the high-end fashion labels, and chic restaurants you think of. They are always hosting events, including their own fashion week.

Where to Stay

The Wescott
Open since the 1930’s, it’s the perfect mix of old Hollywood Art Deco and modern design. The facilities are just charming, as are the employees and the various guests I got to meet. They serve a complimentary breakfast each morning, offering both cold and hot items (including gluten-free options). They actually had a bowl of gluten-free goodies waiting for me upon arrival. They even host a complimentary cocktail and snack hour each afternoon, and they happily made me mocktails . In case you’re hungry in-between, you have 24/7 access to snacks and drinks. Loved that the entire pool area is surrounded with misters to keep you cool on warm days, and that they are in walking distance to the Design District (aka great shopping, food and my oat milk matcha from Ernest Coffee. *Hosted

Two Bunch Palms Resort & Spa

This is our favorite place to stay. It’s not technically in Palm Springs, but in Desert Hot Springs. Once Al Capone’s vacation/hiding spot, it is now turned one of the chicest resort spots in the desert. Past the guarded gates you will find natural hot springs, green grass, duck filled ponds, pretty palm trees, mud baths, sound baths, and so much more. Can someone transport me there right now? Please?

Sparrow’s Lodge

Voted as one of the chicest motels in America, and that is exactly what it is. It offers a desert lodge escape vibe, complete with a pool, restaurant, and massage tent.

Preferred Palm Springs Small Hotels


Shop local, and stay local at one of their many small boutique hotels. It’s perfect if you’re looking for an authentic and intimate experience in the city. Be sure to check out their current summer specials. *Hosted


We hope you enjoy exploring our favorite California oasis! Buen Camino xx

adventure, california, ca, dairy free, Dining Guide, Exploring, Food, food, Foodie, gluten-free, Happy, HIKING, Hot Springs, Meditation, north america, one day guide, Pacific Coast, roadtrip, shopping, Shopping, tips, Things to Eat, things to do, tourist, travel, usa, weekend guide, where to shop, SOUTHWEST, CoachellaChristina P. Kantzavelosplam sprinbgs, hipster palm springs, hipster coachella valley, california, palm springs california, coachella valley california, gluten-free in palm springs, gluten-free in coachella valley, gluten-free desert hot springs, palm spring getaway guide, old hollywood, modernism week, white party palm springs, coachella palm springs, ernest coffee co, ernest coffee palm springs, cherry's famous, dates, rugelach, best coffee in palm springs, spencer's restaurant, gluten-free breakfast in palm springs, spencer's restaurant palm springs, essence restaurant palm springs, gluten free in desert hot springs, two bunch palms resort and spa, essence restaurant, palm greens cafe, gluten free lunch in palm, palm greens care palm springs, sandfish palm spring, gluten free dinner in palm springs, sandfish gluten free palm springs, azucar, azucar palm springs, frida kahlo, hippest places in palm springs, coolest places in palm springs, gluten free dessert in palm springs, ice cream and shoppe, ice cream in palm springs, arrive palm springs, vegan palm springs, bootlegger tiki, bootlegger tiki palm rpsings, tiki culture palm spring, tiki palm springs, don the beachcomber, the amigo room at ace hotel and swim club, where to drink in palm springs, where to stay in palm springs, coolest bars in palm springs, karaoke in palm springs, things to do in palm springs, palm springs aerial tramway, san jacinto mountain state park, peaks restuarant, gluten free palm springs aerial tram, palm springs windmill tours, windmills, palm springs art museum, moorhen botanical garden, the living desert zoo and gardens, cabezon dinosaurs, peewees big adventure, desert x, desert x coachella valley, desert x 2017, desert x 2019, art coachella valley, where to hike in palm springs, tahquitz canyon, indian canyons, palm canyon, andreas canyon, murray canyons, whitewater reserve, the woodlands conservancy, pct, ladder trail, big painted canyon trails, the fine art of design, where to shop in palm springs, elizabeth&prince, the prippery, mitchells palm springs, the shops at 1345, iconic atomic, coachella certified farmers markets, farmers market palm springs, el paseo palm desrt, coolest places in palm desert, casa cody, sparrow's lodge, oasis, desert oasis, al capone, palm springs, sparrows lodge, palm spring weekend guide, where to eat gluten free in palm springs, gluten free breakfast in palm springs, gluten free lunch in palm springs, gluten free dessert in palm springs city, gluten free foodie palm springs, getaway guide for palm springs, where hipsters hangout in palm spring, hip palm springs, hipster palm springs hangouts, hipster coachella valley food, travel guide palm springs, travel guide coachella valley, ernest, ernest coffee, ernest coffee palm springs ca, modernism week palm springs, cherry famous rugelach, midmid cafe, spencers restaurant, spencers palm springs, essence restaurant two bunch palms, gluten free two bunch palms, palm greens cafe gluten free, aspen mills bakery, aspen mills bakery palm springs, vegan palm springs food, haus of poke, rancho mirage gluten free, sandfish, sandfish gluten free, sandfish palm springs, azucar palm springs gluten free, frida kahlo palm srings, eight4nine, mr. lyons, mr. lyons steakhouse, mr. lyons palm springs, hollywood palm springs, chef eric dandee, eric dadee, pureed parsnips, seymours, speakeasy palm springs, hollywood feel, dinner and show palm springs, dinner show palm springs, michael holmes purple room supper club, mr. lyons gluten free, eight4nine gluten free, uptown design district, michael holmes, ice creame, shoppe, arrive, bootlegger tiki palm springs, tiki, tiki culture, the amigo room, ace hotel, aerial tramway, san jacinto, san jacinto mountain, pam springs windmill tours, palm springs art, art in palm springs, moorten, moorhen botanical garden palm springs, cactarium, moortens, quonset, the living desert, zoo, palm springs zoo, cabazon, pee-wee, pee-wees big adventure, desert x palm springs, bicycle tour, andreas canyon palm springs, big wheel tours, big wheels tours pam springs, villagefest, gluten free villagefest palm springs, luxury chartered celebrity bus tour, palm springs old hollywood, hollywoods playground, frank sinatra, nat kind cole, liberace, elvis presley, bob hope, sorry and cher, elizabeth tayolor, leonardo dicabprio, walking tour, palm springs tennis club, historical society palm springs, palm springs architecture, palm springs neighbhorhood, the atomic age, modernist design, mccallum adobe museum, cornelia white house museum, welwood murray memorial library, free palm springs, free things to do in palm springs, palm springs cultural center, palm springs community, lgbtq+, tahquitz canyon palm springs, the wescott, gluten free hotels palm springs, hollywood art deco, 1930s, mocktails, design district, oat milk, dairy free, dairy free palm springs, hot springs, hot springs palm springs, where to go to hot springs palm springs, sparrows lodge palm springs, preferred palm springs small hotels, pam springs gluten free guide, gluten free in palm springs, gluten free coachella, gluten free rancho mirage, gluten free california desert, gluten free joshua tree, gluten free lunch palm springs, gluten free dinner palm springs, gluten free cafe palm springs, cheap gluten free palm springs, where to eat gluten free in palm springs california, best places to stay in palm springs, getaway guide palm springs, gluten free indio california, gluten free spencers restaurant, gluten free essence, gluten free desert hot springs, gluten free palm desertComment