While the winter holidays usually conjure up images of snowmen, snowball fights, and roaring fires, there’s another version of this magical season that is just as spectacular. Christmas in the desert has always been one of the most popular destination vacations (especially for those looking to get away from the chill!) because of its wide range of offerings. In Palm Springs, the holiday season is peak visiting time because of the full calendar of events, great weather, and cozy community vibe.
Let’s look at some stops that’ll make a magical holiday season.
Where to Eat
Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley are home to some of California’s most delicious cuisine. While many restaurants will likely have altered holiday hours, some of the top names are stepping up! Whether they are dishing out their year-round favorites or have created special holiday menus, your belly is sure to be full and happy.
Acqua California Bistro – Acqua California Bistro in Rancho Mirage is a local favorite. They are famous for both their dinners and brunches, with Sunday Brunch including three courses! Guests can choose between salads, sandwiches, soups, seafood, and more. For Christmas this year, OpenTable suggests that the restaurant may offer a four course dinner that includes a choice between 13 entrees (including prime rib, filet mignon, seafood linguini, and others) and more than eight desserts! Make sure to call ahead before your trip to confirm their holiday menu and reservations.
Trio Palm Springs – Trio Palm Springs, self-described as “where Palm Springs eats,” is no stranger to decadent holiday menus. This year, they hosted a Thanksgiving Dinner with three delectable courses for less than $50 a person! Rumor has it that the restaurant will be hosting a similar event for Christmas, with a prix fixe menu of holiday favorites, as well as offering scrumptious holiday dinner specials. If nothing else, you can always catch their Brunch-A-Go-Go, starting at 10am!
Morgan’s in the Desert – Morgan’s in the Desert, located in the La Quinta Resort, has done first-class holiday dinners in the past, and this year is likely to follow suit! According to OpenTable, Chef Jae Ho Bang has prepared a festive three course meal to celebrate the holidays. The venue is proud to showcase contemporary American cuisine that is inspired by the bounty of the surrounding Coachella Valley.
What to Do
After you’ve gotten your fill of holiday delicacies, head out to Palm Springs’ many festive activities! There’s no doubt that the desert puts on quite the show.
The Living Desert’s WildLights – The Living Desert is Palm Springs’ premier zoo and botanical garden and during the holidays, they host WildLights, a family-friendly event that turns the zoo into a sparkling winter wonderland, creating the perfect Christmas getaway! WildLights runs on select nights from November 24th-December 24th and features reindeer, Santa, animal feeding opportunities, and more than a million colorful holiday lights.
Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs Events – All throughout the month of December, Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs has a whole host of things to do! From weekly live music in the lobby every Friday and Saturday night to a daring Burlesque show. Join us on New Year’s Eve for two incredible parties under one roof. Choose between a tantalizing Burlesque dinner show with a NYE fireworks viewing celebration, or a Masquerade dance party spread throughout two floors with seven stages of DJ’s and live entertainment. We have something fun for everyone!
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway – On the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, you will ascend two and a half miles to view pristine wilderness aboard the world’s largest rotating tramcar! At the top, you will be greeted by restaurants, a museum, and over 50 miles of hiking trails. And, you may even see some snow! At 8,516 feet, the San Jacinto Mountains offer a peaceful and serene snow camping ground.
Palm Springs Art Museum – All year, the Palm Springs Art Museum has Free Thursday Nights, where visitors can see their favorite exhibits for free. And during the holidays, the museum makes an effort to offer special events that correspond with this time of year. For example, on December 21st there is going to be a Hanukkah lecture, where Rabbi Lazar will speak about menorahs from all over the world!
What to See
What would the holidays be without lights? In Palm Springs, there are plenty of places to get you in the Christmas spirit, thanks to the elaborate decorations and desert cheer. Two of the best places to view the lights are RoboLights and Candy Cane Lane in Cathedral City.
RoboLights – RoboLights is a Palm Springs staple and puts a funky twist on a classic tradition. Hosted by local Kenny Irwin, the display features reindeer heads in toilets, people and animals made out of old appliances, and a microwaved microwave (we said it was funky!). In addition to the holiday setup, Irwin also sells his original art pieces and might even sign some for you.
Candy Cane Lane (Minerva Lane) – For families looking for a more traditional approach to Christmas lights, make sure to check out Candy Cane Lane in Cathedral City. This block features the most decked out houses in the city and guests can walk along Minerva Lane to admire the festive work. Just make sure to be respectful when visiting, as these are people’s homes!
The holidays aren’t just for snowbirds! Trade leafless trees for palm trees in California’s favorite desert city and celebrate this season in style in Palm Springs, the perfect Christmas getaway!