Any time is a good time to start thinking about Palm Springs (except summer, don't think about Palm Springs in summer), but especially right now, since 1) COACHELLA IS THIS WEEKEND, and 2) we just finished writing this: the best guide to Palm Springs that has literally ever been written (we read all the other ones and, well, they suck).
From s'mores milkshakes and GINORMOUS beer pong that you play with a beach ball and red trash cans, to an epic place to stay over and Japanese steak you can only access via boat, here are the 21 things you have to do to pull off the best Springs trip ever taken:
At the JW Marriott (you know, the one where they filmed the Saved By The Bell episode where Jessie's Dad gets married), a mini-ferry (!!!) will take you to Mikado, the superlative Japanese steak-and-seafood restaurant. You'll start literally at a dock inside the hotel lobby (wut), boat past a bunch of real-life pink flamingos, and dock in teriyaki meat heaven.
2. Have a drink while sitting on a saddle... on the Coachella field
The Tack Room is a totally-legit cowpoke bar that's actually on the Polo Field groups where they hold Coachella every year. There're killer drinks (get the Bloody Mary BLT, which is exactly what it sounds like it is), great burgers, and stools made of actual saddles so you can manspread all you want while you house food/drink.
You know those diners that exist in movies but nowhere else, where everyone's super friendly and the short-order cook looks like he's been working there for a millennia and they serve a burger combo that 1) comes with a shake, and 2) is probably fresh out of the freezer but tastes like childhood and is perfect? That place is Keedy's. You will love it.
4. Drink some delicious tequila while playing ping pong
El Jefe, the Tequila bar in the Saguaro Hotel, offers a discount, high-end tequila-of-the-month, plus has a ping pong table directly outside of it in the lobby, which is perfect, because after three tequilas... you're no better at ping pong than you were when you walked in, but you're CONVINCED you are.
Recently opened mixology-centered boozery Bar (yes, it's a bar named Bar) is home to one of the coolest backyards you'll ever step foot in, complete with a filled-in pool that now doubles as a grass-laden croquet court. Bonus: bands, DJs, and other entertainment during peak season.
6. See a band and then hop in a jacuzzi
The Amigo Room at the Ace Hotel has live music nearly nightly, including hyped LA bands like Jeffertitti's Nile and collaborations with collectives like Fool's Gold, but the pro move is to bring your bathing suit: no one checks to make sure you're a guest before you take a dip, so if you want to relax after rocking out, yeah, you can.
7. Get brunch that rivals anything in LA
The right-Downtown, chef-driven restaurant Workshop Kitchen & Bar started a dining renaissance in Palm Springs, but honestly the best meal there is brunch, where you can get down on blue crab eggs Benedict or duck egg huevos rancheros, or, um, BOTH.
8. Then get brunch that rivals brunch that rivals anything in LA
Guaranteed to have a line even before it opens, Cheeky's offers a daily BACON FLIGHT (you read that right) with five crazy strips of greatness, which'll range from applewood-smoked and jalapeño, to apple cinnamon and black pepper. You're gonna want all of them.
Yeah, even though you're probably in Palm Springs mostly for, y'know, sun, there's an actually really cool SPINNING tram that takes you to the top of a mountain where there's snow. Lots of it. You can buy a disk up there and sled. In the desert. While it's sunny and 70 at the bottom of the hill.
10. Take the new Buzz shuttle... for free
First: why don't we have this? And second: "this" is a new bus that takes you almost anywhere you'd want to go in Palm Springs, totally free, until 1am.
11. Play beer pong, with beach balls, like a boss
The Hacienda Beach Club has become the craziest place in town on the weekends, with massive DJ-driven day parties at its gargantuan pool, which's got garbage-can-and-beach-ball beer pong on the lawn right next to it. Added bonus: actually delicious Mexican food (and fish bowls with Swedish gummy fish in them!!) at the Cantina right next door.
12. Hit the links at... night?
Since 1) it's hot during the day, and 2) you've got so much beer pong to play, hit the Indio Municipal Golf Course at night -- it's the only desert course that's lit up once the sun goes down, with tee times going up 'til 8pm on normal days and through midnight (or later!) for special events.
The kind-of-hidden, super-sweet-in-more-ways-than-one, luau-themed bar Bootlegger Tiki has happy hour from 12-2am. Like all bars should.
14. Play horseshoes in the best boutique hotel maybe anywhere
The ultra-low-key Sparrows Lodge looks like it belongs in Joshua Tree or Big Sur, with cabin-like rooms, a rustic, couch-laden hangout area/bar, and a full horseshoe game hidden in the back, all of which make it kind of a primer in how to actually mellow out.
15. Dunk your head in a waterfall
Even if you're like, "massages? I don't want no one's hands on this body!!!!" get yourself over to the Riviera and get a pass for the spa: the Buddha Lounge doesn't have the sticky-sticky, but it does totally have a waterfall over a tub that'll give you the full-on island experience (minus the island, obviously).
16. Golf California's hardest course
"Yeah, I'm ready for this," you'll say, before deciding to golf at La Quinta's PGA West Stadium Course -- which Golf Digest called the most difficult in Cali, thanks to "moguls, pot bunkers, and lumpy lies," at least one of which isn't the awesome thing you think it is.
17. Check out the greatest art exhibit... anywhere
We told you all about Robolights a while back, and even though the nighttime display is closed, you can call and make a reservation to see it during the day. And, if you're smart, you will call and make a reservation to see it during the day.
18. Watch the greatest generation spit mad game
The classic steakhouse Melvyn's is one of those places where nothing ever changes... including the octogenarians who pack the bar nightly, watching a crooner play Sinatra while they attempt to pick each other up in something that resembles Golden Girls-meets-Dynasty. Grab a gimlet and watch what happens... live.
19. Have a s'more milkshake
The beloved shake shop Great Shakes has them. They've also got rotating flavors including Oreo cookie mint and white chocolate lavender. And a Cake Shake. So, yeah, you're gonna want to go with friends.
20. Eat award-winning BBQ
Killer BBQ isn't something you'd normally expect to find in the desert... until now: the family behind Smoke Tree BBQ has been winning all kinds of competitions thanks to melty, daily-smoked brisket and fall-off-the-bone pork ribs, served outdoors in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it spot in the back of a strip mall.