If your vision of a California desert vacation includes blue sky, purple mountains, turquoise pools and nodding palm trees, you’ve come to the right place. Palm Springs caters to everyone from Hollywood celebrities, to snowbirds, to avowed desert rats—all demographics that include a lot of DogTrekkers. Kayla, DogTrekker.com’s "research Lab," paw-tested the Coachella Valley (the valley that includes Palm Springs) over the New Year’s break and has a lot to report.
Looking for a place to stay? The usual dog friendly chain motels are represented in abundance, but Palm Springs also abounds in boutique motels and resorts sporting retro architecture but modern amenities. The 170-room, desert-modern Ace Hotel & Swim Club, a refurbished Westward Ho! Property dating to 1959, is one such gem. Dogs of any size are allowed in selected rooms and around communal fireplaces, as well as at poolside (but please, no swimming with Fido).
Caliente Tropics, a tiki-themed blast from the past, welcomes dogs under 60 pounds, and the helpful front-desk staff is up-to-snuff on places to go and things to do with pets. In the luxury category, La Quinta Resort has taken pet-friendly to a new level with its PAWS La Quinta Experience, geared to make pets feel comfortable from the moment they arrive.
After checking out the large number of canine friends at the La Quinta Resort, Kayla visited the Palm Springs Dog Park, quite possibly her favorite dog park ever. With over 1.6 acres of fenced rolling grass featuring both large and small dog areas, fire hydrants, shade structures, solar lighting, water and picnic tables, dogs can romp leash-free 24/7.
Outdoor living is what Palm Springs is all about in winter, and dog-friendly patio dining is a given. For something novel, leash up your pup and head for the Eldorado Polo Club, where the two of you can dine on the patio at ROC’s Firehouse Grille at the Cantina within full view of horses and riders, palms and mountains. Another out-of-the-ordinary scenic treat: Twenty6 & Adobe Grill, a restaurant on La Quinta Resort’s multilevel plaza, adjacent to expansive, landscaped grounds. Sherman’s Deli & Bakery, a kosher-style family restaurant reminiscent of a New York deli, has a dog-friendly patio that sees lots of regular canine visitors.
For a fun and educational activity you can enjoy with your four-legged friend, head to Moorten Botanical Garden, where the two of you can stroll around a “living museum of desert lore” and admire more than 3,000 desert plants plus dinosaur fossils and petrified trees. The Palm Springs Museum Trail, rising above the Palm Springs Art Museum, tempts seasoned hikers with a 1.5 mile climb to a summit offering sweeping views of the Coachella Valley.
Not a hiker? Put paws to the pavement in the El Paseo Shopping District, the “Rodeo Drive of the Desert,” in Palm Desert, about 20 minutes from town. Many of the 300-plus shops and galleries in this upscale enclave are dog-friendly, as are the outdoor cafes along the street.