I’ve been wanting to go to Palm Springs for awhile, and it lived up to the hype!
Over Christmas, I booked a hotel in Palms Springs on whim for my husband Brendan and me on New Year’s Eve weekend. I’ve been researching the food scene there for the past year. And it looked goooood. Plus it’s great to go to Palm Springs in the winter. It gets super hot in the summer – 100 degree & sunny. I definitely recommend going in the winter instead of the summer if you can. I found a dog-friendly hotel so we could bring our golden retriever rescue, Odie.
It’s a two hour drive from Santa Monica to Palm Springs without traffic. But of course, we hit a lot of traffic leaving LA on the Friday afternoon of New Year’s Eve weekend. It ended up taking us four hours to get to Palm Springs. Thankfully it only took us two hours going from Palm Springs to LA on Sunday. At least that drive worked out!
We dropped our stuff off at the hotel and headed into town for dinner. Palm Canyon Drive is the main road. It has a bunch of fun restaurants and stores.
I like to do all the restaurant research ahead of time. And I typically book reservations for most of our meals on vacations. This way, I know the best gluten-free friendly restaurants to eat at and don’t need to worry about it. I didn’t book a restaurant for Friday dinner because Brendan wasn’t sure when he could leave the office. However, I had some places in mind 😉
We ate at Lulu California Bistro for dinner. It’s a large restaurant, and they have a big menu to go with it. Lulu has a gluten-free menu and offers gluten-free bread, pizza, and pasta. We ordered salad and pasta dishes. And of course I had to get the flourless chocolate cake for dessert.
I love exploring a new area with a morning run. It’s the best way to get to know where you are since you take more in than driving and you go faster than walking. Brendan and I woke up, in awe of our surroundings. It was dark when we drove into Palm Springs the night before so we didn’t get a good look then. We did an hour-long eight-mile run and took in the mountains, palm trees, and more.
Saturday in Town:
After our run, the first stop was obviously brunch! We walked to Trio which has a lot of gluten-free egg dishes and salads. Their menu marks which options can be done gluten-free. We enjoyed:
- corn cakes & eggs w/ fresh yellow corn cakes, 2 eggs any style, breakfast potatoes, fresh fruit
- grilled vegetable omelet w/ seasonal vegetables, breakfast potatoes, fresh fruit
- grilled vegetable salad w/ seasonal vegetables, mixed greens, tahini dressing
- apple crumble
I wasn’t expecting Trio to have any gluten-free desserts since I didn’t see any online. I was pleasantly surprised when the waiter said that the apple crumble was GF! It was deeeelish.
We walked down the rest of Palm Canyon Drive, stopping at different stores and exploring the town. Palm Springs is very dog-friendly, like the rest of California. Many of the stores have dog water bowls at their entrances. Almost all the restaurants have outdoor seating so we can bring Odie with us to meals. Odie is well-behaved and just lies down and sits next to us which makes it easy for all of us!
We saw a long line at Great Shakes so knew it must be good! Most of the milkshakes can be done gluten-free if you request without a donut on the straw. And no cookie, cake, or brownies mix-ins. Brendan and I shared the:
- s’mores milkshake
- chocolate peanut butter cup milkshake
The s’mores milkshake has toasted marshmallows which was the best part. I also loved that the chocolate peanut butter cup milkshake had big chunks of PB cups in the shake. They use homemade fudge sauce to line the shakes which was too good!
I heard amazing things about Birba and knew we had to go for dinner! They offer gluten-free crust and cauliflower crust pizza AND zucchini noodles aka zoodles! I’m impressed when a restaurant serves GF pizza but really impressed if they make cauliflower crust pizza. I think Birba is the first restaurant I’ve been to that does this. I hope that this trend continues! All of the dishes were seasoned deliciously. They’re also known for their cocktails. We ordered:
- Basil Spritz w/ vodka, fresh basil, lemon, prosecco, soda (my cocktail)
- Ginger Gimlet w/ gin, ginger syrup, lime juice, mint (Brendan’s cocktail)
- Margherita cauliflower crust pizza w/ fresh mozzarella & basil
- Zucchini spaghetti with broccoli, spinach, and parmesan
- Roasted cauliflower w/ capers, aged parmesan, & chili flakes
- Cacio e pepe brussels sprouts
- Salted butterscotch pudding
I wasn’t expecting Birba to have any gluten-free desserts since their dessert menu isn’t online. Imagine my surprise when five of their six desserts are GF! Side note: this is why I do what I do. Restaurants don’t always publish the full menu or indicate what’s GF on the menu so that’s why I share the GF options 🙂
I typically have to get flourless chocolate cake if it’s on the menu. However, I had it the night before and was pretty full from allll the food we ate on Saturday. So we decided to get the salted butterscotch pudding. Such a good decision! Our waitress highly recommended it, and it was light and creamy.
Post-run on Sunday, we were ready for another brunch! Cheeky’s is known to have one of the best breakfasts/brunches in Palm Springs. We had to go! Their menu changes weekly, and they serve local, small farm food. It’s such a popular spot. They don’t take reservations, and you typically have to wait after putting your name down on the list but it’s worth it. Everything tasted incredibly fresh. Our last brunch of 2017 was amazing! We enjoyed the following dishes:
- Local citrus: blood orange, tangerine, kumquat, grapefruit
- Roasted cauliflower w/ goat cheese & bacon scramble (request berries instead of toast)
- Smoked salmon & avocado Benedict with caviar (request hash browns instead of toast)
- Paleo granola with yogurt & fresh berries
- Custard cheesy scrambled eggs w/ bacon (request w/o scone)
Brendan and I love to hike, and Odie loves it too! We go hiking a decent amount in LA and when we travel. We take Odie’s leash off during hikes, and he knows to stay with us. He knows his pack 😉 Brendan typically leads the way, with Odie right behind him, and then me. Odie adorably will look behind to make sure I’m still there. He’s the cutest!
There are a bunch of hiking trails in Palm Springs. We decided to hike the North Lykken Trailhead. It’s right outside of town. To get there, we followed Ramon Road until it ends at the mountain. The trailhead is off to the right. It’s a fairly steep trail but easy to maneuver. At the top of the mountain and for most of the hike, we had a great view of Coachella Valley. There isn’t too much shade so make sure to bring water and stay hydrated.
Post-hike, I was craving some fro-yo. We passed many ice cream places in town throughout the weekend so lots of options to choose from. I decided on Jus Chillin which has self-serve frozen yogurt. They label which flavors are GF and have a bunch of toppings. It hit the spot! We also stopped by Brandini Toffee to try their handcrafted chocolate almond toffee. Another great dessert place! Next time, I will have to get their toffee ice cream bars.
Until Next Time:
I know that I will be back to visit Palm Springs! Still lots of restaurants I want to check out, and more hiking trails for us to explore. I also want to go ATV-ing next time. As we left Palm Springs, we passed by quads in the dunes, and it looked like fun. I’m excited to travel even more in 2018 and share all of my gluten-free finds! Happy New Year, friends!