When the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival takes over the polo grounds in Indio, California, the median age in Palm Springs and the surrounding Coachella Valley drops precipitously into the 20s. While the area has always had breathtaking geography and a quirky retro charm, it now has damn fine food, cool bars and sceney spots to hang. Even if you haven’t secured tickets, the balmy week of the festival is the perfect time to catch big-name acts and local artists playing the hotels and music-industry pool parties worth crashing for the sights and sounds.1. HANG POOLSIDE

After getting a pair of psychedelic swim trunks at Mr Turk *(and a bikini for your lady at sister store *Trina Turk), it’s time to hit the pool parties where local DJs and Coachella acts make surprise appearances all day and night. For easy access to the festivities, book a room at these hotels: TheAce, **the desert outpost of the hipster hotel chain, remains the gold standard. Boccie and croquet round out the outdoor activities at theSaguaro hotel, where the year-round pool parties are a local legend. An official deal with festival promoter Goldenvoice guarantees A-list surprise DJs and a rocking scene at theHard Rock. **Think speaker sculptures and guitar art everywhere.


Ditch your swimsuit and dress for dinner at Workshop Kitchen + Bar; the sleek interiors and farm-to-table cuisine would fit right in in a demanding metropolis. Binge on a budget at Birba, where the brick-oven pizza is blistered just so. The margherita is textbook Neapolitan, and the egg-and-pancetta pizza is the perfect hangover cure.


You’ll need a break from the beats and booze, and the desert is where you can sweat it out. With a landscape straight out of a sci-fi epic, Joshua Tree National Park *offers the trippiest activities in the valley that don’t require mind-altering substances. It’s dotted with roads that allow easy access to rock formations suitable for scaling or just plain gawking. *Indian Canyons *is a natural wonder: a babbling brook, flowers and grass in the middle of the desert. The coolest you’ll get without jumping into a pool is 8,500 feet above the valley floor, on the *Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, one of the longest tramways in the U.S.

Photographs Courtesy of: Nicky Rhodes/NickyDigital.com, Alcazar Palm Springs Hotel Compound, Ace Hotel Palm Springs & Noah Webb.