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What to do in Palm Springs: Activities, grub & more

Apr 09, 2024

Contributed blog by Silvia Ferrer, GSMCON Local Host Committee & Riverside County Dept. of Waste Resources

The 2024 Government Social Media Conference – the premier event for government professionals – is happening April 16-18, 2024. Virtual tickets are available for a limited time! All attendees can expect 2.5 days filled with actionable sessions, genuine networking opportunities and much more. Get your virtual ticket today before registration closes after April 11, 2024.

When I saw that 2024’s GSMCON was to be hosted in Palm Springs, I jumped at the chance to attend, and not just because (avid romance reader here) it’s the setting of Emily Henry’s bestselling novel “People We Meet on Vacation.” There’s a reason the sunny location is the focus of movies and books: the lively desert town has almost too many unique food and entertainment options. Below is a list of must-hit spots you can visit with your new conference buddies when you’re not attending the engaging workshops and fun networking sessions Team GSM has planned.

Before the conference

If you’re driving into Palm Springs like I am, you’d be remiss if you didn’t stop by the Cabazon Dinosaurs. Depending on where you’re coming from, the Cabazon Dinosaurs are on the way to the Westin Rancho Mirage Golf Resort & Spa, GSMCON’s host venue – only a 25-minute drive from the venue. The “World’s Biggest Dinosaurs” are considered one of the most iconic roadside attractions and have been since their establishment in the mid-1960s. No need to pay if you just want to visit the main attractions, Dinny and Mr. Rex, but entrance to the rest of the park comes in at $15.

Activities

Once you’re settled into your hotel room and have spent some time getting to know other conference attendees, grab a few new friends and visit the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway! While it’s the most expensive ticket on this list (at $30 per adult plus parking), the tramway takes you up into the San Jacinto Mountains, where restaurants, a cocktail lounge, and hiking trails await you after you view the magnificent scenery. Dress warm though – due to the elevation, it can be up to 20-40 degrees cooler at the top.

If your idea of unwinding is retail therapy, Palm Springs is a mecca for shopaholics. There are a ton of local thrift stores, vintage or consignment shops, and curated boutiques exclusive to Palm Springs. If you’re looking for more luxury, Palm Springs has their own version of Rodeo Drive: the El Paseo Shopping District. You have your pick of high-end stores and restaurants about a half an hour from the Westin. Closer yet is downtown Palm Springs, where there are one-of-a-kind stores where you can pick up mementos to remind you of the amazing time you had at GSMCON for years to come. If you stick around until Thursday evening, the Village Fest is Palm Springs’ weekly street fair and offers food vendors, live entertainment, handmade crafts, and more.

Nature lovers or those who are looking for a brief reprieve from socializing have several options for resetting, including Sunnylands and Andreas Canyon. Sunnylands has been a meeting place for world leaders for more than 40 years, and since 2012, their tranquil gardens and multi-media art exhibition is open – for free! – to the public. Andreas Canyon is a beginner-friendly hike for those looking for the ultimate desert views. You’ll see California fan palms, rock formations, and the Andreas Creek as you traverse this 1.2-mile loop.

 

Drinks & grub

I can’t live without a daily little treat, and Palm Springs has several coffee shops that supersede my expectations: Frisky Business Cat Café is a designated cat sanctuary that lets you stop in for a cup of joe and a quick pet; Gré Records and Coffee is part coffeehouse, part record store, part art gallery; Café la Jefa is one of the newest and most Instagrammable spots to the Palm Springs coffee scene and serves drinks and pastries with a Mexican twist. Best part? They are all a 15-minute (or less!) drive away from the Westin. 

If you’re looking to unwind with a drink that has more of a kick to it, Purple Room Supper Club and Bar Cecil offer sophisticated atmospheres. Purple Room’s intimate setting has live jazz singers on weeknights and specialty cocktails. Bar Cecil has a curated menu and charm that pay homage to Cecil Beaton, a renaissance-era aristocrat. Like its namesake, the bar is colorful, spirited, and an all-around good time. 

King’s Highway inside the Ace Hotel is quintessential Palm Springs, with its mid century modern décor and warm lighting. While you might dine here for the ambiance and social media-worthy potential, the food may keep you coming back. The bites are classic California and get rave reviews online. If tacos and tangy margaritas are more your speed, the culinary wizards at El Mirasol Cocina Mexicana got you covered. Both the North and South El Mirasol locations are just 20 minutes away from the Westin.

Like many attendees, I’ll be going to the conference solo and I’m excited to meet new GSMCON friends to hit the town with. While you should keep in mind that there may be some residual traffic from folks still in town for Coachella, Team GSM really picked the perfect time to sightsee: attendees will miss the sweltering three-digit heat Palm Springs is used to and enjoy perfect weather among the palm trees. Can’t wait to see you there!  

Note: For our GSMCON friends at the Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa, travel times for recommendations will vary, but all suggestions that include travel time remain within a 30 minute drive. 


Silvia Ferrer (she/her/ella) is a University of California, Riverside alumni and Recycling Specialist for the Riverside County Department of Waste Resources. Her main responsibilities includes managing the department’s official online platforms and creating social media content to provide education and resources on sustainability and waste reduction.

Previously, she worked as a Public Service Fellow for the City of Temecula, where she assisted in planning a regional economic development event and crafted outreach and media materials for the Office of the City Manager. While at UCR, Silvia was the Managing Editor for The Highlander newspaper, where she covered university news, oversaw the entire production of The Highlander through composition to publication, and designed and published social media content. When she’s not watching TikToks, Silvia can be found in a spin class or listening to Taylor Swift.


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Best communicate with the public you serve and get connected with fellow socialgovs by registering for the 2024 Government Social Media Conference happening in Palm Springs, California or virtually from wherever you are! Join our free network for bi-weekly Government Social Media Chats or professional association for member-only webinars. Sign up for our newsletter to get the latest updates on training, events and more.

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