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Poolside in Palm Springs

At 2 p.m. on a winter weekend, it's the hottest place to be in California.

The pool scene of Palm Springs comes alive with hip Los Angeles exports attempting to regain their summer bronze amongst the shade of swaying palms and the background of the San Jaciento Mountains. Starlet-wannabes strut their stuff in Marc Jacobs bikinis as board-shorts-wearing guys watch on with margaritas in hand.

Halfway between a 30-something frat scene and truly jetset destination, Palm Springs is awakening with a fresh new level of luxury including designer hotels and be-seen restaurants.

Get Outdoors

With the exception of a round of tennis or morning of golf, the city is best enjoyed at a choosy pool equipped with a full bar and loungers topped with eye candy.

Architecture enthusiasts should tour the local neighborhoods near Palm Canyon Drive, dotted with preserved residential wonders from architects Neutra, Shindler and Lautner. Try to avoid spending too much time on the main thoroughfares, which are infested with terrible strip-mall architecture and sprawling chain resorts.

Those looking for something a bit more strenuous should hit the nearby Tahquitz "Indian" Canyons (500 W. Mesquite Drive, Palm Springs), a real-life desert oasis with flowing streams and spectacular desert topography.

Jonathan Adler vs. Kelly Wearstler

There are only two hotels we can truly recommend. In one corner we have The Parker Palm Springs (Merv Griffin's former Givenchy Resort) redesigned by pottery doyen Jonathan Adler. The property promises glitz and glamour, and even delivered a short-lived reality show about the staff's efforts to please picky guests.

Parker Palm Springs

If you can afford an upgraded room, hit the Parker's sprawling villas, which contain well-quaffed terraces and living room swings that were even good enough for Brangelina.

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