Ready for a vacation to Coachella Valley and Palm Springs but worried about going totally vegan? Don’t fret. On a spring road trip in a 2014 Nissan Rogue to Palm Springs we did our research to create the perfect active vegan getaway. Plus, don’t miss our #BestofVeganPalmSprings guide for a complete list of pro-plant hotels, restaurants, smoothie bars and farmer’s markets.
Smack in the heart of downtown Palm Springs is the Hyatt Palm Springs. “The Hyatt downtown” as locals call it has recently been re-envisioned as the more modern and swanky Hyatt Palm Springs. Look past the orange-and-chocolate brown mid-century modern décor and discover a little slice of vegan paradise in downtown.
Why this Hyatt throwback from the 70s for an all-vegan desert getaway? First off, Hyatt Palm Springs is one of the few hotels in Palm Springs with a farm-fresh menu. When onsite, the chef can cook customize vegan meals, but we sat down at the hotel’s Share Bistro for a slightly-off-the-menu vegan feast. First up was a meze plate filled with fresh dolma, creamy hummus, marinated olives and pita bread (although we ordered crudités on the side). The next course was titled “sensi vegan style” salad and featured a mélange of baby greens, lychée nuts, dried papaya, pequin sweet peppers and roasted pine nuts and freshly-made aioli. An über fresh gluten-free pasta steamed hot and satisfying with a toss of yummy squash slices, spinach and plump cherry tomatoes.
Plus, Hyatt Palm Springs has an upbeat and tidy fitness center with stunning Santa Rosa Mountain views while working out. The hotel literally sits at the base of the mountain, so hiking in the desert is just a five-minute walk away. The Hyatt Palm Springs also has a shiny new fleet of Townie bikes for rent ($20 a day) for adults and children (helmets and locks included).
The next morning, we were back in Shades Bistro sipping chai tea and powering up with steel cut oats, bananas, berries and soy milk. Riding in our Nissan Rogue crossover along scenic Highway 111, we spied a weekly certified farmer’s market in Palm Desert. This may be the most gorgeous farmer’s market in Southern California as it sits in the breathtakingly beautiful parking lot (with adjacent sculpture garden) of the Palm Springs Art Museum. We marveled at all the green Paulo Verde trees bursting with yellow buds as we shopped for organic produce and drank vegan date shakes and green smoothies while listening to soothing live guitar.
Then, the family spent the afternoon hiking around The Living Desert, which is a huge botanical garden, zoo and hiking trails. Other way-out-in-nature hiking adventures can be found at Big Morongo Canyon Preserve Walkabout and Lost Palms Oasis Trail at Cottonwood Spring. Want to hike up a mountain? Take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to the top and then follow the many trails for lots of trails and breathtaking mountain views.
Back at the hotel in the heat of the afternoon, we had some meditation, yoga and chill time. Then, we headed to the Hyatt’s warm salt pool for some water therapy. At dinner, we ate finds from our farmer’s market visit: organic apples, dates and salad greens tossed with a bit of Malibu Olive Co. oil and some kosher salt all washed down with green tea.
For more hotel, restaurant, juice spots smoothie shops and farmer’s market finds in Coachella valley, see our Best of Vegan Palm Springs list:
Besides vegan-friendly Hyatt Palm Springs, Ace Hotel comes up with “creative alternatives” for vegans including a chiliquilies dish made with “soyrizo” (grated tofu and adobo sauce) tossed with tortilla chips and ranchero sauce. The tofu scramble opts out of eggs and substitutes sautéed seasonal veggies. Funky 50s retro boutique hotel Palm Springs Rendezvous cooks up three-course breakfasts for guests each morning (for example veggie hash, a smoothie and a fresh fruit plate). The Viceroy Palm Springs has a super fresh Mediterranean-style meze plate on its Citron and poolside menus.
On a vegan Palm Springs trip, don’t miss a visit to Native Foods Café, which is marketed as “the valley’s premiere vegan restaurant.” Located close to downtown, Native Foods is a vegan wonderland for homemade tempeh-and seitan-based dishes such as an Italian meatball sub, Greek gyro bowl and nuevo nachos. Especially when visiting the desert, don’t miss Native’s free drink refills of the made-from-scratch lavender lemonade or watermelon fresca. Native Foods is opening a dozen new restaurants around the country in 2014 and just celebrated its 20th anniversary with publishing a new cookbook, Native Foods Celebration Cookbook.
Located inside Harvest Health Foods store, Luscious Lorraine’s serves up a vegetarian and vegan menu for breakfasts, lunches and late afternoons. Try the soup du jour, tempeh sandwich or an Asian-style wrap or salad with a creamy tahini dressing. Most of the vegetables are harvested straight from owner and chef Lorraine Ornelas’ restaurant garden.
Palm Greens Café invites dogs onto its casual patio for organic breakfasts, lunches and dinners. Most plant-based palates are satiated by this eatery’s vegan dishes as well as fresh juices and smoothies.
Talking to locals, we asked about Nature’s Health Food & Café. We heard some not-so-good news about the “slow service.” Still, the market is a good place to stock up on green and healthy staples, plus there’s a long list of vegan entrées as well as juices and smoothies.
Or, try these ethnic restaurants with some spicy vegan dishes: Monsoon Indian Cuisine, Thai Smile, El Salvador Café, and Delhi Palace Cuisine of India.
Some farm-to-table restaurants that can easily convert to vegan are Catalan, The Riviera’s Circa 59, Miramonte Resort’s Grove Artisan Kitchen, La Quinta Resort’s Morgan’s in the Desert and Wally’s Desert Turtle. Also check out the “farmer’s market brunch” on Sundays at Solano’s Bistro.
Juiceries & Smoothie Bars
Palm Greens Café, Native Foods, Nature’s Health Food & Café and Luscious Lorraine’s feature fresh juices and smoothies too. Luscious Lorraine’s even crafts three-day juice and raw food cleanses for the ultimate purifying getaway. Also try Extreme Blends (near the airport) and the newly-opened Fresh Juice Bar with two locations (Palm Springs and Palm Desert).
All three certified farmer’s markets in Coachella valley run from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. On Saturday hit the Palm Springs Market, which is held in the Camelot Theatres parking lot. The La Quinta Market take splace on Sundays in Old Town along Main Street. The Palm Desert Market sets up shop on Wednesdays in the distinctively artistic parking lot of the Palm Springs Art Museum. These are some of the best farmer’s markets in Southern California and include loads of organic fruit and vegetables as well as juices, smoothies, dates, honey, flowers, olive oil and natural beauty products.
Caution: There’s no Whole Foods Market in the Coachella Valley (although one is under development). Plan accordingly vegans!
Can’t go vegan in the California desert? Don’t believe it. Palm Springs has plenty of #EatClean and #DrinkClean fun in the Coachella valley.