Sinatra Style Weekend Guide to Palm Springs
Updated: Mar 10, 2020
Frank Sinatra has been a part of my life since the day I was born! His music has surrounded me through every stage of my life thanks to my “superfan” father. I was even fortunate enough to see Frank Sinatra perform live in concert when I was a kid (yes, I’m old). As an adult, I became a huge fan in my own right, and I am always intrigued by his life and his talent. So, it doesn’t seem odd to me at all to plan a weekend trip around Frank Sinatra! Palm Springs has plenty of things to do, plenty of places to eat, and plenty of sights to see. However, this guide is all about enjoying Palm Springs through the eyes of my favorite singer – Mr. Frank Sinatra.
Leaving from Los Angeles! (There is an airport for those who prefer to fly in from other locations.)
The Friday night drive from LA to Palm Springs is no joke! Leave work early, hop in the car, and drive to Palm Springs. More specifically, drive to Rancho Mirage, which is where I would recommend staying. Again, there are so many hotels in this area, but I would recommend one of the following:
The Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage: This is what I would call a proper resort! This place is magical. It’s a key part of this trip because it is aptly located on Frank Sinatra Drive. This place has everything you can want in a hotel: rooms with amazing patios and balconies, two gorgeous pools, breathtaking views, and great service. This property also has a spa and a lot of activities that I typically wouldn’t do because they involve interacting with others, but at a place like this even I think it sounds fun – I mean – how great does stargazing sound?? It can be a little pricey, but part of the Marriott family if you have those Bonvoy points.
Hilton Garden Inn – Rancho Mirage: Ok, so if the Ritz-Carlton is not available or not in the budget, you can stay at the Hilton Garden Inn. It’s in the same area, has a nice pool, and all the typical Hilton Garden Inn amenities that you can enjoy.
Check into your hotel, get settled into the room, and then head out to dinner! For dinner on Friday, you should go to Lord Fletcher’s, which is right down the road from either hotel. Lord Fletcher’s is like a British pub (only with no British beer) decorated with an array of pub-like décor and a menu of pub favorites. I found this place during some deep Frank Sinatra research and this was a favorite restaurant of his later in life. It is located very near to his second home in Palm Springs and they have a photo near his favorite table. It’s been said his favorite dish was the Short Ribs. I must say the Short Ribs are delightful, but I also quite enjoy the Pot Roast. The entrées include the Soup or House Salad – and I loved the salad. It will be your first table-side restaurant experience of the weekend as they toss the salad tableside for you. You are not going to find the best wine list here, but there will be serviceable wine that will make for a lovely evening. One thing to note about Lord Fletcher’s is that it is not a late-night spot. They take their last reservations at 8 p.m. and if you are there past 9 p.m. you may be alone. But it will be a quick Uber or cab ride back to your hotel where you can sit on your patio while sipping an after-dinner drink. Or while chugging champagne – whatever works for you!
Wake up and get ready at a leisurely pace – maybe even go outside for a bit and sit by the pool. You can grab breakfast if that’s your thing, as well. Around lunch time, hop in your car and head to another stop on the Frank Sinatra tour: the Twin Palms Estate. This house is located at 1148 East Alejo Road and is now available to rent for events and overnight stays. If you did not recently win the lottery, however, a nice drive-by viewing will do the trick. The house was built by E. Stewart Williams in 1947 for Frank Sinatra. Frank lived here from 1948-57 (naturally, this house was the backdrop to the “Ava years” of his life). Make sure to drive by and take a few pictures – and check out the “Twin Palms” that give this house its name.
Then it’s time for lunch at Sherman’s Deli! They have two locations and I recommend going to the one on E. Tahquitz Canyon Way for this trip. This is a traditional New York-style Jewish deli with all of the favorites and has been around since 1963. The Knish is delicious, and their Corned Beef & Pastrami is perfection! Just make sure you come hungry because the portions are insane!
After lunch, it’s time to pay your respects to Mr. Sinatra at Desert Memorial Park Cemetery. It’s a very low-key spot for the “Chairman of the Board”, but it makes for a very serene place to visit with him. Also, he is buried near his family – including his parents and fourth wife, Barbara. Frank’s stone has faded over time, but you can still see the amazing quote on it: “The Best Is Yet To Come”. You can leave a few ‘pennies from heaven’ on his grave, as well, before you leave.
The next stop will take you back to Rancho Mirage to see Frank’s home in his later years. Known as “The Compound”, this house is located at 70588 Frank Sinatra Drive. Frank lived here from 1957-95. While high walls will block most of your view of the property, you can snap a few photos in front of the plaque out front and pretend you are going to visit your old pal, Frank.
You can then head back to your hotel for some cocktails by the pool, or perhaps you want to grab a date shake somewhere in Palm Springs, or perhaps hit up one of the area casinos, or just take a nap. Do whatever you like best before it’s time to get ready for dinner.
For dinner, you need to go to Melvyn’s. Melvyn’s is fantastic! It is located inside the Ingleside Inn in Palm Springs and was a favorite of – you guessed it – Frank Sinatra! You will definitely feel like a member of the Rat Pack as soon as you walk in! The hospitable maître d' will show you to your seat and then you are in for an enjoyable dining experience. Look, I’m not going to tell you what to drink, but I feel strongly about you ordering a martini to start out your Melvyn’s experience – or of course Frank’s favorite – Jack Daniels. The food is terrific, but I am a sucker for tableside preparation, so I always order the Steak Diane – delicious with the added bonus of tableside entertainment! Then you will have to decide between all of the desserts that are also prepared tableside with various forms of fire! While the Bananas Foster is divine, there are not many places you can order a Baked Alaska or Cherries Jubilee - so take advantage of the opportunity while you can.
After your meal, you should gravitate towards the bar and lounge where they have live music nightly. They even have a small dance floor where you can dance off all of the desserts you enjoyed. Then you can head back to your hotel for sweet Sinatra dreams.
Wake up! Have breakfast, go to the pool, hit the gym, drink champagne – do whatever you would like until it’s time to check out of your hotel. Then hop in your car and head back home – listening to Frank Sinatra songs the whole time. Perhaps stopping at a casino along the way….Frank would have liked it that way.