Destination Scouting: Palm Springs

the o'donnel house  palm springs wedding venue
The exterior of the O’Donnell House – Photo Courtesy of The Willows

The perfect wedding venue: The O’Donnell House
The owners of The Willows bought and restored this 1920s home as well, and now use it for events (read: Weddings!). I was able to take a tour of the home, which is full of ’20s-era furniture and has a Gatsby-visits-California vibe. The beautiful home combined with the stunning view of Palm Springs and the desert would make for a gorgeous wedding venue. Plus it’s a quick climb or golf cart ride up from the Willows so you and your guests could rent out the whole place if you wanted and have a truly private event.

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View from the O’Donnell House during the day – Photo by Sarah Carrillo Riswick
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View from the O’Donnell House at night – Photo Courtesy of The Willows

Where your rehearsal dinner could be: Workshop Kitchen
Striking seems like the best word to describe this restaurant, with its tall ceilings and stark, industrial furnishings. The building has been many things over the years, including a movie theater, but I get a feeling this place will stick around for a while. The focus is on locally-grown, in-season ingredients, so the menu changes often. I enjoyed octopus carpaccio, scallops, steak, and vegetarian enchiladas. But my favorite thing? The custom cocktail with rum and agave cordial (yeah, I’m not exactly sure what that is either, but I can tell you it’s delicious).

And while this place might not seem like an obvious spot for a wedding, but chef Michael Beckman said they had recently hosted a wedding that took over the whole restaurant and outdoor patio area – and even included an appearance by Cher, who stopped by to sing a few songs. You know, we’re often asked, “Should I get a DJ or a wedding band?” We’ve never thought to answer, “How about Cher?”

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View from the private dining room – Photo courtesy of Workshop Kitchen + Bar

Who should cater your reception: LeVallauris Restaurant
If you’re into the Rat Pack or any other 1960-ish Hollywood stars, this place is a must-visit. For years it was one of the only fine-dining restaurants in Palm Springs, which means everyone ate here. Manager Tony Bruggemans can tell you where Frank Sinatra’s usual table was and who in Tinseltown was a stingy tipper (Bob Hope, who knew?). And while the restaurant has seemingly been around forever, the menu still feels fresh and the quality is definitely there. Add in the twinkle lights and trees on the back patio and it’s perfect for a romantic evening. They do also rent out the patio (for a hefty fee) for events – or for a less pricey option they have a gazebo just across the parking lot from the restaurant that’s also lovely. They also cater events all over the city.

Bonus: LeVallauris is (literally) right across the street from The Willows and actually provides the hotel’s room service, so it’s easy to enjoy the food at the restaurant, by the pool or on your private patio in your room.

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Back patio at Le Vallauris Restaurant – Photo courtesy of Le Vallauris

For lunch the day after: Michael’s Pizzeria
Despite the outrage of New Yorkers, Zagat has named this place one of the best pizzerias in the country, and the best in Los Angeles. And after sampling a slice (OK, six) from the Rancho Mirage outpost just outside Palm Springs, I can see why it’s tops. This pizza rivals the best pies I had during my three months in Italy. Almost everything is made in-house, including the mozzarella, and there are inventive options like Pizza Carbonara, with provolone, mozzarella, pancetta, asparagus, and two eggs. The restaurant itself has bright orange décor, and while I wouldn’t consider it an ideal wedding venue, it would make a great casual but delicious rehearsal dinner or lunch spot.

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MIchael’s Pizzeria in Rancho Mirage – Photo courtesy of Michael’s Pizzeria
palm springs restaurant best pizza
Pizza – Photo courtesy of Michael’s Pizzeria


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