Spring-Fed Perfection: An Escape to the Desert Cities
Ever since agua caliente burbled up through a crack in the earth deep in Coachella Valley, wildlife has been attracted to the area, and we humans keep discovering new elements to keep us flocking back for more. These days, all sorts of life can be found there: the easy life, the nightlife, the quiet life, even la vida loca. Life is a little different in the desert, and that’s exactly what makes it worth the trip.
The Saguaro Hotel
A Journey Of Transformation
La Quinta Club & Resort
For as far away as you’ll feel when you get there, the drive seems to take no time at all. Wind farms and stark desert landscapes quickly yield to the welcoming symmetry of a palm-lined boulevard guiding you to your destination. The place you’ve reached is quite literally an oasis.
Once you’ve arrived, the desert cities bend to your requirements, offering a panoply of options to keep you stimulated—or in deep relaxation—for as long as you care to stay.
– City of Palm Springs Community & Economic Development Department
WEstin Mission Hills
Where you lay your head at night will help define the experience you have in the Coachella Valley. And you can find whatever you want: from lavish resorts surrounded by rolling green golf courses to meditative retreats to vintage midcentury gems polished afresh by artistic hands. New choices seem to appear monthly.
For boutique luxury, try the much-in-demand Desert Riviera, the Viceroy, or the aptly named Hotel California—all drawing return guests to distinctively personal and attentive experiences. Or pull together a dozen friends and reserve the newly reinvented Amado Hotel all for yourselves. The Amado comprises just five suites arrayed around a rhombus-shaped pool and appointed in a serenely modern style.
Coming for the golf paradise or with the kids in tow? Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa puts the fairway right outside your sliding glass door, plus three swimming pools (two of them adults-only) and a robust activity calendar that will keep younger family members entertained while you seek the spa.
A mellow vibe pervades La Quinta Club & Resort, even when it’s booked to capacity. You’ll roll out of your Spanish-style casita and take a dip in the semiprivate pool. After that, take in a round of golf or maybe attend a clinic with a renowned tennis pro.
Wherever you stay in the desert cities, you’re likely to find yourself spending very little time in your room. There’s just too much to do.
Party Pools of Palm Springs
Most of us come to one of the driest places on Earth with the intention of getting right into the water, and you’ll find plenty of options beyond your own resort’s pool, especially if you’re looking for a party.
The legendary Ace Hotel, for example, offers day passes to its pool, hangout areas, and gym. You’ll find fire pits, poolside massage, and DJs spinning every weekend.
A party atmosphere also prevails at the new Hacienda Cantina & Beach Club. A swanky private cabana—appointed with a personal fridge, safe, and TV—can be reserved for a mere $100 food-and-beverage minimum. From there, you can glide effortlessly from the pool into the enormous restaurant, which features intriguing Day of the Dead murals, two bars, and fresh contemporary Mexican cuisine.
Footsteps In The Sand
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
The desert beckons. Grab a hat, pack some water, and take a stroll into a surprisingly diverse array of natural beauty.
Indian Canyons rewards visitors with striking desert landscapes, a large fan palm oasis, and a chance to see indigenous fauna, such as bighorn sheep. Keep your eye out for mortars worn into the bedrock by the Cahuilla over the course of their 3,000-year history here.
To escape the heat, hop the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway and be spirited more than 8,000 vertiginous feet up the cliff walls of Chino Canyon to San Jacinto Park. The ride itself is a transporting experience, as the floor of your tramcar slowly rotates to ensure prime views for all aboard.
– Palm Springs Visitors Bureau
Once you arrive at the cool upper reaches of Mount San Jacinto State Park, you’ll find a lush pine forest perfect for exploring and picnicking. It’s typically 30 degrees cooler here than in Palm Springs, making this trip as refreshing as a dip in a chill-pool.
Another way to take in the majesty of the desert while beating the heat is to join a night hike, led by experienced guides, which is perfect for stargazing in the cool of the evening. Though it’s technically the same night sky we have in San Diego, you haven’t really seen the stars until you’ve seen them from the deep desert.
The mixology revolution has reached Palm Springs, and it’s expressing itself in a bevy of fresh spots to get your beverage on.
The name doesn’t quite say it all. Easily spotted on North Palm Canyon Drive by its striking mural, Bar has artistic sensibilities that don’t stop at the door. This is the kind of place where Kanye West has been known to stop by to spin a set under an alias, while out back on the patio a young crowd plays bocce.
A new face aspiring to old-school sophistication, Hester achieves a speakeasy vibe with elaborate chandeliers, plush seating that encourages cozy conversation, vintage tunes, and a bartender with chops.
The name means “scoundrel” in Italian, and you might feel like one as you kick back beside the firepit and order a Beetlejuice, Heated Snake, or Hello Nancy. Birba is a great choice for al fresco dining, locally sourced salads, and flavorful pizzas.
If you ever visited the original Don the Beachcomber restaurant in Palm Springs, you might recognize the lone bamboo-style beam that survived that eatery’s demise and now holds up the ceiling at Bootlegger Tiki, a charming three-booth boîte serving exotic, clever cocktails.
Out and About
For a break from 21st-century leisure and decadence, join the Palm Springs Modern Tour and discover how the likes of Frank Sinatra, Elvis, and Howard Hughes enjoyed their time in Palm Springs’ earlier heyday. You’ll see extraordinary homes designed by architects like Richard Neutra, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Donald Wexler.
Perched on 200 acres in Rancho Mirage sits Sunnylands, known as the Camp David of the West, where dignitaries and world leaders convene for discussion and reflection in a tranquil environment. You can convene there, too, and tour the historic house, designed by architect A. Quincy Jones, or simply stroll the peaceful gardens.
Bringing it all together is the Palm Springs Architecture & Design Center. First opened in November 2014, this 13,000-square-foot facility houses exhibitions by contemporary artists and architects who have influenced, and been influenced by, the unique aesthetics of the desert.
If you’re already on the hunt to plan your return trip during the winter or summer months, you’ll want to mark your calendar for these Palm Springs big-screen attractions.
January 1–11, 2016
It just so happens that the area is host to one of the most respected film festivals in the country, the Palm Springs International Film Festival, which kickstarts the festival year each January.
June 16–22, 2015
Upcoming this June, the fest’s little sister, the Palm Springs International ShortFest, unspools a carefully curated selection of short films from around the world. The ShortFest in particular is a rare opportunity to see films that will never appear in your neighborhood multiplex.