Palm Springs Escape
text Ed Salvato
This lush oasis with a bone-dry desert climate 100 miles east of Los Angeles has drawn wellness visitors since the late 1880s. Its star-studded reputation began in the ‘20s with the arrival of Hollywood’s silent picture titans followed by silver screen idols from the ‘30s and beyond who firmly established Palm Springs as a must-go for in-the-know
Joan Crawford, Clark Gable and Marilyn Monroe, all stayed in the casitas at what is now known as the Avalon in Palm Springs.
travelers. Like any celebrity-driven destination, Palm Springs’ appeal has waxed and waned, but it’s on a sustained upswing and despite — and partially because of — the pandemic, it’s hot again.
The desert getaway has long been popular with movie, media and de- sign executives, including LA-based gay men and lesbians who’ve purchased and meticulously restored gorgeous Mid-Century Modern second homes and established a vibrant gay culture permeating the city. The latest influx skews younger and even more diverse with tech and other workers who have fled overpriced, cramped urban studios to work remotely in socially distanced nirvana. On top of that social media influencers posting shots of stunning outdoor natural beauty and increasingly celebrated culinary and cocktail culture have lured even younger visitors.
Start your exploration downtown at the famous 1963 Visitor Center, (visitpalmsprings.com) a gloriously restored architectural masterpiece whose soaring roof marked Albert Frey’s Tramway gas station. Snap your selfies, and pick up some traveler information. You’ll also find a spanking new development in the heart of downtown anchored by the fabulous Kimpton Rowan Hotel, (rowanpalmsprings.com) with an open-air cocktail bar and pool boasting panoramic views of the
The San Jacinto mountains act as a dramatic backdrop for Palm Springs’ treasure trove of mid-century architecture.
mountains: It’s simply breathtaking at sunset. In winter months when day-time temps hover in the 70s, stroll around open-air artwork, galleries and shops. In the evening, grab a sweater and hit one of the many lively outdoor bars and restaurants. Two of our faves are family-owned and operated Las Casuelas Original (lascasuelasoriginal.com) for authentic Mexican and colorful retro- ‘60s LuLu California Bistro (lulupalmsprings.com) with classic American fare.
For natural social distancing, enjoy the area’s abundant world-class outdoor activities. How about renting a bike or an e-bike? Both are very popular and safe, and the city is mostly flat. Next up, the Palm Springs Tramway, (pstramway.com) which ascends two and a half miles into the San Jacinto Mountains and offers spectacular views for the entire journey.
A mere half hour out of town you’ll find one of our nation’s most treasured natural resources, Joshua Tree National Park, (nps.gov/jotr) where the Mojave and Colorado deserts meet in an almost other- worldly display of flora sculpted by searing heat, intense winds and the occasional torrential downpour.
If you have the budget, book a private tour with Red Jeep, (red- jeep.com) whose tour teaches about the plants, animals, geology of the desert and more. Make sure your tour ends at night and you’ll be floored by the carpet of shiny diamonds glittering in the inky sky above. Whether you’re seeking wellness, celebrity sightings, gorgeous outdoor social distancing or any combination, Palm Springs serves it up, just a non-stop flight away.