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A Weekender in Palm Springs is what I needed to relax, recharge, and reconnect. On a whim, my weekend away in the desert was the perfect escape.
As America slowly begins to open up, this Palm Springs weekender was my first travels away from home during the Covid-19 crisis. The last time I traveled was back in March 2020, in an adventurous race to get back from Sicily. Undoubtedly the worst trip ever where I spent eight days trying to get back home.
While many were quick judge, many understood that, for the most part, we were all under the impression that the pandemic wasn’t as bad as the world made it seem. This is due to the lack of leadership within the US, as we have all witnessed. (PSA: Register to vote and VOTE!! We need real leadership.)
Traveling internationally isn’t something in our foreseeable future, yet traveling within America can be done safely. Before you pass judgment, it’s good to note and understand that everything we do presently is a calculated risk–from going out to eat outdoors to grocery runs or other errands. In my opinion, grocery shopping is probably the riskiest thing we do weekly.
Flight travel might not be an option for me at the moment (8 flights in 8 days in March left me a bit traumatized), opting to road trip in a Tesla was a fun way to get down to Palm Springs from San Francisco. A much-needed getaway, and one that, for a moment, felt like life was back to normal.
The New Normal Palm Springs
This has got to be the most extended time I’ve ever gone without traveling. I’m sharing a new kind of travel guide to Palm Springs and traveling during the pandemic. A lot has changed, and the Coachella Valley might be a bit different these days, but rest assure that traveling safely can be done.
Are you looking for a quick weekender? Palm Springs has plenty of social distanced things to do from a visit to the Desert Gardens, Joshua Tree, to a driving tour of the area’s iconic windmills and the Ruins of Bombay Beach. Plus, not to mention awesome deals on hotels and Airbnb’s to take advantage of.
It should be noted that tourism and health officials are urging people to continue taking precautions throughout the summer. Brandon Brown, a professor at the University of California, Riverside, says residents and visitors should continue to do what they can to lower the risk of spreading the virus. The risk isn’t eliminated, he said, and could be increased if people gather in large crowds.
Where to Stay
Want to avoid hotels? Palm Springs has plenty of Airbnb short-term rentals, and this is home is one of my favorites. The fully renovated 1960s pad staying true to it’s Mid-Century built. This Spin a Sinatra Record an an Iconic Mid-Century Hideaway was the perfect stay. The decor is mid-century modern, yet warm with a wow-factor kitchen. There’s also a pool and hot tub within the community for outdoor fun.
ACE Hotel & Swim Club
For an ultra-hip stay, this boho-chic resort and kid-friendly, in that artsy, “I woke up like this” sort of way. Bring some marshmallows to roast on the outdoor fireplaces, play with your pup in the dog park outback, or take the kids for a short bike ride downtown for some vintage clothes shopping and return to rock your retro finds. 701 E. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, CA; acehotel.com/palmsprings
If you want to lounge without lifting a finger. Get some color at the Saguaro Palm Springs, a prismatic paradise located in the heart of the desert. Once you’ve arrived, make your way to the Saguaro’s sparkling outdoor pool, nestled between palm trees and the Coachella Valley mountains. Sit back, relax, indulge, and imbibe with fresh fruit punches and boozy frozen cocktails. No, this isn’t a mirage. At the Saguaro Palm Springs, it always feels like summer. If you’re a California resident, be sure to show your ID for a sweet discount on your stay or poolside day pass. 1800 E Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92264; thesaguaro.com/palm-springs
If you want to book an unforgettable Palm Springs experience, let us help!
If you’re looking to go out to dinner, many restaurants have reopened for dine-in service with spaced-out tables. Some are continuing to offer to-go or curbside service to pick up food to bring back to your hotel or vacation rental. If you plan to dine out, be sure to make a reservation ahead of time. For a comprehensive list of restaurants and their information, sorted out by valley cities, head to dinegps.com from the Greater Palm Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau. Restaurants with the round blue logo have taken the Safer Together, Greater Together Pledge to abide by COVID-19 protocols.(Wherever you go, remember to generously tip your server, many of whom have continued to work through the pandemic as essential workers and are adapting their work to our new public health and social realities).
If you don’t want to drive to Joshua Tree (it’s an hour’s drive from downtown), you can hike right in the heart of Palm Springs. The Indian Canyon Trails encompasses 60 miles of hiking paths through the mountains that range from easy enough for toddlers to challenging trails for grown-ups. Expect to see spectacular vistas, maybe some big horned sheep and even, if we’ve had some rain, a waterfall.
There is a fee to enter the hiking trails, which you pay for at the ranger station. Visit Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians counters at the Palm Springs Visitor Center located in the old Albert Frey gas station when you first enter the town. You can also arrange your visit to coincide with a ranger-led hike. Don’t forget your water! They won’t let you hike without it.
Joshua Tree National Park
The twisty tree shapes, Cholla cactus forests, and blobby boulders in Joshua Tree make wonderful Dr. Suess-style memories for you. For a quick day trip, stick to the exhibitions along the main roads. Don’t want to hike it alone? Join one of their guided hike tours. There are many entrances into the park, but if you are looking for the most leisurely hike (.25 mile loop), head to the southernmost entry point near Cottonwood Visitor Center. Check the weather, bring hats, sunblock, and more water and food and snacks then you’ll think you’ll need. Check the calendar before you go and catch a “Ranger Chat” for an in-depth expert view of what happens in this national park.
The Ruins of Bombay Beach
The Ruins of Bombay Beach are on the edge of a toxic desert lake, an emerging artist community is slowly changing the perception of a forgotten town. An hour southeast of Palm Springs, California in the hottest and driest part of the Sonoran Desert, where the green highway sign welcoming visitors to Bombay Beach counts its population at 295. But it hasn’t been updated since the 2010 census, and those who congregate here, at the Ski Inn, think the actual number is under 200. But the ruins aren’t confined to the beach. A 30-year exodus from Bombay Beach left scores of discarded homes and trailers long-since abandoned to the elements. They’re peppered throughout the surviving remains of town, windowless husks blanketed in graffiti, surrounded by broken furniture and rubble. Bombay Beach has been in this state for decades, teetering toward ghost town status. Whatever you do during your visit here, DO NOT GO IN THE WATER! All those clueless Instagrammers you see frolicking in the water and swinging on a swing set in the Salton Sea haven’t got a clue of this toxic wasteland.
Leonard Knight’s Salvation Mountain, a devotional work that rises off the ground into bursts of colors, is a visual feast for the eyes in a wide-open space east of the Salton Sea.
Cabazon Dinosaur Museum
This roadside attraction is impossible to miss on your way into Palm Springs, but we recommend reserving this stop when you are on your way out of town and headed back to Los Angeles. Touted as the world’s biggest dinosaur museum, you can check out giant robotic dinosaurs (don’t worry, they’re more kitschy than terrifying) for a fee. Let the little ones climb into the mouth of a colossal model T-Rex, ride the animatronic Brontosaurus, and then searching through the sand at the Dino Dig to win a prize.
You’ve seen that giant windmill farm en route to Palm Springs plenty of times, but how much do you know about the iconic site? Take a self-guided driving tour and learn how windmills work, why there are so many in the desert, and how much electricity they produce. The tour consists of 10 stops, with two additional optional stops off the property.
The Mon Petite Mojave, a 15-acre private property, has launched a Saturday and Sunday evening drive-in concert series featuring violinist Jeremie Levi Samson. But plan ahead: It’s registration-only and capped at 30 vehicles. Drive-in movies have had a resurgence in popularity during the pandemic. The Van Buren Drive-In Theatre, located about midway between Los Angeles and Palm Springs in Riverside, is open nightly.
If you want to book an unforgettable Palm Springs experience, let us help!
I'm an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT-200), offering guidance to high achievers in aligning their lifestyle with well-being through daily wellness and self-care routines, promoting balance and harmony. Join me at Wellness Bum for tips on living well, and consider subscribing to my newsletter or booking a coaching session.