It’s only about 100 miles east of Los Angeles, but it might as well be a world away. With its dry climate and hot mineral springs, the destination has been drawing visitors to the desert oasis for more than a century. In fact, when celebrities regularly began visiting in the 1920s to take a break from the showbiz scene, it became known as “Hollywood’s Playground.”
It was the healthy springs, not swaying palm trees, that inspired early Spanish explorers to call it the Los Palma de la Mano de Dios – the palm of God’s hand. In 1858 what is now the Palm Springs was a stagecoach stop, by the turn of the century it featured a health spa run by the Native American Agua Caliente Tribe, and in 1909 the Coffman’s Desert Inn opened its doors to the famous and the fabulous. Palm Springs Weekend put it on the map with its technicolor era swank as the resort destination of 1963.
While any resort town like this has lots of hotels and resorts – Palm Springs has over 180 – where else can you rent homes built by the likes of Frank Sinatra, Merv Griffin and Dinah Shore? A rainbow of retailers, art and antique dealers, consignment shops, and fashion boutiques glitter throughout the Uptown Design District. For those looking for designer wear and high-end galleries, the El Paseo Shopping District in Palm Desert is the place to go. To fully appreciate Palm Springs, check out architecture tours of this mid-century holdover is a must, as well as a trip to the Palm Springs Art Museum and Design Center. Or, consider Modernism Week, which takes place every February and has a preview weekend in October.
The entire Los Palma de la Mano de Dios can be seen from the famous rotating aerial tramways that take you 2 ½ miles up and over the Chino Valley and to Mt. San Jacinto State Park. At the Mountain Station, while you look out over the Coachella Valley, eat at Peak’s Restaurant, where the food is locally sourced. Greater Palm Springs is a natural choice for balancing and active lifestyle restorative options like natural hot springs spas and hiking through stunning terrain. There’s something for everyone, from hikers and bicyclists to art-and-architecture enthusiasts. Whether it’s an adrenaline-fueled lap around the racetrack at the BMW Performance Center West, conquering the San Andreas Fault by jeep, playing a round of foot golf, or attending the Coachella and Stagecoach festivals, the choices are as endless as the blue skies.
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