California’s ultimate desert playground delivers even in summertime, when the livin’ is easy. Just schedule the swims and yoga in the cool of early morning, Jacuzzi soaks late at night. It’s not a bad accommodation, to commune with friends and loved ones under the stars, ruminating on life and love and the day’s activities while the hot tub eases achy muscles and the moon hovers . . .
Click here to view my Palm Springs slideshow that accompanies both this and
Palm Springs for all seasons: hip, hot, healing and haute, part 2
In fact, for Bay Area residents who dream of hot summer nights — the one thing we lack in our otherwise perfect climate — Palm Springs is a sensualist fantasy. . . a place to dine al fresco in the pretty palm-lined village, shop at cool retro boutiques, mingle at trendy bars, and perhaps even rub elbows with a Hollywood star or two. If not, many are immortalized in Palm Springs’ own Walk of Stars with some 300 stars of celebrities, humanitarians, professional athletes and others who have made their mark.
With its stunning mountain backdrop, lush palm oases, healing waters, mid-century modern architectural gems, world-class art museum, and one of North America’s largest film festivals, Palm Springs is more than just a pretty playground with sunshine and blue skies 350 days a year. Nature, history, art and design play a key role in defining the resort experience of several million visitors each year. With these categories in mind, here are a few of my favorite things:
Indian Canyons — with a Tribal Ranger
While I’ve been visiting these canyons for years, to hike through North America’s largest natural fan palm oasis, my recent experience through the guidance of Tribal Ranger Raven Longbow was transformative. With a compelling mix of wisdom and humor, he mesmerized our group with stories about the Agua Caliente band of Cahuilla Indians who first settled the area. He showed us native stream-side houses made of willow frames with palm fronds, and encouraged us to feel the smooth indentations in the Indian Grinding Mortar sites, where each inch of depth represents 100 years of grinding. At the same time, he counsels the thousands of students who visit each year not to worry about learning the name of each plant, but to be open to finding secrets between the leaves.
“Get your blessings or your burdens and put them in the stream, to percolate into Mother Earth. This is how you can find yourself and know your place. . . for these canyons are a cathedral that people return to each year.”
“Men come to recalibrate, women come to rejuvenate and kids come to run.”
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
The San Jacinto Mountains, rising to almost 11,000 feet, provide not just a dramatic visual backdrop that turns from golden to rose purple with the changing afternoon light, but a place to ascend the heights for cooler air and stunning views. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway utilizes the world’s largest rotating tramcars on an eye-catching 10-minute 2.5 mile journey up the sheer cliffs of Chino Canyon. With a temperature differential from the valley floor to the top of the tram of about 30 degrees, the trip offers a break from summer heat or a chance to snowshoe or cross-country ski in winter. 54 miles of hiking trails within a 14,000-acre pristine wilderness is a haven for camping, hiking and guided nature walks. A Ride ‘n’Dine pass, available after 4pm, includes dining at the heights in Pines Café.
Next up: Palm Springs for all seasons: hip, hot, healing and haute, Part 2
For travel info: www.visitpalmsprings.com
Palm Springs Visitors Center:
2901 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs