Once a winter playground for wealthy retirees and Hollywood celebrities, like Frank Sinatra and the Gabor sisters, Palm Springs is now more hipster headquarters than senior center. It’s become the coolest hot spot in the Sonoran Desert.
Just outside of central Palm Springs is the shopper’s haven of El Paseo. This street tends to remind people of Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills with its many upscale shops that blend the flavors and ambiance of the past with the present. The Palm Springs dining spots of yesteryear — including Las Casuelas, Elmer’s for German pancakes, Melvyn’s for retro food that really is retro like Steak Diane, wilted spinach salad, and cherries jubilee — still thrive alongside their cooler new siblings, like Workshop Kitchen + Bar for dinner, and for a cheesy retro experience, King’s Highway for breakfast in a former Denny’s located in the Ace Hotel.
Take the 10-minute trip on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, the world’s largest rotating tramcar, for the two-and-one-half mile long ride along the cliffs of Chino Canyon to Mt. San Jacinto State Park. You’ll be at 8,516 feet elevation when you arrive at Mountain Station where you’ll find over 50 miles of hiking trails, two restaurants, observation decks, and a natural history museum.
The springs are in nearby Desert Hot Springs. I’ve stayed at Two Bunch Palms, which reputedly originated as Al Capone’s “Fortress West.” For its warm spring-fed mineral pools and extraordinary spa treatments, the unpretentious resort attracts well-known people who don’t want attention and, like all the guests, can lunch in their bathrobes straight from the spa. Try the Desert Abhyanga followed by a Scalp Oil Massage to experience total bliss.