Have you heard? We just released our first travel series, “Go, Be You,” with Alaska Airlines! So we’re spending the next eight weeks highlighting every city we toured across the West Coast. This travel series is about more than the destination itself; we’re taking a look at why certain cities have the power to unlock the best versions of ourselves. As you get to planning your next trip, we hope you enjoy the suggestions that follow.
And don’t miss the Palm Springs episode at the end of this post!
Each time we pass the giant windmills of San Gorgonio’s Wind Farm and pull into downtown Palm Springs, my husband automatically switches the station to “Bert Kaempfert Radio” as I roll down the windows and open the sunroof to take in the desert sun. Palm Springs is my escape, the destination of my office daydreams and sweet place of rest for when my mind is weary.
This desert city outside of Los Angeles has long been known as a playground for the rich and famous—a place for stars to get away from the bright lights of Los Angeles to recharge by the pool, cocktail in hand. But since those golden days when you might have found Cary Grant sunbathing or Bob Hope out on the golf course, the city has opened its arms to welcome a new, unique community.
From artists looking for inspiration to vacationers seeking a weekend of relaxation, the desert provides an oasis that seems to magically meet the specific needs of each unique traveler. But more than anything, as a creative-thinker, I find myself returning to Palm Springs because it reignites a passion to authentically create, to find like-minded community, to explore and to reflect.
To Reflect and Create
I like to call Sparrow’s Lodge my Palm Springs home. The property is a beautiful retreat originally built in 1952 by actor Don Castle and his wife, Zetta. While it was once a resort getaway for Hollywood’s elite, it has since been restored to a modern and rustic lodge. The dry desert heat combined with the simplicity and peacefulness of the retreat-like environment makes this the perfect place to bring a good book, journal or sketchpad. There are no televisions or phones on the property, but who needs them when a pool, vegetable garden, rain shower and art collection filled with works by Ruscha, Kelly, Katz and Baldesari are at your fingertips?
While I’m there, I love connecting with like-minded guests at their communal supper served twice a week—it’s a great opportunity to meet your lodge neighbors and enjoy the fresh food from their restaurant, The Barn Kitchen, which uses local ingredients and vegetables grown in their own on-site garden.
But when it’s time to take relaxation to the next level, Monarch Hot Springs is just 15 minutes away. The hot springs are an opportunity to escape the more lux feel of town and experience a different vein of the desert’s unique landscape. While this private 20-acre hot spring, nursery and wildlife sanctuary does provide camping access, stopping in for a soak in the hot springs is the perfect addition to any stay.
To Be Inspired
From mid-century modern architecture to vintage treasures, the design history of Palm Springs is what makes my art-loving, creative heart sing. A visit to The Fine Art of Design is a must. Artists, designers and stylists have all been known to stop by to browse through racks of their gorgeous vintage clothes. Even if I don’t take anything home, I leave feeling as if I’ve just leisurely flipped my way through a vintage issue of Vogue from 1959.
And it’s not just the clothes that inspire. The mid-century architecture of Palm Springs is one of its most famous and admired features. My favorite way to soak in the genius of Albert Frey and Richard Neutra around town is on a bike. Something about biking my way through the different neighborhoods gives me a chance to experience the city in a quiet, refreshing way. But there’s plenty to appreciate in an all-access, guided tour behind the doors of some of the city’s most famous homes. The Palm Springs Mod Squad tour, specifically the Martini and Mid Century Modern tour, is perfect for seeing these spectacular homes up close and offer more detail than is possible on a self-guided tour.
To Experience Something Unique
The fields of majestic windmills outside of town are quintessential Palm Springs. In fact, these windmills belong to the oldest wind farm in the U.S. But what some don’t know is that tours such as Palm Springs Windmill Tours allow visitors to see these giants up close and personal. Rows of massive creators of sustainable energy looming above you in all their size and glory is truly a breathtaking experience.
But it’s not until I experienced DesertX that I began to see Palm Springs as a hub for forward-thinking artists of our time, not just the days of the past. DesertX is a site specific, biennial exhibit that first took place in 2017. Artists from around the world were invited to make work in response to the unique conditions of the Coachella Valley. Exploring exhibits placed organically into the desert landscape is an unforgettable experience. I make sure to keep an eye on upcoming events and exhibits whenever I’m in town.
To See Things From a Different Perspective
Little known to downtown dwellers, one of the best kept secrets of the desert are the mountain roads that twist and turn above it. Taking an off-road approved truck and exploring the Idyllwild mountain trails not only gave me a unique, physical view of Palm Springs, but opened my eyes to the incredible juxtaposition of how stark, open desert can quickly transform into a lush mountain paradise. With a paper-bag sandwich or a pizza-to-go from Birba, exploring Idyllwild trails is a bumpy, dirty adventure sure to fill any city girl’s lungs with a healthy dose of crisp, fresh air.
When emails seem never-ending and day-to-day life uninspiring, Palm Springs will always be my oasis of choice. Because without fail, it rises to meet me with a promise of rest and potential of adventure.
This post was sponsored by Darling’s airline partner, Alaska Airlines. All thoughts and reviews remain Darling’s own.
Watch “Go, Be You” Episode 1 – Palm Springs
Feature Image via Palm Springs Windmill Tours