Los Angeles, CA

A Wellness Weekend In Palm Springs

Amber Gibson


Greater Palm Springs includes nine different cities in the Coachella Valley, all within an easy drive from Los Angeles. Palm Springs first became popular among Hollywood stars in the 1930s and the desert retreat has become a mecca for mid-century modern architecture and contemporary art inspired by the striking desert landscape. Countless hikes, hundreds of golf courses and more than 300 sunny days every year make Greater Palm Springs the perfect getaway from the smog, stress and traffic of Los Angeles.


For first-time visitors, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway offers incredible panoramic views of the valley from the world's largest rotating tram car. The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is a fabulous family-friendly attraction, with a focus on conservation and habitat restoration. If your idea of wellness involves an adrenaline rush, Red Jeep Tours takes you off-roading in the San Andreas Fault or you can race the latest BMW models on a track at the BMW Performance Driving School. For something more tranquil, hot air balloon flights are an incredibly serene way to sightsee with several outfitters offering tours from September through May.


El Paseo in Palm Desert can be compared to the Rodeo Drive of Palm Springs, with local boutiques like Grayse and art galleries like CODA and Melissa Morgan Fine Art interspersed with international brand names. The Body Deli is a must visit for healthy skincare, a colorful plant-powered brand made in small batches locally. With potent ingredients like sea kelp, honey, almonds, blueberries, oats, argan oil and spirulina, using Body Deli products is like feeding your skin a superfood smoothie. Founders Margaret Clark and David Parker consider themselves cosmetic chefs, eschewing chemical preservatives and stabilizers in favor of farm fresh skincare for face, body and hair. The Body Deli celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, so it's fair to say that they were pioneers in clean skincare long before it became trendy.

Start your morning at Koffi Coffee for freshly roasted local coffee available in a dark American roast or lighter European roast. For dinner, Wildest Restaurant + Bar has fun and flavorful vegan options like jackfruit stuffed chile relleno and king oyster mushroom “scallops” with crispy chickpeas and Okinawa sweet potato, along with excellent seafood and grass fed steaks. Copley's on Palm Canyon is another favorite, an elegant fine dining option on Carey Grant's former estate. Start with a bite of jalapeño cornbread before diving into chicken lemongrass potstickers, saffron seafood fettuccine and a surf and turf of seared jumbo scallops with spicy pork meatballs and red pepper couscous.


Where To Stay

The 25 intimate bungalows at L'Horizon Palm Springs are just the kind of discreet getaway that have made Palm Springs a home away from home among Hollywood royalty for decades. Through the years, everyone from Marilyn Monroe to Robert Downey Jr. have stayed here and the Obamas have dined at SO.PA Restaurant. This summer, the boutique hotel doubles in size with the addition of new one-bedroom suites and a second pool. Sip a date shake poolside – this healthy version made with yogurt, coconut milk, chia seeds, cacao powder and Medjool dates has no added sugar and is even better than the original date shake at Shields Date Garden.

The mid-century modern design at L'Horizon features minimalist, angular architecture, cowhide rugs and retro leather sofas, along with Le Labo Santal 33 bath amenities and minibars stocked with gourmet chocolate from Valerie Confections. Every bungalow has its own private terrace with palm trees and cacti and some even have outdoor showers. Just a few minutes away, you'll find the South Lykken and North Lykken trailheads, leading up the San Jacinto Mountains with bighorn sheep and hidden waterfalls along the way.


Further south, The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage is a sprawling desert retreat with the best spa in the Coachella Valley. The signature Spirit of the Mountains massage is 100 minutes of pure bliss, combining a salt scrub and full body hot stone massage with a soothing body wrap and scalp massage to finish. The anti-inflammatory turquoise sage body oil blend is made with three different types of sage and smells like the desert after it rains. Afterwards, rinse the hydrating oils out of your hair in one of three aromatherapy showers, choosing between jasmine, mango and lavender on the women's side.


The resort offers guided hikes each morning along with daily yoga and dance classes on the front lawn. Roadrunner and Chuckwalla are the closest moderate hikes to The Ritz-Carlton if you're heading out on your own. An array of lawn games are available to play along with weekend stargazing classes. You can also stargaze while roasting marshmallows over your private firepit if you book a terrace firepit king. There's no better way to end a day of outdoor adventure and relaxation.

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Amber Gibson specializes in luxury travel, food, wine and wellness. Her work has appeared in Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Robb Report, Departures, Hemispheres, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Fodor's, NPR, NBC and more. Champagne, dark chocolate and gelato are her biggest weaknesses.

Los Angeles, CA

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