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Well Intentioned: A Winter Wellness Guide to Palm Springs

Courtesy of L’Horizon / Expedia
Photo of Emma Sparks
17 November 2021
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Dial up the heat in the desert city with yoga sessions, thermal spas and hotels that once hosted Hollywood stars.

Once a hedonistic retreat for the likes of Elvis, Marilyn Monroe and the Rat Pack, Palm Springs is back on the cool list. Lovers of all things retro-chic flock to the city’s opulent mid-century modern hotels, while others come to seek warmer climes come winter (when the population triples). From palm-lined hot springs and scenic desert hikes to rooftop yoga and vegan eats – take your pick of the best ways to unwind in this cool California city.

Two Bunch Palms

Two Bunch Palms
Courtesy of Two Bunch Palms / Expedia
Sage cleanses, sound baths, CBD oil massages – wellness comes in many forms at this adults-only resort in Desert Hot Springs. But let’s not beat around the palm tree: you’re here for the region’s healing waters. The tranquil grounds are dotted with soaking pools and teak hot tubs, fed by local low-sulfur hot springs – meaning you get all the healing without the smell.

Power Yoga Palm Springs

Yoga Studio
Classes at this light-filled studio range from meditative candlelit yin and slow flows to sweaty power vinyasas and hot yoga – so you can choose the right pace and intensity for you. Prefer to salute the sun under wide blue skies? Sign up for the rooftop yoga sessions, held at a separate location, a short walk down the street.

L’Horizon

L’Horizon
Courtesy of L’Horizon / Expedia
Architecture and design directly impact your mood – so it pays to stay somewhere that does both brilliantly. Built by prolific Palm Springs’ architect William F Cody in 1952, the clean lines and minimalism of this mid-century home-turned-hotel are as refreshing as its outdoor pool. Borrow a bike to see more of the city, stretch out at a complimentary yoga class, or treat yourself to a wild lime treatment and seaweed body wrap at the spa.

Palm Springs Art Museum

Art Gallery, Museum
interior of Palm Springs Museum of Art contemporary exhibition on display ; Palm Springs; California USA
interior of Palm Springs Museum of Art contemporary exhibition on display ; Palm Springs; California USA | © nik wheeler / Alamy Stock Photo
Whether you’re here for Palm Springs’ ubiquitous mid-century modern design, historic Native American textiles, or contemporary exhibitions, wandering the hushed halls of this museum is a wonderful way to practice the art of mindfulness. Performing-arts lovers will want to catch a spirit-lifting show at the Annenberg Theater downstairs – the stage hosts a range of talent, from ballet dancers to stand-up comedians. Bank balance not looking so healthy? Museum entry is free between 5pm and 7pm every Thursday.

Colony Palms

Colony Palms
Courtesy of Colony Palms / Colony Palms
This Spanish-style hotel, within Palm Springs’ historic Movie Colony neighborhood, was once a popular hangout for Hollywood stars such as Frank Sinatra and Ms Monroe. Rooms and bungalows feature cozy Frette linens, vintage wallpaper and Le Labo bath products. But you’ll likely want to spend most of your time by the pool, cocktail in hand, in between yoga classes and couple’s massages. Alternative spa treatments include sound healing using Ohm tuning forks, reiki and ear acupressure.

Tahquitz Falls

Natural Feature
Tahquitz Falls in Tahquitz Canyon. Palm Springs, California, USA.
Tahquitz Falls in Tahquitz Canyon. Palm Springs, California, USA. | © Leonid Serebrennikov / Alamy Stock Photo

Packed your walking boots? A steep, rocky hike along the Tahquitz Canyon Trail will lead you to this hidden waterfall – a dip in the ice-cold pool below offers an exhilarating wake-up – if you dare. Even if the flow is low (it’s weather-dependent), spectacular mountain views and history abound. The 2mi (3km) trail sits within tribal lands; join a ranger-led interpretive hike to learn more. They run a few times a day and are included in the admission price.

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Amusement Park
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway tramcar arriving at the lower station, Palm Springs, California, United States.
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway tramcar arriving at the lower station, Palm Springs, California, United States. | © Maurice Savage / Alamy Stock Photo
This rotating cable car – the world’s largest – transports guests from the desert floor to the lofty pines of Mount San Jacinto State Park in just 10 minutes. At the top, you’ll find epic views of the Coachella Valley and over 50mi (80km) of trails to explore. If it’s snowing, you can rent snowshoes or cross-country skis from the Adventure Center, and the gift shop also sells sleds. Book online in advance to avoid a long wait.

Moorten Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden
Feeling prickly? Try connecting with nature to find a sense of calm. Chester and Patricia Moorten, who founded this desert garden in 1938, once landscaped for Frank Sinatra and helped design Walt Disney’s first Frontierland – so it’s fair to say they knew their succulents. Their son continues to care for over 3,000 species of cacti, trees and other desert plants from around the world, sharing his passion with visitors. Wannabe plant parents can pick up a souvenir in the nursery.

Chef Tanya’s Kitchen

Deli, Vegan, $$$
This vegan deli may be a little out of town, next to the airport – but swing by and you’ll soon see why their nourishing-but-flavorsome plant-based goodies fly off the shelves. Eat the rainbow in sandwich form with the Modern Hippy, packed with purple pickled cabbage, avocado, tomato and more, or spice things up with a Mexican-themed tempeh power burger: the Guadalajara is laced with Anaheim chili and chipotle mayo.

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