One of the most popular staycation destinations within driving distance of Los Angeles is Palm Springs. Two hours from the skyscrapers of the DTLA city skyline and offering 350+ days of sun a year (in addition to some well needed fresh air), it’s a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of weekday metropolitan life.
Conner and I spent a Saturday and Sunday relaxing (kind of) in Palm Springs at The Saguaro Poolside, searching for Desert X art installations, and hiking around the Indian Canyons where the wildflowers bloom like CRAZY in March and April. During the Winter/Spring months, Palm Springs’ regular local population of 44,000 triples with an influx of snowbirds and similar minded Angelenos seeking an escape at a time of year when the desert climate isn’t quite as blisteringly hot.
Even though it’s located in the middle of the Sonoran desert (the same desert as Phoenix, Arizona actually!), my favorite part of the region is the incredible amount of color and vibrant personality the city beholds. Palm Springs is a true oasis, a cultural hub of art and history in the Coachella Valley (which is more than just a music festival!).
We arrived on a Saturday morning and explored the downtown area. There are many different activities to do downtown including an abundance of shopping, restaurants, and art museums on the main strip “Palm Canyon Drive,” including the “Walk of Stars.” Just like the Hollywood Walk of Fame, on the main street sidewalk downtown is a line of stars dedicated to celebrities, philanthropists and other locals who left their mark on the city.
After exploring the city center, we set out for our hotel “The Saguaro.” When we arrived we went straight to the pool and its summer-style outdoor party pulsing with energy, with a waterside bar.
I thoroughly enjoyed my “pink drink” margarita from the pool bar and soaking up the Palm Springs sunshine among the chaotically spirited atmosphere.
Everything about The Saguaro is overflowing with vibrant vitality, from its lobby to the art displayed in its interior, to its exterior with each row of wall painted a different color of the rainbow. Each of the individual rooms are also themed with a single color (everything in our room was yellow including the walls, the tables and the bedspread).
Outside, the pool grounds are surrounded by a lush green courtyard with an array of (colorful, of course) hammocks to lounge, or dive into a book. There are fire pits to congregate around when the sun goes down and bocce courts if you decide that you’re feeling competitive.
After an afternoon of soaking in the sunshine at the pool we went searching for the prominent art scene present in Palm Desert stopping first at a Desert X installation just at the city limits called “Western Flag” by John Gerrard. This display depicts the site of the ‘Lucas Gusher’ – in Spindletop, Texas which in 1901 was the world’s first major oil find.
The computer generated flagpole on screen spews and endless stream of black smoke, running in exact parallel with the real site in Texas all throughout the year. “Flying the flag of our own self-destruction we are asked to consider our role in the warming of the planet and simultaneous desertification of once fertile lands” reads the exhibit’s description- a powerful message.
We also strolled into some of the local galleries downtown including the Elena Bulatova gallery which was my favorite with its whimsical theme of bright colored candy and chaos. There were a variety of contemporary pieces that were creatively constructed from arbitrary materials including painted nails and splatter art.
The next morning Conner and I relaxed at The Saguaro’s pool (which was definitely more toned down of an atmosphere on Sunday morning than Saturday afternoon. Far less airwaves vibrating with a pulse of Nikki Minaj and echoing between buildings. And far fewer brides-to-be in full vail-tiara apparel being forcibly tossed into the pool). We wanted to take advantage of the sunshine and fresh air, so we spent the afternoon on an adventure hiking in Indian Canyons.
The adult entry into the canyons is $9, and $7 for students with a valid ID/Seniors 62+, or $5 for children. There are a variety of different trails to explore including ranger led interpretive hikes which are free after paying for park admission.
Conner and I hiked solo, choosing the Murray Canyon trail to the Seven Sisters waterfall which was about four miles long with 500 feet of elevation gain. The out-and-back path follows a winding and gradually steep incline through an open landscape and ends in a lush oasis with a waterfall.
After lathering up on sunblock, find the trailhead located at the south end of Andreas Canyon parking area. The path begins by winding through an open field with majestic views of the mountainous skyline. The most challenging part of the trek for me personally was the lack of shade. Almost the entire trail is exposed to to the sun for the majority of the hike. Make sure you bring plenty of water with you to drink.
When you encounter junctions on the trail, keep following the signs pointing toward the “Seven Sisters Waterfalls.” Toward the end of the trail the climb turns more challenging and becomes more of a boulder scramble up the final ascent to the falls. The hike ends in a rocky gorge with a cascading waterfall which flows over the rock and tumbles down into the canyon.
It’s important to be aware that water passes through the canyon in the Winter and Spring months in a series of creeks throughout the length of the hike. You must cross these streams to stay on the correct path. Some of the crossings have tree trunks or scattered rocks to hop across, but depending on the water level (and your sense of balance) there’s a strong possibility you may be in the splash zone crossing the water.
Unless you’re open to repping some mud-slicked squelchy sneakers for the majority of your hike, wear waterproof hiking shoes. Or just be prepared to sacrifice your kicks to the mud and sand Gods like I had to do. They had a good *run.*
What amazes me most is that in the heart of such a barren, dry, sun-soaked and treacherous desert landscape this oasis of life called “Palm Springs” doesn’t just survive- it thrives. The people, the art, the plants have all found a way to flourish in the desert landscape and make it a beautiful place to exist.
All in all, Conner and I really enjoyed our weekend escape to Palm Springs. Even though our time in the desert oasis was short we know that we have a lot more to look forward to next time we’re visiting!
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