North America, West

5 Ways to Spend a Socially Distanced Week in Palm Springs, California

Palm Springs is the best weekend getaway in Southern California, home to festival culture, the desert and mid-century American history. COVID-19 hit Southern California hard, so I didn’t know what to expect from Palm Springs. It was much quieter than expected, with plenty of outdoor seating and all amenities still operating with COVID protocols!

1. Shopping, art museums, and foodie your way through Palm Desert, CA

I was so pleasantly surprised by Palm Desert! I had never been to the Palm Springs area before, but I knew that I had to visit Palm Springs. Palm Desert though, I had no idea about until I got there. Turns out, it’s known as the “5th Avenue of Palm Springs”, and that definitely holds true. The whole main street is so lovely, there isn’t a better name for it. Great restaurants, all had outdoor dining. Great stores, all with social distancing in place! There are also a few museums that have great outdoor sculpture parks to explore. For dinner a few nights, we went to Cafe Des Beaux Arts on El Paseo, and La Fe Wine Bar for happy hour!

2. A road trip down to Salvation Mountain in Slab City, CA

Salvation Mountain is SO interesting. A man came from Vermont back in the 1980s who had been called to share his message of the Gospel and of Jesus Christ. He wanted to use a hot air balloon, but I guess that didn’t work out so he started gathering a bunch of materials and made a man-made mountain to spread his word! Junk turned to clay turned to paint, and now Salvation Mountain is a pretty impressive monument in the center of this interesting migrant town known as Slab City, CA. Picture the exact opposite of what you think of Southern California–and that is this migrant community.

Reserve roughly 2 hours each way from Indio/Palm Springs Area to drive out to Salvation Mountain! It’s open during COVID times, and the volunteer working at the monument accepts donations to keep building this monument!

Read more about Salvation Mountain here.

3. A spa day in Desert Hot Springs, CA

Desert Hot Springs, CA was definitely my favorite day of the trip. I had no idea how special Desert Hot Springs was until I started pinteresting the night before our last full day of vacation!

Turns out, the town of Desert Hot Springs sits on natural hot and cold springs, and the town has turned itself into a collection of family-owned boutique hotels that offer day spa passes and hotel stays to take advantage of the mineral water!

I found a hotel that was open to day spa users during COVID (not the easiest to find), and we had the best day. We spent the day at Tuscan Springs Hotel & Spa, where you can spend up to 4 hours at the mineral pools with the purchase of a spa treatment. The facials we got were some of the best we had received in the US, and the mineral pools were amazing.

Aiden and I are moving to San Diego in May, and Desert Hot Springs is definitely a destination I want to make a weekend trip for us!

4. Golf (or relax by the golf course!)

I should start off with mentioning that I am, in no way, a golfer. I think I have held a golf club maybe twice in my life.

What I do love is time with my loved ones in beautiful places! Enter… golf courses. I was blown away by just how many golf courses exist in Palm Springs! My mom and I knew we wanted to spend Thanksgiving out having a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. We found a private golf course that happened to have a rocking Thanksgiving special, and we ended up going back a few times.

I realized that if you play golf, this is the place for you and if you don’t, this is STILL the place for you.

5. Take in Palm Springs architecture or have a pool day!

Aside from the Moorten Botanical Gardens (where we spent a few hours) and some great restaurants along the main avenue of Palm Springs, the architecture in this town in this incredible.

There’s a reason that Palm Springs architecture is so popular! It takes you back to the 1950s, 60s, 70s but also has so many modern elements! There are whole TV shows about Palm Springs architecture, so do yourself a favor and take some time to explore!

There’s a whole tour just of Palm Springs doors, so if that’s the case–just imagine the interior of the homes! One suggestion that I can make, if you want to spend the whole day relaxing in Palm Springs, get a hotel day pass to use the pool at one that catches your eye. Pool and architecture all in one!

Well, there you have it! Here are five ways to spend a socially distanced week in Palm Springs, CA! I had such a great time, and am already making plans to go back for a weekend in Palm Desert!