Travelers come to Desert Hot Springs for the water. The drinking water for Palm Springs' quiet northern neighbor runs pure from an underground aquifer, and approximately 30 spa hotels tap a separate aquifer of hot, therapeutic mineral water that originates under Miracle Hill. Homesteader Cabot Yerxa was the first to find both in 1913, and his handmade, 35-room Hopi-style home has been preserved by the city as Cabot's Pueblo Museum (67-616 E. Desert View Ave.,  329-7610, www.cabotsmuseum.org).
Take the waters
Several of the area's spa resorts are adults-only retreats, but others are family-friendly stays like the Desert Hot Springs Spa Hotel (10805 Palm Drive,  329-6000, www.dhsspa.com). At the six-room Miracle Manor Retreat (12589 Reposa Way,  329-6641, www.miraclemanor.com), chill out in mid-century glamour and take in views of imposing Mount San Jacinto.
Miracle Manor's owners, graphic artist April Greiman and architect Michael Rotondi, are just two of the creative types attracted to the landscape. The Desert Hot Springs Motel by famed architect John Lautner (67710 San Antonio St.), is now under renovation.
Eat in the hotel
Capri (12260 Palm Drive,  329-6833, www.capri-italianrestaurant.com) serves Italian specialties. Locals recommend the tacos and house-made tortillas at the Rancho Grande Supermarket (13313 Palm Drive,  251-7096).
McDonald is a freelance writer.