Most of us tend to feel more relaxed on vacation, but if Palm Springs happens to be the destination, it's nearly impossible to return home without a renewed sense of well-being too. Populated with spas, outdoor recreation and healthy dining options, this desert sanctuary brims with ways to boost your spirits and your vitality.
The hospitable climate means visitors can get outside and enjoy Palm Springs' stunning natural beauty all year long. Take your pick of golf courses galore, escape to an afternoon on the tennis court, or get a taste of the area's authentic Native American history at the Indian Canyons.
"Indian Canyons is one of the ancestral homes of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians who have lived in the Palm Springs area for thousands of years," says Kate Anderson, the tribe's director of public relations. "Early Agua Caliente Indians developed complex communities in the Palm, Murray, Andreas, Tahquitz and Chino canyons in what is now Palm Springs. With an abundant water supply, the plants, animals and Agua Caliente Indians thrived; today, the tribe chooses to share this beautiful oasis with 150,000 global visitors each year."
Here, hikers can explore more than 60 miles of trails to take in the natural landscape and observe native flora and fauna. Don't forget to pack a picnic and browse the Trading Post gift shop for treasures and souvenirs.
"Visitors are amazed by this remarkable location that features mountain streams and the largest Washingtonia filifera palm oases in the world — right here in the middle of the California desert," Anderson adds.
After some exercise, what better way to unwind than with a luxurious massage, body treatment or facial at one of Palm Springs' many premiere stand-alone or hotel-based spa facilities?
"Palm Springs has been a spa and wellness destination for decades, and continues to attract spa aficionados seeking refuge to renew and rejuvenate the mind and body," says Richard Hill, president and COO for Mosaic Hotel Group. "People are drawn to the desert landscape for relaxation and the warm climate, and spas are a perfect extension of this desire to relax, let go and be transported to a state of tranquility."
Under the Mosaic Hotel Group umbrella, the Spa at Colony Palms offers a variety of massages, facials and manicure/pedicure services. The decadent signature Desert Hydration Wrap begins with a full-body exfoliation, followed by a hydrating crème application and a full-body massage.
When complete, a remodel of the spa will add a new couples' suite, locker rooms, a relaxation area and a VIP treatment space adorned with 1930s-style tile.
The next day, you can indulge in the Monkey Tree Hotel's unique spa experience. Along with a saltwater pool, free day passes to Palm Springs Fitness, in-room massages on request, and green spaces perfect for yoga, tai chi or quiet meditation, the Monkey Tree Hotel houses a Scandinavian-style spa that features a hot tub, dry sauna and cold plunge pool.
"Our Scandinavian spa is, to our knowledge, the only one of its kind in the area," says proprietor Gary Friedle. "The idea is centuries old: By cycling between hot and cold temperatures, the body relaxes, releases toxins and helps sore muscles recover from strenuous exercise. Two or three cycles through the hot and cold areas leave guests very relaxed. And when it's 115 degrees outside, the cold plunge by itself is a welcome relief."
Friedle says he's definitely seeing an uptick in guest use of the Monkey Tree's health and wellness amenities.
"We have more and more guests commenting on Instagram or Facebook posts featuring yoga, swimming or the spa," he says. "I can't count how many guests have told me how well they've slept after spending the day in and out of the spa."
All that activity requires healthy refueling. Fortunately, Palm Springs serves up wholesome ways to do it.
Owners of Palm Greens Café, Greg Schmitz and Jeff Huyett, moved to Palm Springs after operating a restaurant and two food trucks in Hawaii.
"I believe Palm Springs has always had a healing vibe to it," Schmitz says. "There are wonderful hiking trails here — including some secret ones with waterfalls — and we have the healing natural springs that bubble up and soothe aching muscles and joints after a strenuous game of tennis, golf or a 5-mile hike."
Catering to active-minded customers, Schmitz insists on serving clean, organic cuisine. Think breakfast bowls of scrambled eggs or tofu and brown rice with roasted salsa and corn tortillas, breakfast tacos filled with beans, potatoes, chili peppers and avocado, or grilled tempeh Reubens.
"We also make a green smoothie we call 'The Suzanne Somers,' because she orders two of them every day and has for about five years," Schmitz says with a laugh. "It's got kale, chard, spinach, mint, ginger, spirulina, banana, water and apple juice — a perfect way to get three servings of veggies and fruit to start your day off right."
For more information about Palm Springs' activities and spa scene, go to VisitPalmSprings.com.