Indulge the senses with a 50- or 80-minute rubdown. The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage’s stunning two-story spa encourages healing with aromatherapy showers, sauna and steam rooms, and private soaking pools. Enhance your side-by-side treatment with add-ons like a Moroccanoil scalp rub or hot basalt-stone therapy to melt away all tension. The complimentary champagne helps, too. ritzcarlton.com
Greater Palm Springs loves pickleball. The fast-paced sport encourages palling around, and as local pro Marcin Rozpedski points out, “The learning curve is much easier than tennis or golf.” Ramp up the endorphins with a morning match at The Lakes Country Club, where Rozpedski runs games, or the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa (both also offer lessons). thelakescc.com; marriott.com
The independent three-screen Palm Springs Cultural Center (aka Camelot Theatres) shows a sophisticated and suitably eclectic mix of silver-screen classics, indies, and art-house flicks. It has been a favorite among film buffs since its star-studded inaugural 1967 screening of Doctor Zhivago and has only expanded its amenities since. Get a gourmet bite at the on-site Internationale Café, serving everything from Argentine lomito to grilled Nuremberg bratwurst. palmspringsculturalcenter.org; camelottheatres.com
Find relief from the heat in the charming mountain town of Idyllwild. Follow the Palms to Pines route (Highway 74) for a scenic cruise through desert terrain. Stop at Vista Point to stand on the edge and take in one of the best valley views. You’ll know you’ve arrived in Idyllwild when you reach the ponderosa pines and band of locally owned shops. A few foodie musts: El Buen Cacao for chocolates, Café Aroma for microbrews, and Red Kettle for downhome fare. Venture away from the main drag for hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing. idyllwild.com
Reach for the Top
All ability levels can test their grip across 7,000 square feet of climbing surface at Desert Rocks Indoor Climbing Gym. Beginner experiences for groups instruct on basic technique, while private sessions include two hours of harness work, bouldering, and auto-belay climbing with a staff member to prep participants for an ascent up the rock wall. Who better to stretch, strengthen, and learn the ropes with than your partner? Climbing brings people together, and it’s a sport you can take with you on future travels around the world. climbdesertrocks.com
PHOTOGRAPH BY @BEARLEADERCHRONICLE
Palm Springs Art Museum and the nearby Architecture and Design Center display permanent collections of photography, glass, design, and Native American and Western art as well as rotating contemporary fine art and architecture exhibitions. Enjoy lunch at the museum’s elegant Persimmon Bistro, where offerings include hemp-seed salad, Serrano-ham panini, and rose-infused lemonade. At the museum’s Palm Desert location, which has four gallery spaces and a sculpture garden, admission is always free. psmuseum.org
Every Thursday evening, Palm Springs hosts VillageFest, a colorful mix of art, crafts, food, and live music stretching across several blocks of Palm Canyon Drive. It’s the perfect time to post up with cocktails on a café patio to people-watch. Wednesday nights at the Riverside County Fairgrounds in Indio, a Moroccan-style bazaar (Maclin’s Open-Air Market) features more than 400 vendors and draws thousands of shoppers, who snake through its maze of aisles filled with bargain goods, odds and ends, snack shacks, and fresh-from-the-farm produce. Get a bag of locally gown dates to whip up your own recipe with the desert’s favorite fruit. palmspringsvillagefest.com; maclinmarkets.com
PHOTOGRAPH BY NAOHMI MONROE
Villagefest in downtown Palm Springs.
Spend an evening gazing into distant galaxies (and each other’s eyes) at the state-of-the-art Rancho Mirage Observatory, which features a research-grade CDK 700 telescope capable of penetrating into deep space. The outdoor observation deck is available for public use, but for the inside scoop on Cassiopeia, Ursa Major, and other summer constellations, attend one of the observatory’s free astronomer-led, 40-person stargazing parties (book early, as spots fill up quick). In the East Valley, the privately owned GarganOptics Observatory in Indio presents the opportunity to wish upon a star through a Meade telescope in a climate-controlled room.
PHOTOGRAPH BY @BEARLEADERCHRONICLE
Rancho Mirage Observatory
Nothing says “hot and heavy” quite like rock ’n’ roll. Local casinos (Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa in Rancho Mirage, Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, and Spotlight 29 Casino in Coachella) feature year-round lineups of legendary musicians — alongside stand-up comedians, magicians, and other impressive entertainers. If you fancy a dance in the moonlight, Fantasy Springs presents free outdoor cover-band concerts every weekend in the summer (Purple Reign, anyone?), and the beloved High Desert venue Pappy & Harriet’s shines the spotlight on local talent as well as industry giants; its roster of past performers includes Paul McCartney and Lorde. Arrive early for a cocktail, or make a dinner reservation for preshow bites like the tri-tip steak salad. Indio’s Big Rock Pub has live music and events almost every night of the week, from country Tuesdays to songwriter-led acoustic Sundays. Order an on-theme “songnature” cocktail (try the gin-based Stairway to Heaven), and feast your eyes on the collection of guitars, album covers, and other memorabilia that make up the pub’s décor. hotwatercasino.com; fantasyspringsresort.com; spotlight29.com; thebigrockpub.com; pappyandharriets.com
DID YOU KNOW?
JFK and Marilyn Monroe are rumored to have cavorted in Palm Springs at the Albert Frey–designed Monkey Tree Hotel. The two were allegedly spotted entering Room 15 through its not-so-secret back patio door.
5 THINGS / ROMANTIC RENTALS
Dinah Shore Estate
Designed by Donald Wexler in 1964, the former Palm Springs home of Dinah Shore offers six bedrooms and a tennis court on 13 pristine acres. Now Leonardo DiCaprio owns it, and you can rent it. 432hermosa.com
Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway
Elvis and Priscilla Presley honeymooned at this iconic Robert Alexander–designed estate (also known as the House of Tomorrow) in 1967. It’s available for tours or private events. elvishoneymoon.com
This massive villa in Coachella combines European design with the chill desert lifestyle. Living areas circle a beach-entry lagoon, where you can kayak and jet ski. Also on-site: a spa, golf, and horseback riding. zenyara.com
Twin Palms Frank Sinatra Estate
The iconic former home of Old Blue Eyes, designed in 1947 by E. Stewart Williams, features ample gathering space with period furnishings. Plus, there’s a piano-shaped pool. sinatrahouse.com
Old Polo Estate
A secluded private resort in Coachella with a three-hole golf course, sand volleyball court, 1,500-square-foot pool, and infinity hot tub, this property sleeps 20 and accommodates up to 300 for events. wlcrentals.com