It’s no mirage, the desert city is better than ever
Palm Springs is a study in contrasts: A brilliant cerulean sky outlining the jagged horizon of the San Jacinto Mountains, rising dramatically some 10,000 feet from the Coachella Valley floor; verdant golf courses (the largest concentration of links in the state) abutting tawny desert landscapes; ancient Native American village sites and swanky new hotels; a politically conservative enclave that became a gay mecca where the entire current city council identifies as LGBT.
It’s enough to make one’s head swim (and if your body wants to follow suit, you’re in luck—there are an estimated 40,000 pools in the area), but there’s one contrast that really stands out: Palm Springs is hot and cool.
The first tourists came in the late 1800s for the bathhouses and sanitariums to soak in the natural hot springs that percolate up from a geothermal reservoir about a mile underground. They were followed by Hollywood stars who could live a luxurious, bohemian lifestyle far—but not too far—from the tabloids and studio bosses. And now, a couple of generations removed from its Rat Pack heyday, PS is more popular than ever thanks to the nearly endless sunshine and an embrace of its storied past, including the iconic midcentury design aesthetic that’s as ubiquitous here as palm trees.
And fueled by the popularity of area festivals like Coachella and Stagecoach, along with the post-recession development of Instagramable pool-party locales like the Ace Hotel & Swim Club and Saguaro Palm Springs, the city has become hip in a way Frank Sinatra could never have imagined. Yes, despite our polarized times, it seems there’s one thing young and old, gay and straight, red and blue can agree on: Palm Springs rocks.