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PALM SPRINGS
By Jenny Peters

As the temperatures drop and the wind picks up in Chicago, you might be thinking of an escape to somewhere dry, warm (but not too warm) and filled with fascinating things to do and sights to see. Palm Springs is California’s popular desert destination which is an easy nonstop flight from the Windy City.

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Andreas Canyon
Credit: Visit Greater Palm Springs

Start with the Springs

Palm Springs is a desert hot springs oasis, one the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians has centered around for more than 5,000 years. Still a huge part of the Palm Springs scene, the tribe has three casinos in the neighborhood, the soon-to-open Agua Caliente Cultural.

Plaza and a 40,000-square-foot spa set at the original hot springs — in the heart of downtown. Take in the healing waters, then put on hiking shoes and head out to the Indian Canyons, the tribe’s ancestral home.

Palm Canyon is a gorgeous blend of huge palm trees, sere desert landscapes and, of course, the namesake springs. Take a hike (15 miles long) or join a truly fascinating ranger- led walk (available October to June). Check out the more secluded spots like Tahquitz, Andreas and Murray canyons, too. 

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Mid-century Architecture
Credit: Torval Mork

Move on to Art and Design

Famous for its mid-century modern architecture, Palm Springs is a mecca for lovers of all things mod. Visit the Palm Springs Art Museum with extensive Modernism collections, and discover the PS Modernism Fall Show, happening from October 14 – 16. The big 2023 Modernism Week occurs from February 16 – 23 including house tours with inside entry; or sign up for an architectural driving or biking tour, which happen throughout the fall and winter. There are art galleries to meander through all over downtown and lots of street art and sculptures, too. Don’t miss “Forever Marilyn”; she’s 26 feet tall and glorious.

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Palm Springs
Credit: Patricia Elaine Thomas

Dining and a Show

For some of the best Mexican food you’ve ever eaten, head for Las Casuelas Terraza, a 60-year mainstay of Palm Springs. Make sure to try the homemade pomegranate guacamole and the sweet corn tamales if they are in season. Spencer’s Restaurant is the spot for an elegant evening, with a stunning patio nestled against the mountains and a pork chop to die for. And stop into Toucans Tiki Lounge for a drink and a drag show you’ll never forget.

Where to Stay

The Hotel Zoso is right in the center of town and has a lively pool-party scene, or stay at the Avalon Hotel’s chic enclave, where Hollywood stars frolicked during the 1930s. At the famed Parker Hotel a bit out of downtown, you might just see a current movie star; and at the staff at the exclusive, adults-only L’Horizon Resort & Spa, will make you feel like you are the star.