6 Ways to Live Your Wellest in Greater Palm Springs
Though Greater Palm Springs wasn’t purpose-built by some wildly ambitious wellness guru, it might as well have been: Desert solitude? Check. Hot springs? Those, too. Awe-inspiring hikes? More than we can count. Organic farms? You wouldn’t believe what grows in these oases—for starters, nearly the entire supply of the nation’s dates.
Point is, if ever an area had good wellness bones, Greater Palm Springs would be it—and we haven’t even gotten to the amazing local spas, organic eateries, yoga studios and fitness events. But we will. Read on for six of the best ways to live your wellest in this stunning stretch of Southern California.
Stay and spa
From pure relaxation to serious detox, spa stays come in every conceivable form here. One of our favorites right now? The La Quinta Resort & Club Spa Getaway package, which includes a $200 toward any treatment. (We wouldn’t say no to the organic shea butter and sugar scrub—and certainly not when it’s followed by a full body massage—as happens in the signature La Quinta Citrus Escape.) You’ll also get unlimited fitness classes, which include all manner of yoga (chair, flow, sculpt), and daily breakfast for two—among other perks.
If you like your wellness with a little bohemian flair, the iconic and recently redone Two Bunch Palms in Desert Hot Springs is the epitome of laid-back luxe. The surrounding desert is renowned for sitting atop natural, mineral-rich spring waters that bubble up from at pretty much the perfect temperatures to soothe aches and psyches. You’ll see what we mean as soon as you slip into your personal outdoor cedar tub, where you can meditate on the palm trees while nibbling on hemp granola. Their Day of Wellness package is a great way to experience a little bit of everything—even that end-of-day glass of rosé from the onsite Essense eatery.
For something a bit more hardcore, consider another Desert Hot Springs offering: We Care’s 3 DayTune Up Plan—an intro to fasting (in place of solid food, you’ll have pureed vegetable soup) with a steady stream of herbal teas and lemon water, optional colonics, and a guaranteed glow at the end. (And yes, your pants will be a bit looser, too.)
Take a Hike
For desert dwellers, one of the best things about hiking in the fall is—to be honest—that you don’t have to be on the trail by 5 a.m. in order to beat the heat. But lovely temperatures aside (78 is just about average for the area by November), fall hiking comes with blazes of color you might expect in the desert, thanks to the local cottonwoods and sycamores.
And if you get there earlier in the season, know that the 2.5-mile ascent to Mount San Jacinto on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway takes you to trails that are about 30 degrees cooler than the ones on the desert floor. You’ll find everything from easy nature walks to the challenging but widely beloved 11-mile round-trip to San Jacinto Peak—the second-highest peak in Southern California, where the view’s "the most sublime spectacle to be found anywhere on this earth,” according to no less an authority than John Muir.
Of course, hardly lacking celeb proponents of its own (including Drew Barrymore, who called it her best outdoors experience), Joshua Tree National Park boasts more than 50 trails. Again, you’ll find everything from quick ‘n easy to OMG (think six-hour climbs), with guides recommended for the latter—especially if you’re a first-timer. (Check out Joshua Tree Guides, which also offers rock-climbing classes.)
All this exercise will make anyone peckish and the desert serves up a shocking amount of home-grown healthy goodness. In Palm Springs alone, the average day could look something like this: First thing in the am, hit up Fresh Juice Bar for The PHix (chard, lemon, pear, spinach, celery, parsley and ginger) or Raw Remedy for raw homemade energy bars. Or for a heartier—but still healthy—breakfast, make your way to Farm for the homemade breakfast jams and baguette, among other treats that suit the Provencal-style patio setting.
Lunch could be the CTK Tempeh Power Burger from the all-vegan Chef Tanya’s Kitchen. And for dinner, treat yourself and make a reservation at Daniel’s Table, where you’ll find a seasonal menu of organic fare all sourced from nearby farms (don’t miss the goat cheese-stuffed grilled dates).
Bathe in sound
While it may seem woo-woo, anyone who’s experienced a sound bath can attest to the blissed-out aftermath, and the desert definitely offers a few worth setting aside your cynicism for. And you have to do so little— just lie on a pillow- and blanket-equipped yoga mat then close your eyes while someone creates sounds with the likes of tuning forks, gongs and Himalayan singing bowl—that really, why not?
A few to try: the cult favorite Integratron, a dome-shaped structure in Landers where the sessions have lovingly been described as kindergarten nap time for grown-ups; the Bliss Chakra Spa in Palm Desert, where you can combine gentle yoga with your auditory experience; the Hot Spring Sound Bath Meditation at The Spring in Desert Hot Springs (a poolside variation on the theme); and the New Moon Vibrational Chakra Healing sound bath at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, equal parts hipness and hippie.
Strike a pose
If yoga anywhere induces a sense of well-being, yoga in this gorgeous desert induces a really convincing facsimile of nirvana. And you have plenty of drop-in, outdoor options in Palm Springs, from Shay Moraga, a mobile instructor who teaches an outdoor class the first Friday of the month on the Great Lawn at Sunnylands to Power Yoga Palm Springs, a studio that offers Saturday morning sessions in—where else?—Wellness Park, where you can practice tree pose while taking in the vistas of the San Jacinto Mountains. And if you like your yoga with more heat than even the desert can provide (at least in fall), the studio to hit is Bikram Yoga Plus (with locations in Palm Springs and Palm Desert), where there's not just hot yoga on offer, but warm (Power Vinyassa) and room temperature (Yin) as well. And if you've always wanted to try yoga in chair, on a trapeze, or surrounded by music, there are classes for that here, too.
Hit an event
If you’re looking to focus your break on a specific wellness event, this fall is for you. The Tram Road Challenge in Palm Springs (Oct. 26) is a 6K climb up to 2600’ elevation that’s challenging, but accessible to all levels, including canine (yes you should feel free to make your dog your workout partner for this one).
If you prefer your running events with heaping sides of music, culture and food, consider the Run with Los Muertos (Nov. 2) in the Coachella Valley, where you’ll find a traditional Dia de los Muertos procession, live music and art—plus a nighttime 5K (and kindly reward yourself with some post-workout churros).
For something a bit more hardcore (and yes, we realize that pretty much everything’s more hardcore than churros), consider one of the area’s triathlons: First up is Palm Springs’ Hits Triathlon Series, which lets you compete at various levels. Enter the Spring category, for example, and you’re looking at a 750-meter swim, a 12.4-mile bike ride and a 3.- mile run. By contrast, the Full level involves a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike ride and a 26.2-mile run. And yes, that is a marathon at the end. Closer to year’s end (Dec. 8), the Ironman Indian Wells La Quinta comes to town—and so does all the fierce competition you’d expect of the final event on the 2019 North American Race Calendar.
Meanwhile, newcomer Ara Pilates has crafted its own tempting retreat (Jan 30-Feb. 3). Expect pilates (natch), meditation workshops, a guided hike in Joshua Tree State Park and fabulous parting gifts—not least, a few selects from the photographer who’ll accompany you on your adventures. And think about it: If you were stressing about grabbing selfies instead, how could you be fully present for the wellness mission at hand?