Palm Springs is always a good idea. That’s the phrase that loops through my head as I leave Los Angeles to make the two-and-a-half-hour drive east. Urban sprawl gives way to distant snow-covered ridges, the jagged edges of the Sonoran Desert stretch ahead, and a million verdant palm trees beckon in the breeze. I round a bend, and—like the painted backdrop of an old Western movie or a fever dream induced by the best hallucinogens you’ve ever had—the impossibly steep San Jacinto mountains suddenly rise against a clear, wide sky the blue-green color of chlorine. It’s surreal; pristine. Yes, Palm Springs is always a good idea, the scenery seems to agree.

And it turns out Palm Springs has never been better. Long before Hollywood stars like Frank Sinatra, Elvis, and Marilyn Monroe made it an iconic resort escape, the city held a singular appeal. Over 2,000 years ago, the Cahuilla people settled around the valley’s improbable freshwater lakes, creeks, and hot springs, living off an abundance of native California fan palms. Later, Spanish explorers would call the area La Palma de la Mano de Dios: “the palm of God’s hand.” And, now, thanks to a cultural renaissance that juxtaposes the region’s jaw-dropping landscapes with a wealth of art and design, Palm Springs is drawing a whole new set of seekers and aesthetes.

Photo: Getty Images

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