Pampering just comes with the territory in the California desert. Maybe in the old days, desert visitors had to pack in supplies and sleep on the hard ground, but the swaying palms, cool tile walkways, and spring-fed pool at Death Valley’s Inn at Furnace Creek don’t exactly scream “rough it.” More like, “Find your sunlounger and relax.” So it goes at California’s desert resorts, dotting the dramatic landscape from northern parklands in the Palm Springs region to manicured landscapes in the Coachella Valley.
“Find your sunlounger and relax.”
You’ll find resorts in all styles--from lavish opulence to sleek modernism--with many lodgings reflecting the era they were built. The Parker Palm Springs, the former ranch of singing cowboy Gene Autry, has the sleek, low-slung coolness of Mid-century Modern design. The flower-filled courtyards and red-tiled adobe casitas at the expansive La Quinta Resort & Club, opened in 1926, hint at romance under a desert moon. At The Willows historic Palm Springs inn, once a millionaire's private retreat, terraced gardens beckon. And everything old is new again at the styled-to-the-roughing-it-nines at Sparrows Lodge, where vaulted wood ceilings, stone details, and restored horse troughs for bathtubs give a relaxed ranch feel--though no luxury is spared.
There’s all-out luxury too. At Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage, settle into a suite with contemporary furnishings and mountain views, then play a round of golf before enjoying a body treatment featuring desert herbs and minerals.
The thwack of a golf club, the hum of the wind buffeting towering sand dunes, the splash of a dive into a perfect pool—the desert region is a sensory feast.
Following winter rains, springtime wildflowers paint the desert with colour.
Death Valley National Park holds the record for hottest temperature ever recorded (129°F/54°C in 1913), while the deserts of Joshua Tree National Park have giant boulders and alien-like yucca plants. At Anza-Borrego, California’s largest state park, discover amazing springtime wildflowers. The oasis-like Palm Springs region (2 hours east of L.A. and 3 hours northeast of San Diego) has golf resorts, midcentury modern architecture, and every spring, the epic Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
For all of the desert’s natural splendor and outdoor destinations, creativity comes with the territory, too. Throughout the year, the region finds ways to celebrate art, design, music, and film...