In Palm Springs, a New Set of Pleasure-Seekers Take Hold

Travel and Leisure article detailed the treasure we call Palm Springs. What is it about Palm Springs that keeps drawing waves of people looking to slow down, drop out, go a little wild? Irina Aleksander meets the latest arrivals who are inventing the desert oasis all over again.

Palm Springs is reachable by plane, but everyone will say that on your first visit you should probably drive. There are a few reasons, the primary one being the windmills. Right before you get off the I-10, there are hundreds of them, maybe thousands. From afar they look like crosses on a hill, up close, like plane propellers on stilts. Driving through the wind farm, your car begins to rattle and sway, shoved around the road by the Santa Ana winds. Preset radio stations jam and turn to static. Soon, you’re surrounded by 160-foot-tall, man-made machines planted like crops across a wide expanse of uninhabited desert. The sight, simultaneously ominous and beautiful, makes you hold your breath. But then you arrive in Palm Springs proper and exhale. Because here is the tranquil, hot valley—a strange little civilization inhabited by very tanned people who drive convertibles, reside in immaculate Midcentury Modern homes, and spend their days in pools with the same time and devotion that people elsewhere commit to offices. The overall effect is like passing through a time warp and touching down in a colony left over from the 1950s.


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