a pool with palm trees and chairs

So, what’s travel and life like in Palm Springs right now?

If your time is short, I can tell you it’s glorious, safe and sun soaked. If you’ve got more time, I can tell you a bit more about how I’m experiencing the city in this ever changing time, and how extraordinarily glad I am that I made the trip.

If a getaway is feeling less guilty and more pleasure, slash necessity for your mental sanity, I can’t think of many places on earth which seem to be striking the balance of health and happiness as well as Palm Springs.

A lot of that has to do with the weather, but a lot also has to do with how the city and its friendly locals are tackling things, creating the perfect playground.

Palm Springs Is Glorious Right Now

With daily highs around 75-85°F, 24-29°C, and cool evenings perfect for layering up in comfortable clothes – or trying on your weirdest outfits – the big obvious draw to Palm Springs is the weather right now.

a pool with palm trees and chairs

The transition from winter into spring is glorious here. It’s well before the impossibly hot heat waves of summer, and humidity is more of an idea than a noticeable concept at the moment. It pretty much always is.

In these ever evolving times, this translates to absolutely perfect weather to sit outside, stay socially distant, enjoy sports like golf and tennis from afar and eat a lovely meal in a safer setting than anything indoor space can offer right now.

What’s funny, at least to me, is that all the reasons one might say to only spend a night or two in Palm Springs in pre-pandemic times, are now totally reasons to stay forever. It’s quiet. It’s spacious. Just about every place has a pool to cool down. Activities from hikes to bikes are everywhere, and again – dining is back!

And dine outdoors you can.

Restaurants are back open, and are many indoor services and shops taking the proper precautions including hair dressers and boutiques. As more and more Angelenos and “over it” city people have migrated to this laid back desert but not deserted land, so too have top quality restaurants.

a street with palm trees and cars

If dining on a patio or “swoony” outdoor courtyard isn’t yet for you, pickup and delivery options using the likes of Postmates, DoorDash or ordered directly with the restaurant works a treat – and is handy for those self isolating upon arrival.

If you’re looking for a short list of “must eats” on your next visit to Palm Springs, Birba, Rooster And The Pig, Roly, El Jefe and Sandfish will make anyone happy. There’s plenty more.

For boutique shopping, the Shops at 1345 are like a miniature version of a great mercado in Spain, or markets in London or New York. It’s all clothes home goods and lifestyle stuff, but it’s all awesome. There’s no shortage of fantastic galleries and boutiques down the couple mile stretch of Palm Canyon Drive.

Arrival Into Palm Springs

Out of state arrivals are requested to self isolate for 10 days, and it’s incredibly easy to accomplish this with all the delivery options, which even include local groceries, food markets, wine shops and the herbal remedies California is famous for.

All just a few taps away without leaving home or place of quarantine. Not advocating, just saying. I’d venture a guess that many arrivals are not following protocol, but that mask usage in downtown or highly pedestrian areas is phenomenal.

Planes packed full of arrivals continue to funnel in day and night, and resorts are open with social distancing measures and other enhancements.

Mask compliance is the best I’ve seen in a while, where I’d say 100% of people, not even 99%, wear masks when walking downtown. Once seated at an outdoor cafe, it’s fine to take them off. In lesser trafficked, more ‘neighborhoody’ areas, people seem to run or walk with around 50% mask wearing. Wide paths and lovely walkways make it easy to navigate.

Palm Springs incentivizes residents to rent out houses long term (to avoid tax), which means long stays are far more affordable than other areas, and 4 weeks might actually be cheaper than 3, or even 2.

Thanks to ‘work from anywhere’, digital nomad culture, I’ve decided I’d rather work for a month from a warm place with a pool, where I’ll be more isolated than at home.

I found a great house rental with a pool on Airbnb/VRBO (it’s listed on both) for a highly reasonable rate and jumped on the opportunity. Apparently many Canadian “snowbirds” who would typically make the trip stayed home once Canada upped the arrival quarantine requirements.

All I can say is it’s a privilege to be here, I’m grateful and I’m already thinking about doing the same for next year, maybe even longer – if I can swing it. This is the perfect way to escape the winter blues, pandemic or not. Next year, 100% hoping not!

A New Revival Of A Classic Town

There seems to be something really special and joyous brewing in this desert oasis, as more and more people give new and eclectic life to this Mad Men era classic. The city feels more artsy, hip and contemporary than I’ve ever seen it, with plenty of new third wave coffee shops and culinary options popping up daily.

Read as: it’s not just for your parents, or grandparents. I even ran into a certain pop star famous for “partying” in this country, this morning.

Of course, just about every home is still paying homage to its inimitable roots of the 1950’s and 1960’s. That design period will never leave this great city, or the houses which command a nosing around during a long walk.

There have been (very) few times in life where I felt like I cracked the code, but escaping to this desert haven during a time when being outdoors is key, wellness is everything and positive signs are emerging feels like I’ve won the lottery. If Palm Springs is on your radar, make a big blip on the screen.

It’s perfect right now.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. When will California I.e. Palm Springs allow out of state people to register at Palm Springs tennis club without quarantining? Not many people I know can afford an extra 10 or 14 days to quarantine before being allowed in our timeshare. Frustrated to say the least.

  2. Reading this from a Palm Springs AirBnB, and now excited to try one of those restaurants you listed for lunch!

  3. Great article. And you just scratched the surface. Palm Springs is an amazing place to live and I am fortunate in my job as a mortgage consultant to help people realize their goals and dreams. Sweet!

  4. Loved your article on PS, especially since I am a recent transplant from Spain, via Los Angeles. I LOVE the desert, even in 100 degree weather! (The heat calms this Type A personality.) I’m curious, where are you originally from and where do you reside?

    1. Thank you kindly, Dann. It’s a blast here right now. I’m originally from New York, and am slightly coy about where I “reside”, but am currently enjoying Palm Springs immensely.

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