PINING FOR a way to get out of Dodge this winter? New nonstop flights from Indianapolis to Palm Springs on Allegiant Air will get you comfortably poolside in under five hours. And since most of the must-dos in this sunny locale are outside, you can be reasonably COVID-cautious.
Hotels in Palm Springs take their midcentury pedigree seriously, and two favorite acolytes are The Saguaro ($233 per night, 760-323-1711), a nouveau motel with an iconic rainbow exterior, and the surfer-chic Ace Hotel & Swim Club ($464 per night, 760-325-9900), a decent bet for a celebrity sighting at the pool or spa. After breakfast al fresco, make like a local and rent a desert-appropriate convertible from the car-sharing app Turo—choose from options such as a vintage Mercedes or a doorless Jeep Wrangler, many of which can be yours for under $150 a day.
Head to Smoke Tree Stables (760-327-1372) for a spectacular guided trail ride through the hills and valleys of the nearby Agua Caliente Indian Reservation, or get into the mountains on foot and hike the challenging Murray Hill Loop, passing through palm-lined oases and craggy desert outcroppings that give way to sweeping views of the valley. For a zoo experience like no other, spend an afternoon at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens (760-346-5694) ogling locals like gravity-defying bighorn sheep or enormous slumbering rattlesnakes.
On Thursday nights between 6 and 10 p.m., the main drag in Palm Springs turns into a pedestrian market for VillageFest with live music, local artists, and food trucks. Make it a two-fer and duck into the nearby Palm Springs Art Museum (760-322-4800) to view the impressive collection, which includes modern icons like Alexander Calder, Robert Motherwell, and Helen Frankenthaler.