Local writer Corinne Whiting started traveling (a lot) again as soon as COVID restrictions eased. We caught up with her to chat more about a recent trip to sunny California. She has plenty of tips so you can soon start planning hot desert getaways. For now, let’s all read this and dream about it!

Which airline did you fly with and where did you stay?

I arrived in the California desert by rental car (from Scottsdale, Arizona, where I had spent a few weeks with my parents) and returned from Palm Springs on a nonstop Delta flight. Palm Springs International Airport is one of my favorite open-air, breathe-taking, tiny airports. I stayed at the Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa at Rancho Mirage. Highlights included dreamy sunsets over rabbit-studded golf courses and a healing massage (for an unwanted pinched nerve) at the property’s spa.

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What was the most surprising in this adventure?

I’ve been to the Palm Springs area once before, but this trip allowed me to dive deeper into the culture beyond the destination’s postcard-ready prints (think swaying palm trees, cabana cocktails by turquoise pools, funky art and architecture – reminiscent of an earlier, alluring era). Some of my favorite discoveries this time around included a visit to the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens (especially the WaTu-Tu village area), history-rich Sunnylands, the Walter Ambassadors 200-acre Rancho Mirage Winter Home and Leonore Annenberg, and Cabot’s intriguing Pueblo Museum in Desert Hot Springs. After visiting the museum, we bathed in the Azure Palm Hot Springs Resort & Day Spa Oasis, where the mineral water – which emerges from the ground at 174 degrees – is said to be rich in healing and restorative minerals.

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How does the desert heat affect life there?

I found it fascinating to learn how locals synchronize their days with their surroundings, planning errands and other outings for the early morning hours when possible. Many of them then rush into air-conditioned havens during the hottest part of the day, emerging as the sun begins to slip behind the peaks and a misty purple hue glows behind the silhouettes of cacti. Luckily, many sidewalks and restaurant patios have misters that spray cooling water, and riding the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway — billed as the world’s largest revolving streetcar — is another great way to beat the daytime heat. . You’ll find much cooler temperatures at Mountain Station (elevation 8,516 feet), as well as over 80 km of outdoor hiking trails.

Where should visitors eat?

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Start the day off right at Sherman’s Deli and Bakery, an old-school New York-style outpost, where breakfast highlights range from matzo brei and corned beef hash to Nova lox with scrambled eggs. (Be sure to grab a black-and-white cookie for the road.) At lunchtime, pick up organic goodies from the Luscious Lorraine Market or plant-based gems — like pan-fried garlic tofu bahn mi – Chef Tanya’s cuisine. For a real treat, grab a table under the colorful umbrellas and coveted misters at Shields Date Garden, a family business that has been inviting customers to experience local date cultivation for nearly a century. While the stuffed dates and date shakes seem like must-orders, I was also thrilled with my chicken curry salad with papaya (and homemade banana bread!). In the evening, soak up good vibes and magical light on the patio at 1501 Uptown Gastropub, where standout dishes included chilled melon soup, local date and arugula salad, roast chicken with skillet and flourless chocolate cake with seasonal berry coulis. For one of the best pastel mountain sunsets, enjoy dinner at the rooftop oasis Pacifi ca Seafood Restaurant, located along the upscale El Paseo neighborhood.

What was the best thing about your trip?

Connecting with the locals… but isn’t that always the best part of the trip? Visit Greater Palm Springs has launched a wonderful Love Local campaign (readily available on its website), which connects visitors to “family-owned, locally-sourced and community-loved” businesses. I loved walking into The Body Deli, “the pioneer of fresh, raw, organic skincare for face, body, and hair,” and coming home to their Palm Springs Spa collection (a lovely gift, if you’re in the research !). Another unique experience was taking a behind-the-scenes tour of Brandini Toffee’s Rancho Mirage factory with the charming young owner, Brandon Weimer, and his very supportive father. Weimer has been making caramel and perfecting his delicious recipe since his high school days; the company has won countless awards and brought Martha Stewart fans to The Food Network. Visit for insight into the production process and dive into decadent artisan treats. Another night to remember: Mexican fare and surprise live music at Casuelas Cafe, where cheering locals line-danced under twinkling lights and a rising moon.

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Will you come back?

Would love to, especially in the wetter, darker months! I now fully understand why so many Seattleites flock south each winter to seek natural warmth and vitamin D (beyond blue-light desk lamps). Also, I haven’t yet managed to get to the beautiful Joshua Tree National Park, which has been on my bucket list for a long time; I am determined to walk through this fantastic landscape on my next visit – mark my words!

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Cory E. Barnes

The author Cory E. Barnes