Discover the Desert’s Magic | Things to do in Palm Springs CA
September 27, 2023
The desert tells a different story every time one ventures on it.
- Robert Edison Fulton JR
The desert has always been a place of wonder, mystery, and magic. The Sahara and Egyptian deserts unlocked the mysteries of the old world while the Southwest represents everything new aged and, for lack of a better word, vibey – and Palm Springs embodies that energy to a T. Located right at the western end of the Coachella Valley, Palm Springs has been a favorite escape for Hollywood starlets, stargazers, and enchantment seekers for decades. The vast expanse of land, unreal sunsets, and surprisingly resilient wildlife create the perfect backdrop for relaxation, adventure, and – of course – mysticism. No matter what magic you’re looking for, you’re almost guaranteed to find it within a short drive of our Downtown Palm Springs flagship, and we’ve put together a few of our favorite places to lose (and find) yourself in the desert.
The Integratron might be the most quintessentially Southern California place in the world. Built in 1954 in Landers by George Van Tassel, the iconic dome structure is an “energy machine” and offers daily sound healing sessions and is available to rent for private healings as well, and the unique history of the structure is more than a little intriguing. Van Tassel attributes the unique design and pristine acoustics to Moses’ Tabernacle, Nikola Tesla’s teachings, and alleged direct communication from extraterrestrials. The extraterrestrials in question inspired Van Tassel to build a “life extension” machine – now the Integratron – that would be one building on a ten-acre campus called the College of Universal Wisdom which would educate the earthly on the teachings of the space people. While the campus was never completed and Van Tassel couldn’t extend his own life, the Integratron itself lives on and the sound healing sessions have been known to transcend dimensions and timelines.
Just a stone’s throw away from The Integratron is the very literally and appropriately named Giant Rock, another site of alleged alien activity. At almost seven stories tall, Giant Rock is the world’s largest freestanding boulder and has been a Native American spiritual site for centuries. In 1952 The Integratron’s Van Tassel founded an airport at the site, named Giant Rock Airport, and held meditations and UFO conventions under the rock formation to fundraise for The Integratron. The extraterrestrial enthusiasts were given more reason to believe in the rock’s otherworldly properties in 2000 when the rock split into two, with no outside influences, revealing an interior of pristine white granite. Today the rock is visited by many, including Van Tassel followers, photo op seekers, off roaders, and rock climbers.
Does it count as a desert escape if wellness isn’t involved? We say no. While Palm Springs many five-star hotels offer many five-star spa experiences, the real gems are off the five-star path. Two Bunch Palms in nearby Desert Hot Springs is quite literally a wellness oasis, complete with yoga, workshops, and a 600-year old natural spring that flows into their famed Grotto. The adults-only resort offers a full traditional spa menu as well as more alternative therapies like past life regression sessions and hypnotherapy, plus an on-site restaurant and bar. Because what’s wellness without a little bit of balance?
Another Desert Hot Springs and celeb favorite is the We Care Spa, a mother-daughter run holistic healing center. The full-service detox center is not for the faint of heart – a three day detox here is three days of a liquids-only diet with add-ons like colonics, but the rave reviews and A-list clientele speak for themselves. The center has everything from an ancient labyrinth to a meditation pyramid and has a full spa on site for maximum relaxation.
The Land of Joshuas
There’s a reason why U2 wrote an entire album about Joshua Tree – the national park is filled with unparalleled beauty that’s guaranteed to inspire. Named for the unique trees that populate the 800,000+ acres of desert land, Joshua Tree is a breathtaking expanse of desert land that’s just waiting to be explored by car, bike, or foot. The park is actually mad lol e up of two different desert ecosystems – the Colorado and the Mojave – which gives the space its unique mix of plant life, rock formations, and varied terrain. We recommend an early arrival to catch the sunrise and then spending the whole day exploring before an evening of unreal stargazing.
Looking to take your spiritual studies to the next level? Look no further than The Institute of Mentalphysics (real name, we swear) – a center that offers “an intentional habitat for wellness-based programs, festive cultural events, environmental education and deep spiritual inquiry.” The intitute was founded over 70 years ago by Edwin J. Dingle, the founder of Mentalphysics, and the on-site structures were designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright and his son. The 400 acres of property meets any and every spiritual need. Pristine nature, sacred meditation spaces, elaborate labyrinths, and prayer sites in every corner – all surrounded by Joshua Tree’s national beauty.