When my husband, Nick, and I walked into the sunny, open-air Palm Springs airport, I wondered how we had ever considered going anywhere else on our babymoon. It was not an easy search. We wanted something warm for five days in November. Zika canceled out much of Latin America and the Caribbean. I briefly considered Malta — an island between Libya and Sicily that seemed suitably exotic and where you can get a suntan in November. But Nick thought it was crazy to travel that far when we had limited time.
Then a friend suggested Palm Springs, which is a stress-free direct flight from New York City, has stylish hotels and good food, and is close to one of California’s great national parks, Joshua Tree. It had all the elements we wanted for our last hurrah of child-free travel.
First stop: the Parker Palm Springs. The interiors of the hotel were transformed by designer Jonathan Adler, who made a formerly stuffy property feel like a Californian estate with French sophistication. In the lobby, a knight in shining armor stands guard. Gardens are filled with grapefruit trees, hammocks and pétanque courts. On our first night, after an intense game of post-dinner Ping-Pong, we curled up and snacked on s’mores by the fire pit. It was like summer camp for adults.
We got up early the next day to check out the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway and to avoid a wait, as lines can be long. This is the largest rotating aerial tramway in the world, and the view of the surrounding mountains and desert is spectacular. I’m relieved we brought sweaters: It’s cold up top.
This area is also famous for its modern architecture. We picked up maps at the Tramway Gas Station, a landmarked building, and checked out Palm Springs and nearby towns. Many of the houses are only partially visible from the street, so a highlight was a tour of the interiors of the Sunnylands estate in Rancho Mirage. Due to the number of U.S. presidents who have stayed there, the mid-century modern masterpiece has been called the “Camp David of the West.”
After three nights in Palm Springs, we traveled 20 minutes north to Desert Hot Springs and checked into Two Bunch Palms, which was featured in the movie The Player. The property is set on natural mineral hot springs and has an emphasis on sustainability. (Rumor has it a stone cottage at Two Bunch Palms was the West Coast hideout of Al Capone, with a bullet hole in the mantelpiece to prove it.) Since pregnant women can’t submerge in the hot springs, I spent my time in wooden tubs where you can modulate the heat with cooler water. It was heaven.
It’s hard to peel away from the utter relaxation of Two Bunch Palms, but a visit to Joshua Tree National Park, about 30 miles from the hotel, is a must. We spent a couple of hours exploring this desert beauty with its otherworldly landscapes. Malta may still be on my travel bucket list, but this is the stuff that babymoons are made of.
By Liz Rigg