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Palm Springs, COVID-19 style

Many families are looking for a destination that is easy to get to with lots of options for outdoor, socially distanced activities.

Good news: a terrific option just became available. The Eugene Airport recently announced that Allegiant Airlines will operate non-stop flights to Palm Springs starting Nov. 20 and going until April 11 or later. These flights are on aircraft that hold 186 passengers or less.

The Palm Springs Airport is one of my favorites, as it is small and most of it is open-air. The rental car companies are right next to the terminal, so no shuttle buses are needed. Of course you will want to check local regulations for the latest updates before you travel.

Getting There

The Greater Palm Springs area includes Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Indio and Coachella. Allegiant Airlines flies twice a week, which will get you from Eugene to the sunshine in just two hours. On most dates the flights are less than $200 roundtrip. You can also fly year-round on American Airlines, United, Delta and Alaska Airlines with daily connection flights.

When to Go

Palm Springs has their best weather when we are at our worst, and vice-versa. This desert oasis gets over 350 days of sunshine every year. Summers are hot with temps over 100. Fall through spring is perfect, with highs in the 70s and 80s and plenty of sunshine.


The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens is a 1,200-acre wildlife and botanical park with wild animals in natural settings replicating Africa and North America. In addition to seeing all types of animals, they have a nature preserve with hiking trails to explore. COVID-19 restrictions include limited admissions, and reservations are required in advance.

An open-air Jeep Safari into Indian Canyons or the San Andreas Fault is a great adventure. Wear your hiking gear and explore a “Palm Oasis” in the middle of the desert. When visiting with my family, the Jeep Tour was the highlight of our trip. We had an excellent guide who told us about the wildlife, plants and geology, as well as the Native Americans who had lived there and still own much of the land. It would take months in a classroom to learn this much. COVID-19 restrictions limit each Jeep to one household, and reservations need to be made in advance.

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is the world’s largest rotating tramcar. A 10-minute ride takes you up 2½ miles to a mountain station that can have snow in the winter. Don’t forget your jacket as it gets cold at the top where there are restaurants, hiking trails and an incredible view. Due to COVID-19, trams are only allowed to operate at 25 percent capacity and windows are left open for the ride. Reservations are required.

Joshua Tree National Park is about an hour away from Palm Springs and encompasses 800,000 acres with a variety of wildlife, plants and natural beauty.

Palm Springs Windmill Tours is a fun way to learn about windmill energy and tour a windmill farm up close. During COVID-19, the tours are self-driven in your own vehicle with a tablet that narrates the 90-minute tour. Reservations are required.

Where to Stay

You can stay in the town of Palm Springs where you can walk to restaurants and shops, or at a resort in one of the surrounding areas. The Hyatt Regency Suites Palm Springs is in the middle of town, has a nice pool/hot tub and large suites that are perfect for a family. There are many expansive resorts to choose from in the surrounding areas including the JW Marriott Desert Springs, the Renaissance Esmeralda and the classic La Quinta Resort which has 41 pools and was the site of the recent Bachelorette TV show. The top choices for families are the Omni Rancho Las Palmas with their “Splashtopia” waterpark and the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells with their new waterslides and lazy river. There are also many less expensive hotel options for families on a budget.

Everything about Palm Springs is focused on the outdoors to take advantage of the beautiful weather. Golf, tennis, hiking and biking are very popular. Outdoor dining is the norm with fire pits and outdoor heaters available in the cooler months. It is easy to get around and the people are friendly. I can’t think of a better place to escape the winter blues. Contact a travel agent and start planning your escape to the sunshine.

Useful Resources

Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism:

Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau:

The Living Desert:

Desert Adventures:

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway:

Palm Springs Windmill Tours:


Meet Vacation MOM

Donnita Bassinger has been a travel agent for three decades and enjoys sending families on vacations around the world. She lives in Oregon with her husband and three boys, is the owner of VIP Vacations and is an active volunteer with local organizations.

Contact Donnita at 541-913-5272 or on facebook @VacationMOM


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