Winter, when temperatures hover in the 70s, is the perfect time to explore the varied desert terrain that surrounds Palm Springs. Set up base camp at the exotic Korakia, a 29-room boutique hotel. The property borders the 33,400-acre San Jacinto Wilderness, which is studded with rocky peaks that rise more than 10,000 feet. As you hike on some of the 50-plus miles of marked trails, be sure to look up at the snow-covered summits. If you want to get closer to the white stuff and 80-foot pine trees, ride the aerial tramway two and a half miles to the top of the San Jacinto Peak ($22;

Take off your hiking boots and catch a glimpse of the animals you (thankfully) didn't see on your hikes, like the gila monster and coyote, at the Living Desert, a wilderness park cum education center that's a 10-minute drive east of Palm Springs ($12; Don't miss Korakia's spa, where you can get a reflexology treatment ($95 for 60 minutes), then relax among olive trees and bougainvillea.

DETAILS Rooms start at $139. Go to for more info.

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