The desire to escape the congested streets of Los Angeles is understandable — especially when you’re behind the wheel of an Aston Martin DBS Superleggera, a finely tuned sports car that’s begging to be unleashed from the second you hear its signature roar.
It’s almost unfair to not find an open road now that Aston Martin has partnered with Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts. The global partnership allows Aston Martin to show off the capabilities of its dynamic sports cars to drivers in the world’s most iconic destinations, including Las Vegas, Dubai and Shanghai, and exclusive access to races like 24 Hours of Le Mans.
But let’s start with Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, where your agile DBS Superleggera companion is chomping at the bit with a potent 715-horsepower twin-turbo 5.2 liter V12. You’ll be ready to hit the road after you finish a decadent avocado carpaccio pizza, a signature dish from Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten at the resort’s inviting restaurant that goes by his first name.
Or, for a closer stay, start at La Quinta Resort & Club, A Waldorf Astoria Resort. You’ll be more than prepared for adventure after unwinding in one of the resort’s 41 pools and savoring a signature jidori chicken breast with ginger-scented Indio sweet corn at Morgan’s in the Desert.
Allow the knowledgeable Personal Concierges at Beverly Hills or La Quinta Resort & Club to direct you to the best driving course: Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley, a two-hour jaunt from the comforts of your spacious suite in Beverly Hills or a quick 15-minute drive from your welcoming villa at La Quinta Resort. It’s a main attraction for the snow-averse and the golf-obsessed, but it’s also the perfect place to put a sports car through its paces.
Head straight for the profoundly gorgeous Thousand Palms Oasis, a Coachella Valley preserve nestled in the Indio Hills, just minutes from Palm Desert.
This is a bona fide road trip, so you won’t cover all 30 miles of the Oasis’ hiking trails, chock full of wildlife from agave and ocotillo to salamanders and great horned owls. But staying just an hour will forever leave you with the impression that life can flourish even in the harshest environments.
A few miles west of the Oasis, you’ll leave Palm Desert and make a left on Monterey Avenue, which becomes a brilliantly engineered ribbon of asphalt, California State Route 74, known simply as Highway 74 or Palms to Pines Scenic Byway.
This 67-mile stretch of pure sports car fantasy leads straight into the mountains of the San Bernardino National Forest. The road quickly transforms into one of those rare, high-speed mountain passes with rhythmic, perfectly banked corners that allow skilled drivers to pour on as many Gs as their passengers will allow. (Meanwhile, the not-so-skilled will enjoy the wide lanes, plentiful pullouts and passing zones.)
You’ll gain altitude quickly and your ears will pop before you get to the top. Then the views will unfold over crests of pine and juniper-covered ridges. Pull over and soak in the jaw-dropping scenery. You’ll need the rest.
And you’ll need to fuel up: Savor the Sugarloaf Cafe’s brunch menu of homemade buttermilk biscuits, not to mention pioneer chili, thick savory burgers and banana cream pie. The popular café perches in Mountain Center, a tiny forest community just south of the town of Idyllwild and north of Lake Hemet.
Satiated, you’ll want to leave the shadow of the 8,070-foot Santa Rosa Mountain peaks and wend your way back down the highway to Palm Springs Air Museum, adjacent to Palm Springs International Airport. Home to some 40 vintage aircrafts, including a B-17 bomber and other planes used in World War II and the Korean and Vietnam wars, the 65,000-square-foot facility is rated among the best air museums in the world. Your DBS Superleggera will feel right at home with these impressive beasts, which you can show off side by side with a selfie.
As you enter Palm Springs, you’ll want to explore the neighborhoods of midcentury homes, particularly those south of Highway 111. Think A-frames, butterfly roofs and clean lines, with front doors that pop with color: pinks, yellows and blues. These 1960s gems were once hideaways for the likes of Cary Grant, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope. Now there are four notable neighborhoods left (Twin Palms, Indian Canyons, Vista Las Palmas and Deepwell Estates), with homes designed by renowned architects William Krisel, Donald Wexler and Albert Frey.
Head due north on the 111 toward downtown Palm Springs, which leads you through the city’s vintage clothing, furniture and antique shops, as well as a few vintage car showrooms, a great spot to stretch your legs.
Popular pit stops for lunch include Felipe’s for authentic Mexican, the hipster hangout King’s Highway and Cheeky’s, a local favorite known for its homemade cinnamon rolls and bacon flights. But don’t pass up The Real Italian Deli’s parma sandwich of prosciutto and mozzarella on a toasted torpedo roll. If you’re sticking around for dinner, go upscale at the Cary Grant estate, which features impressive valley views on the patio at Copley’s, from renowned chef Andrew Copley.
One of Palm Springs’ most famous attractions is its Albert Frey–designed Tramway Gas Station, a 1965 midcentury marvel that, abandoned during most of the 1990s, now houses the Palm Springs Visitors Center.
Just up the road lies the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, a 10-minute ride in the world’s largest rotating tram car up to Mount San Jacinto State Park’s mountain station. From 8,516 feet, the views are tremendous, and the food at one of the summit’s three eateries, aptly named Peaks, features fresh vegetables from the Coachella Valley. Just be warned: It’s cooler up in the mountains, so dress accordingly.
With the 11,000-foot San Jacinto just a few miles to the west, the sun disappears long before it sets in Palm Springs. But spectacular sunsets are just a short drive away. For one of the best locations, head back through downtown Palm Springs via Indian Canyon Drive and into another forest — only this one comprises white towers of rotating windmills, capturing the wind that flows through the narrow valley that separates Mount San Jacinto and Mount San Gorgonio to the north.
Within 10 minutes, the road merges with Twentynine Palms Highway, a far less inspired ascent than Highway 74, but one that leads to the surreal landscape of Joshua Tree National Park in the Mojave Desert, where wildflowers blanket its stark terrain and twisted cactus-like Joshua trees, some thousands of years old, line miles of hiking trails.
You could spend days discovering Native American history dating to 8,000 B.C., exploring the remnants of some 300 abandoned mine sites from the late 1800s or mingling with the artists and bohemians who flock here.
Before heading back to your suite, you’ll want to cap off your day by watching the sun cast swaths of red and orange across the sky and descend behind the boulders, taking in the vast stillness as your taillights disappear into the distance.
Re-create your own epic road trip when you stay at Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills or La Quinta Resort & Club, A Waldorf Astoria Resort or reserve an Aston Martin at the next Waldorf Astoria Driving Experience.