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Palm Springs, California

Palm-Springs

Great Destination:

4.5

Value for Money:

3

Total Stars:

7.5

Personality Types that Like it Best

Strong preference by all three Authentic leaning personalities; less so by among Venturer types

Did you know….?

  • Elvis and Priscilla Presley honeymooned in Palm Springs.
  • The Agua Caliente Indians are the city’s biggest landowners with 6,700 acres.
  • There are more than 100 golf courses in the greater Palm Springs area.
  • The city’s first hotel, the Palm Springs Hotel, was built in 1886.
  • During World War II, Gen. George Patton’s troops trained in the Palm Springs area desert for their North Africa invasion.

Golf plus …

Ask what one does in Palm Springs, Calif., and the answer will be it’s a nice place to play golf. That is true. But the city and surrounding area also offer adventure sports, shopping of the high-end and bargain varieties, varied dining and entertainment choices, numerous museums and art galleries and a selection of activities for families. In other words, there is plenty for every taste.

In most visitors’ minds, Palm Springs includes several nearby communities that share the desert air and a similar laid-back atmosphere. Most of these are newer and they include Cathedral City, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Palm Desert and Rancho Mirage.

The topography of the area is stunning with Mount San Jacinto rising 8,500 feet above the flat desert floor. Visitors take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to the top.

Those who seek relaxation like the warm sun and comfortable evening breezes. They can play golf on PGA tournament courses and eat at restaurants made famous by celebrities. They also can shop obsessively in town or at nearby discount malls. But those who seek adventure in their travel can find their entertainment by pursuing activities in the surrounding wilderness areas and the open spaces of a still-pristine desert.

Palm Springs became famous in the 1930s and 1940s when Hollywood stars, including Jack Benny, Ray Bolger, Hoagy Carmichael, Bing Crosby, Phil Harris, Bob Hope and Fred Waring, chose it for their winter retreats and built homes. More stars helped to keep the Palm Springs area in the news after World War II and into the 1980s. They included Desi Arnaz, Kirk Douglas, Jane Powell, Debbie Reynolds, Jill St. John and Frank Sinatra.

It was a favorite place for Dwight Eisenhower, the first president to play in the Bob Hope Classic. Three presidents (George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Gerald Ford) made history when they played golf together with Bob Hope at the classic event in 1995.

For eight months of the year, temperatures are warm and pleasant, but they are consistently over 100F from June through September.  However, summer is a great time to get bargain rates on hotel rooms.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Take the tram to the top of Mount San Jacinto for wilderness hiking. The mountain is part of the eponymous state park, and you’ll need a permit if you plan an extended hike because of the fragile environment. It’s part of the 2,650-mile Pacific Crest Trail. You can also explore the nearby 13,000-acre Coachella Valley Preserve.
  • Choose one of several bicycle trails on the valley floor and ride. Options include Heritage Trail, Las Palmas and Tahquitz Creek routes, plus the Canyon Country Club and Deepwell loops. Or, see the area on horseback. Mounts are available at Los Compadres Stables and Smoke Tree Stables. Riding lessons are offered at the Eldorado Polo Club and the Empire Polo Club.
  • Spend the day participating in a geological dig in the Mojave Desert; travel to the site by helicopter.
  • In winter, go cross-country skiing, take a snowshoe walk or do some snow camping in Mount San Jacinto State Park and the federal San Jacinto Wilderness area.  The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is a year-round operation.
  • Take a falconry educational tour. After traveling by Hummer to a remote area near the Joshua Tree National Park, you will participate in a real hunt with falcons. Guests must be able to hike over rough terrain, and it is recommended participants be at least age 12.
  • With hot days and comfortable evenings, you can count on Palm Springs for an active nightlife. Numerous bars and lounges, society cafes, live theater, musicals and more offer lots of choices to keep you going until early morning.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Take in the rip-roaring Palm Springs Follies at the Plaza Theatre, a long-running favorite show. It’s not what you expect. All the long-legged lovelies are over 55, and international guest stars headline the attraction. Also, see Broadway for much less at the renovated Palm Canyon Theatre.
  • If World War II history is one of your passions, visit the new Palm Springs Air Museum. It features 60 fully restored war birds from that era along with photos, memorabilia and a 60-seat theater. Also, the General Patton Memorial Museum on the grounds of the former Camp Young is only a 45-minute drive away.
  • See the scenery by helicopter. Enjoy great views of the San Jacinto Mountains, a top-down view of the multiple cities that make up the Palm Springs region and the area’s wondrous topography.
  • Take an architectural tour while riding a Segway, a step-on device that lets riders travel like a pedestrian, but quicker.
  • Find the best shops, galleries, restaurants and other attractions on Palm Canyon Drive in the heart of Palm Springs. Partly shaded by tall palms, the drive is picturesque and has festivals and street fairs throughout the year.
  • Enjoy an ecotour through Indian Canyon, Joshua Tree National Park or the mountains beyond the tramway. Tours vary from two hours to a full day, and they also are available on nights with a full moon.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Experience a breathtaking journey up the sheer cliffs of Chino Canyon on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to the top of Mount San Jacinto. You’ll find spectacular views at the top, which also is a great place to hike and have a picnic. Besides, there are restaurants where you can eat lunch or dinner.
  • Sign up for a tour of stars’ homes, or get a map and take that tour on your own. You can also dine at places the stars made famous, such as Bing Crosby’s Restaurant and Piano Bar in Rancho Mirage. It has good food despite the fact it plays on his name.
  • There are many ways to spend money. Shop till you drop at the Desert Hills Malls in nearby Cabazon (20 minutes away) that include more than 130 stores. Also, gamble at one of the casinos operated by Native Americans.
  • For something different, try a ride in a covered wagon that includes a tour. Draft mules take you through the Coachella Valley Preserve with guides for groups, families or couples.
  • Consider these tour experiences. Choose from a Jurassic Expedition that surveys the San Andreas Fault which could split California in two, a trip to the huge windmill area near Palm Springs, a tour of modern homes designed by famous architects or a sky-gazing nighttime tour.
  • Family entertainment abounds. The Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert in Rancho Mirage provides a hands-on experience. Learn about the ancient Cahuilla Indians at the Palm Springs Agua Caliente Cultural Museum. Also, bowling is available in Cathedral City and Indio.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism at www.visitpalmsprings.com