One of the best escapes from the hectic pace of Los Angeles is only about a two-hour drive east. Nestled at the base of the majestic San Jacinto Mountains, the desert resort town of Palm Springs is as famous for it’s casual lifestyle as it is for its hot, dry climate.
The city proudly boasts that it gets 360 days of sunshine annually, making it a great place for a retreat, year-round. Peak tourist season is January through March, when snowbirds from other parts of the U.S. and Canada flock to Palm Springs (and the other the desert cities of the Coachella Valley) to enjoy the mild weather. The average high temperature in January is a very pleasant 70ºF (21ºC). In the summer, Palm Springs’ climate is blistering hot—with temperatures pushing 108ºF (42ºC). This is actually my favorite time to visit. I love relaxing at a sparkling pool and catching some intense rays, piña colada in hand. Plus, off-season prices for premium lodging are steeply discounted.
Palm Springs is a place of contrasts. Although it’s extremely arid, getting less than five inches (122 mm) of rain every year, it seems that everywhere you look is a sprawling, emerald green golf course with sprinklers running throughout the day. Barren desert landscape surrounds the town and the rocky San Jacinto Mountains seem almost devoid of vegetation. It’s an almost prehistoric-looking backdrop.
Downtown Palm Springs is centered along parallel one-way streets, Palm Canyon Drive and Indian Canyon Drive. Lined with numerous hotels, resorts, boutiques, art galleries, cafés and restaurants, the area is very pedestrian-friendly. Even in the heat of summer, businesses to their best to make the area welcoming. Many outdoor restaurants even have “misters” that spray a fine mist of water to help cool their customers down.
The city became famous during the 1950s when old-school Hollywood stars like Frank Sinatra, Gene Autry, Bob Hope and Dinah Shore helped put it on the map. It was a place of glitz and glamour where celebrities would go to escape the big city. Today, Palm Springs retains much of its original charm, but in a much more casual way. Most people come for a little R & R at one of the countless posh vacation resorts. With so many fine amenities, guests often have no reason to ever leave the premises. Offering activities like golf, tennis, hiking or just relaxing at a day spa, there’s always plenty to keep visitors busy.
Another can’t-miss activity is a trip up the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. In only eleven minutes, passengers are swiftly transported from the floor of the Coachella Valley to Mt. San Jacinto State Park, at an elevation 8,516 ft (2,596 m) above sea level. Click here to read more about it!
Palm Springs is also noted for having one of the world’s largest collections of Mid-Century modern architecture. The dramatic geographic surroundings lend themselves perfectly to a design aesthetic called “desert modernism.” The use of glass, clean lines, and simple elegance is a trademark of many homes and civic buildings around town. Architecture by famous designers like Richard Neutra, John Lautner and Albert Frey can be seen all over the Palm Springs area.
|To Get There: From Los Angeles, take Interstate 10 for roughly 104 miles to Highway 111. Continue for about 10 miles until you reach the heart of downtown. Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) has daily connections from major cities throughout the U.S. and Canada.|
Here are some more photos of Palm Springs:
1) Start your day early to avoid the heat.
2) Always use plenty of sunscreen.
3) Stay hydrated.
4) You can get some great photos at dawn and dusk when the desert colors are alive.
5) Visit mid-week or off-season for the best deals on lodging.
6) Don’t miss out on “Villagefest” every Thursday evening—an outdoor street fair on Palm Canyon Drive.