Nestled about an hour and a half northeast of Orange County in the Sonoran Desert is the mid-century gem city of Palm Springs. A playground for the rich and famous; a land on lease from the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians reservation. This resort town first became fashionable in the early 1900s when health-seeking tourists from all over the country ventured here for the dry heat remedies that were trending at the time.
In the winter, Palm Springs is a snow bird destination as the city’s population inflates. However in the summer the amount of inhabitants drops dramatically as temperature highs reach well above 100°F. Smitten by its charm many celebrities have made this city a second home outside of the Hollywood glitz and glamour. Movies are often filmed here and outdoor enthusiasts come to conquer the grand San Jacinto Peak. Have I piqued your interest about this retro themed city? Here is all you need to know for a weekend getaway to Palm Springs.
Things To Do
The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
A unique zoo with over 450 animals and botanical gardens that focus on preservation, conservation and education. This place has something for everyone with its trails, discovery center, model train displays and a state of the art wildlife hospital.
Palm Springs Art Museum
This museum was founded in the heart of Palm Springs in 1938 as the Palm Springs Desert Museum. The museum focuses on three areas: regional art, natural science, and performing arts. Notable artists curated by the museum include William Keith, Agnes Pelton and Thomas Moran.
With its larger than life dinosaurs, this roadside stop can not be missed. The attraction opened in 1975 with two steel and concrete dinosaurs named Dinny the Dinosaur and Mr. Rex but has now expanded to over 50 dinosaurs.
Palm Canyon Drive is the go-to place for all your shopping and restaurant needs. It is cozy and stylish with its mix of bars, shops, and art galleries. On Thursday evenings part of the street is even closed to vehicular traffic for VillageFest where it morphs into a pedestrian mall with 200 booths with various items and food.
Where To Stay
This historic hotel was first built in 1922 by the heirs to the Pierce Arrow Motor Company. No expense was spared with its architectural detailing and antiques. By 1970 however the hotel had lost its glory. Come 2016 and the PlumpJack Group, co-founded by Governor Gavin Newsom, undertakes a painstaking restoration and modernization. The Ingleside Inn is once again a grand beauty to stay in. Rates start at around $260 a night for a standard room.
Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa
If you are looking for a resort you just do not want to leave, this is your place. Seven pools, tennis courts, a golf course as well as a fully equipped spa, the Hyatt is a family and pet friendly option just a few minutes from downtown Palm Springs. Rates start at around $200 a night for a standard room.
With online platforms like Airbnb, Vrbo and FlipKey finding a vacation rental is easier than ever. With over 7,000 rentals listed you will have many options to choose from to find the perfect fit for your family. The average price for your own home? About $300 per night.
All around the greater Palm Springs area are various camping and even glamping options. Some camping options include unique animal presentations and night guided walks with the Starry Safari camping experience at The Living Desert to dispersed, more rough camping in the Anza-Borrego Desert. There are even a few RV resorts and KOAs for traditional trips.
Many outdoor lovers come to Palm Springs with one mountain in their eyes: The towering giant of San Jacinto Peak which stands at 10,834 feet in elevation in the San Jacinto Mountains. It is both the highest in this mountain range and the county. Any hiker should be proud to summit San Jacinto as it is part of the very popular Six Pack of Peaks of SoCal alongside San Gorgonio, Mount Baldy and Cucamonga Peak, to name a few.
Here are all the ways to summit Palm Springs’ crowning jewel.
The total round trip mileage is about 15 miles to the top and back. Starting in the lush pines of the Marion Mountain Campground you will gain over 4,500 feet in elevation to finally reach the boulder filled summit. A popular all day trek; you can also opt to overnight camp at one of the mountain’s campsites such as Little Round Valley to spread out the hike.
Cactus to Clouds
This journey is one of the most difficult treks in the country. Starting in the heat of the desert and ending 10,000 feet above the city, this almost 30 mile hike one way requires much planning and outdoor knowledge. Understanding when to hike is just one planning logistic. How much water to carry, route finding and hiking in the dark are other must-need details. But to all those Type 2 adventures enthusiasts out there; this is the hike for you.
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
Many visitors opt out of hiking to the top of this mountain. Instead, glittering in bronze beauty, you can choose to take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. The tram is actually the world’s largest rotating tram car and is a ten minute ride one way from the desert floor to the gorgeous mountain wilderness.
San Jacinto Trail from the Tramway
After taking the lovely tram the majority of the way up the mountain you still have about 5 miles to the summit. The popular San Jacinto trail is about 3,000 feet in elevation gain, 11 miles round trip and the quickest way to hike to the top. After you take the tramway of course!
This light and bright restaurant is perfect for your brunch needs. The menu is a seasonal American style rotation of gooey cinnamon rolls, amazing pancakes and delish sweet potato fries. But do not be surprised by the long lines. It is that good!
Since opening in 2009 this throwback to classic American comfort food is a local favorite. The most popular option on the menu is the 3-Course Prix Fixe. With selections such as soy ceviche and garlic roasted half chicken- you simply can not go wrong.
Workshop Kitchen and Bar
Nestled in a 90 year old movie theatre this restaurant offers truly innovative farm to table fare. Menu items include octopus carpaccio, truffle burgers and long bean wood fired pizza. The only catch is reservations are a must.
Palm Springs is a beautiful oasis with a star studded past. From climbing mountains to days shopping various cute locally owned businesses there is something for everyone in this charming city in the desert.
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Kaitlin is a former ballerina who now travels around the country in an 18-foot converted school bus. Her and her husband have welcomed 34 sweet children into their home the past eleven years. Although they would not be a forever home for all of them, they adopted their daughter buckets and are legal guardians to their son monkey. Follow their crazy adventures on Instagram @runawaymusbus