Someone says Palm Springs, I think sun, relaxation, golf. I should probably add to that list dramatic landscape, swimming, shopping and eating.
Located in the Colorado Desert 100 miles southeast of Los Angeles, Palm Springs is an oasis of fun. And money – the mega-wealthy tend to retire here, or come to play golf, or for, er, rehab. But there’s plenty more to Palm Springs than just fun and frivolity.
Day 1: The City
Palm Springs has just what you’d expect: great shopping, good eating, relaxing spas and pools. Wander down mile-long El Paseo Shopping Street – the Rodeo Drive of the desert. There’s upscale couture and furnishings for those that don’t need to check the price-tags, for the rest of us there is The Gardens on El Paseo with its quality chain stores, and art both on the street and in galleries. Sit in a café and watch how the other half shops. If that makes you a bit hot under the collar, head for Knotts Soak City waterpark, 21 acres of slides, rides and splashing around. And of course there are those golf courses singing their siren song: PGA anyone?
Day 2: The Desert
Take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway from the desert floor to high up on Mt San Jacinto in a revolving gondola. Sometimes there’s a temperature drop of up to 40 degrees, so if the heat’s getting to you, this is the place to go. Once up there you can hike, picnic or just look at the views from the State Park and Wilderness. In winter, take a toboggan and enjoy the snow. To understand life in the desert, go to the Living Desert, a 1,200 acre reserve, museum, zoo and education center. And kids will love the interactive displays at the Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert.
Day 3: Deeper Into the Desert
Now that you’ve gotten a taste for those endless skies and ever-changing rugged landscapes, head further afield to Joshua Tree National Park in the Mojave Desert. Alternately you can stay closer to town and hike into the beautiful Indian Canyons – take your swimsuit in case the streams are running. If you’re fascinated by how landscapes form, venture to the San Andreas Fault. Be really brave and ride a bicycle along the fault line – there’s almost no traffic and I’m sure the earth won’t shake too much.