Located just 100 miles southeast of Los Angeles, Palm Springs is a booming community boasting 83 square miles of desert land and a current population of 45,000 people. Most visitors arrive by driving from Los Angeles via the Interstate 10, which runs along the north side of Coachella Valley.
Drivers generally take either the Indian Canyon Drive/Palm Springs exit, which gives an up-close view of the giant windmills, or the earlier Tramway exit. Coming in via the Tramway exit, there is a startlingly abrupt transition from pasty desert to brilliant, emerald-green lawns. This transition marks your entrance into the Racquet Club area of Palm Springs, which has catered to Hollywood stars since the mid-1930s.
Throughout all regions of Palm Springs and its surrounding desert cities, visitors enjoy an array of restaurants, shopping and top-notch attractions.
Downtown Palm Springs
Downtown Palm Springs, also called 'The Loop' and 'The Village', is where nearly every visitor to Palm Springs will spend a considerable amount of time, enjoying shopping, dining, as well as strolling and people-watching. The
South Palm Springs
South Palm Springs is located along South Palm Canyon Drive and offers a mixture of moderately priced hotels, restaurants and residences. The
Palm Springs Residential Areas
One ritzy residential area is Little Tuscany, near the former Racquet Club, featuring many deluxe homes built in an Italian style. If you are on the
Desert Hot Springs
Like Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs began with warm water bubbling up out of the earth. Several hotels take advantage of this great natural gift, including the
Though the individual Chambers of Commerce do not like to admit it, the other desert cities surrounding Palm Springs tend to blend into each other along Highway 111. Unless you keep a sharp eye on the decorative markers, it may be difficult to know when you have left Palm Springs for Cathedral City.
The community of Cathedral City has several golf courses and some shopping. Much of the everyday business of nearby Palm Springs is transacted here. There are several good hotels, including the Doral Palm Springs Resort and some less-expensive options. The new
Proceeding along Highway 111, Rancho Mirage blends into Cathedral City, offering abundant dining choices on "Restaurant Row." You will find Stuart Anderson's Black Angus, Chart House,
Palm Desert & Indian Wells
Palm Desert features the deluxe shopping region of
Just after Palm Desert, Indian Wells offers the
Farther along 111, golf Mecca La Quinta hosts several private courses, including the
Serving as a gateway into the more agricultural portion of the Coachella Valley, Indio is the location for the annual
Throughout Palm Springs and its surrounding cities, visitors enjoy quality dining, luxurious resorts and world-famous golf courses. It's no wonder why this community consistently draws countless tourists from around the globe.
While Palm Springs is still relatively young in history, this desert community offers a vast array of entertainment options. Most notably, Palm Springs is world-famous for its luxurious golf courses. Yet, this city also features cultural museums, dynamic theater presentations, upscale shopping districts and a happening nightlife. Whether your preference is to visit a reserved museum or hip nightclub, you will not be disappointed with the entertainment found in the desert haven of Palm Springs.
Music & Theater
Since Palm Springs is located just a few hours away from the action of Hollywood, this desert community is often privy to top-name attractions. In fact, numerous Hollywood stars hold a second residence or retire in the Palm Springs area. First-class musicians often perform at the McCallum Theater, a top-notch Palm Desert facility that hosts cultural and entertainment events. Meanwhile, music and dance are combined in an energetic annual show known as the Palm Springs Follies, held at the Plaza Theater. All Follies performers are at least 50 years old and many boast Hollywood fame.
Another popular music venue is Palm Desert's Summer of Fun Concert Series. Each summer, guests relax in a luscious green park while listening to live performances of jazz, big band and blues music.
Contemporary theater fanatics will enjoy Joey and Maria's Italian Wedding, a humorous dinner theater show. This annual presentation explores hysterical family dynamics as the headline characters plan their over-the-top nuptials.
If you prefer ultra-modern theater, namely movies, visit the new Desert IMAX Theater. Boasting a giant screen that spans six stories in height, this popular establishment shows cutting edge 3-D movies.
Palm Springs also abounds with countless museums, each offering a captivating piece of Coachella Valley history. Visit the sculpture gardens at Palm Springs Desert Museum. In addition, the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum features basketry and photographs of early settlers in Coachella Valley, while the Palm Springs Air Museum boasts an expansive collection of historic aircraft, often featuring air shows and other special events. If you have little ones, visit the Children's Discovery Museum, which offers fun, interactive exhibits of science and archaeology.
Another favorite pastime for many tourists is shopping and Palm Springs does not disappoint with an abundance of upscale shopping venues. The Gardens on El Paseo is an exquisite complex of shops, hosting everything from pottery to sportswear. Meanwhile, El Paseo Shopping Avenue has been dubbed 'the Rodeo Drive of the desert'. This shopping district offers an enticing combination of high-fashion clothing with delightful eateries.
In addition to theaters, museums and shopping, Palm Springs also hosts a vast selection of outdoor attractions. This city's warm climate invites tourists to engage in activities of the great outdoors. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway takes visitors from lowland desert terrain to the top of Mount Jacinto. Some guests simply ride the cable car for the incredible view of Coachella Valley, while others use the tramway as a route to outdoor activities at the mountaintop, including hiking trails and mule rides.
Beyond the tramway, Coachella Valley offers scores of additional outdoor activities. The Living Desert highlights over 400 wildlife species in a desert environment of flora and fauna, while Oasis Waterpark offers a break from the desert heat, with water slides and inner tube activities.
Although the tramway and waterpark are favorite attractions, there is no argument about the most frequented outdoor establishments throughout Coachella Valley. Golf reigns supreme in Palm Springs and its surrounding desert cities. Visit the exclusive PGA West Arnold Palmer private golf course in La Quinta, a course that has hosted the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. Indio also sports a top-notch course, The Landmark Golf Club, which hosts the world-famous annual Skins Game. In addition, do not forget the Tahquitz Creek Resort Course, designed by Ted Robinson.
Featuring theater, museums, golf, shopping and a happening nightlife, Palm Springs is a memorable town for any tourist. From tame, cultural experiences to upbeat, trendy spots, this town specializes in variety. So, bring your camera and your sunscreen, and get ready to enjoy the best sites of beautiful Palm Springs.
Palm Springs has always catered to those wanting a taste of luxury, a chance to swim or soak, and a view of the dramatic bare mountains. This city's hotel owners are aware that most visitors want deluxe accommodations, thus an establishment called a 'motel' here is mysteriously designated a 'hotel', even if it is just an eight-room courtyard wrapped around a streetside swimming pool. Meanwhile, small motels, which have not been renovated since they were built in the 1950s, are now proudly celebrating their kitschy decor and advertising their 'authentic retro' furnishings. True hotels are then inevitably called 'resorts', so this term can mean anything from a self-contained, 300-room, multi-pool paradise with a private golf course to a twenty-room, two-story hotel with a single Jacuzzi. Finally, numerous resorts, not to be outdone, advertise themselves as "spas," with the most luxurious ones offering state-of-the-art gyms, therapeutic specialists, aromatherapy, personal exercise coaching and much more.
The high season in Palm Springs begins in December and runs through March. Exact dates of high season prices vary among accommodations. Room rates drop to half or less off these high season prices during the months of June, July and August, when the city's temperature soars into the low hundreds Fahrenheit. Hotels at the southern end of town enjoy the greatest protection from strong winds, which buffet the north side—an area known as "Nature's Greatest Wind Tunnel."
Downtown Palm Springs
Palm Springs is laid out in a patchwork of golf courses and resort complexes, with less-expensive lodgings sprinkled throughout. Many small, inexpensive accommodations are near Palm Canyon Drive, which at its southern end becomes the prime shopping and dining district of the city known as 'The Loop'. Early garden court retreats, such as the Orchid Tree Inn, give a glimpse of the shady solitude Palm Springs offered its first visitors.
Many early establishments can legitimately claim various legendary stars were clients. The classic Ingleside Inn states 'Garbo Slept Here', as well as John Travolta, Goldie Hawn and many other contemporary stars.
Right on Palm Canyon Drive, the Hyatt Regency boasts an ideal location in the heart of the downtown area, close to dozens of restaurants, nightclubs and shops. Meanwhile, the Riviera Resort offers an 18-hole putting course and nine tennis courts on twenty-four acres of palm-shaded grounds.
Good value resort choices in Palm Springs include the 255-room Ramada Resort Inn & Conference Center and the Holiday Inn Palm Mountain Resort. Slightly more expensive choices include the Wyndham Palm Springs Hotel and the Hilton Palm Springs Resort. All of these hotels offer some spa facilities, meeting space, pools and spacious rooms along with full hotel services.
At the intersection of Tahquitz Canyon and Indian trails, the Agua Caliente band of the Cahuilla Indians hosts a glitzy, Las Vegas-style hotel casino called the Spa Hotel Casino. Just a block away from the Palm Canyon dining and shopping district, this centrally-located, 230-room hotel offers something for everyone, from excellent spa amenities to entertainment, dining and high-energy gambling at both tables and slot banks.
In recent years, Palm Springs has become a top destination for the local and international gay and lesbian traveler, and dozens of small hotels cater to either an all-male or all-female clientele. Camp Palm Springs is a legendary destination for gay men, and the Bee Charmer Inn and Casitas Laquita are both women-only retreats.
The warm, dry climate also favors clothing-optional resorts, both gay and straight. Several of these are located in the heart of Palm Springs. One of the largest is the Desert Shadows Inn Resort and Villas, which operates year-round as a naturist hotel.
South Palm Springs
Past the shopping area on South Palm Canyon Drive, there is a cluster of low-range to moderate lodgings including the Vagabond Inn, the Travelodge, Royal Sun and Best Western. All of these establishments offer reasonable prices, pools and good views of the mountains from many rooms.
Also, in South Palm Springs, talk host celebrity Merv Griffin has put his name to the Grecian-style Merv Griffin Resort and Givenchy Spa, where guests receive a European spa experience under the Givenchy brand name. In a town filled with spas, this one is considered to be one of the most worthwhile.
If staying in Palm Springs itself does not appeal to you, lodging prices drop by about twenty percent in nearby Cathedral City, where much of the everyday business of Palm Springs is accomplished. The thrifty traveler will find budget chains such as Super 8 and a small Travelodge.
Farther along Highway 111, Rancho Mirage is one of the fastest-growing communities in the desert. The deluxe Ritz Carlton is an upscale traveler's paradise, providing European-style guest care in a beautiful environment, with all the comforts and special attention that have become synonymous with the Ritz-Carlton name.
Wherever you choose to stay in the Palm Springs area, you will enjoy some of the Northern hemisphere's finest autumn and winter weather, with warm days, slightly cooler nights, and clear, sparkling skies.
Palm Springs draws numerous tourists from around the globe year after year. What keeps these visitors coming back to this desert haven? Most guests praise the world-championship golf courses, although others rave about the shopping, restaurants and shows offered in Palm Springs. Whatever your preference, you will find a variety of pleasurable attractions along these tours of Coachella Valley.
Tour One: Downtown Palm Springs
Begin your tour on Highway 111, after exiting from Interstate-10. Continue along Highway 111 until you reach North Palm Canyon Drive. Charming eateries are found along North Palm Canyon Drive. Consider stopping at Crosswalk Café, a casual venue with fresh baked breads and goodies. Meanwhile, Hamburger Hamlet is an ideal lunchtime spot for families.
Once you reach the intersection of North Palm Canyon Drive and Tahquitz Canyon Way, take a brief detour westward to find Museum Drive. Along this strip, visit Palm Springs Desert Museum with its exquisite sculpture gardens, and Annenberg Theater where traditional opera and ballet concerts are performed.
Back along Palm Canyon Drive (which becomes South Palm Canyon Drive after the Tahquitz Canyon Way intersection), visit the Plaza Theater, a 1930s movie house that has been transformed into a modern-day theater facility. The theater hosts scores of popular attractions including the Palm Springs Follies, a wildly popular show starring only folks over 50 years of age. Near the theater, The Blue Guitar draws large nighttime crowds with blues music and a hardwood dance floor.
Slightly further south, visitors will enjoy a stretch of historical landmarks. The Agua Caliente Cultural Museum showcases artifacts from early Native American tribes. In addition, the McCallum Adobe and Ruddy's General Store, two of Palm Springs' earliest establishments, both now serve as museums.
Palm Canyon Drive eventually turns eastbound, newly dubbed East Palm Canyon Drive. Merv Griffin's Givenchy Spa & Resort is located along this stretch of land. One of the most exclusive and luxurious resorts in Coachella Valley, this establishment hosts Fashions at Merv's Place, a monthly show featuring the latest trends of upscale Palm Springs boutiques.
When East Palm Canyon Drive meets Gene Autry Trail, turn north to find Palm Springs Air Museum, an incredible display of historic planes, highlighting an extensive collection of World War II aircraft.
Tour Two: Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert
While Palm Springs offers countless attractions, its surrounding desert cities also feature notable tourist spots. After visiting the sites along the Downtown Palm Springs tour, simply drive eastbound along East Palm Canyon Drive into Cathedral City where you will find popular attractions for families. The Desert IMAX Theater shows 3-D movies on a screen that spans six stories in height. Cathedral City also features top-notch public golf courses including the Cimarron Golf Resort and Cathedral Canyon Country Club.
Once you enter Rancho Mirage, visit this community's popular museum for youngsters. The Children's Discovery Museum of the Desert offers dozens of interactive exhibits for kids including an archaeological dig.
Nearby Palm Desert features the most popular attractions on this tour, found along the famed El Paseo Avenue, also called “the Rodeo Drive of the desert.” The Gardens on El Paseo is an elaborate shopping center offering everything from clothing and luggage to pottery. Meanwhile, Coda Gallery features contemporary works of art including paintings, sculptures and glass masterpieces.
While El Paseo reigns supreme among the Palm Desert venues, the city hosts a few other notable attractions. The Living Desert is a delightful display of flora and fauna accompanied by a vast range of wild animal species. In addition, McCallum Theater is located in Palm Desert, showcasing cultural and musical events.
Tour Three: Eastern Desert Cities
While Palm Springs and its surrounding desert cities boast a variety of attractions, many tourists come simply to play golf. An abundance of golf courses dominate Coachella Valley. Some of the finest courses are found along PGA Boulevard in La Quinta where the PGA West Resort Courses are located. Tee off on a course designed by Jack Nicklaus or other top-name golfers. In addition, view world-famous golf tournaments such as the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic, which is hosted by the Arnold Palmer Course.
Golfing action continues in the community of Indio. While this town is significantly less upscale than La Quinta, the community has earned a favorable reputation for quality public courses. In fact, Indio's Landmark Golf Club hosted the prestigious 1999 Skins Game, an annual professional tournament broadcast on network television. In addition to public golf courses, Indio also hosts the annual Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival.
Whether you are looking to tee off on a world championship golf course or simply browse through upscale shopping boutiques, select a tour through Palm Springs and its surrounding cities. Each tour offers different highlights, but you will always find variety and sunshine along these tours of the Coachella Valley.