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There’s a reason why Palm Springs was once the number one vacation resort for movie stars, writers, musicians, and politicians: Sunshine. But there's a lot more to enjoy than just wonderful weather.
Palm Springs is a true desert oasis. This beautiful Californian city is located within an easy drive of Los Angeles, but it feels worlds apart. It’s the kind of place where you can relax on a different golf course every day, hike to secluded desert beauty spots, or splash around with your kids at massive water parks. In other words, it’s got something for everyone.
Entertainment is another huge draw. Dine out at fantastic French restaurants like Le Vallauris, sip cocktails at Melvyn’s Restaurant or Birba, hit the slots and poker tables at Agua Caliente Casino, or dance until dawn at Zelda’s.
Palm Springs can satisfy everyone – from groups of friends looking to party, to nature lovers wanting to retreat to the desert, or seniors wanting a golfing escape.
Palm Springs is almost always sunny. Monthly average temperatures never dip below 70 degrees Fahrenheit and rain is a rarity. Most of the year, the sun is constant, while not too hot to make the resort uncomfortable. Overall, it has a great climate – which is why people have been flocking there for over 70 years.
Some cities have football, others have baseball. Palm Springs has golf. High-quality local courses include Indian Canyon, Tahquitz Creek, Escena, and the Classic Club, designed by Arnold Palmer.
Palm Springs is a desert resort, and gorgeous scenery is just a few minutes’ drive away. Step on the San Andreas Fault, head out ATV driving at Borrego Springs or take the Aerial Tramway 8,500 feet above the desert.
Palm Springs is a retail oasis in the California desert. You’ll find craft stores, small boutiques, major labels, florists, bridal stores, and jewelers along Palm Canyon Drive and major stores like J.Crew, Sak’s, and Tiffany’s at Westfield Palm Desert.
Back in the 1920s and 30s, Palm Springs was the favorite resort for Hollywood's elite. Major world stars like Frank Sinatra purchased homes here. You can tour them in the Movie Colony district or follow the Walk of Stars in Downtown Palm Springs, which features all of the town’s prominent residents.
If you love playing golf, Palm Springs is one of the greatest vacation destinations. There are courses designed by greats of the game like Gary Player and Arnold Palmer, and there are plenty of affordable courses that have been elegantly sculpted from the desert scenery.
The weather in Palm Springs is ideal for heading to family attractions like the Wet’n’Wild water park, with its massive wave pool, 180 meter long lazy river and thrilling ProSlide Tornado water slide.
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is a unique local attraction that allows visitors to see the city while suspended 8,500 feet above the desert floor. The two and a half mile ride provides stunning views and photo opportunities.
Palm Springs is proud of its heritage as the resort of choice for Hollywood royalty. Visitors can follow the Walk of Stars in the center of town, which honors local residents like Lauren Bacall, Rock Hudson, or Frank Sinatra, or take guided tours of the stars’ homes in the Movie Colony neighborhood.
Palm Springs may not be Vegas, but it’s a good place for gambling fans to test their luck. The best casino in town is at the Agua Caliente Resort, where you can play poker, blackjack, and slots or catch major music acts like ZZ Top and Huey Lewis and the News when they pass through.
Palm Springs is a year-round resort. The weather is almost universally sunny and warm (sometimes a little too warm in late July and August), so there’s never a bad time to visit. Peak season is between January and May, when the weather is warm, and the climate is ideal for golf, swimming, hiking, sunbathing – whatever visitors want to do. Music fans can time their trip to coincide with the Coachella Festival in April.
The easiest way to get to Palm Springs is by catching a flight to Palm Springs International Airport. The airport is a couple of miles from the center of town, and there are shuttle buses to the major resort hotels (check with your accommodation before you arrive to see if they provide a transfer).
Palm Springs Amtrak station is located at 300 North Indian Canyon Drive and is a stop on the Sunset Limited service, between New Orleans and Los Angeles. You can also reach the city from Sacramento and San Joaquin via local trains, but an Amtrak bus transfer will be needed to get from the station to Palm Springs itself.
To get to Palm Springs from LA, just take I-10 eastwards, then change onto Highway 111. I-10 also connects the city to cities to the east, including Phoenix and Las Vegas.
If you want to travel to Palm Springs by bus, your best option will be to take a Greyhound service which connects the city to almost every major American destination. For local journeys, Sun Bus links Palm Springs to other towns in the Coachella Valley.
Palm Springs exists to serve, so there’s no shortage of high-quality accommodation. An exceptional luxury option is the North Africa-themed Colony Palms Hotel, where Jacuzzis come as standard. The Desert Sun Resort is slightly cheaper but livelier, with music events in the on-site nightclub. Budget travelers might look at the two Best Western hotels or the Motel 6 Downtown.
Downtown Palm Springs – Palm Springs doesn’t really have a classic city center, but the heart of the city is at the intersection of Indian Canyon Drive and E Tahquitz Canyon Way. This is where you’ll find the major convention center, so it’s a popular spot for business travelers, but it’s also the town’s cultural hub, hosting the Palm Springs Art Museum.
Cathedral City – To the southeast of the city center you’ll find Cathedral City. This is where most of the resorts are situated, and it’s totally designed for tourists to enjoy. Families can splash around at Wet’n’Wild water park, while golfers can test their skills against four local courses. Then there’s the Canyon Plaza Shopping Center, the city’s premier mall.
The Movie Colony – In the 1940s, Palm Springs became the vacation destination of choice for huge movie stars like Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. Nowadays, the Movie Colony is where you’ll find their gorgeous homes. Gathered around Ruth Hardy Park, the Colony hosts some of the city’s best restaurants, like the Mediterranean Purple Palm and Workshop Kitchen, a great cocktail bar.
Public transit isn’t extensive in the Palm Springs area, but Sun Bus does run a network of public buses from the city center to major hotels. However, if you plan to get around the city for more than a few days, it makes sense to book taxis or have your own vehicle.
Standard taxi fares in Palm Springs are $3 for the flag drop, then $3.12 per subsequent mile, with a waiting charge of $24 per hour. Getting around with Uber can be far cheaper, with a base fare of $1 and a charge of $1.15 per mile.
Renting your own car is easily the best way to get around Palm Springs and the San Jacinto Valley. You’ll find plenty of rental firms represented at the airport, including Avis, Thrifty, and Enterprise. Parking can be a problem, as spaces in the center are limited. Check out the Downtown Palm Springs Parking Garage on W Baristo Rd, or try to find a spot on a side street if possible. Expect to pay around $10 per hour to park.
Palm Canyon Drive is Palm Springs’ main shopping street, with charming boutiques like Just Modern and Dazzles alongside specialist stores like the Palm Springs Florist. If you want clothes or craft souvenirs, it’s a good place to look. There’s also a number of shopping malls to explore, including Smoke Tree Village and Rimrock Shopping Center (both to the south of the city center).
If you want to splurge on gourmet food, Palm Springs is the place to do it. You can get delicious fresh meat at Baja Meat Market, visit the certified farmers’ market on E Baristo Rd or shop at delicatessens like Go Deli for organic and international foods. There are also plenty of supermarkets, including Ralph’s, Walmart, Stater Bros, and Jensen’s. The cost of living isn’t excessive, but Palm Springs isn’t cheap either. Expect to pay $3.20 for 12 eggs. Then again, wine is very cheap indeed, with a good bottle costing as little as $6.
Eating out is one of Palm Springs’ biggest attractions. If you love meat dishes, this is the place to be. Check out the burgers at Tylers, recognized as the best burger joint in town. Dine on surf and turf at Riccio’s or the meat feasts at Kaiser Grille in the city center. La Perlita is the city’s best Mexican restaurant, Kiyosaku is an excellent sushi option, while Le Vallauris is a classic up-scale French eatery. Good mid-range meals will cost around $10-15 and sit-down gourmet meals cost anything up to $100.