Things to Do in Palm Springs, California

Things to Do in Palm Springs, California
Palm Springs is a resort community and recreation area east of and easily accessible from the Los Angeles area. It's situated in low desert, which has a dry and warm climate much of the year.

It has a history inescapably related to the film and entertainment industry dating to the post-World War II era and before. Famed singer and actor Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack friends and other entertainers settled in the area and added a star quality when it was still a small community between Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Buttressed to the west by the impressive San Jacinto and San Gorgonio mountain peaks, the exotic and austere Joshua Tree National Forest to the north and the Salton Sea to the southeast, Palm Springs is an interesting mix of American culture and natural wonders.


The area is primarily known for top-quality golf courses in scenic settings spread across the various desert towns around Palm Springs, from Desert Hot Springs to Coachella. Options for 18 holes range from moderate (well under $100) to very expensive (more than $200), from public to exclusive private courses, from easily accessible to very difficult to obtain reservations. A good resource for booking golf outings at discount prices is (Resource 1).

Old Town

Despite its sprawling gated-residential areas, Palm Springs remains an accessible human-scale community worth exploring on foot. South Palm Canyon Drive and South Indian Drive are parallel one-way streets that make up the heart of the city with a wide range of shops, bars, restaurants and historic theaters and other entertainment outlets spread across more than a dozen city blocks.

Top attractions include the Annenberg, Palm Canyon and Palm Springs Plaza theaters, the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum and Ruddy's General Store Museum. Similar to Hollywood, Palm Canyon Drive has a walk of fame in which plaques have been imbedded honoring American entertainment industry leaders who lived in the Palm Springs area.

Palm Springs Aerial Tram

The tram rises to Mount San Jacinto State Park at 10,834 feet via Chino Canyon northwest of Palm Springs, accessing 54 miles of hiking trails. Plan on a much cooler climate at the top and, during peak tourist seasons, up to a four-hour wait to board the tram. Prices range from $16 for teens to $150 for an adult annual pass.

Joshua Tree National Forest and the Salton Sea

Natural wonders abound in the area. Joshua Tree National Forest to the north of Palm Springs is a bleak desert area in which Joshua trees--prickly cactus-like trees that thrive in arid conditions--grow amid an impressive assortment of desert flowering plants. The Salton Sea, a collection point for mountain water runoff from the surrounding Southern California deserts, offers a watery respite and recreational area that endures in contrast to the arid areas in all directions.

Article Written By Gary Olson

Gary Olson is a freelance writer, editor, photographer and designer with 34 years of experience. His work has appeared in such publications as Sailing, Northwest Living, 5280, The Arizona Republic, The Denver Post and many other newspapers and magazines. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota.

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