Palm Springs is southern California's best known inland resort destination. Dotted with all sorts of vacation hideaways, fringed by palm trees, and lent color through lush golf greens (and more swimming pools than one can easily count), Palm Springs attracts a clientele that ranges from retirees to spring breakers, all seeking the perfect climate and luxurious accommodations the town has become famous for. But unlike Las Vegas, Palm Springs has managed to hold on to its identity in the process, and still feels like a little resort town in the middle of the Southern California desert.
Located in the Coachella Valley with the snow-capped peaks of the San Jacinto Mountains for backdrop, Palm Springs has long been an upscale escape for area visitors and famous figures. Movie stars and mob bosses ditched L.A. to vacation here during the town's first boom in the 1920s, popularizing a Spanish-Mediterranean architectural style. The town received another tourist boost during the '50s when this became a hip Rat-Pack hang out. They brought with them significant Mid-Century Modern architects who crafted uber-cool homes, many of which were restored in the 1990s and some of them (like the Kaufmann Desert House and Palm Springs City Hall) now open to the public.
The main drag through Palm Springs is North Palm Canyon Drive; most tourist amenities and attractions are located off this thoroughfare. Shop the antique and specialty shops along this route if you can on Thursdays when the road is closed to vehicles, and local merchants fill the streets with goods and fresh produce - look for the plump dates that grow especially well in the valley. Also off Palm Canyon Drive find both the Palm Springs Art Museum and Village Green Heritage Center, which takes in historic sites like the McCallum Adobe, Ruddy's General Store and the Agua Caliente cultural Museum. For a better understanding of the Agua Caliente (an indigenous tribe), enjoy a detour out to Tahquitz Canyon, just off South Palm Canyon Drive for a ranger guided hike to see rock art, wildlife and a waterfall.
When you're ready for a respite, hit the deck - pool deck that is - for a sunbathing session on one of Palm Spring's 355 days of sunshine. There's a good selection of night clubs, stage shows, and concerts to consider after hours, while those after rather a bit of quiet can head to nearby national park, Joshua Tree, or spend some time hiking in the San Jacinto Mountains.
Palm Springs is located in south central California along I-10, about two hours from Los Angeles or San Diego.