Destination Palm Springs
Sizzling Hot Springs and Playground of the Stars
In the early 20th century, Palm Springs was nothing but a peaceful village where Native Americans from the Agua Caliente tribe shared space with California migrants looking for the health and relaxation that only the desert can offer. Their story is the subject of the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum. Early residents enjoyed the beauty of the nature trails at the Palm Springs Indian Canyons and the Moorten Botanical Garden and Cactarium; today, visitors can soar above the city on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to reach the hiking peaks of San Jacinto.
Nature also provided a luxurious backdrop for the Hollywood celebrities who would eventually discover Palm Springs in the 1920s. Now, it’s your turn to discover this iconic piece of mid-century history, which is still a celebrity playground and weekend escape.
Rat Pack royalty Frank Sinatra and his golden age buddies are known for populating the desert oasis at pool lounges to escape the big city fray. Order up a classic martini and have some poolside, vintage fun at some of their favorites: Melvyn’s of Ingleside Inn, Riviera Resort, Caliente Tropics, or The Colony Palm Hotel’s Purple Palm. See the Honeymoon Hideaway of the King himself, a futuristic 1960s icon of midcentury design, or try the pastrami at Sherman’s Deli to walk in the footsteps of Elvis.
Today, trend-setting cool kids living the rock and roll lifestyle come to Palm Springs with the dream of those days, from the comfort of the 21st century. You’ll find Palm Springs’ midcentury past reborn at the Ace Hotel, a re-imaged Westward Ho, complete with fabulously kitschy Monday night bingo; Thursday dive-in movies at the pool of Arrive Hotel, open to the public, are another great way to spend an evening in throwback luxury.
Float away with the latest craft beers at the quirky gastropub Draughtsman. Discover brand new artisan cocktail recipes at Workshop Kitchen + Bar, a 90-year-old converted movie theatre. And dine in style with a classic Old Fashioned at Mad Men-esque supper club, Mr. Lyon’s Steakhouse.
Slurp down fruity cocktails and island rum at one of Palm Springs’ many frivolous, futuristic Googie revivalist clubs. Knock back something sweet at Polynesian paradise the Tonga Hut, take a trip underground at the funky and flashy tiki-speakeasy Bootlegger Tiki, or join the annual ohana at The Reef. To keep up with the latest gathering of the tribe, check out the Tiki Times.
A stroll down the Walk of Stars on Downtown’s Palm Canyon Drive provides a guide to all the rest of the Palm Springs who’s who, but don’t worry if you get sidetracked along this palm-studded route, while passing the best antiques, collectibles, home decor and souvenir shops in the desert. The Thursday evening VillageFest from 6:00 – 9:00 pm brings the valley together with community, entertainment, crafts and food.
Culture mavens must pay a visit to the Palm Springs Art Museum to see priceless local and international shows. A visit to the adjacent Annenberg Theatre means an exclusive small screening, while the Palm Springs International Film Festival invites the best in world cinema every January. The Palm Springs Air Museum pays tribute to veterans with its extensive collection of air force flight exhibits, and you can often see these old birds in the skies over the desert.
Just outside of Palm Springs, visitors who are feeling lucky can test their talents at the Agua Caliente Casino, where slot machines and card tables provide hours of high-stakes entertainment. Or, catch your favorite band, comedian or performing artist at Agua Caliente’s very own venue, THE SHOW.
Visit the Palm Springs Tourism Office for more activities and suggestions.
Activities & Local Destinations
With a 9-hole golf course and experienced golf pros, come play the links at Caliente Springs.
Feel the health benefits of natural mineral pools fed by natural hot springs just under the surface.
Access unique entertainment and activities in the Palm Springs and Southern California areas.