We often bucket list cities that are the centre of all things happening, but rarely do we look at places that are offbeat and not popularly on the travel map. Situated in the Sonoran desert of southern California and surrounded by the famous Coachella valley, is a desert resort city proudly named ‘Palm Springs’ – shouting of a laid back vibe – yes, but more luxury and happening than you can ever think of. Here is a list of 7 things you didn’t know about Palm Springs, CA:
Soak up in the desert mineral waters.
Unwinding in a desert can be a different kind of relaxing experience – and the luxury villas in Palm Springs along with some world-class spas offer just that kind of treatment to every traveler from near or far. From luxury spas to natural mineral water spas located north of the city in Desert Hot Springs – you can plan a wellness getaway as per your choice in any boutique hotel nearby. Treatment menus range from massages, body wraps, facials to simply some rejuvenating time. The swimming pools inside a number of resorts in Desert Hot Springs have natural mineral water and allow a whole day use for a fee.
You can golf all you want.
If you are a golfer and didn’t know this already – Palm Springs is a golfers paradise. With more than 100 golf courses many of which are by world-class designers – the city is a hotbed of some serious golfing activities as different clubs compete by catering to a customer’s every need, including complimentary valet parking and even luxury buffet options. The next revered sport in the city is tennis.
It’s a modernist mecca.
Boasting of some rare to spot mid-modern century architecture – Palm Springs is often quoted as a modernist residential mecca, housing one of the best collections of modernist architecture in the world. According to research, “wealthy clients and celebrities from nearby Los Angeles and across the country commissioned villas in this resort city, as part of the modernist movement’s boom during the mid-20th century.”
Fun-fact: Some revered Californian modernists like John Lautner, Richard Neutra and Albert Frey all built some of their best-known works in the city which then contributed to shape the image of the Southern Californian lifestyle during the 1950s and 1960s.
It can get miserably hot.
Touching as high as 115 in September, the temperature in Palm Springs is HOT! Although most people claim that the dry heat of this desert city can be far more bearable than the humid heat of Florida – but still Palm springs is HOT. Winter clothes in Palm springs make no sense most of the year, and some businesses including restaurants and shops actually shut down in the hottest months. In all probability, people who claim to love the summer heat also prefer to stay indoors in the afternoons in comfortable air-conditioning.
Traffic and roads make no sense.
Looking at the geography of Palm springs and around – you can instantly imagine that you will be putting miles and miles on your car to drive in and outside the city. Being a desert, the city on some days becomes a complete ghost town and you will end up coming home much earlier in the night. Once you are on the highway you will be driving with extreme caution yourself – as you can easily expect the slowest moving cars on freeways, casually mixed with golf carts on the roads, with speeding traffic NOT stopping on the intersections to unimaginably loaded pick up trucks midway. In all reality you will not blink for a second while driving around Palm springs.
But even though driving can be a nightmare – the city also offers one of the most stunning windmill views in the United States – which seem to be everywhere in Palm Springs – helping to generate one and a half percent of California’s electricity. As per the numbers, “there are 3,500-plus windmills in place, creating enough energy to power nearly 200,000 homes.”
A day trip to Joshua Tree National Park
According to the Joshua National Park Service, “Two distinct desert ecosystems, the Mojave and the Colorado, come together in Joshua Tree National Park. A fascinating variety of plants and animals make their homes in a land sculpted by strong winds and occasional torrents of rain. Dark night skies, a rich cultural history, and surreal geologic features add to the wonder of this vast wilderness in southern California.”
All you need to take a trip to this one-of-its-kind desert national park is a car rental and a $15 entree fee to the park. While there is an abundance of natural beauty to explore – you should not leave the park without having to see some key views at a distance – Mount San Jacinto, the Coachella Valley, Palm Springs and the famous San Andreas Fault. And if you are lucky with a clear weather, you may be able to get a glimpse of Mexico! Pro tip: Joshua Tree National Park is great for both day and night photography with some brilliant picture opportunities of the changing skies and desert views. Make sure to carry your camera and an appropriate light meter to capture the landscapes aptly.
From Art to Canyons, there is a lot to do in the city
It’s safe to call Palm Spring an artsy town – as there is art in bits and pieces everywhere in the city. For art lovers – the collection at the Palm Springs Art Museum includes contemporary art, art glass, and sculptures, while the natural science collection contains items from varied fields such as archaeology, biology, and geology. Music, dance, and theater performances are also held in the theater.
Then comes the Palm Springs Air Museum, that showcases an extensive collection of aircraft from World War II, including planes that range from the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress to the Grumman F7F Tigercat to the Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star. Much like a colossal walk-in wardrobe of planes – the aircrafts are positioned throughout the museum and the entry fee costs $16.50 for adults.
As per historic facts, “Palm Springs has been a tourist destination since the 19th century, but centuries before that, the area was populated by Indians. Most of the complex and sophisticated Cahuilla communities settled in the Murray, Palm, Andreas, Chino, and Tahquitz Canyons.”
Situated less than 2 miles southwest of downtown Palm Springs is the Agua Caliente tribe’s Tahquitz Canyon that offers a stunning view of a 60-foot waterfall and a first-hand feel of Native American history and culture. For an additional canyon experience – one can also visit the nearby Indian Canyons that consist of Palm Canyon, Murray Canyon and Andreas Canyon. All three canyons offer hiking trails with breathtaking desert scenery.