I recently had the chance to take a bit of a holiday and took my husband, mother in law and father in law and headed 0ff to Palm Springs. With it being very easy to get to from the West Coast, it proved to be a very popular get-a-way location for everyone. I was surprised to see so many children on the plane, but then thinking about it some more, it makes sense: they were all going to visit the “snow birds” – grandmas and grandpas.
We were only there for a week, from February 21-28, and I personally was hoping for some of that famous desert sun to warm me after enduring a very cold and long winter here at home. The week before we arrived was up over 30 degrees as was the week after – sadly, the week we were there, although mostly sunny, was never warmer than 22 degrees.
We called the Residence Inn Palm Desert home for the week we were there. The beds were very comfortable, the included full breakfast was excellent, the pool deck, although small, was wonderful, but it is a bit of an older building so it lacked all the bells and whistles that some people might be looking for. We shared a 2-bedroom suite with 2 bathrooms and a small kitchen and living area. Sadly, our balcony was shaded most of the time, it was very windy and quite cool, so we didn’t spend too much time outside on the balcony.
A car rental is a necessity, whether you decide to stay in Palm Springs or outside the city as we did. There are so many sights to see, hikes to explore and shopping to get done! When I return again, I’ll be staying in Palm Springs to take advantage of the atmosphere of downtown. We did take in Village Fest – an amazing street “Farmer’s Market”. You can spend hours walking from vendor to vendor, shopping for the perfect souvenir or looking for an amazing bite to eat! Careful though – parking is a nightmare – but don’t let that stop you from adding this to your must do list on a Thursday night!
Although there are indoor museums to explore, the Palm Springs area is all about being outside.
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is an absolute! It was very cold when we went – be prepared for at least a 30 degree (F) drop in temperature at the top of Mount San Jacinto. I was very happy I had two sweaters, jeans, and my gloves! It took about 25 minutes to drive from Palm
Desert to the Tram and only about 10 minutes from downtown. You drive right up to the gate, pay the entrance fee to the park and are instructed as to which parking lot to go to.
Once there, there is a trolley that will take you to the tramcar (extra cost to take the ride up). The view from the top is amazing and there a many hiking trails to enjoy. There is limited “viewpoints” though from the station. On a side note – I had an AMAZING burger at the restaurant!!! There’s also a multi-station cafe catering to all your cravings.
It was snowing, blowing and really cold, so we didn’t head out hiking…
The Tahquitz Canyon, Indian Canyons and Joshua Tree Park all offer amazing opportunities to hike, mountain climb, sight see and experience the history of the native peoples. It was my first experience visiting an oasis – it’s quite amazing! Desert surrounds you and then – water – springing up from the earth – fills the desert with life! Really something to see.
The Living Gardens Zoo is a fantastic family experience. There are over 450 animals, 1,500 plant species and gardens, a model train display and hiking trails everywhere. Looking for something to do with your family – this is a must! I wanted to see cacti – lots of cacti – so we took a few hours off and visited the Moorten Botanical Garden. It’s not big by any means, but if you take your time walking through this small family run garden, there is much to see and it only costs a few dollars! Parking is limited along the roadway.
We wanted to see the San Andreas Fault line. Evidence of the fault line are everywhere and actually, when we went to the oasis, we drove over a huge “dip” in the road. At first we though it was for drainage (flash floods are very common in the valley), but later discovered we actually drove right over the fault! It is the fault itself that allows for the oasis to form.
We took a day and went for a longer drive out to the Salton Sea. Surrounded by agricultural lands, it is a pretty drive. It sits directly on the San Andreas Fault Line. The visitor center is a must stop before carrying on. It explains all you need to know about this amazing inland salt sea. Along the northeastern edge lies one of the the most important winter stops for birds traveling the Pacific Flyway. It is famous for it’s bird watching. The Cahuilla and other natives occupied these lands for thousands of years and have been witness to the changes. It was once a huge freshwater lake, but now, due in part to irrigation run off and of course, geological changes, it has about 25% more salt that the oceans of the world. Only the hardy tilapia fish and desert pupfish call this lake home now. Their bones scatter the beaches and help to make up “the sand”. There is camping, picnicking, fishing, boating, water sports , kayaking, bird watching and hiking! It is actually an amazing place to visit.
We tried to make the drive to the Sonny Bono National Wildlife Refuge, but one of us (hmmmm…maybe me…..) suffers from terrible motion sickness. Although straight, there is a long stretch of the highway (the only way in and out) where there are dramatic dips in the road to account for the incredible amount of run off and possibility of flash floods. Coupled with that is the distortion of the land from the fault. After only a short distance we had to turn around.
Tours abound everywhere. For the adventure seekers – 4-wheeling, zipling, mountain climbing, Warbird flights and more! For a tamer experience – there are windmill tours, celebrity home tours, tours to the oasis, golfing and much more.
Time to go home? The airport is easy to get around, but watch out when you return your car rental. There was a huge line up of cars that extended onto the street. The mobile attendants helped us right out on the street and got us going in reasonable amount of time – just don’t leave this to the last minute!
Are you ready for your quick escape to the Palm Springs area? I have help you fulfill the Wishbook dream!
Head on over to my <gallery> to check photos from my trip.