Celebrities, visionaries, and sun-seekers have been flocking to Palm Springs since the 1920s. As a Los Angeles resident, it is practically a requirement for me to spend weekend getaways in the desert. The beauty of a Palm Springs getaway is its versatility—you can sit by the pool, party like it's 1999, shop ‘til you drop, or explore the outdoors around the iconic desert city.
Some of my favorite activities are taking a tram to the top of Mt. San Jacinto, visiting Joshua Tree National Park, touring the fantastic modern architecture, and, of course, sitting with a cocktail by the hotel pool. Here’s how to experience a little bit of everything in three days.
Summer months get incredibly hot, with temperatures well above 100°F (38°C). Plan to be indoors (or by the pool) for most of the day.
If you only have time for one thing, make it a tour of the city's mid-century modern architecture.
The Palm Springs area became a canvas for modern architects from the 1930s to 1950s. Several South Palm Springs neighborhoods are excellent areas to explore by car, foot, or bike (my favorite), including Deepwell Estates, Twin Palms, and Indian Canyons. Be ready for colorful doors, asymmetrical facades, and dingbat accents!
In the afternoon, head further south to the Indian Canyons for a refreshing hike through a palm oasis. On your way in, stop at the family-run Moorten Botanical Garden to see many different cacti—and maybe pick up a few for yourself. End your day with a walk down festive Palm Canyon Drive with a date shake in hand.
Joshua Tree National Park is one of the most popular national parks in the country and makes an easy day trip from Palm Springs. My favorite stops include Hidden Valley Nature Trail, Skull Rock, and the Cholla Cactus Garden, all on the main out-and-back driving route through the park.
Sporty travelers can spend the rest of the afternoon rock climbing (Joshua Tree is famous for its enormous granite boulders), while everyone else can go head back to the pool at their hotel. Stop in Pioneertown on the way back to check out an old western movie set and grab dinner at Pappy + Harriet’s.
Spend the first half of your day in Indio (a 30-minute drive) on a Jeep tour to get an up-close view of the geology, wildlife, and flora of the magnificent desert surrounding the legendary San Andreas Fault.