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It’s summer in Southern California. Travelers looking for a great value should head to Palm Springs.

Now that the huge music festival crowds have stumbled home and most of the snowbirds have flown the coop, Palm Springs is heading into its low season, which is a great time to visit for travelers looking for a great value. With resorts and vacation home rentals offering some of their lowest prices of the year, especially mid-week, it’s a perfect getaway to enjoy hot, poolside days and long, short-sleeve evenings under the stars.

Cooling off, “pooling” on

Every resort in Palm Springs has a pool. It’s a given. In fact, Palm Springs might just have more pools per capita than anywhere in the world. In the summer, these sparkling, cool pools become the perfect (if not essential) oases during the heat of the day.

For families, the kid-friendly Palm Canyon Resort features not just two gorgeous pools but also a bar and plenty of sunny and shady real estate to relax in ... oh, and a waterslide. That’s right — choose to either chill with a pina colada or thrill to a waterpark-style adventure to beat the heat.

Meanwhile, Arrive Hotel offers guests “dive-in” movies screening from the pool monthly all summer long, so hop on a raft or grab a spot on the deck and enjoy the show. Elsewhere, the always-hip Ace Hotel boasts DJ events and special parties at its pool throughout the summer. If you’d rather just enjoy Palm Springs as a calm, quiet environ, however, then you’ll want to hit the rooftop pool at the Rowan Kimpton to relax and soak in the serene desert-scape views.

Tramway to heaven

The city of Palm Springs lies in the shadow of looming Mt. San Jacinto, whose towering apex helps define the cityscape. San Jacinto’s peak rises more than 10,000 feet above sea level and is among the tallest mountains in Southern California.

There’s no need to train for months to scale this mountain when the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is there to take the legwork out of the journey. The tramcars have a rotating floor offering 360-degree views and are the largest of their kind in the world. The vistas can stretch for more than 200 miles on a clear day.


While these sights are available year-round, there’s a special perk in summer: Air temperatures at the top of the tramway average about 30 degrees cooler than on the valley floor below. If the visual dissonance of palm trees transitioning into alpine forest isn’t enough, stepping out to a breezy, cool day will underscore the region’s wild and diverse appeal. With more than 50 miles of hiking trails, it’s well worth it to pack a lunch and embark on a day hike.

High-flying arts and culture

The Palm Springs Art Museum, a historical and contemporary art mecca clad in stunning modern and postmodernist architecture, should be your first stop. In addition to a permanent collection, summer offerings include a fascinating exhibit exploring art’s transition from impressionistic beginnings to full abstract expressionism. If you’ve wanted to see works by Vincent Van Gogh, Willem De Kooning or Edouard Manet sans a 10-hour flight to Europe, this is your chance.

For something more tactile, the Palm Springs Air Museum offers a family-friendly historical journey through aviation’s past. With nearly 50 aircraft on display from around the world, touring the museum’s three hangars shows off flying’s mechanics and artistry. This museum houses the largest collection of working World War II-era aircraft in the world.

As we’ve already mentioned, the higher in the sky you get, the more it cools off, so consider booking a flight on the functional C-47 Skytrain. The vintage transport will take you up, up and away for an unforgettable experience.

Sweet treats

When it’s time to indulge, Palm Springs is prepared. From fun regional desserts to dairy-free treats, the city knows how to make cold delicious.

Gelato Granucci has been creating the Italian treat since 1929, and its product is made entirely on-site in Downtown Palm Springs. Flavors change daily, so no one will fault you for visiting every day — everyone appreciates trying something new.

Cool treats abound at Lappert’s Ice Cream, where exotic, “super-premium” selections are on offer to make your mouth water as you wipe the sweat from your brow; Kona Coffee, Date Casablanca and Kauai Pie are among the ever-rotating selections. Kreem supplies similarly elevated delights to lovers of all treats iced, with its artisanal and organic coconut-based ice cream and all-natural seasonal sorbets.

—Alan LaGuardia for Visit Palm Springs