Short on Driving, Long on Fun: Palm Springs has Always Been a Popular Desert Oasis

A desert oasis is just a few hours east.

Follow Southern California’s seemingly endless freeway system east as it opens up to a desert wonderland. Just two hours out, past an iconic wind farm and a towering mountain peak, lies the Greater Palm Springs area – your starting point for an unforgettable weekend getaway. With an annual average of more than 350 days of sunshine, it’s a year-round playground that offers plenty of activities. So, whether you’re looking for something thrilling or just want to do some chilling, the forecast is for non-stop fun.

The events calendar for the Greater Palm Springs area is full and varied, but these are some of the upcoming signature events that annually attract visitors from all over:

• The Dinah 2021, Sep. 29 to Oct. 3 - The Dinah is the largest queer/lesbian/nonbinary event in the world - a celebration of community with parties, DJ sets, go-go dancers, comedy shows, and special appearances.

• BNP Paribas Open, Oct. 4 to Oct. 17 - The world’s top male and female tennis players descend on Indian Wells and compete in one of the biggest tournaments outside of the four Grand Slam events.

• Modernism Week Fall Preview 2021, Oct. 14 to Oct. 17 - A can’t-miss for architecture and design enthusiasts, it’s four days of engaging tours, talks, and parties in unique locales that are not usually open to the public.

• Palm Springs Pride Festival & Parade, Nov. 5 to Nov. 7 - In its 35th year, this free community event is a multi-day celebration of diversity and inclusion, featuring artists, entertainers, beverage stations and more.

No matter when you plan to visit the Greater Palms Springs area, these just a few of the local attractions that have proven to be quite popular:

• Palm Springs Aerial Tramway - The world’s largest rotating tram car transports visitors two and a half miles up to Mt. San Jacinto State Park, where there are restaurants, observation decks, a museum, documentary theaters, a gift shop and over 50 miles of hiking trails.

• The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens - Rated one of the ten best zoos in the U.S., this family-friendly attraction specializes in the deserts of the world with over 450 animals in their natural settings.

• BMW Performance Driving School - For the ultimate adrenaline rush, get behind the wheel and experience high-performance driving in the latest BMWs, pushing yourself and machinery to the limit.

• El Paseo Shopping District - Located in Palm Desert, El Paseo is a destination in and of itself, offering nine blocks of world-class shopping, dining, art galleries, and more. To get off the beaten path, try one - or all - of these unique, unforgettable activities:

• Celebrity Homes Tour - Palm Springs, then and now, has always been a favorite playground for numerous A-list celebrities. So,

it’s no surprise that many have homes in the desert. And now you can take a self-driving, guided audio tour of the area’s most famous homes while learning about all the interesting architectural details.

• The Greater Palm Springs area is also an oasis for art lovers, and the artsGPS app lets aficionados take advantage. With the app on your smartphone, self-guided tours of more than 100 outdoor public art installations - from sculptures to wall murals - are at your fingertips.

Wind turbines can be seen close-up, and not just from the highway, on a unique tour.
(400tmax/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

• Windmill Tour - Anyone who has driven to and from the Coachella Valley has had questions about all the giant wind turbines dotting the hillsides. Now you can get answers and a close-up view along with a fascinating explanation of this renewable energy source.

No trip to Palm Springs would be complete without a visit to Agua Caliente Casino, conveniently located in the heart of downtown Palm Springs. Enjoy the thrills of 24-hour gaming action, take in live music at the Cascade Lounge, and savor the mouth-watering selections at The Steakhouse, an award-winning restaurant that’s right on the premises. Come for the fun but stay for the amenities, from the luxuriously appointed rooms to the Five Star-awarded Sunstone Spa.

Long known as a golfer’s paradise, Palm Springs and the surrounding Coachella Valley have more options than almost anywhere in Southern California to hit the links. From meticulously maintained public courses to some of the most exclusive country clubs in the U.S., Palm Springs’ golf options run the gamut from beginner to pro-level, so players at any skill level can join in. After a round, hit up the various restaurants and bars that hug the many courses, including the classic al-fresco dining at Escena Palm Springs. Your options for things to do in the Greater Palm Springs area are as infinite as the stars in the desert night sky. This oasis of limitless possibilities ensures no two trips are alike, and being just a couple of hours from L.A., it invites visitors back again and again for an easy and memorable SoCal getaway.