Palm Springs

Palm Springs

Overview

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Destination Basics

Famous for its warm, dry desert weather and sunshine, Palm Springs averages more than 350 sunny days a year. It gets less than 13 cm of rain annually. January and February are the wettest months but even then, the average rainfall is less than 4 cm per month. There are rarely rained-out days here, making this city a golfer's dream.

Average annual temperatures range from 12 C to 26 C, but from June to September, temperatures can rise up to a blazing 35 C. The hot temperatures discourage some travellers, so these are the months when you'll often find the best deals.

When packing, bring layers and a light jacket for the evenings. After all, Palm Springs is located in a desert and temperatures can drop more than 15 C once the sun goes down.

Average monthly temperature and average monthly rainfall diagrams for Palm Springs

For decades, Palm Springs held the glamorous title as Hollywood's playground. Elvis and Priscilla, Lucy and Desi and most of the Rat Pack all called Palm Springs home at one time or another. To this day, Bob Hope's huge, mushroom-shaped home rests up in the hills above the glitzy streets below.

The city even has its own star-studded walk of fame down Palm Canyon Drive. Make sure to look for the stars of Marilyn Monroe, Rock Hudson and Elizabeth Taylor. Also, keep an eye out for bronze statues. You'll find one of former mayor Sonny Bono and one of Palm Springs' most beloved former residents, Lucille Ball.

If you're a big fan of all things Hollywood, take a bus tour to see the celebrity homes. Then, grab a bite to eat at one of the many retro-themed restaurants.

For couples with a "hunka-hunka burning love," cuddle up in a suite at Elvis' Honeymoon Hideaway, where Elvis Presley carried Priscilla over the threshold on their wedding night.

The streets are easy to navigate here and you'll have no problem remembering their names. Most streets are named after stars like Gene Autry, Kirk Douglas and Dinah Shore.

Golf is the destination's current claim to fame. In fact, the sport has become such a popular pastime here, you'll often see yellow road signs warning drivers to mind crossing golf carts. In total, there are more than 100 public and private courses in the desert valley. Be sure to pack your clubs.

You'll also want to remember to save a little room in your suitcase. Palm Springs has great shopping. Discover treasures at antique shops and find deals at the outlet stores. On El Paseo, the Rodeo Drive of the desert, you'll find everything from Gucci to Burberry, often at discounted prices.

After you've rifled through designer labels, get out in the sunshine and enjoy Palm Springs' outdoor activities. Due to its desert location beside the mountains, you'll have plenty of outdoor adventures to try. Hike through canyons, walk along the San Andreas Fault or have a snowball fight atop Mount San Jacinto, all in the same day.

Palm Spring is located in southern California and sits at 148 metres above sea level. It is sheltered by the Little San Bernardino Mountains to the north, the Santa Rosa Mountains to the south and the San Jacinto Mountains to the west.

With its combination of towering mountains and soft desert air, you'll feel humbled by Mother Nature in Palm Springs.

Palm Springs is 177 km southeast of Los Angeles and 225 km northeast of San Diego, about a two-hour highway drive to either city. It's on the western edge of the Coachella Valley, within the ecological area known as the Colorado Desert.

Palm Springs may have an international airport and Bob Hope's former home, but it's actually one of eight small cities within a 40-km radius that make up the Palm Springs Desert Resorts. The other cities are Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Indio, Palm Desert, La Quinta, Desert Hot Springs and Indian Wells.

Palm Springs is built over an aquifer and is home to more than 100 golf courses. It is more lush and green than you might expect for a desert. The surrounding mountains are also lined with numerous hiking trails.

Get to the top of the majestic 3,301-metre-tall Mount San Jacinto by riding up the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Also nearby are Joshua Tree National Park, the Salton Sea (California's largest lake) and a natural reserve where visitors can take jeep tours along the San Andreas Fault.

Palm Springs thrives on travellers who visit the valley to relax and indulge. Many visitors eventually become residents. Much like Florida, Palm Springs is a retirement hotspot.

Only two hours from Mexico, there's a large Hispanic population here. You can find plenty of authentic Mexican cuisine with tamales, enchiladas, chiles rellenos and, of course, margaritas.

Palms Springs is also a spa mecca. Almost every resort and hotel offers a lengthy treatment menu, from simple pedicures to lava shell massages to natural healing treatments.

Interestingly, Palm Springs' healing powers are a part of its history. The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians lived along the canyons of Palm Springs for centuries. They were allegedly named by a Spanish captain who came through the area, dipped his foot in one of the bubbling hot springs and exclaimed, "agua caliente!" or "hot water!" Since then, these same hot waters have attracted many visitors to the Palm Springs region.

In the late 19th century, Dr. Welwood Murray opened Palm Springs' first hotel, simply named The Palm Springs Hotel. Conveniently located across the road from an Agua Caliente Indian bathhouse, Murray's guests often took dips in the hot, curative waters warmed by the underground earthquake fault zones of the San Andreas Fault.

A few decades later, Dr. Harry and Nellie Coffman opened The Desert Inn, originally a sanatorium for patients whose recoveries were thought to progress better in the dry, desert climate. Later, the inn became a world-famous resort hotel catering to the wealthy, including millionaires like the Vanderbilts and the Hearsts.

Today, life in Palm Springs is still pretty relaxed. Maybe it's all the sunshine that keeps the locals warm and welcoming.

For years, Palm Springs has also been home to a large gay population, making it a very gay-friendly city and top destination for gay travellers.

You'll have a variety of transportation options open to you upon arriving in sunny Palm Springs. This desert resort area is a two-hour drive from Los Angeles and three hours from San Diego.

Car rentals here are easy to come by, with numerous major chains located just across the hallway from the Palm Springs International Airport baggage claim. You'll also find numerous taxi and limousine services, including Valley Cabousine which serves the airport.

In the Coachella region, give Mirage Taxi a call. But keep in mind that fares here are not easy on the pocket book. With regular prices around US$3 a mile, it might be more economical to rent your own car.

It's also worthwhile checking out the SunBus schedule – Palm Springs' local public transit line. The SunBus has numerous routes around the city, running approximately every five minutes from 6 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Fares are affordable at just US$1 per person.

Of note, traffic here can be heavy during rush hour commutes and weekends, and is by far the busiest on the route from Palm Springs to LA and back. So long as you're staying in the Palm Springs region, you should have no problem getting around.

It is advisable to carry some U.S. cash with you for general expenses. For entertainment and shopping, your credit card will give you the exchange rate at the time of purchase. There are also numerous ATMs inside banks and public spaces where you can withdraw funds at your convenience. Just be aware that transaction fees vary by ATM.

Arrival

Before taking off, you'll go through U.S. Customs in your city of departure. Once you land in Palm Springs, all you'll need to do is pick up your bags from the baggage claim area.

From baggage claim, you can walk across the hall and pick up your rental car (pre-booking is always recommended) or exit the airport and catch a taxi, limousine or bus. Many local hotels and resorts run courtesy shuttles to transport guests as well.

Departure

Palm Springs International Airport uses the California sun to its advantage, offering many outdoor waiting spaces for guests to relax before their flights. The airport is also home to a bright courtyard, as well as a children's play area.

You can check in and select your seat online in advance using WestJet's simple Web check-in service. When you arrive at the international departures counter, smiling WestJetters will greet you, up to three hours prior to your flight. While you wait, browse the concession stands and shops (including The PGA Tour Shop). Free Wi-Fi access is also available for those wishing to go online.

Palm Springs
Ace Hotel & Swim Club
Ace Hotel's star attraction is the swim club, featuring a year-round outdoor pool and spa tub (both open until 2 AM)...
Hotel
4.0
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Palm Springs
Desert Princess Country Club Resort (Condos)
This condo resort is a great value and is located directly on a golf course.
Condo
3.0
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Palm Springs
Doubletree Golf Resort Palm Springs
You're invited to the most scenic and relaxing resort experience in Palm Springs.
Hotel
3.5
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Palm Springs
Embassy Suites La Quinta Hotel and Spa
One of the most modern all-suite properties in La Quinta.
Hotel
3.5
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Palm Springs
Homewood Suites by Hilton La Quinta
Homewood Suites by Hilton La Quinta is a spacious 129-suite hotel..
Condo
3.5
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Palm Springs
Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa

Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa is set against a lush backdrop of scenic gardens...

Hotel
4.0
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Palm Springs
JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa

Transform in the tropical surroundings, the pools are perfect for family fun and relaxation.

Hotel
4.5
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Palm Springs
La Quinta Resort & Club, A Waldorf Astoria Resort
The hidden jewel of the desert.
Hotel
4.5
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Palm Springs
Margaritaville Resort Palm Springs
Hotel
4.0
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Palm Springs
Omni Rancho Las Palmas
The Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa in Palm Springs offers a relaxing oasis set against a backdrop...
Hotel
4.5
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Palm Springs
Palm Mountain Resort and Spa
The perfect location makes this resort renowned for repeat visitors.
Hotel
3.0
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Palm Springs
Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa

Nestled at the base of the majestic Santa Rosa Mountains.

Hotel
4.0
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Palm Springs
Renaissance Palm Springs Hotel
Welcome to Renaissance Palm Springs Hotel, the only full-service Marriott in the majestic oasis of Palm Springs, California.
Family of 5
4.0
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Palm Springs
Residence Inn Palm Desert
The two bedroom suite makes your decision to stay longer easy.
Family of 5
3.5
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Palm Springs
Riviera Palm Springs
A retro and chic property, one of downtown Palm Springs newest resort hotels.
Hotel
4.0
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Palm Springs
Staybridge Suites Golf Resort

Located in the heart of the Coachella Valley, the Staybridge Suites Golf Resort is…

Family of 5
4.0
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Palm Springs
The Saguaro Palm Springs
Bright.
Hotel
3.5
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Palm Springs
The Westin Desert Willow
Perched on 125 acres of immaculately manicured grounds in the scenic Sonoran Desert...
Condo
4.0
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Palm Springs
The Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort and Spa

Spread out over 360 acres this lavish resort makes a perfect escape.

Hotel
4.0
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Palm Springs
The Westin Mission Hills Villas
A relaxing family setting in Rancho Mirage with amenities to help the family feel at home.
Hotel
4.0
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