Palm Springs

Palm Springs, CA - Palm Canyon RdWith extreme weather that can reach 110 F in the summer and freezing temperatures in winter, why would anyone want to spend any time in this desolate desert town?

In spite of the desert conditions, Palm Springs attracted many people throughout its history for various reasons. 

First, the Cahuilla Indian tribes made this area home and called it Se-Khi, which means boiling water, for the hot springs bubbling from the sand. 

Then people with some medical conditions started flocking to the area to take advantage of the dry and hot weather.

In the early 1900s, several hotels and resorts were built to attract the rich and famous. 

Read more about Palm Spring’s history at Wikipedia.

Now the area has many permanent residents along visitors enjoying all kinds of events and activities. 

Palm Springs, CA - Desert ViewAs a visitor, you can just chill at one of the resorts and enjoy dining, water activities, golf, tennis, night clubs or just along the main drag “Palm Canyon”. 

The more adventurous can take the Aerial Tramway to a height of 8500 ft, enjoy the cooler weather and hike through the San Jacinto State Park. 

Or you can rent an ATV (quad) and speed through the sand dunes.

If you are a party animal, try to catch one of the festivals like Festival of Lights Parade, Splash House Pool Party, Village Fest, Spring Break or, Gay Pride.

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Fun around town

Walk around

Palm Springs, CA - Palm Canyon RdMost major hotels and resorts are within walking distance from the main street “Palm Canyon”. So leave your car behind and take a walk along this busy street. You will find lots of unique shops and restaurants. Statues and monuments celebrating famous people and native American culture are almost on every corner. A few of those statues are for people like Sonny Bono, Lucille Ball and Gene Autry. Towards the west, you enjoy the views of the stark mountains that cast a long shadow on Palm Springs. 

Palm Canyon at night has a festive personality with brilliant lights and loud music blaring from restaurants and bars. 

Also within walking distance are Regal Cinemas. If you have some time to kill during the heat of the afternoon it is a good place to catch a movie.

Fun Nearby

Aerial Tramway

Palm Springs, CA - Aerial TramwayPalm Springs right below the San Jacinto mountains. So to escape the desert heat, take the Aerial Tramway to a height of 8500 ft and enjoy a much cooler climate and some stunning views.

Before you start on your trip, explore around desert station. There is a nice waterfall outside with a nice view of ascending cars.

The tram ride is part of the fun. The cars rotated 360 degrees giving every passenger the chance to see in all directions. As you climb to your destination you can see the desert below and the mountain up ahead.

Tip: Try to travel light. The car will be cramped. One backpack should be enough for your trip.

The cars are standing room only and they really packed with people. The car holds up to 80 passengers with their gear. 

Tip: If you are afraid of heights, you can get a place away from the windows and avoid looking down. 

Palm Springs, CA - Aerial TramwayOnce you make it to the mountain station, you can start exploring. 

At the station, you can look to the east side for amazing desert views and the tiny city of Palm Springs down below. On the west side, you can enjoy the forest of San Jacinto State Park. 

Once you are done exploring around the mountain station, you can descend down a winding path to the State Park and take a short hike. 

The nature trail around the station is easy with designated viewing points called “Notches” – numbered from 1 to 5. From those vantage points you can admire various desert views. 

Palm Springs, CA - Mount San JacintoFor the more adventures, there are plenty of wilderness trails, but you need a special permit to go on one of those.

Tip: Remember that winding path going down? Now you have to take it back up to the station. That is the most difficult part of this hike.

Once you make it back to the top, it is time for lunch. There are 2 dining choices at the mountain station. You can get a snack from the Cafeteria style restaurant or you can dine in style at Peaks Restaurant.

We recently tried the Peaks and really enjoying our lunch. The food was pretty good but expensive. What really enjoyed is the panoramic view of the desert below. When eating at The Peaks you're mostly paying for the view, Palm Springs, CA - Aerial Tramwaynot the food.

All-in-all, our trip on the Aerial Tramway was exciting and worth the money. We enjoying breathtaking views, had some workout on our hike and enjoyed a good meal. I highly recommend this adventure to everyone.

Tickets are $24 for adults. If you are planning to come often for hiking or skiing, then an annual pass for $160 makes sense. They also have a summer pass for $75.

Read another Aerial Tramway review here.

Off Road Rentals

Palm Springs, CA - ATV FunIt is always fun to ride on a 4-wheel ATV and speed around on the sand dunes. Usually, you would need to specially designated vehicular activity areas to enjoy the dunes. Off-road rentals on the outskirts of Palm Springs offer you a convenient alternative. 

This is a privately owned area with plenty of sand dunes to fulfill your need for thrills. You can rent an ATV for $40 for about 40 minutes of fun. 

Tip: Make sure to bring sunscreen and sunglasses. 

You start by entering a cave like building to view a safety and instructions video. You really need to pay attention to the instructions, especially if it was your first time. 

Palm Springs, CA - ATV FunThen you go to a friendly attendant who collects your payment and directs you to where you get your helmet and goggles. Goggles are required for kids under 18. Adults can wear their own glasses. This is to protect you from sand during your ride.

At the starting line, the attendants will match you with the right ATV for your size and weight and provide you with your final instructions. 

Tip: You can pay by credit card, but be prepared to leave the card with the staff while you ride. They run it through while you are having fun.

The tracks start on level ground to help you get used to your ATV. Once you feel confident, you can start climbing some dunes at varying heights. If you stay at the bottom, you can still have lots of fun going fast, doing doughnuts or spinning down sinkholes. 

If you go up the hill be prepared to stall or get stuck. But don’t worry, if you do get stuck and attend will help you get unstuck. You will also learn the trick very quickly. 

The ride was exhilarating and felt very long, even though it was only 45 minutes. The staff are very friendly and helpful. 

At the end of your ride, you are offered some cold drinks while you drop off the equipment. 

Where to eat 

Lulu California Bistro

Palm Springs, CA - LuluOn our last day at Palm Springs, we went to Lulu’s Cafe for breakfast.  They had a variety of choices from southwestern to crepes to make your own omelets to a traditional breakfast. For those that don't really enjoy breakfast Chicken quesadillas presented themselves on the menu and saved the day. The coffee was excellent and the view of the mountains was wonderful and relaxing.  

Maracas Cantina 

Palm Springs, CA - MaracasThe restaurant stays open quite late as we sat down at 9:00 PM. The majority of restaurants had already closed by that time so we were happy to have located it.  As a family that frequently dines at El Torito Grill we were extremely pleased by the authenticity of Maracas. El Torito does not compare. The Chili Relleno was doused in a creamy heartwarming cheese and a breading that tickled your tongue. The chili did not take much effort to cut and made eating it so much more enjoyable. 

Where to stay

The city has many hotels, motels and resorts to satisfy every taste and budget. You can get very good deals at motel chains like Extended Stay America, Renaissance Palm Springs, Best Western Inn and Comfort Inn.

If you prefer to live in luxury, try one of the high-end hotels like The Westin, L’Horizon, Hard Rock or La Quinta. 

Tip: Choose your hotel wisely. Some hotels are party hotels and others are geared toward families. If you are looking for the party atmosphere, look for places like Hard Rock hotel, Palm Springs Rendezvous or Avanti Hotel. But if you have kids then try places like Marriott's Desert Springs, Omni Rancho Las Palmas or Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa.

Were recently stayed at the Hard Rock hotel and our experience was mixed. We enjoyed the comfort, service and Rock music theme, but we did not enjoy the noise level. Read the full review below.

Hard Rock Hotel

Palm Springs, CA - Hard Rock HotelIf you love Rock n’ Roll, then this is the hotel for you. The rooms are elegantly designed with photos of Rock and Roll legends. 

The beds were firm but comfortable with soft or hard pillows, your choice. The room comes with a coffee maker and a mini fridge packed up with alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. You also get a shelve with a choice of snacks. 

Tip: Be warned! The snack shelve and the fridge are weight sensitive. If you remove any of the items, you will get charged for it automatically. The prices are very high. You will end up paying $4 for a can of soda and up to $95 for a bottle of Champaign. 

The best feature of the hotel is the location. It is one block off Palm Canyon Road with all the shops and restaurants. You are also within walking distance to other venues like movie theaters.

Palm Springs, CA - Hard Rock HotelThe staff are very friendly and helpful. They answer calls right away and provide directions when asked.

The pools area is large with cabanas, a Jacuzzi and a full bar. Towels and lounge chairs are provided. The only problem is that it is overcrowded with standing room only. There is no room for real swimming or playing in the water. 

The rooms at night were very noisy with drunk people running around and screaming. The staff responded to our complaints after midnight and talked to the offenders, but our night was already ruined.  

I recommend this hotel for Hard Rock lovers and party animals, but not for families with kids or for relaxation.

 

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Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Palm Springs, CA - Aerial TramwayPalm Springs and the surrounding area offer a lot of leisure and adventure opportunities and require many articles to cover the whole spectrum of activities.

This article is dedicated to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway and the adventures that await you at the top of the San Jacinto mountains. 

For more info about Palm Springs, read the full article here

After enjoying expansive desert views at the valley floor, get ready to be transported to a totally different world at the San Jacinto alpine forest. The state of the art rotating tram cars pick you up from the Valley Station - suspended from a 2 mile stretch of steel cables - and deposit you at the Mountain Station. The trip will take you from an elevation of about 2,600 feet (806 m) to about 8,500 feet (2,596 m. You will experience a temperature drop of about 40 degrees. This is similar to traveling from the Sonora desert to the Canadian tundra in 11 minutes.

Tip: Try to be one of the first people on the tram car. This way you can get a window view.

On your way up you will experience stunning views of the desert, the granite rock pillars that form the base of the mountains, lush vegetation nestled among the rocks and a bird’s eye view of Palm Springs.

Tip: The tram cars can fit up to 80 people – standing room only. So prepare to be stuffed like sardines.

Palm Springs, CA - Aerial TramwayThe Mountain Station is nestled on the edge between two worlds. On one side it overlooks the Coachella Valley – which is part of the Sonora Desert. On the other side, it overlooks the Alpine forest of the San Jacinto Mountains. Outside the Mountain Station, the land is part of the Mount San Jacinto State Park.

There is a lot to discover inside the station, but the adventure starts at the end of the ramp that leads you down into the forest. But before you descend down the ramp, stop at the ranger station store and talk to the rangers. Get a map of the area and sign your kids up for the junior ranger program.

Things to do in the Forest

Hiking

Palm Springs, CA - Aerial TramwayThe State Park and Wilderness area offer 54 miles of hiking trails. Trails range from the easy nature walk to the strenuous trek to the peak of San Jacinto.

We took the nature walk which took us in a loop close to the mountain station. Along the way, we enjoyed the shade of the forest trees, crossed several bridges over streams (dry during summer) and climbed some interesting rock formations.

The kids watched out for information posts and clues along the way so they can answer the questions for the junior ranger program.

If you want to do a more strenuous hike, you will need to obtain a wilderness permit from the ranger station.

Family Snow Fun

Take the whole family to enjoy some fun with the snow. Build a snowman or have a snowball fight. Ride a sled down the gentle slopes. You can bring your own, or buy one at the adventure store.

Camping

Primitive campsites are located in four designated campgrounds throughout the Wilderness area. Wilderness permits are required for any hiking or backpacking. For the more adventurous and well-experienced, snow camping offers a special way to spend a winter weekend.

Guided Nature Walks

Palm Springs, CA - Mount San JacintoThis is a very valuable program in which a volunteer takes you on a nature walk to learn about the natural environment in the forest. Those walks are free of charge.

Cross-Country Skiing

Cross-country ski enthusiasts have found the State Park to be unsurpassed in its challenging terrain. You can bring your own equipment or you can rent skis, boots and poles at the Adventure Center.

Snow Shoeing

For those wanting to take a walk during the winter into the back country, snowshoe rentals are available. Wilderness permits are required for anyone venturing outside of Long Valley.

Tip: The Tramway’s Annual Maintenance is scheduled for September 13 through October 1, 2010. Reopening Saturday, October 2, 2010. Check their website before you go.

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Back at the Mountain Station

Palm Springs, CA - Mount San JacintoOnce you are done with your adventures in the forest, come back to the mountain station for additional fun and relaxation.

You can watch a movie about the history and construction of the tramway. You can browse at the gift and souvenir shop. You can stroll along the balconies overlooking the desert. And the best part, you can climb to the top viewing platform that offers a 360 view of the whole area. On a clear day you can see all the way to the Salton Sea to the south and to mount Charleston north of Las Vegas.

Where to eat

Picnic

Bring your own snacks or picnic and enjoy your meal at provided picnic tables. Just make sure all the food and drinks are packed away in your backpacks before boarding the tram. Food and drinks are not allowed on the tram.

Pines Café’

Palm Springs, CA - Desert ViewYou can get sandwiched, Pizza or Salads at the cafeteria style restaurant on the second floor. Food is what you expect from this kind of restaurant. If you buy the combo ride-and-dine ticket, expect to eat at this place.

Peaks Restaurant

We decided to have our lunch at the Peaks Restaurants because we liked the menu items and stunning view from every table in the restaurant. The tables were arranged in 3 terraces so each one would have a view of the desert floor – way below.

It took a while to get a seat, but it was worth the wait.

We ordered the Avocado Bruschetta for appetizers. The appetizers were delicious, but the portion was small. It would be nice if the waiter warned us about the portions so we would order more dishes.

For the main meal, we ordered the Fish and Chips and Cup of Tortilla Soup & Turkey Pomodoro.

The fish was crispy and tasty. The chips were spiced just right. The Tortilla Soup was very spicy and mouth watering. Turkey sandwich was excellent.

Palm Springs, CA - Aerial TramwayThe service, on the other hand, was slow. The waiter seemed tired and bored even at 1 o’clock.

The prices were a little above average, which is expected for this kind of resort. We paid $96 for a family of 4.

My rating for this restaurant: 4 stars for food; 3 stars for service and 5 stars for the view.

Snack bar

The snack bar at the Valley Station offers small selection of sandwiches, salads and drinks. The outdoors seating area offers a great view of the mountain and the tram cars. You can also enjoy a nice waterfall.

Back at Palm Springs

Palm Springs, CA - Palm Canyon RdEnjoy a stroll along Palm Canyon Drive – the main artery and commercial and cultural center of Palm Springs. Shop for gifts, have dinner at one of the fine restaurants or pay a visit to one of the museums like Palm Springs Air Museum; Palm Springs Art Museum; or Children's Discovery Museum.

For more info about Palm Springs, read the full article here

Do you have more time on your hand? Consider visiting the Joshua Tree National Park close by. Read about Joshua Tree NP here

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

http://www.pstramway.com/

One Tramway Road
Palm Springs, CA. 92262
1.888.515.8726