Out on the Town
Fill your days and nights with sights, sounds, and tastes found only in the desert
Play on one of 127 mountainview golf courses in the greater Palm Springs area — many of which attract pros and amateurs every year. Host a wedding weekend tournament for guests or just hit the links with each other. Check out the Golf Guide at www.palmspringslife.com.
Locals love to hike at the Indian Canyons. Miles of trails, views, and waterfalls fill this rough desert landscape, which belongs to the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. Admission is $8. 1-760-325-3400. Or experience the canyons on horseback on a daily trail ride. 1-760-327-1372.
Spend a day with wildlife wonders at The Living Desert in Palm Desert. Leopards, wolves, giraffes, owls, snakes, hawks, meerkat, bighorn sheep, and other wild creatures from deserts far and wide wait around the bends of this landscaped park. 1-760-346-5694.
Contemplate the desert’s vast and versatile beauty at Joshua Tree National Park, 45 miles from town. Year-round activities include hiking, biking, horseback riding, rock climbing, camping, and stargazing. 1-760-367-5500.
Designer stores along the first-class avenue of El Paseo in Palm Desert offer fine clothing, accessories, art, and antiques. Eat lunch at a sidewalk café or a second-floor restaurant with mountain views.
Stroll the shops and boutiques of downtown Palm Springs, then indulge in a relaxing lunch or dinner in the courtyard at Spencer’s Restaurant (760-327-3446) or Le Vallauris (760-325-5059), both walking distance of Palm Canyon Drive.
Or wander through Old Town La Quinta, a quaint, European-style village of shops, restaurants, and galleries. Lunch on the patio at Hog’s Breath Inn (760-564-5556) with its Clint Eastwood movie memorabilia.
Bargain-hunters head to Desert Hills Premium Outlets (1-951-849-6641) in Cabazon for 130 outlet stores.
Desert Hot Springs, with its many natural mineral springs, is an area long recognized for its healing powers. More than 40 hotels and spas offer accommodations and/or day passes. Popular getaways include The Spring (1-760-251-6700), Nurturing Nest (1-760-251-2583), and Two Bunch Palms, famous for its mineral-water grotto plus rooms and spa suites on 56 landscaped acres. The spa menu offers four couples’ treatments, including massages and mud baths. 1-800-472-4334.
A variety of tour companies offer Jeep, Hummer, and all-terrain vehicle tours of the local landscape. Elite Land Tours offers a Running With Wolves tour that gets up close and personal with the whole pack, including wolf kisses! 1-760-318-1200.
Tour Palm Springs’ midcentury modern architecture by minivan or on a Segway with the animated expert Robert Imber of PS Modern Tours. 1-760-318-6118.
On Thursday evenings, enjoy VillageFest street fair in downtown Palm Springs. Or gallery hop through the desert's world-class art galleries. On the first Thursday of each month, October through May, stroll the open-gallery receptions on El Paseo in Palm Desert from 5 to 9 p.m. 1-760-346-8885.
Balloon Above the Desert offers beautiful hot-air balloon tours with champagne toasts at sunrise and sunset. Prices range from $150 to $175 per person. 1-760-347-0410.
Don’t leave without hopping on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway for a 10-minute, 2.5-mile ride to an elevation of 8,516 feet. At the top: Mt. San Jacinto State Park and wilderness area with scenic hiking trails and two restaurants. Take a jacket; it’s usually around 30 degrees cooler up there! 1-760-325-1449.
Two low-key local delis shine above the rest. Sherman’s Deli & Bakery in Palm Springs is an unassuming, New York-style sandwich shop, so tasty that lines stream out the door by noon. Classic deli sandwiches and colossal desserts have made this a meeting place for half a century. 1-760- 325-1199. Manhattan in the Desert is another crowd-pleaser, with tall sandwiches, big booths, and terrific matzo ball soup. 1-760-322-3354.
A block from Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs Art Museum features contemporary and Western American art, changing exhibitions, and a performing arts schedule. Open daily except Mondays and major holidays. 1-760-325-7186. Or catch world-class live theater or a concert at the McCallum Theatre in Rancho Mirage. 1-760-340-2787. Local casinos throughout the area also have their own lineup of music, comedy, and more.
The old-school cocktail lounge tradition continues at Melvyn’s at the Ingleside Inn in Palm Springs. Nightly entertainment at this piano bar has changed little through the decades—and that’s a good thing. 1-760-325-2323. Bing Crosby’s Restaurant and Lounge offers an elegant ambiance and swings with live piano favorites seven nights a week. 1-760-674-5764.