As triple-digit temperatures descend upon the Greater Palm Springs area, here are five places to find shade, cooler temps, and wonderful scenery.
1. Mount San Jacinto State Park
photo courtesy of Palm Springs aerial tramway
Take the tram up to temperatures 30 degrees cooler.
Temps are often around 30 degrees cooler at Mount San Jacinto State Park, making the summer the perfect time to explore the beauty of the desert’s mountain backdrop. Catch a ride via the iconic Palm Springs Aerial Tramway and enjoy a day of nature hikes, photography, picnics, or fine dining at Peaks Restaurant while admiring vistas of the valley below.
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, 760-325-1391; www.pstramway.com
2. Palm Springs Art Museum
photo courtesy of the palm springs art museum
Explore the artistic side of the desert in air-conditioned comfort.
World-class art, an ever-updating rotation of exhibits, and collections spanning Mesoamerican to modern make the Palm Springs Art Museum a top cultural destination. Add in the museum’s second location in Palm Desert as well as the newly debuted Architecture and Design Center in Palm Springs — all cooled to a perfect 75 degrees — and you’ll find the right climate to explore the artistic side of the desert.
Palm Springs Art Museum, 760-322-4800; Architecture and Design Center, Edwards Harris Pavilion, 760-423-5260; Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert, 760-346-5600. www.psmuseum.org, (closed in August)
3. Lake Hemet and Idyllwild
photo by thinkstockphotos.com
Lake Hemet is just an hour's drive away.
An hour’s drive up the windy road of Highway 74 lands you at Lake Hemet and the quaint mountain town of Idyllwild, where canopies of pine trees keep the pristine air crisp all summer long. Rent a boat, go fishing, kayak, barbecue, or wander through the town center, where you can admire local artwork and sample European and American cuisine at Café Aroma, Restaurant Gastrognome, and Jo’an’s Restaurant and Bar.
4. Joshua Tree National Park
photo by thinkstockphotos.com
Joshua Tree National Park offers day and night attractions.
Just outside the Coachella Valley lies an otherworldly oasis. Striking rock formations and the twisted trunks of Joshua trees welcome visitors seeking cooler temps at Joshua Tree National Park. Don’t let your hiking, rock climbing, and sightseeing adventures end when the sun goes down, though. Instead, pitch a tent at one of the park’s nine campsites for stargazing like you’ve never seen.
Joshua Tree National Park, 760-367-5500; www.nps.gov/jotr
5. Desert Ice Castle and Wet ’n’ Wild Palm Springs
photo courtesy of wet 'n' wild palm springs
Wet 'n' Wild Palm Springs has 16 acres of waterslides, wave pools, and lazy rivers.
Sometimes, the easiest way to cool off is to plunge down a two-story waterslide or strap on your skates to glide across the ice. Luckily, you can do both without even leaving the Coachella Valley. Wet ’n’ Wild Palm Springs offers 16 acres of waterslides, wave pools, and lazy rivers, while Desert Ice Castle keeps things cool with daily public skating sessions for less than $10 (including skate rental).
Desert Ice Castle, 760-324-0400; www.deserticecastle.com
Wet ’n’ Wild Palm Springs, 760-327-0499; www.wetnwildpalmsprings.com