Cahuilla baskets at the Coachella Valley History Museum.
PHOTO COURTESY VISIT GREATER PALM SPRINGS
Learn about local tribes.
Discover the history and artifacts of the indigenous Cahuilla people at the La Quinta Museum, Indio’s Coachella Valley History Museum (whose mission is to preserve and interpret the history of the region), and the Cabazon Cultural Museum, also in Indio. In nearby Banning, the Malki Museum — the oldest nonprofit museum founded by Native Americans on a California Indian reservation — exhibits art and artifacts from several tribes in the area. For future visits, you’ll want to add the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum to your itinerary when it opens later this year.
Dine at renowned restaurants.
Opened in 1958, Las Casuelas Original in Palm Springs is beloved for traditional Mexican cuisine made from family recipes that have been passed down through generations. Keedy’s Fountain & Grill in Palm Desert maintains the old-fashioned atmosphere that first charmed patrons in 1957. Marlon Brando once popped in for a malt shake while filming in nearby Idyllwild.
A couple poses poolside at La Quinta Resort & Club.
PHOTO COURTESY LA QUINTA RESORT & CLUB
Stay at a historic property.
Rumor has it that JFK and Marilyn Monroe cavorted at The Monkey Tree, a Palm Springs hotel designed in 1960 by Colleen Carol Crist, who had worked as an architectural drafter for William F. Cody and E. Stewart Williams. In 1922, the nearby Ingleside Inn opened as an invitation-only estate for Hollywood’s inner circle; it features Spanish architecture, a lush garden, and a pool. La Quinta Resort & Club also opened in the Roaring ’20s, bringing golf to Greater Palm Springs and hosting Hollywood starlets like Shirley Temple and Greta Garbo.
Go with a guide.
A tour of the local landscape will answer all of your history questions. Five Star Adventures Tours takes visitors to important landmarks in the comfort of an
air-conditioned van. Big Wheel Tours will transport you and your crew along the scenic San Andreas Fault zone or through Joshua Tree National Park in climate-controlled Jeeps and SUVs.
Palm Springs Air Museum.
COURTESY PALM SPRINGS AIR MUSEUM
See relics that still stand today.
Palm Springs Air Museum showcases World War II aircraft and the story of the pivotal role that the pilots played during wartime. At Cabot’s Pueblo Museum, you can tour the 35-room adobe structure that one of Desert Hot Springs’ pioneer settlers built over many years. The one-room Indio Public Schoolhouse dates back more than a century; see it at the Coachella Valley History Museum. The historic Plaza Theatre — located in Palm Springs’ La Plaza shopping district, one of the first planned shopping centers in Southern California — opened in 1936 and is on the brink of a restoration and resurgence. Drive by for a selfie with the iconic sign, and enjoy a meal at one of the many popular restaurants in La Plaza, including Farm, The Front Porch, French Miso, L’Atelier Café, and Grand Central.
ASK AN EXPERT
The tram turns 60 this year! So, what’s the story behind the world’s largest rotating tram cars?
In 1935, electrical engineer Francis Crocker was on a trip to Banning when he looked up at the snowcapped peak of Mount San Jacinto. He dreamed of “going up there where it’s nice and cool.” From that moment, “Crocker’s Folly” was born; 30 years later, it would become the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. The first ride happened in 1963. The new rotating tram cars took their inaugural “flight” in late 2000.
— Madison Morgan, public relations manager, Palm Springs Aerial Tramway