palm springs day trips

The Out-of-Towners

Every once in a while, even we who live here must take a little break from our desert paradise.

Patti Myers Attractions, Day Trips

palm springs day trips
Day Trips

For some, “Flipping out” went from describing a bad attitude to extreme sport.
Photo by Chris Hassler and Brian Donnelly of Fly Guys Watersports

Spray It, Don’t Say It

where: San Diego
travel: 140 miles; 2.25 hours

Some people think they walk on water. Some people just wish they could. If you’re in the second group, we have one word: flyboarding.

Zoom above the breakers on the device connected via hose to a turbine that sends the rider airborne, enabling various aerial maneuvers that typically escape human ability. Manipulating the water pressure through the hose drives the vehicle through the air and over the water.

San Diego has numerous places to try out the new water-sports craze that reportedly has you riding high with fewer than 10 minutes of instruction. A 30-minute session runs about $150.

Aquatic Aviation
1335 Rosecrans St., 888-265-2728;

Fly Guys Watersports
1450 Harbor Island Drive, 619-990-0914;

Day Trips

Bliss RV’s Mercedes is as far from a Winnebago as the Bates Motel is from The Ritz-Carlton.
Photo courtesy BlissRV

Drive, They Said

where: Joshua Tree and beyond
travel: 40 miles +

It’s a hybrid vehicle for the pampered camper. Hybrid as in an RV pretending to be a hotel. A place to bunk for the night for outdoorspeople who wouldn’t know how to make a s’more if you spotted them the graham crackers and chocolate bar. If you’re the kind of road warrior who conscientiously objects to discomfort, elevate your getaway ride courtesy of Bliss RV.

The tricked-out Mercedes redefines RV’ing as an elegant mobile studio apartment, replete with sky-lit shower stall, on-demand hot water, HD TV, and a memory foam mattress swathed in luxury linens. Travel to remote regions without worrying about hookups, and bring back communingwith- nature memories you made from the thoughtfully provided camp chairs, tables, firewood, generator, and propane.

A three-day/two-night Free Spirit SS adventure from Palm Springs to Joshua Tree runs $1,320 for all the amenities, including cleaning, propane, and 300 miles (Joshua Tree is 80 miles round trip from Palm Springs). Longer luxury sojourns are available, as is a two-bed camper.


Day Trips

Luckily, there’s no law against drinking and floating.
Photo courtesy Temecula Visitors CVB

BYO Cheese

where: Temecula
travel: 82 miles; 1.33 hours

Swirl, sniff, and sip your way through Temecula’s wine country courtesy of limo, Jeep, cable-car, or self-guided tour. Or on horseback. (Please, don’t gallop drunk.) Or get high on wine in a hot-air balloon wafting above the vineyards where more than 30 wineries have you over a barrel.

Get grounded in a private wine cave at Oak Mountain, where you learn how wine evolved into the snooty, uh, sophisticated elixir we love, learn about different grapes and how they’re cultivated, then tunnel 100 feet underground for the tasting.

Vertical tastings, which denote multiple vintages of the same wine, are available at many estates. Most wineries offer five or six sample tastings for less than $10, and sometimes you get to keep the glass. Plan on 30 to 45 minutes at each tasting, and because so many wineries are in close proximity, you can visit three or four easily in a day’s outing.

Oak Mountain Winery
36522 Via Verde, 951-699-6102 (closed Tuesday);

Hot Air Balloon Adventure

For information about vertical tastings, 951-676-8231;
For wine country information; and

Day Trips

Human-powered watercraft are easy on all the senses.
Photo by

Float Your Boat

where: La Jolla
travel: 140 miles; 2.25 hours

We heard that you need a good paddling. It won’t do any good unless there are witnesses, so get the most out of a kayak excursion along the shore of La Jolla, whose multiple marine environments support populations of sea lions, pelicans, dolphins, sea turtles, and leopard sharks among the sandy beaches, rocky coastline, and kelp forest. A single or double kayak maneuvers through seven sea caves Disney might describe as “enchanted.” People who live in the real world call the surrounding 6,000 acres “protected,” which is a bonus for marine residents and their paddle-wielding visitors.

Depending on weather conditions, some caves might not be accessible, but you’re in the company of trained guides for the 90-minute workout that relies on stable equipment that even a beginner can master. Several tours are available every day (we double dare you to propose during the sunset tour).

La Jolla Sea Cave Kayaks
2164 Avenida de la Playa, 858-454-0111;

La Jolla Kayak
2199 Avenida de la Playa, 858-459-1114;

Day Trips

Photo by Michelle Calkins

Take a Bow

Send Otis Redding through your earbuds, and sit on the dock of the lake (Arrowhead), and watch the boats, and the tide roll away. The annual Antique & Classic Wooden Boat Show sails into Lake Arrowhead Village the weekend of June 11 and 12 with a history lesson taught by winsome vessels from a bygone era. Like all the best antique shows, you can buy some!

The history of water ‘round these mountainy parts dates from the early part of last century, when a court ruling prohibited the Arrowhead Reservoir and Power Company from diverting the watershed south from its natural northerly flow. Voila! A lake was born, soon to be a major recreational area.

In addition to boat competitions (please oh please let there be a Miss Congeniality trophy), the village hosts hot rods, woodies, and other classic wheeled vehicles. Although Lake Arrowhead is private, and you may not launch a boat or fish unless you’re accompanied by a member of the Arrowhead Lake Association, you can learn to water ski at the McKenzie Ski School.

For more information, 909-336-6666
For fishing/boat launch information, 909-337-2529

McKenzie Ski School 909-337-3814

Day Trips

The president’s VH-3A Sea King helicopter is on permanent display at the Nixon Library. It was part of the presidential fleet from 1961 to 1976.
Photo by Geographer at English Wikipedia

Executive Branch Offices

where: Simi Valley and Yorba Linda
travel: 148 miles;2.5 hours. 85 miles; 1.5 hours

If the zany political primaries didn’t make you wonder what sort of person really wants the job of president, you probably think Taylor Swift and Kanye West would be fun running mates. But if you want to see how America moves through the intersection of politics and history, spend time at Southern California’s presidential museum/libraries, where the people who populated the Oval Office assume the three dimensions that rarely described them as sitting presidents.

In Yorba Linda, where Richard Nixon was born, feel what it’s like to ride in Army One, the 16-seat aircraft used by Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford for shorter trips. Nixon’s 1967 Lincoln Continental is parked on the premises, and if transportation doesn’t move you, maybe your thing is a replica Lincoln Sitting Room, or a space suit from NASA, circa the 1960s. More generous acreage at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum in Simi Valley hosts Air Force One, where visitors climb aboard, make the iconic turn at the top of the stairs, and wave for a photo op.

Like all presidential libraries and museums, these two husband a wide range of artifacts, and support research and public programs to make us all better Americans … or at least less ignorant ones.

The Nixon Library and Museum
18000 Yorba Linda Blvd, 714-983-9120;

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Library
40 Presidential Drive, 800-410-8354 or 805-577-4000;

Day Trips

Photo by

Cloud Control

where: La Jolla
travel: 140 miles; 2.25 hours

There’s a weird subculture of golf groupies who hope players shank, hook, and top their balls into the unfindable range where they are spotted later, and sometimes reclaimed. These people need to get a parasailing life over famed Torrey Pines Golf Course, where normal people too can embark on a 20-to-25-minute paragliding or parasailing flight above the scenic state park and historical course gracing the La Jolla bluffs.

The Torrey Pines Gliderport offers 100-plus years of flying history, including the occasional landing on Black’s Beach, where the only thing some sunbathers wear is a smile. Paragliding is more popular because you can fly in a wider range of conditions, guided by instructors certified by the U.S. Hang Gliding and Paragliding Association. First-come basis daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tandem prices start at $165 (paragliding) and $215 (hang gliding). If you prefer your panoramas from terra firma, enjoy the scenery from the Cliffhanger Restaurant.

Torrey Pines Gliderport
2800 Torrey Pines Scenic Drive, 858-452-9858;

Paragliding in San Diego

Day Trips

Photo by

Boarding School

where: Newport Beach
travel: 102 miles; 1.75 hours

S’ up? You are, if you engage in Stand Up Paddleboarding, a fast-growing sport that’s sort of like surfing with training wheels, or the longboard version of power walking. Sure, you can swim in the ocean, but that’s so horizontal. Try a new plane, and go upright like the Polynesians. Several enterprises work out of Newport Harbor, offering rental equipment for people who have been there, done that, wanna do it again, and lessons for beginners who will learn technique, safety, and SUP etiquette.

Once you’ve mastered the drill, may we suggest night paddling, in which boards are equipped with waterproof LED lights? It’s aqua illumination, watersports in a whole new light. Lesson/tour rates generally run $65 to $100, including equipment rental.

Paddle Board Newport Beach
506 W. Balboa Blvd., 949-396-4580;

Island Paddleboard
229 Marine Ave., 949-673-4280;

Pirate Coast Paddle Company
1131 Back Bay Drive, 949-278-0011;

Day Trips

Photo by

Dig It

where: Julian
travel: 100 miles; 2.25 hours

Take a tour into California’s gold rush, but, really, there’s no hurry. Take your time panning for gold and learning how to make butter, throw a tomahawk, and (theoretically) build a log cabin. These days, we’re told, a diverse skillset is highly marketable, not to mention attractive to potential mates. Some excursions involve a fair amount of walking, some ladder-climbing, and tunnel navigation, others are fairly passive. Mines are cool, well-lit, and ventilated, the perfect environment for the storytellers to spin tales of a life digging into the earth in search of elusive commodities. Spend the night, if you choose, in a one-bedroom cabin (Julian Mining Company) outfitted with a slate shower, wood-burning stove, and kitchenette (from $100 nightly).

Eagle Mining Co.
2320 C St., 760-765-0036;

Julian Mining Company
4444 Highway 78, 951-313-0166;

Day Trips

Photo courtesy of Pelican Hill

Back to the Ancient Future

where: Newport Beach
travel: 106 miles; 2 hours

The 500+ acres of The Resort at Pelican Hill are an homage to Andrea Palladio, the esteemed Italian architect of the High Renaissance whose classic buildings invoke ancient Rome and Greece. Tall columns. Domed ceilings. Exquisite use of space. And that’s just the lobby.

Standard issue for your bungalow is a sweeping ocean or golf course view, and easy access to the Coliseum Pool, a salt-water-purified circular arena 136 feet in diameter. Then there’s The Spa, with its luxurious Jacuzzi, spacious steam rooms, saunas, private showers, and generous menu of treatments.

It’s tough to pry yourself away from that brand of indulgence, but golfers will for the opportunity to test their mettle over 36 holes of the ocean-hugging Tom Fazio- designed courses.

For a taste of the Mediterranean in the O.C, try dinner at Andrea restaurant where the chef conjures the menu from recipes the resort promises are “true flavors of Italy, made by hand, made with love.”

The Resort at Pelican Hill
2701 Pelican Hill Road South, 888-507-6427;

Day Trips

Photo courtesy Laguna Beach House

Surf’s Up!

where: Huntington Beach/Laguna Beach
travel: 105 miles; 2 hours. 103 miles; 2 hours

If everybody’s gone surfing, they’re probably hanging 10 in Surf City, USA, a designation the city of Huntington Beach had the chutzpah to trademark. Wave riders less concerned with branding but equal members of the board opt for more southerly swells in Laguna Beach. If you’re a ho-daddy with aspirations to join their club, learn how at surf camp.

Huntington Beach, site of the annual U.S. Open of Surfing (the largest such competition in the world; this year it’s July 23-30), is home to several reputable camps, including HB Surf School and Corky Carroll’s Surf School for half-day sessions, and Banzai Surf Camp, for a week (four hours daily, about $390).

In Laguna Beach, take the two-hour La Vida Laguna lessons and stay at the awesome surf-themed Laguna Beach House just steps from the ocean.


HB Surf School

Corky Carroll’s Surf School
714-969-3959 or 888-454-7873;

Banzai Surf Camp


Soul Surfing School

La Vida Laguna

Laguna Beach House