Canadians may be thinking twice before traveling to the U.S. because of the low value of the loonie against the greenback. Despite the less than ideal exchange rate, there are numerous seat sales this season, and lots of ways to enjoy destinations like Palm Springs without spending a lot once you arrive.
One of my favorite things to do is to browse or window shop at the weekly Villagefest (every Thursday 7-10pm). This blocks-long market is filled with all kinds of things to do, from listening to musicians, to watching graffiti artists at work on fresh canvases, to nibbling your way through the endless food and snack vendors. If you want to pick up some gifts, there are plenty of artisans and crafters here too. Villagefest is fun, because not only are the streets shut down to accommodate all the additional vendors, but all the shops and stores along Palm Canyon Drive take part too, sidewalk sale-style.
Where: Palm Canyon Drive between Amado and Baristo roads.
Take a self-guided tour of fabulous celebrity & mid century modern homes
Palm Springs has long been a celebrity playground. No surprise then that many world renowned musicians, actors, and other stars own or used to own homes in this area. Want to see where Elvis and Priscilla spent their honeymoon (photo, right)? Maybe you want to cruise some historic hotels, or spy the domed house on the hill where Bob Hope once lived. You can do it easily in a self-guided tour.
Not interested in the owners so much as the architecture? There are numerous historic and just plain beautiful mid century modern homes to gawk at by architects like Albert Frey, Donald Weller and William Krisel. Seeing Palm Springs history through its homes and architecture is a great way to get to know the city.
How To: Pick up a map (about $5US) of mid-century modern landmarks at the Palm Springs Official Visitor Center, which was once the Tramway Gas Station designed by Albert Frey and Robson Chambers (also a must-see!). You can also download the PS Mod app for $6.99CAD (on Apple's App Store or Google play) and then plot out a self guided driving route depending what you want to see. Spend an hour, or spend an afternoon gazing at some of the most gorgeous architecture you'll ever see.
While you're out, why not pack a picnic lunch, and take a break at Ruth Hardy Park (700 Tamarisk Rd) where you can find a little bit of shade, a patch of grass, and pretty flowers. The park sits near the Hollywood homes of the Movie Colony neighborhood, which also makes a nice drive.
Visit the Palm Springs Art Museum
While the museum's collection is outstanding at any time, if you time your visit correctly, you can see the whole space for free! Thursday afternoons from 4 PM to 8 PM or the second Sunday of each month the museum offers free admission.
The large and imposingly attractive building is tucked near the base of a craggy mountain and is filled with both permanent and ever-changing collections from art, to sculpture, photography and artifacts.
Where: 101 Museum Dr.
Slip into the Architecture and Design Center
You can thank a very generous anonymous donor for always-free admission to this gorgeous building that also houses a beautiful history of architecture and design in the Palm Springs area.
Housed in a former bank, the building maintains all its original grandeur, but has now been refreshed and renewed.
Check out things like original drawings and blueprints from gorgeous mid century modern or desert modern buildings. You’ll see really cool vintage photographs, models, and dioramas too. The Architecture and Design Center holds a permanent collection, but rotating exhibitions also round out what you can find here. It’s also very conveniently located along ‘The Strip’ known as Palm Canyon Dr.
Where: 300 S. Palm Canyon Dr.
Go window shopping
Palm Springs has several distinct areas where you can grab a coffee or tea and take a walk and gaze at everything from mid century modern antiques, to trendy new shops, and even art.
Get a start at the Uptown Design District. This stretch of Palm Canyon Drive north of Alejo Rd. lets you salivate over fabulous furnishings and home decor items, not to mention some pretty fabulous clothing too. Along the same stretch, you can also get a look at some amazing antique shops. Pop into any one of the stores in this area, and pick up the super helpful Uptown Palm Springs design district guide.
Where: Palm Canyon Drive from Alejo Rd to Vista Chino
If art is more your thing, visit the Backstreet Art District. "Off the strip but worth the trip", this slightly out-of-the-way artisan area features artist owned galleries, working studios and plenty of original contemporary art, ceramics, sculptures, jewelry and more.
Where: 2600 S. Cherokee Way (behind the Mercedes dealership off Highway 111)
What’s your favorite free or low cost activity in Palm Springs? Tell me about it via Twitter @ErinLYYC