Top 3 Day Trips from Palm Springs
Drive a little, see a lot!
Palm Springs is a draw all its own. But for regular visitors, going through the same routine each time you’re in the desert may feel a little stale. Why not mix things up with a day trip on your next stay in the Palm Springs area?
Day Trip #1: Borrego Springs
Borrego Springs, and neighboring Anza-Borrego State Park are loaded with things to do if you’re into photography, hiking, golf or just sightseeing the desert. Just 90 minutes drive from Palm Springs, the town is easy to get to, but once you’re there, you’ll feel like you’ve left the world behind.
The badlands landscapes out here are unparalleled, and in some areas you'll feel like you've been dropped on Mars. If you like ATVing, you'll find Nirvana out in the desert; Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area is a special zone where riders and dirt-bikers can rip through desert trails with like-minded enthusiasts. Even if you're not a hard-core ATVer, if you have a 4-wheel drive truck, you can get out on the trails to see some pretty amazing landscapes and formations.
Stop for dinner at one of the charming family-run restaurants in Borrego Springs before heading home to sleep in your own bed.
Day Trip #2: Los Angeles
If you time it right, you can visit LA for some shopping, lunch or dinner and to see some sights and be back in the desert in the same day. Plan to leave at 6 or 7am; the drive is easy, but you'll hit LA gridlock around Riverside. While you could do this drive in about 2 hours, the last 50 miles or so will be stop and go and could stretch your trip to 3 hours. Bring a book on tape, some music or a chatty companion and just plan to ride it out.
Once in LA, you can hit the beach, shop Santa Monica's promenade, an outdoor mall which runs along 3rd street for several blocks, or even visit my personal favorite spot; the Getty Centre.
The Getty has an outstanding central garden, and the architecture of the building alone can wow me for hours. Add in the many exhibits inside the fabulous building, and you can spend either a few hours, or the day here, depending what else you want to get up to.
After your morning activities, relax with lunch at a chic outdoor cafe or patio, then plan for dinner in one of Los Angeles' top restaurants. (ProTip: if you stay for dinner, you'll miss the evening rush hour!) Leave the city around 8 to be home in time for a Palm Springs nightcap by 10.
Day Trip #3: Joshua Tree Park
Just an hour to either the north entrance, or the southern entry, Joshua Tree National Park is a stunning natural landscape that's worth a visit any time of year. While you can get to the boundary quickly enough, you'll want to plan to spend the day here; from hiking trails, to sweeping vistas, or amazing rock formations, there's lots to see.
Distances between some of the best sights can be longer than it looks, particularly because you're bound to see things along the way that will make you want to pull off the road and get a closer look.
ProTip: pack a cooler with chilled beverages and a lunch; there are no real services to speak of in the park.
What’s your must-do day trip while in Palm Springs? I’d love to get some new ideas, so share them here in the comments of find me on Twitter @ErinLYYC and drop me a line.
All photos by the author.