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Outdoors Enthusiasts Rejoice

woman on horse

Palm Springs to the Rescue!

By Barbara Beckley

Now that it’s time for a change of pace, Palm Springs is your ideal choice – so close yet a world away from the usual. Blue skies! Fresh air! Sweeping vistas! And — arguably the most diverse selection of outdoor experiences in Southern California! In just two hours you can be reveling in the freedom of sunny deserts, alpine mountains, cool oases, shady valleys and picturesque neighborhoods. All welcoming you with open arms.

What to do?  Whatever you love. Bask in the beauty of the San Jacinto Mountains against baby blue skies. Hike, bike, walk. On your own or guided. Explore the greater desert panorama. Golf. Horseback ride.

Upon your arrival, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is a wonderful way to get your bearings. Riding 2.5 miles up the mountain through five ecological zones in 10 minutes inside a rotating tram car (the world’s largest) you’ll thrill to 360-degree birds-eye views of desert and mountains. At the top, take your time to enjoy the endless vistas. Then enjoy a walk or longer hike through the alpine forests of Mount San Jacinto State Park & Wilderness Area. Bring a wrap. The mountain is about 30 degrees cooler than the valley floor.


Stay for a meal at the tram’s fine dining Forest View Restaurant or casual Pines Café. Or swing down into Palm Springs (five minutes away) for a welcome bite and drinks on the cheery patios at Lulu California Bistro or Tommy Bahama Restaurant & Marlin Bar.

Activity choices for your next days are as big as all outdoors. Incredible hiking opportunities from easy to experienced, with amazing scenery, abound. Some trailheads even begin downtown. How easy is that? Like the popular 2-mile Palm Springs Art Museum Trail, which ascends up the mountain to picnic tables and stunning valley views. Five minutes away, Tahquitz Canyon leads to a 40-foot waterfall. The nearby Indian Canyons offer three easy-to-moderate trails: Andreas Canyon, Murray Canyon and Palm Canyon, with picnic tables, leading to streams, intriguing rock formations and North America’s largest natural palm oases.

tahquitz canyon waterfall palm springsIf you’re horsey, Smoke Tree Stables (right in town) has scenic rides through the Indian Canyons and surrounds for beginners and experienced riders.

Mostly level streets and 13 miles of marked bike lanes make Palm Springs a paradise for bicyclers. Bring your own or rent from one of several bike specialists. A free biking map is available from the City of Palm Springs. Or enjoy a guided themed tour with BIKE Palm Springs Rentals & Tours and Palm Springs Bike Rentals by Big Wheel Tours.

Bike Palm Springs

Take a walk! Simply strolling through Palm Springs’ peaceful picturesque neighborhoods is a joy. Admire the landmark midcentury modern architecture and beautiful landscaping. Perhaps take a break at the Original Koffi (Palm Springs’ hometown coffee shop) in the Uptown Design District, and enjoy a beverage in the adjacent park beneath Mount San Jacinto.

Expand your horizons throughout the Coachella Valley with Palm Springs’ award-winning outdoor tour companies. Ride in the open-air with Red Jeep Tours by Desert Adventure to explore and learn about nearby Joshua Tree National Park, the Painted Canyon and the San Andreas Fault. It’s amazing – but true — you can actually walk on this famous fault.

red jeep tours palm springs

Play golf!  It’s beautiful in Palm Springs. The Nicholas Design Escena Golf Club is California’s 6th best public course, according to PGATour.com, with 36 challenging holes and one of the most remarkable views in the desert. After play – or anytime – head to the breezy indoor-outdoor Escena Lounge & Grill for a patio meal surrounded by miles of views sweeping across the course, downtown, the airport and the San Jacinto Mountains.

escena golf palm springs

A best-kept secret, the Indian Canyons Golf Resort, framed by Mount San Jacinto and dazzling mid-century homes, offers engaging play on greens once frequented by Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope and several U.S. presidents.

When it’s (sadly) time to head home, you’ll be refreshed, renewed — and ready to return!

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