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Keyes View in Joshua Tree National Park overlooking the Coachella Valley and Salton Sea.

8 Reasons Palm Springs is Gonna Get You

For over a decade, I dismissed Palm Springs as a stop for snowbirds and outlet shoppers. But after a fabulous overnight on the way to Joshua Tree in 2020, I started digging around and found SO MANY things only Palm Springs can offer, and all but two are free!

1. Find your favorite star on Palm Canyon Drive

As a favorite getaway for A-listers for decades, Palm Springs has it’s very own Walk of Fame. Profoundly cleaner and more walkable than the Hollywood original, we thoroughly enjoyed searching for notable names like Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley. In contrast to Hollywood, the 400+ stars here honor more than just entertainers. Be on the lookout for designers, humanitarians, authors, athletes, notable locals and military personnel. Here’s a handy list with locations so you can find your favorite!

Elvis star on Palm Springs walk of fame
We were pretty pumped to find Elvis’ star on Palm Canyon Drive.

What Palm Canyon Drive lacks in handprints and signatures, it makes up for with fabulous statues, top notch landscaping and creative art installations. With most restaurants packed during our Saturday afternoon visit, we found ourselves dining on the patio of a nightclub. The tacos and service were pretty good, so we’ll check that off the list of firsts:)

2. Zoom to the top of the Mt. Jacinto

All the dry desert air made us hanker for a snowball fight, so we grabbed the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to the top of Mt. Jacinto. The lines just to park can be pretty crazy and trams are often booked for the day by noon. Traveling over 2.5 miles in ten minutes, the World’s Largest Rotating Tram Car ensures the dozens of passengers each trip view the stunning mountains and beautiful valley. Once at the top, the restaurants, observation decks, museums and hiking trails hold something for everyone.

3. Hike atop the San Andreas at Thousand Palms Oasis

Located directly on the San Andreas fault and within the larger Coachella Valley Preserve, Thousand Palms is everything a magical oasis should be. Suspended on a boardwalk above the hot spring, the winding trail through the towering palms feels like a portal to the tropics or a movie set. Artists flock to the famed Simone Pool to document the stunning contrast with brush strokes. Check out our full experience, then head out early to beat the heat!

boardwalk at Thousand Palms Oasis in Palm Springs
Wandering on the boardwalk at the Thousand Palms Oasis is such a unique hike!

4. Wander through the Indian Canyons

Just south of Palm Canyon Drive lie fabulous hikes through the Indian Canyons with flowing water dotted with hundreds of native plants. Native Americans found refuge and resources within these oases and hikers now marvel at their beauty. Palm Canyon has a Trading Post with maps, souvenirs and even a Junior Ranger Program!

Native California Palms
Native California Palms are a dead give away that water is nearby in the Palm Springs area.

5. Learn how Wind Turbines work

Travelers along I-10 can’t miss the city of spinning skyscrapers that have been erected over the last 20 years. Tunneled through a mountain range gap carved by the mighty San Andreas fault, almost constant onshore winds from the Pacific churn the turbines day and night. Learn about the past, present and future of wind energy with the Palm Springs Windmills tours. Hours vary by season, so check out the website when planning your trip and grab your tickets before you go. Kids are free, $49 covers a self-guided tour for two and guided golf cart tours go for $50 per person.

wind turbines and blades
Turbines spinning in front of the beautiful Mt. Jacinto.

6. Visit the Seuss-like land of Joshua Tree National Park

Found throughout the Mohave Desert, the Joshua Trees in their namesake national park grow larger and in higher concentrations. With gigantic conglomerate sandstone formations, rock hoppers (like our kids) will spend hours exploring. The single major road makes it great for a day drive thru, and the desolate location gives campers some of the darkest skies for stargazing around. Be sure to climb around at Skull Rock and trek to Keys View for a striking panorama of the Imperial Valley. At $30 per car, the price seems a bit steep, but go with your 4th grader and it’s free!

7. Test your limits and Ladder & Ropes Canyon

Down a dirt road through the San Andreas fault, lies the Painted Canyon. Home to a web of slot canyons, we accidentally wound up in the extremely difficult Ropes Canyon instead of our target Ladder Canyon. The four sheer walled climbs ranging from 10-20ft have become a rallying cry for our family of four. We also found and descended through our original target Ladder Canyon, so we did conquered both hikes in one go!

8. Don’t Skip the Salton Sea

While the water has been too toxic for a swim since 1980, the 100 miles of mostly deserted shoreline are home to fantastic gems. Salt creek beach is made of barnacle shells. The ruins of Bombay Beach have turned into a post-apocalyptic art installation. Salvation Mountain, the life’s work of one man in a lawless commune called Slab City, shares a vibrant message of LOVE in the harsh wasteland. With mud volcanoes, giant metals structures and the International Banana Museum, a trip around the shore is not to be missed! Check out our adventures at the Salton Sea!

What did we miss?

No one has to twist my arm to head back to the Imperial Valley! Tell us about your experiences:)


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