When I arrived in Palm Springs for a weekend I was ready for a few days lounging by the pool… but I soon discovered there was plenty to see and do in this hot desert town from adventure jeep tours to date farming.
Stay at the hip Ace Hotel and Swim Club where the rooms are decorated in a fitting rustic beach style with Rudy’s Barbershop toiletries and memorable design features (like the matchstick bedside lights!) When the sun goes down visit the Amigo Room bar for tasty pork shoulder tacos and a ‘Desert Facial’ cocktail. I was lucky to be there on a Tuesday evening when ‘Terry’s Karaoke’ was in full swing.
I wasn’t overly impressed by the food options in Palm Springs, but was delighted to discover Smoke Tree BBQ, thanks to a recommendation from a fellow foodie in London. Don’t let the unlikely location put you off, this friendly local eatery serves delicious BBQ meat. I tried the amazing slow cooked beef brisket and baby back ribs, super soft meat with a huge depth of flavour. The creamed corn was the perfect accompaniment.
Whether its morning or afternoon, Ernest Coffee is the best place to get your iced coffee fix, serving the popular Stumptown brand of roasted beans.
Desert Adventures offer manageable tours of this areas top sights and attractions. I joined them for the popular sunset tour of San Andreas Fault Line. Six of us loaded into an open air red jeep with our lovely tour guide Dick and headed off into in the sandy horizon. We learnt a huge amount about the history of the Californian desert, the culture of the native Cahuilla Indians and the unique wildlife and geology of the area. We stopped at a natural palm oasis and spotted three wild rattlesnakes, before heading to famous fault line to stand between the Pacific and North American tectonic plates.
For a dose of culture, head to the Palm Springs Art Museum. We enjoyed the Killer Heels temporary exhibition, which showcases some of the most impressive designer shoes from through the ages. Upstairs there is a collection of contemporary works and outside a colourful sculpture garden is particularly striking against the palm tree backdrop.
Palm Springs is well known for its dates and the Shields Date Garden is a great place to learn about the fruit as well as tasting the sweet delicacy. The farm has been around since 1924, and now offers a contemporary cafe, garden walk and a short video about the sex life of a date! Don’t leave without trying the famous date milkshake.
When you need a city escape the dry and deserted Joshua Tree National Park is unique place to explore. Entry for a car costs $20 and you are then able to spend as long as you like enjoying the various natural wonders. Don’t miss the Cholla Cactus Garden and Keys View.
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is the number one attraction in Palm Springs offering unrivalled views of the valley and Mount San Jacinto. The world’s largest rotating tram will take you up 8516 feet above sea level, where the temperature is a staggering 20 degrees less than ground level. When at the top there are numerous trails and hikes to enjoy, or simply admire the amazing views.