Back in the 1920s, celebrities began frequenting Palm Springs—so much so that over the years it became known as Hollywood's playground. They came seeking privacy and rejuvenation and were rewarded with both. This is still a laid-back city that embraces people from all walks of life and somehow makes even the most ordinary, everyday activities seem special.
When to Go
Winter is high season and the city is most crowded from January to May, while the fall months are quieter but often still quite temperate. The off-season is June to September, but in recent years the 100-plus-degree days haven't kept visitors away and it's becoming increasingly difficult, weather aside, to distinguish between peak and off-peak seasons.
Celebrity sightings are at their apex during the Palm Springs International Film Festival in January. Lovers of everything midcentury modern flood the city in February for Modernism Week, a month that is also host to the Art Palm Springs Fair. The Greater Palm Springs Pride Festival occurs the first Sunday of November and the Christmas season kicks off with a Festival of Lights Parade on the first Saturday of December. Even the summer months are popular thanks in part to the Splash House music festival in June and August.
What to Eat
The Coachella Valley is often referred to as the Date Capital of the World, so it's no surprise the date shake has pretty much become the unofficial drink of Palm Springs.
Souvenir to Take Home
A number of antique shops sell fun, stylish artifacts tied to the town's midcentury past—the Sunny Dunes Antique District is a great place to browse for all sorts of objects, big and small. Or, think about adding a quirky, Googie-style piece of art to your collection such as the ones found at Shag and The Art of Nat Reed gallery.
Sustainable Travel Tip
Palm Springs is more like a small town than a city, so one of the best ways to explore its different neighborhoods is by bicycle. Many resorts have bikes available to their guests at no extra charge and there are local rental options as well. There are also plenty of walking tours that spotlight the area's historic architecture and the former homes of Hollywood stars.
A quick, 10-minute ride in the rotating cars of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway whisks you two-and-a-half miles above the desert floor offering spectacular views along the way—and even more picture-perfect moments when you debark at the Mountain Station. Upon arrival, you'll find more than 50 miles of hiking trails. Be sure to check the weather on the Tramway's website. Temperatures can be 30 to 40 degrees cooler than down in the valley.