In a desert as spacious yet culturally aware as Palm Springs, there is always plenty of room for activities. Whether you'd like to stay local and enjoy the simmer of downtown or you're feeling adventurous enough to explore the nearby San Jacinto Mountains, Palm Springs has options. Inside or outside, active or pensive, the Palm Springs activity to-do list is nearly endless. And to think you imagined you'd just be sitting by the pool with a drink in hand.
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
One Tram Way, Palm Springs, CA 92262
(888) 515-TRAM (8726)
Need to get away from your getaway? Take the world's largest rotating tramcars from the warm and sunny valley to the "nice and cool" mountain, as the tramway's inventor Francis Crocker called it. Up there you'll find hiking, nature walks and camp sites and even, depending on the season, some snow. The San Jacinto Mountains provide an entirely different wilderness than that of the desert below and the 10-minute tram ride makes this escape easily accessible. (Read more here about the tramway's 50th anniversary.)
Palm Springs Art Museum
101 Museum Drive, Palm Springs CA 92262
The Palm Springs Art Museum is home to some of the biggest names in the art world: Picasso, Warhol, and Lichtenstein, among many others. The museum especially excels as a space for architecture, photography, and the performing arts. There are 28 galleries and two outdoor sculpture gardens in addition to a rotating list of exhibitions showcasing contemporary art and traditional art of the Americas. If all of the above didn't convince you to visit, one last thing should close the deal: It is always 75 degrees inside the museum.
Spa Resort and Casino
100 N. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA 92262
Conveniently located next to Palm Canyon Drive, this hotel and casino offers you a little slice of Vegas in P.S. There are slots, craps, and blackjack, and the scene is more Bellagio than Circus Circus. When you're inevitably drawn to the pool for a necessary swim, try the outdoor mineral pools or the fabulous spa, which boasts some of the namesake hot springs that made this area famous.
The Living Desert
47900 Portola Ave., Palm Desert, CA 92260
The premier wildlife and botanical park of the Southern California desert, this 1,200-acre reserve is evidence that a vibrant array of flora and fauna can be found in the desert. Park tours take you through North American and African exhibits that educate visitors about how such a rich variety of life functions in the world's different desert climates. A visit to the Village WaTuTu, a replica of a northeastern African village, will reveal cheetahs, giraffes, hyenas and even the Grevy's zebra. Currently, there is also an exhibit about and featuring the jaguar, North America's largest native cat.