Families who really want to explore Southern California are taking a new approach to the road trip. Rather than go on an epic journey from A to B, they are renting vacation homes in Palm Springs and taking short day excursions or overnight trips to nearby California destinations.
Palm Springs – one of nine great little cities in California’s Coachella Valley – has its own lovely little airport, beautiful mountain views, fantastic restaurants and a chilled out vibe. The rental properties are more affordable than other urban centres, and pretty well every house has its own pool. Plus, with so many stars living nearby, you never know who you might bump into! Here are five places to explore from California’s Coolest Desert City:
1. Mecca Hills
The Mecca Hills are located 40 miles south of Palm Springs. On the Ladder Canyon Trail, explore the paths and caverns along the San Andreas fault, using ladders placed by local hiking clubs. Check out the rave reviews at Hiking in PS.com and California Through my Lens.com before you go. Once your hike is complete, get a kitschy potassium hit at the extremely quirky International Banana Museum – located on the side of State Highway 111 – otherwise known as Grapefruit Boulevard!
2. Joshua Tree National Park
Where the Colorado and Mohave deserts meet, there is The Joshua Tree National Park, perfect for climbing, mountain biking superb photo-opportunities. The park is only about an hour’s drive from Palm Springs. f you have a four-wheel drive vehicle embark on the 2-hour self-guided Geology Motor Tour.
Drive up the scenic highway 74 for just under an hour to Idyllwild, a small town in the San Jacinto mountains, perfect for a cool, chilled out family day amongst the pine trees. Have lunch, explore a winery, or taste some organic handmade chocolate at El Buen Cacao.
4. San Jacinto State Park
Also in the Idyllwild area, take the Palm Springs Tramway – the worlds largest rotating aerial tram – to San Jacinto State Park for hiking, biking, rock climbing and horseback riding trails. A great way to explore the park is with Red Jeep Desert Adventures, which offer a variety of unique tours that have earned them a near-perfect rating on Trip Advisor.
5. Los Angeles
LA is about a 2-hour drive from Palm Springs, but if the traffic is thick, allow for three hours, and time your journey carefully to avoid rush hour. If you crave the ocean, head straight to the beaches and spend the day on the sand at Redondo, Hermosa, Santa Monica or Venice Beach, before heading back to the desert after supper.
If You Go:
Palm Springs Tourism: www.visitpalmsprings.com
Vacation Palm Springs: vacationpalmsprings.com
Air BnB Palm Springs: www.airbnb.ca/a/Palm-Springs
FlipKey Palm Springs: www.airbnb.ca/a/Palm-Springs