Crafted out of the desert, Palm Springs still rocks nearly a century after it was created. Just ask Obama. The former US President is a regular visitor and he is just one of a long list of superstars who have holidayed or lived here.
Glitterati of yesteryear would escape to Palm Springs from their gruelling filming schedules to enjoy some rest and relaxation reassured that they were less than 2 hours away from Hollywood should they be called back urgently.
This is the kind of town where you can spend a swell night in Twin Palms, the house where Sinatra threw his legendary parties or rent the home on Ladera Circle, where Elvis honeymooned with Priscilla. Or take a spin along freeway Bob Hope Drive. Turn up here in January and you could spend your time star spotting when the Palm Springs International Festival attracts the Clooneys of the world into town.
This celebrity-imbued region and its nine manicured resorts has in recent years, become thought of as a pensioners paradise; For many it’s the dry desert climate and guaranteed sunshine for at least 10 months of the year that keeps them coming back. But things are changing with swanky and funky hotels now filling up to the brim with the next generation of holiday-makers.
Things to do in Palm Springs
Palm Springs is set in a tea-cup shaped valley and is completely surrounded by mountains that rise to nearly 11,000 ft at an angle of 75 degrees. In between the peaks are 54 miles of lush hiking trails, interesting rock formations and lovely waterfalls that nature lovers adore.
You can see it all when you alight onto Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. A rotating gondola rises 8,500 feet across two and a half miles of amazing views on its way up and down. Or stay at the top to explore, as this is the gateway to the cliffs of Chino Canyon.
On ground level there is the designer shopping especially in the palm-lined, highly manicured El Paseo, dubbed the Rodeo Drive of the Desert. In the town centre the art scene is thriving. Antique shops and those selling arty interiors unfold along North Palm Canyon drive.
The Backstreet Art District is easy to miss yet worth seeking out on South Cherokee Way. A community of a dozen or so acclaimed artists have opened up shop offering an opportunity to spend an hour or so milling and perhaps buying unique artwork.
The townsfolk have cleverly turned its last century provenance into a tourist trade. It simply loves to show off its quaintly retro architecture – the largest concentration of mid-20th century architecture in the world.
Get there in December and the boutique and inns throw their doors open for public Walk of the Inns tours. Walking from one retro-designed to another gives an interesting peek into the minds of past architects and their creations from 100-year old inns to Mediterranean inspired villas. I particularly loved the motel with a shaped pool and ornamental pink flamingos. Apparently, Marilyn Monroe did too.
Those with a penchant and culture may find the Palm Springs Society of interest. It is housed in an house built by John McCallum who was the first white settler in Palms Springs. It is full of antiques and artefacts, tools and images. Also, check out the Art Museum and the Architecture and Design Centre.
If like Obama you love to play golf, there are several to choose such as the championship Wells golf course looking lovely with its mountain backdrop and water features.