Often described as an oasis in the desert, Palm Springs, California, beams with culture and history. World-famous architecture, golf courses, tennis courts, swimming pools, restaurants, art galleries, festivals, mountain hiking trails… where to start when trying to capture the essence of Palm Springs?
Finding Palm Springs
Palm Springs is nestled at the base of the San Jacinto Mountains, on the western boundary of Southern California’s Coachella Valley, an approximately 45 mile stretch of desert in Riverside County. Located approximately 110 miles southeast of Los Angeles and 140 miles northeast of San Diego, it’s an ideal distance for a quick getaway weekend or a second home. It’s also very popular with those living further North, who are looking to escape to milder winter temperatures.
With an average of 350 days of sunshine annually and very little rain, Palm Springs’ dry, arid climate is the perfect location for sun lovers and the ultimate destination for those seeking an outdoor lifestyle, mid-century architectural history and the glamour of Golden Era Hollywood. As the ancestral home of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, the area also offers unique opportunities to discover their history and culture.
Residents and Visitors
With a year-round population of about 48,000 people and nearly double in the winter season, Palm Springs feels both like a small, quaint town and a dense, hip city. There’s plenty to do — restaurants, bars, shops and galleries occupy a bustling downtown city center. But, as you get to know people — artists, retirees, small business owners, architects — you’ll learn this is a place that values community. An eclectic and accepting community full of pride.
Palm Springs has a sprawling history full of Hollywood elites, forward-thinking design, and natural preservation. In the first half of the twentieth century, Palm Springs was home to (or a retreat for) many Hollywood celebrities, like Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and Marilyn Monroe, to name a few. Many of these Hollywood legends are remembered through their magnificent homes that still dot the city, public art, and city streets signs.
Events and Activities
To celebrate its Hollywood history, Palm Springs hosts the annual Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF), which is one of the largest film festivals in North America, offering a lineup of new and celebrated international features and documentaries.
Palm Springs also hosts the annual Modernism Week, a ten day event focused on the history and current state of mid-century design and architecture. Palm Springs has some of the most spectacular mid-century modern architecture in the world — homes that not only belonged to celebrities, but that were designed and built by some of the most prominent architects of the 1900s. Richard Neutra, Albert Frey, and Donald Wexler all have designed major properties in the area and helped to distinguish the area as a major hub of mid-century homes.
This city also gives access to gorgeous national parks and public amenities like The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens and The Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center. Nearby Joshua Tree National Park makes for a great day trip; and has such a unique and emphatic terrain that people travel from all over the world to experience its beauty.
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway —the world’s largest rotating tram car— transports riders from downtown Palm Springs, up the stunning cliffs of Chino Canyon, to the wilderness of the Mt. San Jacinto State Park. At the top, Mountain Station—elevation 8,516 feet—offers two restaurants, observation decks with spectacular vistas, a natural history museum, two documentary theaters, gift shop and over 50 miles of hiking trails.
If you have children, there are multiple public and private school options, including well-known post-secondary schools. For example, Palm Springs High School is known for its excellent sports program, while Cielo Vista Charter School and Katherine Finchy Elementary School were both awarded gold ribbons by the U.S. Department of Education. California is also ripe with affordable colleges and universities for residents through the UC and Cal state education system— California State University, San Bernardino and University of California, Riverside are both short jaunts from Palm Springs.
Palm Springs is the perfect place for individuals, retirees and families. Whatever you’re looking for, it’s an area full of opportunities.