California's greater Palm Springs area, which is made up of nine desert cities, is like a giant sandbox where adults play their favorite games—the most popular being golf—while worshipping the sun. Palm Springs itself is the most well known of the adjacent communities in the Coachella Valley, though all offer a similar type of vacation experience with good food, relaxing places to stay, pampering spas and plenty of opportunities to be outside.
The area is a must visit for lovers of midcentury modern architecture, as many of the genre's heavy hitters designed homes or businesses here that are still standing and in great shape. It has also long been known as a safe and friendly space for LGBTQ vacationers. Most visitors stay in trendy boutique hotels or country club-type resorts that have transformed the desert into a hip place to hang out and a lush semitropical paradise (and almost a natural one, in this case, because the entire Coachella Valley sits atop a large underground lake).
Many Palm Springs resorts offer golf courses and tennis courts, as well as lavish spas, sparkling swimming pools and fabulous places to drink and dine. A few even have horseback riding and hiking trails. Several also have casinos attached for those who want to add gambling to their itinerary.
Palm Springs has long been associated with Hollywood celebrities who lived or played there during Hollywood's Golden Age, which is why the streets have such names as Bob Hope Drive and Gene Autry Trail. With the introduction of the town's film festival and a couple of giant music festivals (Coachella and Stagecoach), young stars are now discovering what Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe made such as fuss about.
Despite the glitz and glitter of its famous residents and the wealth that is very much on display, the area can also be affordable as a family destination, especially if you're willing to brave the summer's triple-digit heatwaves. But reasonably priced accommodations can be found year-round, and lodging prices drop considerably in the summer months. Although temperatures in excess of 100 F/38 C may not sound appealing, heavy-duty air-conditioning, numerous pools and the city's oasislike atmosphere make them bearable.
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