Every desert needs an oasis. And with thousands of namesake palm trees, dozens of immaculate golf courses, and a generous person-to-pool ratio.
When, Palm Springs certainly fits the bill. But it's not only the perpetual sunshine that dazzles here. Situated just over 100 miles down the highway from the film capital of the world, Palm Springs is no cinematic slouch itself. Known as the playground for Hollywood's elite since the 1920s, it has evolved into something of a cinephile destination on its own terms.
A variety of film festivals have made their home here, and a quite literally larger-than-life tribute to one of the silver screen's most enduring legends stands in downtown Palm Springs: A 26-foot statue of Marilyn Monroe's famous pose from The Seven Year Itch now towers over the city's very own Walk of Stars.
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The Anaheim-based Knott's Berry Farm amusement park offers plenty of ways to cool off at its Palm Springs satellite, the 16-acre water park Soak City. There's something for everyone here: Daredevils can try the 60-foot drop on Pacific Spin, kids love sliding into the Gremmie Lagoon, and those looking to kick back can float down the 600-foot lazy river.
It's safe to say that indulgence is not frowned upon in a city full of pools, spas, and golf courses. Perhaps that's why Palm Springs Desert Resorts Restaurant Week, celebrating the valley's growing culinary prestige, lasts not one, but two full weeks in late spring. Take advantage of prix fixe menus under $40 at over 100 local restaurants including Basque-influenced Tinto, old-Hollywood institution Melvyn's, and trendy Ace Hotel diner King's Highway, housed in a restored Denny's.
Imagine Woodstock set against an ethereal desert landscape, and you've got Joshua Tree Music Festival, which has two separate incarnations each year: October brings in folk- and bluegrass-influenced bands, while May features electronica- and dance-influenced performers. The three-day festivals combine the spirit of peace, love, and nature with a cutting-edge lineup each year. One un-Woodstock-like touch: With a range of activities from yoga to stargazing — and free admission for kids — the whole family is encouraged to attend.
Look around the valley and you'll see examples of mid-century modernism everywhere — in fact, it's been said that Palm Springs has the world's largest concentration of this sleek, low-slung, and angular style. Palm Springs Modernism Week is a celebration of the city's unique stamp on modern architecture, art, and design, featuring a lineup of tours, seminars, film screenings, and gallery exhibits. And it's all for a worthy cause: Proceeds benefit aspiring design students in the area. Don't miss the chance to mingle at the popular Retro Martini party, held at a different landmark mid-century home each February.