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If you only have one day to see Palm Springs, it’s important to make it count. Start your day with a look at Palm Springs’ natural wonders by taking a Desert Adventures tour of the Indian Canyons or San Andreas Fault. From the back of one of their red, open-air Jeeps, you’ll be led through the impressive fault line or striking canyons that surround Palm Springs. Tour guides offer a look at both the geological marvels and the native history of the Coachella Valley, giving you an idea of what this desert oasis looked like before Hollywood’s elite came to play in Palm Springs.
Speaking of Old Hollywood, you can see how celebrities such as Elvis, Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope lived by taking a self-guided drive of the city’s famed mid-century modern architecture. Must-see buildings include Elvis’ Honeymoon Hideaway, Bob Hope’s “Volcano Home” and the steel houses designed by Donald Wexler. If you’re more of an art fan than an architecture buff, skip the homes and head to the Palm Springs Art Museum for a look at contemporary galleries and Native American artifacts.
In the afternoon, get a better view of the desert with a trip up the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, the largest rotating tramway in the world. At the top of the tram, you can explore the nature trails at San Jacinto National Park or dine with a view of the entire Coachella Valley at one of the tram’s two eateries, Peaks Restaurant and Pines Café.
Speaking of dining, you’ll find the desert’s best dinner experience at Spencer’s in Palm Springs. Tucked against the San Jacinto Mountains, you can enjoy an array of Pan-American dishes under the lanterns and stars while sitting on Spencer’s picturesque patio.
After dark, take a leisurely stroll along South Palm Canyon Drive to enjoy the desert vibe as locals unwind and night rolls over the desert. You’ll find plenty of shops to explore, as well as bars for an after-dinner drink before ending your day in Palm Springs.