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a photo essay:

things to do in Palm Springs for the non-golfer

by Diannek

Palm Springs is a golfer's paradise so we decided to take a week off at spring break and head south. My husband is an avid golfer who had never been there before. He loved the idea. I wanted to return because I'd passed through there a year or so before and thought it was worth a return trip. 

Diannek and Dale and a palm tree
That's us trying to hide behind a palm tree
in Palm Springs
A flamingo pond at the Marriott Hotel.

We began our Palm Springs adventure with a trip to the vistor's center, where we picked up an armload of brochures. The guides suggested we start our sightseeing at the Marriott hotel. The grounds are beautiful. Go through the lobby and down the grand staircase to the power boat landing. They'll take you on a boat tour of the grounds and drop you at one of several terrific restaurants. My personal favorite is Tuscany, and I love the boat ride. (Such decadence.)

I passed on the tram on our first trip to Palm Springs because I don't like heights, but Dale wanted to go so I took a deep breath and braved it. The tram holds 80 people on a revolving floored tram that takes 15minutes  to reach the summit of the San Gabriel Mountains overlooking the city (longer if you stop in the middle so that maintenance men can hop aboard and ride down the mountain on the roof!). 
The new Palm Springs Tram ride
The tram follows a gorge into the mountain along some very rough-looking terrain before reaching the summit. 
Did I mention I hate heights?
That's Palm Springs down there
At the top it's more like winter, with pine trees, snow and a ski lodge. That's Palm Springs down there.

Once you get to the top, you'll find a host of things you can do. Even in the summer it's very cool up there and you might even locate a patch of snow. You can cross-country ski or snow board, weather permitting, or you can take a hike. The center has maps of trails. Be sure to hang out in the lodge and drink hot cocoa, eat lunch and shop. That's what we did. The views were breathtaking, and the cool air was a nice treat on an otherwise hot spring day in the desert.
Tommy Bahama's
Recommended for lunch!

The next day we decided to shop. A trip to Palm Springs isn't complete without a stroll down El Paseo Drive in Palm Desert. We truly enjoyed Tommy Bahama's -- after shopping, it's a great place for lunch with a tropical bar serving umbrella drinks and salads. Yummy!

The next day we decided to visit Palm Canyons, the source of the famous springs, and a genuine desert oasis. It's located on the Coachilla Indian Reservation and is well worth the short trip just south of the city of Palm Springs.
Rattle snakes
The trail head into Palm Canyon. It's just a short hike down into the native palm groves and the running spring that feeds the underground lake beneath this area. We didn't see any snakes.
Cactus gardens!

After lunch we stopped at a cactus garden. Dale loves cacti. I had no idea there were so many different kinds. You can see them all, and even purchase your very own for your home garden. That's what we did. (By the way, they're doing very well.) 

Since it's March the weather still cools off in the evenings. We could sit outside comfortably in the late afternoons and then barbecue our dinner on the patio. It was still cold enough at night for blankets, even though it warmed up to the high 90s during the daytime. Summers must be dreadful though.

We took a trip up into the mountains above Indian Wells to a vista point where we found Navaho jewelry sellers camped there and selling their stuff at very good prices. The views are becoming familiar -- those brown hillsides looking down on the green of this sprawling oasis.

We toured museums, and poked around every day for a week and never got to the bottom of our list. We even found time to check out the local Indian gambling joint. That was fun too. 

For our last day's sightseeing we wanted to do something special. As we looked at the map of the area, we noticed that Joshua Tree National Park seemed awfully close by. It's just a half hour's side trip off Highway 10 just north of the city. We couldn't pass it up.

Rock pile and Joshua tree
Joshua Tree is high desert, about 3,000 feet -- that's where the trees grow. They are strange looking, but the whole area is striking, stark and beautiful.
Skull Rock
Joshua Tree is America's newest National Park and it's truly worthy of that distinction. But it's desolate there, no tourist facilities like food stands, water fountains, or "rest" stops. Come prepared. Nevertheless, the park was crowded with hiker types, backpackers, and campers.
Cactus in bloom in Joshua Tree National Park
On the way out we stopped to see a native cactus field. 
It was in bloom. Lovely, but prickly. 
Palm Springs boasts that this area is one of the windiest in the country, so they filled it with hundreds of windmills that generate electricity for the power grid.

Hurray for Palm Springs!

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