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Four Hours in the Palm Springs Area

Known for its stunning mountain and desert landscape, the greater Palm Springs area is a hot spot for vacationers, but it is also strong in business travel thanks to its numerous hotels and resorts with ample meeting and conference space.

Aside from weekending visitors (many of whom make the less than two-hour drive from Los Angeles), the region is attracting travelers from across the country thanks to a slew of new flights connecting the region to cities as far as New York and Calgary.

Whether you are in the area for work or play, there is much more to see and do beyond the palm-tree lined resorts that are spread across the nine cities that make up greater Palm Springs. Rental cars are a necessity for those that want to explore although ridesharing apps are a popular way to get around.

Break free from a meeting and spend an afternoon exploring Palm Springs. Here’s an afternoon guide to get you started.


Make your way to North Palm Canyon Drive, which is the main strip in downtown Palm Springs for plenty of shopping and dining options. Look for the Palm Springs Walk of Stars along the sidewalks where 372 celebrities that had a notable presence here are honored with a Golden Palm Star.

Grab a light lunch at Eight4Nine for weekend brunch (arrive early to snag a window table for people watching on the strip). Another great option is 4Saints at The Rowan Palm Springs, a new Kimpton hotel downtown. This is the only rooftop restaurant in town with beautiful views of the mountain range and surrounding cityscape.


Catch a ride to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway where the famous rotating cars carry guests 2.5 miles up the side of the mountain for a mesmerizing birdseye view of the entire valley. You can easily spend several hours at the top hiking amid nature, using binoculars to spot wildlife along the mountain, or dining in the panoramic restaurant at 8,516 feet high. There’s also a natural history museum and cinema showing a local film at the top.


While it’s hard to peel yourself away from the views, hop one of the tram cars back down the mountain (they operate every ten minutes) because it’s time for an architectural tour of the area. Known for its mid-century modernist buildings and homes, visitors clamor for antiques and souvenirs that recall the heyday of the 1950s and 1960s when Hollywood stars made this their convenient getaway. As a result, many celebrities had homes here (Elvis and Priscilla Presley honeymooned here among many other well-known names). Sign up for a tour with Five Star Adventures for an entertaining tour of homes to view throwback design and architecture that you can only find in this area. You’ll feel like you’re on a movie set, and the guides always point out celebrity landmarks. Many of the famous homes can also be booked as vacation rentals.


Have your guide drop you near the Palm Springs Art Museum, which regularly brings in well-known exhibits in addition to a permanent collection of Western and Native American art. Stroll through the galleries leisurely or save time to wander the streets to explore the numerous sculptures and statues that make up the wide collection of public art found around the area. After a jam-packed afternoon, schedule a spa treatment at your hotel to congratulate yourself on getting a quick taste of what the region has to offer.

Alternative activities

Palm Desert is home to the Living Desert Zoo & Gardens, which features dozens of exotic and rare animals and plants spread out across 1,200 acres. The African Village includes many unusual breeds of donkeys and cattle from Africa, and children will find many of the interactive exhibits to be quite entertaining.

Rent a bike to explore the desert pathways or hike the Indian Canyons in Palm Springs to explore the Agua alienate tribal land. Pack a picnic basket plus plenty of chilled water to stay hydrated. As you will notice, everywhere around the greater Palm Springs area, the mountain and desert landscape form the backdrop of any view. There’s no better way to immerse yourself in that environment than to explore it on foot.

Looking for even more suggestions? Try downloading the Palm Springs app, which has suggestions and money-saving tips for any visit to town.

By Ramsey Qubein

Ramsey is a regular contributor to Business Traveler across all print, digital, web and social channels.  He travels more than 400,000 miles a year criss-crossing the globe to report on hotels, airlines, loyalty programs, and all things travel.

You can find more from Ramsey at, on Twitter – @dailytraveltips and Instagram – @dailytraveltips