Las Vegas is one of the best known cities in the United States and the biggest city in Nevada. This famous city lies in the greater Mojave Desert and is known for its dry, arid climate. From its amazing hotels and world-class shows, Las Vegas is known for being a city of excess, gambling, and fun.
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Palm Springs is known for being an oasis in the southern California Sonoran Desert. The city is a bustling tourist destination for snowbirds, Hollywood stars, politicians, and more. Surrounded by the Coachella Valley, the city is located 100 miles east of Los Angeles and was once the go-to destination for Hollywood Royalty. Today, tourism fuels the local economy and employs more people than any other industry in the city.
What Is Palm Springs Known For?
Palm Springs is known for its many resorts, spectacular natural scenery, and warm sunny climate. Tourists from around the U.S. come to the city in droves to find a little rest and relaxation, maybe even an escape from their everyday lives. Palm Springs is also famous for being a retreat for Hollywood’s rich and famous, and its stars of old still influence the city today.
History, Culture, And Traditions Palm Springs Is Known For
The Native Cahuilla People
Palm Springs was first settled by the native Cahuilla people around 2,000 years ago, an oasis in the dry and barren Sonora desert. There, they lived as peaceful hunters and gatherers for hundreds of years, sheltered by nearby groves and valleys and nourished by the streams, hot springs, and underground aquifer.
Today, you can still find the Native Chuilla surnames on the city’s street names and other public spaces. When visiting Palm Springs, the Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza is a must-see.
In addition to exploring the history and ancient artifacts of the native peoples, the Plaza also operates the Spa at Sec-He, the tribe’s sacred Agua Caliente hot mineral springs. There, you can soak in the very same sacred mineral waters the Cahuilla People once called home.
Palm Springs Art Museum
Palm Springs is famous for having the largest cultural institution in Coachella Valley. The main campus of the Palm Springs Art Museum is home to 3 floors of 19th, 20th, and 21st-century art, featuring contemporary California art alongside classic Western art and Native American Art.
The museum is also home to the Annenberg Theater, where you can catch a variety of performances: classical, dance, opera, jazz, cabaret, Broadway, and guest speakers. There, you’ll also find two sculpture gardens and a one-of-a-kind gift shop that sells unique designer items not found anywhere else.
Palm Springs is known for being the “golf capital of the world,” due to its many golf courses found in the greater Palm Springs area. Today, there are around 9 courses within the city of Palm Springs and nearly 100 more in the Greater Palm Springs area.
The golf courses also have scenic value, famous in California for their spectacular views of the nearby San Jacinto Mountains and the picturesque California desert.
That said, Palm Springs is famous for attracting some of the top golf course designers in the world, including Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Pete Dye, and Greg Norman. The area was also host to several PGA Tours and is home to 5 of the top 30 courses in California.
Because of its year-round warm and sunny weather, Palm Springs is a hot spot for the droves of migrating “snowbirds” – folks from the colder parts of the country who escape to a warmer climate during the colder months of the year.
This part of the year is also referred to as the “high season,” when the city’s many resorts, attractions, restaurants, shops, etc., see more business than any other time of year.
During the high season, things are going to be more expensive, and places will be more crowded. Therefore, if you’re looking to save a little money, or prefer some peace and quiet, then it’s best to avoid this high season altogether.
Today, Palm Springs is known for being a home and getaway for a thriving LGBTQ+ community. In fact, Palm Springs holds the honor of having some of the highest percentages of gay couples in the country. There, they can find a supportive community and enjoy such yearly celebrations as the Greater Palm Springs Pride Celebration and the annual White Party.
There are also LGTQ+-friendly resorts and hotels that cater to the community. The city has fully embraced the culture, with events being held all year long, such as drag show brunches, the Cinema Diverse film festival, LGBTQ+ happy hours, and LGBTQ+-owned and operated tours.
Districts And Areas Palm Springs Is Known For
Palm Canyon Drive
One of the more famous areas in Palm Springs is the shopping district along Palm Canyon Drive, located in the city’s downtown. About an hour’s walk from end to end, there you can find vintage boutiques, interior design shops, restaurants, galleries, hotels, and more. Palm Springs is famous for its vintage shops, such as Revival Retail Shop, which offers the widest selection of vintage goods on the block.
Start your journey with a coffee from the Kaffi café, and once you’ve got a good caffeine buzz going, check out the Shops at Thirteen Forty-Five. This building is home to a dozen or so shops where you can find artwork, clothing, textiles, cacti, and hand-made pottery. Then, refuel at Chicken Ranch restaurant, which offers a simple and clean farm-to-table menu designed to support sustainability.
Finally, check out ARRIVE by Paliosociety, a downtown hotel for tourists and a hangout spot for locals. The hotel is notorious for hosting fun and unique weekly events such as “Dive-in Movies” (like a drive-in, but at the pool), Drag Queen Bingo, a DJ Pool party, free yoga, and more! You do have to be 21+ to enter, but although it’s not kid-friendly, dogs are invited and welcomed!
You can also take a bike tour to explore the different districts in Palm Springs. It’s a relatively convenient way to get around the city and a good workout.
Palm Springs is famous for its scenic views and breathtaking natural beauty. Escape from the city by heading to the Andreas Hills neighborhood, a 400-home residential neighborhood located on the southernmost outskirts of the city.
Andreas Hills offers stunning views of the surrounding San Jacinto Mountains and desert, as well as the cityscapes of downtown and views of wind turbines in the distance. Here, you can access hundreds of miles of hiking trails through the mountains and desert.
A gateway to Palm Canyon, these trails are your chance to see the largest California Palm Fan oasis, the very trees that Palm Springs is known for. You can also see the remnants of Cahuilla Indian Villages, and one trail even runs through the former estate of Bob Hope.
Movie Colony Neighborhood
When visiting Palm Springs, be sure to see the homes of some of Palm Spring’s most famous residents in the Movie Colony neighborhood.
Within walking distance of downtown, Movie Colony Neighborhood is made up of 170 homes, many of which were purchased by Hollywood celebrities between 1930 and 1960. The neighborhood boasts owners such as Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, Gloria Swanson, and Jack Benny.
The Stars of the Movie Colony Walking Tour, organized and operated by the Palm Springs Historical Society, is a great opportunity to get an inside peek at this illustrious neighborhood. This walking tour lasts about 2.5 hours and is led by knowledgeable tour guides who have the scoop on who lived where, who was married to whom, who had scandalous affairs, which architects designed which homes, the different architectural styles, and more.
Landmarks And Architecture Palm Springs Is Famous For
Min-Century Modern Architecture
Palm Springs is known for its abundance of mid-century modern architecture, characterized by its geometric lines, sleek facades, and space-age designs. The city has the most mid-century buildings than any other city in the U.S. Every February, the city holds its annual Modernism Week, a celebration of the city’s rich history of mid-century modern architecture and design.
If you happen to be visiting Palm Springs at any other time of the year, the city also offers the Palm Springs Modern Tour, which guides you through the city’s most famous and important mid-century architecture. Other such landmarks Palm Springs is famous for include Frank Sinatra’s Twin Palms Estate, Wexler Steel Houses, Elivis’ Honeymoon Hideaway, Parker Palm Springs Hotel, Palm Spring City Hall, the Kaufmann House, and the Bank of America building.
Architecture And Design Center – Edwards Harris Pavilion
Part of the Palm Springs Art Museum, the Architecture and Design Center was originally the Sante Fe Savings and Loan bank, designed by famous architect E Steward Williams. Today, the building is a Class I Historic Site that houses numerous design and architecture exhibits.
The Center also supports the continued research of architecture and design. Located on the lower floors, you can find a library, study center, conference room, and architectural archives.
This is a great place to learn more about the mid-century architecture Palm Springs is known for and is a bargain at only $5 for admission!
Sunnyland Center And Gardens
One of the first resorts built in the city was the Sunnylands Center and Gardens, a mid-century destination for celebrities and politicians, including eight U.S. Presidents! Built in 1966 by Ambassadors Walter and Lenore Annenberg, the resort quickly became a place for world leaders to get together and discuss global concerns and important political issues.
In 2012, the center opened to the public and today, Palm Springs is famous for this historic and significant tourist attraction. You can take a tour of the estate and explore Sunnyland’s rich past, or perhaps take a stroll through its 9 acres of desert gardens. There are also art exhibits, a gift shop, and a host of public events.
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
One of the most attractive landmarks in California is the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.
Boasting the largest rotating tram cars in the world, Palm Springs is famous for its Aerial Tramway, which travels 2.5 miles along the Chino Canyon. This experience offers stunning views of the valley floor below and the surrounding Mount San Jacinto State Park that you’ll not find anywhere else.
At 8,516 feet, the 10-minute ride ends at the mountain station, where you can grab a bite to eat, do a little gift shopping, or enjoy one of the many outdoor activities available year-round. These activities included guided nature walks, nearby camping, and even winter activities made possible by the snowy tops of the mountain.
Food Palm Springs Is Known For
A Diverse Dining Scene
Palm Springs is the perfect place to get a taste of authentic California food. It’s difficult to pin down just what defines Palm Springs cuisine, as its many restaurants offer menus inspired by foods from around the world. Many of these global foods are given a Southern California twist, with chefs integrating local and seasonal ingredients into their menus.
Palm Springs is known for its countless restaurants for every taste and budget, many of which are located inside Palm Spring’s resorts and hotels. Due to the year-round warm and sunny climate, Al Fresco Dining is a big hit in town.
The Date Shake
Palm Springs is famous for its one-of-a-kind local treat, the Date Shake. A delectable combination of walnuts, Medjool dates, cinnamon, salt, and vanilla ice cream, you can find date shakes at most restaurants and roadside stands in the Greater Palm Springs area.
Medjool Dates, known for their sweet flavor and soft texture, were brought over to Coachella Valley from the middle east and quickly became a mainstay of local agriculture. In 1928, date farmer Ross Nicholl had the idea to throw dates into a milkshake, and the result was an instant hit.
For the full, old Hollywood experience Palm Springs is famous for, be sure to book a reservation at Melvyn’s Restaurant, located inside the Ingleside Estate Hotel. A snapshot of classic Hollywood glamour and style, this restaurant was once a favorite destination for many celebrities and boasts such guests as Marlon Brando, Marylyn Monroe, and, most famously, Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack Gang.
An elegant dining experience, the main dining room has the classic feel of white tablecloths and waitstaff in bowties, with photos of its many celebrity guests dotting the walls. There, you can enjoy a menu of classic American cuisine and cocktails with a California twist.
Famous People From Palm Springs
Walk of Stars Palm Springs
The names of many of the city’s most famous residents can be found engraved on the Walk of the Stars Palm Spring. With over 400 stars lining Palm Springs Drive, the names include former Presidents, members of the entertainment industry, writers, pioneers, the city’s first settlers, athletes, tribal leaders, local celebrities, decorated veterans, and humanitarians.
If you plan on visiting the Walk of Stars, be sure to download the Walk of Stars app. The app can help you find a star and provides detailed information on each “Golden Palm Star” honoree. This sidewalk is a must-see for anyone visiting Palm Springs.
Old Hollywood Vacation Town
Palm Springs is famous for the old Hollywood elite who once made the city their weekend home, beginning in the 1930s. Bound by their studio contracts to stay within 2 hours of L.A., Palm Springs quickly became the stars’ go-to getaway.
Drawn by the natural beauty and seclusion, celebrities began snatching up properties in the city. So much so, that by the 1950s, the city was running out of houses and hotels for the rich and famous to stay in!
So which Hollywood royalty made Palm Springs their part-time home? The list is long: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Marilyn Monroe, Sammy Davis Jr., Bob Hope, Lily Tomlin, Kirk Douglas, Lucille Ball, Cary Grant, Dinah Shore, and Elizabeth Taylor, just to name a few.
Discovering More Things Palm Springs Is Known For
Palm Springs is known for being a thriving resort town, full of natural beauty, a rich history, and fun things to do. The above barely covers all there is to see and do, and Palm Springs is famous for so much more. So whether you’re looking for a relaxing getaway, a history lesson, or a chance to do a little shopping, there are endless opportunities to discover and explore.