Looking for what to do in Palm Springs? What to see in Palm Springs? To help you visit this beautiful desert city, we have grouped all the must-sees gems in the city: natural sites, excursions, tourist activities, museums, and attractions, etc.
US celebrities have always frequented the city, Frank Sinatra loved to come and relax here, and for Elvis Presley, it was the destination of his honeymoon.
Palm Springs is the Coachella Valley’s main city and is located along Highway 111, connecting it to Cathedral City and Palm Desert. It can be a valid stop on the road for those heading to Arizona or, on the contrary returning to California. The city is about 170km from Los Angeles and 190km from Blythe, which is right on the border with the state of Arizona.
International travellers visiting the USA
Travellers wishing to go to the USA are no longer obliged to submit a visa application and can, under certain conditions, apply for an electronic authorization for a tourist or ESTA transit visa. In this article, you will find out everything you need to know about this simplified procedure for obtaining the right to reside in the United States.
A few years ago, the administrative procedures for obtaining a visa were so complicated and annoying that organizing a tourist trip to the USA was challenging. To date, to travel to the USA as part of a tourist trip, the US government has implemented a simplified procedure represented by the ESTA visa waiver program. The acronym ESTA means Electronic Travel Authorization System. The purpose of this new procedure is both to simplify the procedures for applying for a residence permit for tourists and to make it easier for the authorities in charge of immigration to the United States to process such applications.
Unlike traditional visa applications, the ESTA application is made directly online through a simple form to fill in and validate. Therefore, there is no need to go to an administrative office or prepare a dossier with different supporting documents since everything is done electronically. We will explain in more detail below.
But be careful! The ESTA travel authorization covers only stays in the USA for tourism or visits to friends or relatives. Other travel reasons such as working or studying in the US still require you to apply for a classic visa. As you will see later in this article, other conditions must also be met in order to benefit from the ESTA authorization.
In practice, compared to the classic visa, the ESTA authorization allows you to organize a trip to the United States more easily, in a more modern way, and, above all, very quickly, since the answer to the question is sent by e-mail within a maximum of 72 hours.
The purpose of the ESTA authorization is not solely to allow travellers to do tourism in the United States. This authorization can, in fact, also be used when you make a trip to another destination, but the plane makes a transit or a stopover in a US airport.
In fact, when the aircraft in which you are travelling lands on US soil, you must have the authorization to be on US territory even if you won’t exit the plane or the airport. Therefore, the ESTA is mandatory for all travellers who find themselves in this situation and respect the concession’s preventive conditions.
It should be noted that, in case of transit or stopover in the USA, the ESTA authorization must be valid both on the outward and return journeys, as usually happens since the ESTA is valid for two years starting from its release. However, it will be necessary to renew the ESTA before or during the trip to comply with US law in certain specific cases.
How long is an ESTA valid for? From the moment it is obtained, this travel authorization is valid for a total duration of two years.
The ESTA is a system that was created in 2009 and for which the validity period was set at two years by the United States Department of Homeland Security. Therefore, the US government has decided to allow travellers who obtain this authorization to travel using it in the country during these two years. Obviously, it cannot be excluded that this duration will be changed in the future, but it is currently still two years.
What does this mean? The validity period begins when the authorization is issued and ends on the same day two years later. During all this period, you can logically go to the United States as often as you wish, obviously in compliance with the conditions set by this device, particularly regarding the duration and purpose of the stay, which we will discuss in more detail below. Therefore, there will be no need to make a new ESTA application each time for these trips, and you can, therefore, simply use the authorization you already have.
When is the best time to go to palm springs?
The best time to visit Palm Springs is between January and April when the weather is the most hospitable. Palm Spring is located in the Californian desert, and it has an arid climate with over 300 days of sunshine a year. Winters are rather short and characterized by average maximums, even quite high, up to 20 ° C in December and January and even over 25 ° C in February. The winter lows can even reach 4-5 ° C at night but often do not drop below 7-8 ° C. Starting from April, it starts to go above 30 ° C and then usually break through the 40 ° C barrier in July and August when the minimums hardly go below 25 ° C.
Palm springs outdoor Attractions: what to do and see in Palm Springs
As we said, Palm Springs should be lived as the classic well-off Californian would live it. If you don’t like or don’t know how to play golf, you can first take a tour in the heart of the city and then maybe stop for a cool cocktail.
Shoppers can take a trip to North Palm Canyon Drive, which is teeming with shops selling clothes, home furnishings and accessories, and more.
If you have time and desire to see the city from a decidedly different point of view, take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, which at a not so low price takes you to the mountains, where, in addition to not feeling hot, you can admire the desert that extends below. Among the various trekking routes, we recommend leading to the summit (9km, Mt San Jacinto State Park). In fact, cross-country skiing is practised. If you want to take a city tour searching for architectural gems, head to the palm springs tourist information centre (2901 North Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs) designed by Albert Frey on the remains of a gas station.
Two different canyons are worth seeing: first of all, the Tahquitz Canyon, which is located south-east of the city, wherein the less dry season you will also find a small waterfall; nearby are preserved ancient rock engravings. Then there are the Indian Canyons, just south of the city, which is definitely worth a relaxing excursion.
When it’s too hot, you can cool off at Knott’s Soak City water park (paid parking) or take a trip to the Palm Springs Art Museum, which mainly collects works by American artists.
Just walking through Palm Springs and seeing all those palm trees is fun in itself! During your walks, stop over in Downtown to take advantage of the many shops, bars, and restaurants. Due to the hot weather, the place is much more lively in the evening! There is also a local “walk of fame”, which presents the names of stars who have lived in Palm Springs (Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra…). Right next to the Visitor Center (= Palm Springs tourist office), at the city’s entrance, do not miss the famous “Palm Springs” sign either. This place is very photogenic!
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There are also many houses with architecture as beautiful as they are original. We invite you to discover them by walking the streets of the city with your vehicle. If you wish, guided tours to discover the most beautiful houses are also available.
For our part, the walks that we enjoyed the most were the ones we took in the morning’s early hours. Thanks to the jet lag, we got up very early and discovered the calm and deserted city at the first light of day. We loved it!
Plan a full day to travel to and visit Joshua Tree Park. You will need a vehicle to get there unless you book a guided tour from Palm Springs. At the park entrance, start by going to the Visitor Center to collect a free map and valuable advice from the rangers. Rather than reading 50 different reviews, ask them to show you the most beautiful viewpoints and hiking trails on the map. They are the best informed, and they know the conditions of the day!
Visiting Joshua Tree is fairly straightforward: a large road runs through the park, and there are many stops on this route. For our part, our favourite short hike is the Hidden Valley Nature Trail. This superb walk offers varied landscapes in the heart of a hidden valley!