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Palm Springs

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Palm SpringsPalm Springs is the jewel among desert cities and rightly so. Its village atmosphere has been preserved and embellished over the years. The downtown area with its quaint lamppost, benches and Mexican tile paved enclaves invites strolling among the shops, galleries, eateries and coffeehouses. Rich in history and blessed with glorious weather, it is a prime destination of travelers from all over the world.

Palm Springs is the ancestral home of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. They knew the area as "la palma de la mano de Dios", the palm of God's hand, and their ancient healing mineral waters are still a part of the success story of Palm Springs, showcased at their Spa Resort Casino. The Agua Calientes continue to be a major force in the cultural and economic enrichment of Palm Springs. The tribe has just built a second casino, the Agua Caliente Casino, in Rancho Mirage with all the accoutrements of a Las Vegas gaming facility.

The world famous Indian Canyons—Palm, Murray, Andreas and Tahqitz—are tribal lands, made a part of movie history by Frank Capra's classic 1935 film, Lost Horizon. Today, after being closed to the public for more than 30 years, Tahquitz Canyon is now open for guided tours. From a simple hike to picnicking by a peaceful stream, to adventurous Jeep excursions and horseback riding deep into the canyon, the Indian Canyons are not to be missed.The sleepy village of the late 1800s drew pioneers after the Southern Pacific Railroad came through the desert and these settlers; spirit and efforts created an oasis on which their descendants are still leaving their mark. They could not have known that the '20s and '30s would bring the elite of Hollywood to "The Springs" and make this remote desert the international playground of the stars. These adventurers played hard and many bought hideaway homes here, Gable, Garbo, Jack Benny, The Marx Brothers, Janet Gaynor and even Albert Einstein loved to come here. When Charlie Farrell and Ralph Bellamy couldn't get a court at the El Mirador Hotel (now Desert Regional Medical Center), they built their own and the famed Racquet Club became a haven for every mover and shaker and star in Hollywood.

So many luminaries made the desert their home. Some have made an especially indelible contribution—Frank Sinatra, Dinah Shore, Sonny Bono, Bob Hope, George Montgomery, Kirk Douglas, Ambassador Walter Annenberg and so many more whose generosity is legend.

A new generation of Hollywood hit-makers has succumbed to the lure of the desert and the relaxing privacy it offers. Now, Palm Springs is being rediscovered by today’s generation of Hollywood stars. Unlike their predecessors of earlier times, this new breed of star much prefers the private quiet of the desert and it’s many walled estates to the public nightlife that those early pioneers enjoyed. And in Palm Springs, that quest for privacy is universally respected despite the occasional star sighting in the supermarket, restaurant or boutique.

Palm SpringsDowntown Palm Springs is a happening place. A stroll on Palm Canyon Drive with its Walk of Stars, honoring both pioneers and entertainment celebs, offers shops, galleries, coffeehouses and when you turn the corner at Tahquitz Canyon way, there’s Lucille Ball holding court on her bronze bench. Just down the avenue is the historic Plaza Theatre, the scene of many Jack Benny radio broadcasts in the '40s as well as a Hollywood premiere or two. Today it is the home of The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies, with performances starring top guest stars, hilarious variety acts and a company of long-legged lovelies, all over 55!

In January, the Nortel Palm Springs International Film Festival, founded by the late Sonny Bono, brings the gifted filmmakers of the world to our theaters to show their wares and to pay tribute to the legends of the silver screen during a gala evening. In July, the Palm Springs International Short Film Festival showcases the industry’s talented filmmakers and animators.

The mission-style architecture throughout the village is a big part of the charisma one feels in moving about Palm Springs. There is still another aura here brought about by famed mid-century modern architects such as the late Albert Frey, a long time resident and designer of Palm Springs City Hall, many homes in the posh Smoke Tree Ranch, the Tramway Gas Station (renovated into a plant and sculpture gallery) and many more.

Palm Springs has an eclectic, adventurous architectural style, which is drawing significant attention worldwide.

Feeling stressed out? Start your day with a visit to one of the famous spas. On the site of the original Agua Caliente mineral springs is the Spa Hotel & Casino, where you can luxuriate in a full-service spa, mineral baths and the peaceful sounds of Native American music. There is also the elegant Givenchy Spa at Merv Griffin’s Resort Hotel, offering a complete European spa experience. The Palms at Palm Springs promises the ultimate in spa treatments and exercise therapy.

At the edge of Palm Springs sits the Knotts' Oasis Water Park, where visitors will find a beach with private cabanas, a wave pool for body surfing, thrilling waterslides, a kiddie area and a wonderfully relaxing Whitewater River inner tube ride.

But Palm Springs is not without it’s cultural side. The Palm Springs Desert Museum is the cultural centerpiece of the community with renowned traveling exhibitions and an extensive permanent collection.

The Village Green Heritage Center on Palm Canyon Drive houses the McCallum Adobe and the Cornelia White House with memorabilia of local pioneers; the charming Ruddy’s 1930s General Store Museum and the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum.

For a look back at aircraft of the World War II era, visit the awesome Palm Springs Air Museum. The many programs and flight demonstrations bring this era to life.

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway has been delighting visitors for 30 years with a short trip from the desert floor to an alpine forest at 8,516 feet. Snow sports in winter and cool activities in summer, great views and a mountaintop restaurant make this trip at the top of every list. The tramway features two new, state-of-the-art tramcars with rotating floors designed to give spectacular views of the mountains and valley below to every rider, on every trip!

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