Palm Springs

World Facts Index > United States > Palm Springs

Located just 100 miles southeast of Los Angeles, Palm Springs is a booming community boasting 83 square miles of desert land and a current population of 45,000 people. Most visitors arrive by driving from Los Angeles via the Interstate 10, which runs along the north side of Coachella Valley.

Drivers generally take either the Indian Canyon Drive/ Palm Springs exit, which gives an up-close view of the giant windmills, or the earlier Tramway exit. Coming in via the Tramway exit, there is a startlingly abrupt transition from pasty desert to brilliant, emerald-green lawns. This transition marks your entrance into the Racquet Club area of Palm Springs, which has catered to Hollywood stars since the mid-1930s.

Throughout all regions of Palm Springs and its surrounding desert cities, visitors enjoy an array of restaurants, shopping and top-notch attractions.

Downtown Palm Springs

Downtown Palm Springs, also called "The Loop" and "The Village," is where nearly every visitor to Palm Springs will spend a considerable amount of time, enjoying shopping, dining, as well as strolling and people-watching. The Plaza Theater, home of the Palm Springs Follies, is in this district, along with the historic Village Green buildings and the Hyatt Regency Hotel. This district also hosts dozens of restaurants, including Muriel's Supper Club and the Kaiser Grille, as well as several gay nightclubs, among them Hunter's, which enjoys a worldwide reputation.

South Palm Springs

South Palm Springs is located along South Palm Canyon Drive and offers a mixture of moderately priced hotels, restaurants and residences. The Smoke Tree Ranch and Stables is located in this area, which is adjacent to the main portion of the Agua Caliente band of Cahuilla Indian Reservation, where the Indian Canyons, a popular hiking attraction, are located. The Canyon Country Club is also in this area.

Palm Springs Residential Areas

One ritzy residential area is Little Tuscany, near the former Racquet Club, featuring many deluxe homes built in an Italian style. If you're on the Palm Springs Celebrity Tours, this area may be on your itinerary. Another stop for stargazing tours is the Las Palmas area, still the favorite haunt of many wealthy Palm Springs residents. Off-limits is the enclave of South Ridge, permanently patrolled and protected behind a locked gate. Comedian Bob Hope is the best-known occupant. Meanwhile, the Movie Colony area, also once popular with the Hollywood set, is now undergoing a renaissance of remodeling.

Desert Hot Springs

Like Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs began with warm water bubbling up out of the earth. Several hotels take advantage of this great natural gift, including the Miracle Springs Hotel and Spa, the Desert Hot Springs Spa Hotel and the Two Bunch Palms Resort and Spa. This community is located on the far side of Interstate 10, just northeast of downtown Palm Springs.

Cathedral City

Though the individual Chambers of Commerce don't like to admit it, the other desert cities surrounding Palm Springs tend to blend into each other along Highway 111. Unless you keep a sharp eye on the decorative markers, it may be difficult to know when you've left Palm Springs for Cathedral City.

The community of Cathedral City has several golf courses and some shopping. Much of the everyday business of nearby Palm Springs is transacted here. There are several good hotels, including the Doral Palm Springs Resort and some less-expensive options. The new IMAX Theater is located here as well.

Rancho Mirage

Proceeding along Highway 111, Rancho Mirage blends into Cathedral City, offering abundant dining choices on "Restaurant Row." You'll find Stuart Anderson's Black Angus, Chart House, Kobe Japanese Steakhouse and many others in this area. In addition, the Mission Hills Country Club, Tamarisk Country Club and the Ritz Carlton are among the upscale offerings in this area.

Palm Desert & Indian Wells

Palm Desert features the deluxe shopping region of El Paseo, where fine stores offer art, clothing, crystal and more. In fact, this street is often called "The Rodeo Drive of the Desert," named after the famous Beverly Hills shopping district. In addition, The McCallum Theatre is located in the Palm Desert community, along with The Living Desert Wildlife and Botanical Park.

Just after Palm Desert, Indian Wells offers the Indian Wells Country Club, the Miramonte Resort and the Hyatt Grand Champions Resort. Exclusive residential communities abound as well.

La Quinta

Farther along 111, golf mecca La Quinta hosts several private courses, including the PGA West Arnold Palmer Private Golf Course, which is one of the locations for the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic. There is the La Quinta Resort and the La Quinta Country Club as well. Exclusive housing areas cling to the edges of the golf courses.

Indio

Serving as a gateway into the more agricultural portion of the Coachella Valley, Indio is the location for the annual Date Festival held at the Riverside County Fairgrounds. Devane's, a restaurant owned and operated by actor William Devane, is located here, along with the Indio Fashion Mall, a popular mid-range shopping stop. In addition, The Landmark Golf Club hosts The Skins Game annually.

Throughout Palm Springs and its surrounding cities, visitors enjoy quality dining, luxurious resorts and world-famous golf courses. It's no wonder why this community consistently draws countless tourists from around the globe.

History of Palm Springs

Luxury golf courses, hot springs and palm trees draw countless tourists and seasonal residents to the heavenly desert town of Palm Springs, located 100 miles southeast of Los Angeles. With 350 sunny days per year, according to Palm Springs' Chamber of Commerce, it's no surprise that both early and modern pioneers have flocked to this desert community.

Earliest Inhabitants

Based on remains discovered in Morongo basin campsites, anthropologists estimate that native peoples resided in the Palm Springs area ten thousand years ago. These early Native American inhabitants made baskets and pottery, as well as employing a variety of plants for food and medicinal purposes. Using bows and arrows, the early tribes hunted deer, rabbits and other animals. The desert land offered survival for these early people for 1,000 years. A long period of inactivity on the land followed, but this desert haven would not stay unoccupied forever.

Modern Discovery

In the late 1700s, Spanish conquests throughout California allowed for the expansion of Spain's empire into the Colorado Desert lands. Yet, in spite of the vast growth of Spanish dominance, the Cahuilla Indians remained in Coachella Valley, embarking upon new trades of growing corn, squash and beans. However, by the mid-1800s, many Native Americans died from a small pox epidemic, leaving a dense population of Cahuilla Indians in this territory.

Meanwhile, the United States government took an interest in Coachella Valley and sent a survey party, led by William P. Blake in 1853. Creating the first wagon route through the San Gorgonio Pass, Blake's expedition paved the way for additional parties to travel through the Palm Springs area. In fact, Palm Springs was added to the Bradshaw Stage Coach Line in 1872, serving as the stop between Prescott, Arizona, and Los Angeles, California. Southern Pacific Railroad soon followed the stagecoach industry's lead, completing a railroad line through these desert lands in 1877. At this time, land sections around the railroad were divided, with Southern Pacific gaining ownership over some territories and the Native American tribes holding the remaining lands.

Palm Springs Becomes a Town

The fist permanent Anglo settler, Judge John Guthrie McCallum, bought land from Southern Pacific and built his home in the Palm Springs area in 1884. The McCallum Adobe still stands, now serving as the oldest remaining building in Palm Springs. Other settlers were not far behind and by the early 1900s, Palm Springs boasted a post office, hotel and several buildings. Numerous important institutions followed, including the first schoolhouse in 1914, and the first newspaper, named Desert Sun, in 1927. In 1928, the El Mirador Hotel opened as a gigantic facility, able to host 300 guests. Ruddy's General Store emerged in the 1930s, another building standing today as a museum. The town also developed its first golf course, as well as tennis courts and a racquet club. Meanwhile, the adjacent town of Cathedral City became home to numerous gambling establishments.

The growth of Palm Springs led settlers to consider incorporation, forming a 30-man committee to lead the effort. This endeavor reached success in 1938. Just one year later, the town census indicated a total population of 5,300 year-round settlers, with 8,000 seasonal visitors.

War-Era Changes

World War II brought significant changes to Palm Springs, as the notable General Patton traveled to the desert with his troops for training sessions. Patton administered training drills in the Palm Springs area to prepare his troops for the North African desert invasions. During this time, the El Mirador Hotel was transformed into a hospital, serving wounded soldiers. An airfield was constructed as well, which would become the Palm Springs Airport.

Post-War Developments

The once-modest city of Palm Springs skyrocketed after World War II. Several Hollywood stars began to build houses in the area, including Kirk Douglas and Frank Sinatra. The beloved Bob Hope was appointed Honorary Mayor. In addition, Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Ford all visited this flourishing town.

Palm Springs continued to prosper, booming from one golf course in 1945 to over 85 golf courses in the present time. Some of these courses are internationally famous, such as the Tahquitz Creek Resort Course (designed by Ted Robinson) and the Legend Course (managed by Arnold Palmer). In addition to golfing establishments, Palm Springs now boasts sophisticated city life, with upscale boutiques and extravagant restaurants.

From a little western town along the stagecoach line to a modern, cosmopolitan city, Palm Springs has achieved worldwide notoriety, with scores of travelers trekking long distances for seasonal visits to this desert sanctuary. Combining sunshine and style, the city of Palm Springs has emerged as one of California's top spots to visit. But don't take our word for it. Pack your golf clubs, tennis racquet and summer shorts, and get ready to bask in the Palm Springs sun.

The Weather

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Avg. High 70 75 78 87 94 104 108 106 101 91 78 68
Avg. Low 42 45 48 54 61 67 75 74 68 58 48 42
Mean 56 61 64 71 78 86 92 91 85 76 64 56
Avg. Precip. 1.0 in 0.8 in 0.5 in 0.1 in 0.1 in 0.1 in 0.2 in 0.4 in 0.4 in 0.2 in 0.7 in 0.8 in

 

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