Palm Springs, centrally located in the Southwest, is within driving distance of several metropolitan areas, and the airport (PSP) provides great service to the Bay Area, the Northwest, and Phoenix. And that makes it easy for all your friends and family to visit you all year long.
Driving to nearby cities
The closest metropolitan area is, of course, Los Angeles, at least in terms of distance. In terms of drive time, that depends on when you leave Palm Springs, and when you return. The 10 freeway is the most common route to get to central LA, and, say, to Santa Monica. But it’s also the most congested. If you leave Palm Springs on weekday mornings or on an Sunday afternoon, you’re bound to get in traffic, no matter which way you go. Early Saturday and Sunday mornings are perhaps the best.
If you’re driving to Hollywood or West Hollywood, you might consider taking the 210 freeway from San Bernardino to Pasadena, and then cut over the Cahuenga Pass from the Ventura Freeway. You avoid the downtown snarl that way.
Because LAX is the nearest major international airport, chances are you may need to drive there for some flights, especially international flights. (Flying to LAX from Palm Springs is usually not worth it.) Avoid downtown LA and the 405 by taking the 10 freeway to the 605 south, and then switching to the 105 west, which goes directly to the airport.
Palm Springs is also close to San Diego, and considering that traffic into LA is often heavy, it sometimes doesn’t take any longer to get there. The fastest route is to take the 60 to Riverside and switch to the 215 south. But you can also take a more scenic (and slow and windy) route by driving south on Highway 74 from Palm Desert up and over the mountains and across the desert to the 15 freeway.
Orange County, Disneyland and the OC beaches are perhaps easier to get to from Palm Springs than from LA. Even with some traffic in Riverside, you can be in Laguna Beach in a little over two hours. Exit the 10 freeway where it says 60 west to Riverside, and once in Riverside, take the 91 to OC and the beaches.
If you’re eager to get to Las Vegas, and you’re used to getting there from LA, you’ll find the route from Palm Springs much more enjoyable. Drive north Highway 62, which takes you to Joshua Tree and Twentynine Palms, and then there are a series of lonely desert roads across the Mojave Desert until you get to the Nevada line and the 15 freeway. About four hours. No more mountain passes and crazy weekend traffic.
Phoenix is a straight shot west along the 10 freeway, also about four hours. But unless you need your car there, it’s simpler (and faster) to fly. There are lots of flights from Palm Springs daily that take about 45 minutes.
Flying in and out of Palm Springs
If you’re used to large, soul-crushing, metropolitan airports, the Palm Springs Airport will seem like a dream come true. Easy to get to; few, if any, crowds; gates you can reach in minutes, the airport accommodates 11 airlines, which provide non-stop service to 19 destinations. Service is somewhat reduced in the summer months, but most western hubs are accessible year round.
Perhaps the most convenient connecting airport is Phoenix. But you can also connect through Denver or Salt Lake City.
What if you don’t want to drive to LA? There are alternatives. FlixBusoffers service to downtown LA and UCLA. It’s about two hours to downtown LA and prices vary.
If you’re really committed to public transportation, you can take the Metrolinktrain from Riverside to LA Union Station. Of course, you have to get to Riverside first, which you can do by driving (about 60 minutes), or by using Sunline Transit’s Commuter Link. This would take longer than most drives to LA, unless there’s a tanker spill on the 10, or some other commuter nightmare.