Palm Springs

It’s a Dry Heat!

For a place where the weather doesn’t change much, people in Palm Springs sure talk about it a lot. Mostly about the temperature. And as the thermometer starts climbing, it’s all you hear.

When the local news describes upper 90s as a “cool down,” you know it’s getting hot. People start making plans to leave, the Canadians go home, traffic clears, and you can get a table at a restaurant without making a reservation.

“Dry heat” or not, when it’s 110 degrees or more during the day, what do full time residents do? If you have a day job, it’s no big deal. You’re indoors; it’s air conditioned, and you’re not paying for it. But what about folks who don’t work full time anymore? Besides the perks of having the town almost to yourselves, there are some ways to keep your cool during the dog days.

Evenings under the stars

The days may be hot, but the nights … they’re like nowhere else. As soon as the sun goes behind the mountains, the temperature drops. Nothing beats lounging around the pool with friends (and a few cocktails) into the wee hours. Take a moonlight swim, glance up at the palm trees swaying in the breeze and suggest a “Midnight at the Oasis” sing-along. Well, maybe not. Shows your age. Although everyone looks better under soft landscape lighting and after a few gin and tonics.

Ascend to cooler heights

There aren’t many places where you can climb more than 4,000 feet – and drop 30 or so degrees in temperature – in ten minutes. But the Palm Springs Tram is one of them. Summer hiking, while all but impossible in the low desert, is still nice and comfy at 8,000 feet plus. Trails fan out from the top of the tram all over the San Jacinto State Park, some meandering over to Idyllwild. You can even go up there and camp.

The Tram has a summer pass available for $80, so you can go up as many times as you want from May 1 to August 31. First tram up Monday through Thursday is 10 AM, Friday through Sunday, 8 AM. Last tram down Sunday through Thursday is 9:45 PM, and 10:30 PM Friday and Saturday. You could spend all day up there. Bring a lunch and have dinner at the restaurant at the Top of the Tram. 

Palm Springs Museums

Choose from three museums: The Palm Springs Art Museum, the Architecture and Design Center and the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert. The Palm Springs Art Museum also houses the Annenberg Theater, which has film screenings through the summer. All worthy of long, air-conditioned visits. Check the summer schedule and offerings.

Stress free movie releases

Summer is the time for Hollywood blockbuster releases. In the city, you can expect crowds, long lines and parking nightmares. But in Palm Springs, especially in the summer, you can dispense with all that. Go to an early show when it’s the hottest outside. Hardly anyone is there. And when you get out, it’s cooled off. It’s not just blockbuster season either; a lot of movies have summer releases, and the Camelot Theater hosts many special screenings, including a Short Film Festival in June

At home but away from home

Summer is the time to stay at one of the Valley’s resort and spa hotels. Rates drop precipitously in the off-season, so you can visit one of the fancy-schmancy hotels you’d never set foot in during the season. Treat yourself to their spa services and restaurants without crowds. Uber there and back to save on parking.

Road trips

Palm Springs is conveniently located about two hours from many places in Southern California that have wildly different climates. You’ll want to stay overnight (or several nights) in most places. San Diego and Orange County beaches are somewhat more than a two-hour drive, depending on traffic, and from here the traffic doesn’t get serious until you get close to the coast.

Idyllwild is somewhat less than two hours away on cooler, mountain roads. You can rent a cabin in the woods and enjoy temps in the 80s during the day. The same goes for the Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead area. Although somewhat farther away, you can use the high desert approach and avoid the grind on the 10 freeway.

Notice that LA isn’t on the list. It’s not that it’s far; it’s just such a hassle to get there (traffic, of course). And then, if it’s 110 here, it’s probably at least 90 there, depending on what part of town you’re going to. A better bet would be to cut around downtown LA and go directly to Malibu and beaches north (about three hours).

Flights of fancy

Airlines cut back on flights to and from Palm Springs Airport (PSP) in the summer. But Alaska and United still have daily flights to and from San Francisco. PSP is a breeze to get to, and security is a snap compared to most airports. The flight to SFO is about ninety minutes, which is faster than you could drive to LA. Once you land, you can take BART from the airport into the city. Then use Uber or Lyft to get around. Bring a jacket; summers are not warm in San Francisco.


Tired of hearing your friends go on and on about Games of Thrones, but you have never seen it? Just wait until the final season begins. Whitewalkers, Daenerys, King of the North, Cersei: The chatter will be relentless. And don’t even try watching from anywhere but the beginning. So, now’s your chance to catch up! Stream all seven seasons. Watch during the heat of the day and go out at night. Before you’re finished, it will be Labor Day.

Game of Thronesis just one example of a binge-worthy show. Did you see Breaking Bad?

Notice a trend here?

These suggestions encourage you either to leave town, even if just for a short time, or to stay cool at home in air-conditioned splendor. Short trips to cooler climes can work wonders in breaking up the eight or nine weeks of really hot days. But there are plenty of local activities that don’t involve sizzling in the sun.

Posted by Geoffrey Moore on


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