April 8, 2014 | by Bill Malcolm
Desert adventure in Palm Springs
Marilyn Monroe, Palm Springs, California, gay news, Washington Blade

The iconic Marilyn Monroe statue in downtown Palm Springs. (Photo by Visitor7; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Palm Springs is a great little desert city among eight cities in the Coachella Valley region two hours east of Los Angeles.

Getting There: Fly into the Palm Springs regional airport, PSP, and skip the drive out from L.A. (although LAX, Ontario, Burbank and even San Diego are options).

Many major airlines now go to Palm Springs, including my favorite, Virgin America, which flies nonstop to San Francisco (and you can connect to Chicago, Washington, D.C., and New York.

Stay: Bargain hunters will enjoy the Motel 6 downtown. It’s handy to a Starbucks and near the bars and restaurants. The Motel 6 East is also nice and is across the street from the Ace Hotel (where the urban hipsters can be found).

The Best Western Las Brisas is also downtown and one block from the bars on Arenas Road. The location and landscaping are great. The gay resorts on Warm Sands Drive are another option.

Check tripadvisor.com for other hotels. I found rates lower here during the week.

What to do:

Bike: Rent a bike ($20 half-day includes helmet) from Bike Palm Springs, 194 S. Indian Canyon (info@bikePSrentals.com), and ride around town. Enjoy the mid-century modern architecture of many of the homes. Ride west to where the mountains start. The city has several marked trails and you can ride all the way out to “Cat City” (Cathedral City).

Swim: The city pool is $5 and is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. every day. It has a view of the mountains and is located near the library.

Run/Walk: The Frontrunners group meets every day except Sunday at 8 a.m. or so in the Mizzell Center parking lot. If you like hiking, there is also a Great Outdoors chapter.

If you’re feeling adventurous, hike the strenuous Museum Trail to the Lykken Trail. It starts above the museum. You’ll need to be in good shape. Bring sunscreen and water and start early in the day to avoid the heat.

Explore: Don’t miss Joshua Tree National Park named for the odd yucca-like tree (Yucca brevifolia). Take a class from the Joshua Tree Institute (joshuatree.org). Plenty of April classes are scheduled, including Geology of the Joshua Tree National Park, which runs from April 25-27. The park is about an hour north of Palm Springs.

Enter from the north side of the park and work your way south. Stop along the way at the Boulders, Ocotillo Patch, the Cholla Cactus Garden and Cottonwood Canyon.

The park lies in two deserts (Mojave and Colorado) both with their own types of vegetation. Some wildflowers should still be in bloom. Bring a jacket as it can be cooler up there.

Eat: I liked Sherman’s Restaurant downtown (a New York deli with corned beef). La Tablita offers excellent Mexican food (on East Palm Canyon in Cathedral City). Next door, try Dragon Sushi (yes, same owners).

Bars: The Barracks had a beer bust Sunday. Hunters (the video bar) has a happy hour nightly until 7 p.m. Hunters is on Arenas Road where you can also find a few other bars. The Tool Shed on Sunny Dunes Drive is near the Motel 6.

Museum: Check out “Secrets of the Sun: Stephen H. Willard Photographs of the West” at the Palm Springs Art Museum (psmuseumorg) downtown.

Special events: April brings the annual White Party celebrating its 25th anniversary this month. Check out jeffsanker.com for details; it runs from April 25-28.

Palm Springs makes a great vacation destination for the winter-weary. Pick up a copy of Palm Springs Life or visit them online for more ideas and local information.

That’s all for April. Next month, we travel to a historic Midwest city celebrating its 250th birthday.

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