An oasis of retro cool in the heat of the California desert, Palm Springs, made famous as a hangout for the rich and famous in the last century, has once again established itself as the place to be.
Lying 100 miles east of Los Angeles, Palm Springs is the main city in the Coachella Valley. Its bohemian vibe, vintage boutiques, mid-century architecture and year-round sunshine lend the city an unmistakable class.
The city is surrounded by stunning mountain ranges, there are golf courses and the Joshua Tree National Park lies nearby. Major events like the gargantuan Coachella Music Festival and the Indian Wells tennis tournament have put the area firmly on the map.
The sun shines for 354 days a year on average, so booking a cheap flight to Palm Springs makes sense at any time of the year.
The busiest time is from November to March, when temperatures drop from summer highs, that reach above 100°F, to a more manageable 80°F during the day.
The shoulder seasons of spring and fall are generally cheaper for flights, although events like the Indian Wells tennis tournament in March and Coachella in April can send demand and prices soaring.
Low season comes in the summer, when the temperatures soar. But you can still cool off at the pool or escape the heat by taking the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway 2,000m up to the San Jacinto Mountains.
There are plenty of departure airports to choose from if you are flying to Palm Springs. And when you search for flights with Orbitz there are many other ways to increase your chance of grabbing a bargain.
Flexibility is key. You can check deals from other departure and arrival points by using the ‘Nearby airports’ option. Another great way to find a lower-priced air fare is to adjust your dates of travel. Click in the ‘My dates are flexible’ tick box when making your search to see when the best deals are for your outbound and return flight.
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Optimal flight times from US cities include:
Palm Springs flights arrive at the Palm Springs International Airport just two miles east of the city. It is served by several airlines, many offering low-fares from around the country. There are shops, bars and food outlets on the Bono Concourse, and Palm Springs’ reputation as a golf hotspot is enhanced by the presence of a PGA Tour shop.
You can hire a limo to arrive in the city center in style – or just settle for the regular shuttle buses. Eight car rental firms can be found on site at the airport.
Palm Springs is within striking distance of the sprawl of Los Angeles, meaning that John Wayne International Airport in Orange County and Ontario International Airport in San Bernardino are just over an hour’s drive away.
Airlines that fly to Palm Springs from US cities include:
Palm Springs International is just two miles from downtown but many of the resorts are further out of town. You can catch the Sun Bus to various destinations in the city, but it’s actually possible to explore the center on foot or by bike – just remember to wear a hat.
If you want to visit the Joshua Tree National Park and Coachella Valley, then hiring a car is the best option: there are plenty of companies to choose from at the airport and downtown.
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is a great way to escape the heat of the city in the summer, but the experience is unmissable all year round. The rotating tramcars rise 2,000m from the desert floor to the cool, and sometimes snowy, pine forests atop the San Jacinto Mountains. The views are phenomenal.
The Living Desert is a zoo and botanical gardens devoted to the fauna and flora of the African and North American deserts. There are mountain lions, cheetahs and zebras plus recreations of deserts from Baja to Madagascar.
The Coachella Music and Arts Festival has established itself as one of the biggest and coolest festivals in the world. It takes place 20 miles from Palm Springs each April.
As one of the coolest resorts in SoCal, Palm Springs has a vibrant gay community and is LGBT-friendly.
If you visit in the summer months be aware that temperatures can reach 120°F. Try to avoid going out about in the middle of the day, play your golf early in the morning or late in the afternoon and make sure you wear loose clothing and a hat when walking.
The greater Palm Springs area includes a handful of small towns, connected by wide flower-lined boulevards, golf courses, and gated communities. The scenery, dominated by the towering ridgelines of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto mountains that sweep down to the desert floor, is dramatic year round. The sun shines an average of 354 days a year in Palm Springs, but the sweet spot is from November to March, when temperatures drop from triple-digit highs to a balmier range of 65 to 80 during the day, with nights in the low 40s.
The region is a beacon for car collectors, with the iconic McCormick’s Classic Car Show & Auction kicking off the season in November. As temperatures cool, the event schedule heats up. Foremost is the Palm Springs International Film Festival, a 20-plus year, star-studded tradition, held annually in January. Later that month is the Humana Challenge, formerly known as the Bob Hope Classic, with top PGA players. In addition to golf, shopping, and al fresco dining, Palm Springs boasts an interesting architectural history. In late February, the city hosts Modernism Week, a ten-day event that focuses on midcentury modern design and architecture, replete with films, lectures, and swanky parties. For two weeks in March, the world’s top tennis players gather at the BNP Paribas Tennis Tournament in Indian Wells Tennis Garden in an event that attracts the elite of the international tennis circuit and more than 300,000 tennis fans.
Shoulder season is late April through the end of May, and then again in late September and October. Temperatures can still get high (80s and above) in these months, but the nights start to cool down to the mid-50s and 60s. Again, in October, you’ll avoid the extreme heat and be assured of good hotel rates and short waits for tables at the area’s top restaurants. There’s the chance of a fast-moving rainstorm, but they rarely last long enough to require a change of plans. In April, the Coachella Music Festival is a don’t-miss event. The hip-hop and alternative rock can get loud, but the concurrent arts festival with its focus on sculpture is a draw for all generations. May is a great time to visit the Palm Springs Air Museum; each Memorial Day the museum’s B-52 aircraft drops thousands of red and white carnations in commemoration of fallen servicemen and women.
Thanks to swimming pools and air conditioning, people visit Palm Springs in the hot summer months, too. June through September is considered the off-season in Palm Springs, due to the high (and dry) heat, but you can count on deep discounts (50 percent off or more) on hotel rooms, condos, green fees, and fixed-price menus. To escape summer heat, take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway nearly 6,000 feet to the crest of the San Jacinto Mountains, or like many desert dwellers, sleep during the day.
*Savings based on all holiday package bookings with Flight + Hotel on Orbitz.com from January through December 2017, as compared to the price of the same components booked separately. Savings will vary based on origin/destination, length of trip, stay dates and selected travel supplier(s). Savings not available on all packages. For Free Flight or 100% Off Flight deals, package savings is greater than or equal to the current cost of one component, when both are priced separately.
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