Weekend Trip to Palm Springs

San Jacinto Scenery

We’re in the thick of travel season. With its long days, warm temperatures, and endless recreational opportunities, we all know summer as the time to get away – so that’s exactly what Kendall and I did this past weekend. The only question was where to escape to. There’s a myriad of SoCal coastal destinations within weekend trip range, but in early summer (and graduation weekend at UC campuses across the state) those options were going to be too crowded and costly. So we dug a little deeper to find a destination.

We set out with the following criteria:

  • A weekend trip from San Diego with a one night stay (we do this because Friday afternoon traffic out of San Diego is horrible – it’s just as easy to leave early on Saturday for roughly the same amount of time at your destination, and saving the cost of one hotel night to boot)
  • Less than $100 for the one hotel night at a nice hotel with a good pool
  • We were in a relaxing mood for this trip – no roughing it down the Colorado River this time!

We ended up in often overlooked Palm Springs – a very quick 2 hour drive from San Diego. It’s easy to dismiss Palm Springs as one giant golf course for retirees, but there is more to it then that. It’s really just L.A. and San Diego’s closest retreat – a place to escape to. June isn’t the high season as temperatures are getting pretty high. We generally saw about 90 degrees, which wasn’t a problem – just don’t go on a hike in the middle of the day. The nice thing about being off-peak season is that the crowds were very manageable – street parking on the main drag was plentiful, and free overflow parking is available in a large parking garage.

Palm Springs as seen from Mt. San Jacinto

Palm Springs as seen from Mt. San Jacinto

Our first day in Palm Springs started with the area’s go-to attraction, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. This is not your average tram ride or ski-lift walk in the park kind of thing. In just a few minutes, the tram climbs almost 6000 vertical feet up the face of San Jacinto, one of the most prominent peaks in the continental U.S. The tram car rotates beneath you as you climb, meaning you get a spectacular 360 degree view. The price isn’t completely cheap, about $25 a person, but considering the engineering marvel that this thing is, I think the price is fair. At the top, there is a nice lodge with dining options. I’d recommend at least a short hike at the top if it isn’t winter – the trails are part of Mt. San Jacinto state park, so options from less than a mile to overnight backpacking are available.

Palm Springs Tram

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

After enjoying a short hike and a bit of relaxing at the top, we headed back down to see what else Palm Springs had to offer. This trip turned out to have too much to it for a single post, so check out part two!

Kendall along the trail at the top of the tram

Kendall along the trail at the top of the tram

3 comments to Weekend Trip to Palm Springs

  1. […] is still in full swing around here at Optimizing Adventure. After a relaxing and luxurious (for us) trip to Palm Springs, we were ready to rough it a little more and be active – more of our usual style. Our […]

  2. […] a solid effort to make each and every day count. The weekends were busy with trips to place likes Palm Springs and Julian, but the weekdays were even busier as I packed in a combination of work, friends, […]

  3. […] thought the tramway up the mountain was going to be my favorite part of our Palm Springs trip, but that was before I experienced Great […]

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