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.
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.
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!