Palm Springs, California, has a bit of a reputation—and one that isn’t entirely undeserved. Once a desert frontier town, it was transformed post-World War II into an oasis for celebrities and rich retirees, as well as snowbirds looking to escape the cold of the north. In the 1960s, it also became a hot spot for West Coast spring breakers; its popularity lasted until the late 1980s and even today, it’s known as a party town. From the 1970s on, more and more people settled permanently in the city and many live there year-round, although there are still many seasonal residents as well.
Contrary to many perceptions, partying isn’t the only thing to do in Palm Springs, despite what movies would make you think. In fact, there’s a vibrant town with a rich cultural history—and one that caters to the budget traveler as well as the celebrity debutante with a plethora of activities that are actually free. With spectacular shopping and enthusiasm for the great outdoors, Palm Springs is a destination that offers up an activity for just about any kind of traveler. Here are 11 great ideas to consider when you plan your trip to this desert oasis!
11. Visit Moorten Botanical Garden
The Moorten Botanical Garden is a relatively small operation, with the garden encompassing about 1 acre of Colorado Desert ecosystem. The garden was founded in 1939 by Chester “Cactus Slim” Moorten and his wife Patricia. Moorten was one of the original Keystone Cops in early silent films. The residence was built in a Mediterranean style and the Moortens collected many specimens from Baja California, Mexico and Guatemala. The garden is still owned by the family today. The residence is commonly known as the “Cactus Castle.”
The garden has grown since 1939 and now includes 3,000 examples of desert plants, including cacti, which are grouped by region. The greenhouse cactarium includes specimens from the Sonoran, Chihuahuan, Yuma, Mojave and Colorado deserts, as well as plants from South America, Namibia and South Africa. Outside, collections of agave, bombax, and cardoon and boojum trees thrive. Over a dozen species of African aloes can also be found in this unique and fascinating garden.