Travel Guide to California

2015 Travel Guide to California

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178 2 0 1 5 T R A V E L G U I D E T O C A L I F O R N I A B Y C H R I S T O P H E R P . B A K E R C alifornia's desert region has lured visitors for more than a century to bask in its year-round warmth and enjoy its hot mineral springs, lush palm oases, and serene land- scapes. After all, there aren't many places where you can golf in the morning, go skiing or snowshoeing in the afternoon, and enjoy a cocktail by the pool in the evening. Which explains why more than five million visitors annually descend on Palm Springs and the surrounding desert region, where the summer never dies, the architecture is retro-cool, and the spirit feels as refreshing as an iced martini. In the 1950s and '60s, Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack made Palm Springs the definition of cool. By the 1970s, the Hollywood set had moved "down valley" to Palm Desert and Rancho Mirage, with their luxurious golf courses and country clubs. But Palm Springs has staged an impressive comeback. Newly fresh and compelling, this hot spot— ground zero for desert vacations—exudes contemporary cool. No wonder a whole new generation of Hollywood stars is flocking to where it's the 1960s all over again. Plus, a spectacular redevelopment plan, currently underway, promises to add even more luster to down- town Palm Springs, with an exciting new luxury hotel, a stunning new Agua Caliente Cultural Museum, and a pedestrian walkway linking the world-class Palm Springs Art Museum to "The Strip." WELCOMIA/SHUTTERSTOCK . OPPOSITE: JAMES MATTIL/SHUTTERSTOCK DESERTS TOP CITIES Palm Springs, Palm Desert, La Quinta, Barstow, Indian Wells, Needles, Salton Sea, Mojave INTERNATIONAL GATEWAY Palm Springs International Airport (PSP), 10 minutes from downtown Palm Springs, 44 miles (71 km) from Anza-Borrego State Park TOURISM WEBSITES Anza-Borrego SP: Death Valley NP: Joshua Tree NP: POPULATION 750,000 DESERTS A paradise for adventurers, golfers, shoppers and spa-lovers

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