Travel Guide to California

2017 Travel Guide to California

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112 2 0 1 7 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 W ith its awesome landscapes and sublime winter weather, Cali- fornia's desert region has a unique allure. More than five million visitors annually descend on Palm Springs and environs for club- and racket-swinging recreation and to sample nature's raw beauty, from lush palm oases to soothing hot mineral spas. Add a glamorous yet low-key lifestyle that's being reinvigorated and reconceived with a youthful new Hol- lywood energy. No wonder "It's hot!" has new meaning for a cross-spectrum of travelers thrilled by Palm Springs' newfound desert-cool sensibility. After all, where else can you golf in the morning, go snowshoeing in the afternoon, and enjoy a chilled martini by the pool in the evening? An easy 90-minute drive from Los Angeles, "Palm Springs" is under- stood as the entire Coachella Valley, comprising eight "desert resort communities" clustered at the foot of the San Jacinto Mountains. They merge into one another along Highway 111—one of California's great urban drives. The physical setting is out of this world. Majestic mountains soar on three sides, glistening with snow in the winter sunshine. There's no shortage of activities and attractions. The dining is fabulous. The spas are among California's best. And the region boasts several ritzy casinos. Museums cater to WWII aviation buffs, art fans and nature lovers keen to experience desert ecology. El Paseo gives Beverly Hills' Rodeo Drive a run for its money in its quality and range of boutiques. Palm Springs' music, film and arts festivals are world-renowned, as is the city's hip trademark mid-century architecture. WELCOMIA/SHUTTERSTOCK . OPPOSITE: JPHOTOGOLFER/SHUTTERSTOCK DESERTS TOP CITIES Palm Springs, Palm Desert, La Quinta, Rancho Mirage, Barstow, Indian Wells, Needles, Salton Sea, Mojave, Indio 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 year-round recreational playground

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