Thanks to all the tips and info I got in this forum, we had a great trip to Palm Springs. If you are interested, the second part of our trip will be in a post I put in the San Diego forum. First I want to mention that we never had a cloud in the sky for the few days we were there. What a nice perk to our vacation. I could get used to that very easily.
Day 1: Arrived in San Diego and picked up our rental car. Drove to Julian first. The Desert View Lookout was a nice stop to get some great pics of the area. Sad to see all the fire devastation along 79. The road was curvy but not intimidating. Ate lunch in Julian which included the warm apple pie. Worth the calories. Saw a lot of vegetation changes along the ride. The ride along 74 was much more curvy and slow as you went through the mountains. The Coachella Valley Vista Pt along this route gave us a great view of the valley area.
Stayed at the Best Western Plus Las Brisas in Palm Springs. Nice location with well tended grounds, a small pool and a room that was fine with us. As people have noted, the only window in the room faces the walkway that goes around each building. Did not bother us in the least. Kept the drapes closed. Very comfortable beds.
Day 2: Started the day with the complimentary breakfast. My husband loved the omelet. They had the usual fare: cereals, fruit, breads etc. Besides an omelet you could get a waffle.
Drove to Joshua Tree National Park. Nice drive from PS and well worth it. Opportunities to just drive the park, hike in the park, rock climb if you do that and overall just enjoy the beauty of the landscape. Joshua Trees, beautiful flowers, spectacular rock formations (large boulders everywhere) etc were to be seen everywhere. In addition at the Barker Dam site in the park you will get close to some petroglyphs in a rock formation. Stop at the Key View. You can see all the way across the San Andreas Falls to the La Jacinto Mts.
Stopped in Pioneertown which is a small town 5 miles north of Yucca Valley. There are the remains of an old western set there but we didn't see that it was open to public viewing. Stopped at Pappy and Harriets which is a unique roadhouse in that area. Had an appetizer and soda.
Walked around downtown PS. There is a huge statue of Marilyn Monroe that has been transplanted from Chicago to PS in the downtown area. Lots of shops and restaurants.
Day 3: 8:00 AM ticket to go up the PS Aerial tramway up Mt San Jacinto. HINT: Would suggest you take one of the first if not the first trams up the mountain. We had the benefit of great viewing at the various picture sites you can hike to without there being a lot of people around. When we left to head back down there were a lot more people hiking about. Also, I was leery about riding the tram for fear of the height the tram was going up (2000 ft to over 8000 ft). with a very vertical section as you closed in on the top. The floor of the tram rotates around as you go up and I think that may have helped ease the feeling of going up so high. Only a 10 minute ride up. Not an issue.
Went to the Living Desert. It's both a zoo and botanical gardens. Thoroughly enjoyed the gardens with so many plants that I had never even knew existed. The zoo was a bit smaller than the one at home but still nice. We were impressed by the 1 acre or so miniature train exhibit. Unbelievable amount of time and effort put into creating it.
Front desk clerk at our hotel gave us a list of addresses of homes in PS owned in the past by the stars. Took a ride around a few neighborhoods to check them out. Corny but fun.
Great dinner at Las Casuelas (mexican food and entertainment).
Would we go back to PS? Definitely. What would we have done differently? Would have hiked more in the JTNP and up on the top of Mt San Jacinto. Next....if you want to hear more about our trip I will be posting in the San Diego forum.