Palm Desert, CA, USA

Palm Desert, CA, USA

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Find the best place to stay — Palm Desert

Palm Desert—a destination for those who like it hot

"Lush" may be an unusual choice of adjective to describe the desert, but it's a near-perfect description of the picturesque California deserts. Palm Desert, a city in the Coachella Valley, is a veritable playground, with its own shopping street (El Paseo, nicknamed the "Rodeo Drive of the Desert"), architecturally distinctive art museum, and acclaimed performing arts center. Complete the experience by staying in a mid-century modern Palm Desert vacation rental—pose in front of the house in your most stylish Rat Pack-inspired duds, and watch those Instagram likes roll in.

Palm-tastic Palm Desert: it's anything but deserted

Scores of golf courses, hundreds of shops in the mile-long El Paseo retail district, and even an IMAX theater in Rancho Mirage—with so many things to do, it's easy to forget you're actually in the desert. Fuel up with a scrumptious breakfast in your Palm Desert vacation rental before heading out for the day and going on scenic hikes, heart-pumping all-terrain vehicle tours, and soaring cable car rides. If you've got kiddos with you, drop by the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, whose unique offerings include an endangered species carousel, a replica of a northeast African village, and flora from deserts around the globe (and not just the trendy succulents on your Pinterest feed).

Quench your thirst for art and culture in Palm Desert

See the permanent and rotating exhibits at the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert, then wander around the 4-acre sculpture garden, where modern artworks share the spotlight (or more precisely, the sunlight) with native plants, water features, and rock benches. Try to catch a show at the McCallum Theatre, which ranks among the country's most celebrated performing arts venues. Finally, take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to Mt. San Jacinto State Park—over 8,500 feet up—where you can go hiking in the summer or sledding in the winter. Check out the natural history museum and the documentary theaters before making the trip back.

There's a reason it's called Palm Desert

The weather won't rain on your parade during your Palm Desert holiday. This place gets around 350 days of sunshine a year, and barely any rainfall—if you're going to need an umbrella, it'll be for shielding your mug from the sun. Winter, from January to March, is the best time to visit, with temperatures that range from the high 40s to the low 70s. Summer in Palm Desert can get literally sizzling, with average temps of 106 degrees. If you're not fazed by triple-digit temperatures, then go ahead and book a Palm Desert vacation rental from June to August—'tis the season for low prices and thin crowds.

Oh my Josh, look at all the Joshua Trees!

For a better appreciation of Palm Desert's photogenic oases, a hike, a horseback ride, or a cycling tour is most certainly in order. Young'uns will have a field day at Joshua Tree National Park, where they can earn Junior Ranger badges after completing an activity book. The spiky Joshua Trees may be the park's main stars, but you'll also find a remarkable variety of plant life, including over 40 rare species. You might run into squirrels, lizards, and birds while walking about during the day—just be thankful that the snakes and coyotes, among other mammals, are only active at night!