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21384
California

Signature City Palm Springs

Learn about the Cahuilla people, explore protected deserts, visit hot springs and enjoy an expert-led walk with a preservationist as you discover the city of Palm Springs.
Rating (4.88)
Program No. 21384RJ
Length
6 days
Starts at
1,349
California

Signature City Palm Springs

Learn about the Cahuilla people, explore protected deserts, visit hot springs and enjoy an expert-led walk with a preservationist as you discover the city of Palm Springs.
Length
6 days
Starts at
1,349
Program No. 21384 RJ
climate
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At a Glance

Put on some Elvis or some Frank Sinatra — you’re off to discover the best of America’s favorite desert oasis, Palm Springs. Half a century after the King and Ol’ Blue Eyes put this desert burg on the map, Palm Springs lures a new generation of visitors with its modernist charms, the famous hot springs and picturesque Coachella Valley and San Jacinto Mountains. Venture into canyons and museum halls to learn about those who have settled the desert from prehistory to the modern day and discover the city’s treasury of mid-century architecture around every corner. Ride the world’s largest rotating aerial tram up the sheer cliffs of Chino Canyon and visit a windmill farm to glimpse the future of sustainable energy.
Small Group
Small Group
Love to learn and explore in a small-group setting? These adventures offer small, personal experiences with groups of 10 to 24 participants.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Analyze Palm Springs’ “desert modernism” style of architecture with a preservationist who introduces you to the architects, builders and designers who developed it.
  • Walk in the footsteps of the ancient Agua Caliente band of Cahuilla Indians in Palm Canyon.
  • Explore the 1,200-acre Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, reflecting the desert environments of North America and Africa.
Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
Palm Springs, CA (Images of America)
by Moya Henderson; Palm Springs Historical Society
Nestled beneath the San Jacinto Mountains in an oasis of palm trees is a mineral hot springs. For thousands of years, this was the winter home of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, the original inhabitants of this harsh desert region. A U.S. government survey party discovered the spring in 1853 and identified the area located at the base of “two bunches of palms.” In 1884, Judge John McCallum of San Francisco purchased land near the springs for $800 and built the first adobe structure, which still stands today. Stage lines and railroads provided transportation through the area, bringing in visitors year-round. Dr. Welwood Murray built the first Palm Springs Hotel, and in 1909, Nellie Coffman built The Desert Inn, which would become famous as a tourist attraction. This was the beginning of the area’s major industry. Today Palm Springs is still a destination for visitors throughout the year and home to a growing population of permanent residents.
Palm Springs Holiday
by Peter Moruzzi
This is the story of Palm Springs in its golden years, a city that had it all, including marvelous midcentury Modern architecture, fabulous fly-in hotels, and a swinging nightlife. Through vintage photographs, postcards, and other ephemera, Palm Springs Holiday recalls the Palm Springs area from the 1910s through the 1960s, where people vacationed in the desert, dined, danced, and lounged poolside. Features vintage images of the Coachella Valley and shots of the area’s famous hotels and gambling dens.
Palm Springs (Then and Now)
by Robert C. Palmer, PhD
In the late 1800s, lands of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians were subdivided into sections. Even-numbered sections were designated as Indian, and the Southern Pacific Railroad was given odd-numbered sections. This book focuses on Section 15, sold by the railroad to early Palm Springs settlers.
Palm Desert California
by Palm Desert Historical Society
Desert insiders know Palm Desert as the geographic and cultural heart of the Coachella Valley. This resort town with over 30 golf courses started as a barren outpost aptly named Sand Hole. Founder Cliff Henderson envisioned a modern utopia growing from the scrub and—as a centerpiece—built the Shadow Mountain Club in 1948. With its glamorous figure-eight swimming pool and high-dive competitions, the club drew celebrities, presidents, and future residents. Cliff’s brother Randall Henderson spotlighted another side of desert life when he established the headquarters of Desert Magazine in the new town, luring readers to pack up their jeeps and move to Palm Desert. The brothers’ twin vision made Palm Desert the irresistible blend of city and wilderness it is today. Visitors can shop El Paseo, known as the “Rodeo Drive of the Desert,” then in 10 minutes embark on a mountainous thrill ride—the Palms to Pines Highway.
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6 days
5 nights
12 meals
5 B 4 L 3 D
DAY
1
Check-In, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Palm Springs
D
Best Western Plus Las Brisas

Activity note: Hotel check-in available from 3:00 p.m.

Afternoon: Program Registration: After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing an up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, and other important information. If you arrive late, please ask for your packet when you check in. Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone and review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures including contact numbers for key staff, and answer any questions you may have. Unless noted otherwise, program-related transportation will be via private motorcoach. We have set aside some free time in the schedule for your personal independent exploration. Please be aware that program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding. Get to know your fellow participants and discover what you share beyond a love of lifelong learning.

Dinner: At a local restaurant within walking distance from the hotel, enjoy a plated meal with an entree, dessert and your choice of soft drinks, coffee, tea, or water; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: Settle in and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.

DAY
2
Palm Canyon Hike, McCallum Adobe Museum
Palm Springs
B,L,D
Best Western Plus Las Brisas

Activity note: 1/2 mile out and back for 1 total mile hike with initial 70 foot descent into the oasis followed by mainly flat terrain.

Breakfast: At the hotel, our breakfast buffet includes a variety of hot and cold items such as eggs, waffles, oatmeal, cereal, yogurt, fruit, toast, breakfast breads, assorted juices, coffee, tea, water.

Morning: Aboard our private motorcoach, we will depart for a field trip to Palm Canyon, one of the three Indian Canyons. A local expert will guide us on the trail that begins at the trading post and descends about 70 feet into a huge, flat palm oasis. Walk amongst the world's largest California fan palm oasis to discover a year round village site to the Agua Caliente Cahuilla Indians for almost 2,000 years. We will then board the motorcoach for lunch.

Lunch: At a landmark, family-owned deli, select your choice of 1/2 sandwich with soup or salad and coffee, tea, or soda; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We will then walk to the Welwood Murray Memorial Library where the Historical Society's director of education will talk about Palm Springs history. Afterwards, we’ll walk to the Palm Springs Historical Society, on the Village Green Heritage Center. On a guided exploration, we'll visit two 19th century pioneer homes. Built in 1884, the McCallum Abode is the oldest building in Palm Springs and exhibits a wide array of photographs, paintings, clothing, and more. Miss Cornelia White’s “Little House” was built in 1893 with parts from the abandoned Palmdale railroad and was part of the first hotel in Palm Springs before becoming the home of pioneer Cornelia White.

Dinner: We’ll walk to a nearby, lively Palm Springs restaurant for a plated meal with salad, choice of entrée, and dessert; soda, coffee, iced tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Sam Cobb's Date Farm, Cabot Museum, Palm Springs Air Museum
Palm Springs
B,L
Best Western Plus Las Brisas

Activity note: Standing for up to 45 minutes at a time at the farm and pueblo with limited seating. Seating available throughout Air Museum and activity is based on interest.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We will depart via motorcoach for Desert Hot Springs and our first stop at Sam Cobb's date farm. Coachella Valley is home to more than 90 percent of dates harvested in the U.S. We will meet Sam at his farm to hear about the life cycle of the date, the inception of his family's farm and the varieties of dates they grow. Afterwards, we will board the motorcoach for a docent tour of Cabot's Pueblo Museum. Upon arriving in the Coachella Valley in 1913, homesteader Cabot Yerxa stumbled upon two different aquifers separated by the Mission Creek Fault near his home. The first, a natural hot springs of up to about 180 degrees, and the second, a cold aquifer that currently provides award winning water to the city of Desert Hot Springs, is why he named that spot Miracle Hill. Shortly afterwards, Cabot built the Pueblo as a museum to display his Native American art and artifacts from around the world. This 4 story, 35 room pueblo was created using found materials from around Coachella Valley and was fashioned after the pueblos built by the Hopi Indians.

Lunch: At Two Bunch Palms, we will enjoy a delicious sandwich of your choice, with a salad, dessert and choice of beverage.

Afternoon: After lunch we will board our motorcoach for the Palm Springs Air Museum, home of one of the world's largest collections of flyable World War II warplanes. On your self-led visit, make your way through four themed, air conditioned hangars: the Pacific (Navy) Hangar, European (Army) Hangar, B-17 Hangar and Korea/Vietnam Hangar. Each hangar is chock full of artifacts, interactive exhibits, original memorabilia, weapon displays, maps and flyable and static planes with no ropes to prevent you from getting up close and personal. The volunteers on site are extremely knowledgeable, and many of them actually flew the planes and are happy to talk about their experiences.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
The Living Desert, Palm Springs Modern Architecture tour
Palm Springs
B,L,D
Best Western Plus Las Brisas

Activity note: Extent of walking at Living Desert determined by personal interest.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: This morning our motorcoach will transport us to The Living Desert in Palm Desert. There, we will take a private tram through the zoo and botanical garden. With more than 1,200 protected acres, 450 species of animals, and vast gardens, The Living Desert represents desert environments from around the world. The propagation manager will discuss plants including date palms, how staff members hand pollinate the palms, and where the amazing plants of The Living Desert’s botanical collection come to life.

Lunch: At a restaurant in the heart of Palm Desert, enjoy a plated lunch featuring choice of entrée plus choice of soda, tea, water; other beverages available for purchase.

Afternoon: We hop back aboard our private motorcoach to begin an exploration of modern architecture. We will be joined by an architectural preservationist as we travel around Palm Springs and learn about the people who lived, played, and vacationed here and the architects, builders, and designers who, from the late 1930s through the early 1970s, developed the “desert modernism” style for which Palm Springs has become famous. Known as the “Mecca of Modernism,” Palm Springs has one of the world's largest and best-preserved concentrations of modernist architecture.

Dinner: We will meet at a local Bistro for a dinner featuring choice of appetizer (soup or salad), choice of entrée, dessert and a non-alcoholic beverage.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Windmill Tour, Aerial Tram, VillageFest
Palm Springs
B,L
Best Western Plus Las Brisas

Activity note: Walking up to 1.25 miles; even paths, elevation increase from 2,643 feet to 8,516 feet.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: From the hotel we'll travel by private motorcoach with our local expert and travel to the San Gorgonio Wind Park, one of the major wind farms in California in one of the windiest places in California, with more than 10,000 wind turbines. Learn about the development of this technology from the first generation equipment to the new fourth generation that stands nearly 20 stories high. Transferring to Mount San Jacinto State Park, ride the Palm Springs Aerial Tram from Chino Canyon Valley Station to Mountain Station, rising more than a mile in elevation. The largest rotating tram in the world, it spans 2 1/2 miles over the course of 10 minutes. During the ride, enjoy picturesque vistas of the valley floor and surrounding areas.

Lunch: At Pines Café, enjoy lunch buffet-style, consisting of your choice of two entrées, small salad and choice of non-alcoholic drink.

Afternoon: After lunch, we will descend back down on the tram before transporting to our hotel.

Dinner: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions and give directions.

Evening: At leisure. Every Thursday evening, Downtown Palm Springs transforms into the Palm Springs VillageFest, also known as the Palm Springs Street Fair. At VillageFest, you will experience a diverse array of artists, artisans, entertainers, and purveyors or fresh fruits, veggies, flowers, jewelry, snacks, and sweets. Browse more than 200 booths offering beautiful art and handcrafted items. VillageFest is located at Palm Canyon Drive between Baristo and Amado.

DAY
6
Palm Springs Today, Program Concludes
Palm Springs
B

Activity note: Hotel check-out is by 12:00 p.m.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We’ll be joined by a local expert who will talk about Palm Springs today: current events and local topics. This concludes our program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!






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