Palm Springs Aerial Tramway#3 in Best Things To Do in Palm Springs
The city of Palm Springs rests in the shadows of the San Jacinto Mountains. The towering, snow-topped peaks of Southern California's second-highest mountain range are beautiful to behold from the valley floor, but many visitors say that a mountaintop experience is incredible. To reach the summit, you'll take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Once you rise 8,516 feet to the top, you can hike, snowshoe or cross-country ski before heading back down the mountain via a return tram.
To avoid waiting in long ticket lines, several travelers recommend purchasing your tram passes on the attraction's ticket page. If tickets are not available online for your arrival date, you will need to buy them on-site. Adults will be charged $25.95 for standard tram tickets; reduced rates for seniors and children ages 3 to 10 are also offered.
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway operates every day between 8 or 10 a.m. and 9:45 p.m., though exact hours may vary by season. Facilities found at the top of Mount San Jacinto include two restaurants, multiple observation decks, a natural history museum and a gift shop. Parking by the ticket office is also available for $5 per vehicle. The tram sits about 6 miles west of downtown Palm Springs. Additional information about on-site amenities, opening hours and more can be found on the attraction's website.
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#1 Coachella Valley Preserve
The Coachella Valley Preserve may seem like a barren desert, but keep your eyes peeled and you'll see that its 20,000-plus acres are more than just sand and brush. The preserve encompasses the smaller Thousand Palms Oasis preserve, which boasts more than 25 miles of hiking paths. Along the trails you'll spot rare wildlife, lush palm woodland oases and desert wetlands, which at different times of the year blossom with wildflowers.
Before heading out, past visitors recommend stopping by the visitor center – located in a log cabin at the entrance of the park – to pick up a map of the trails. You can also download it here. Additionally, some suggested arriving early before temperatures become unbearable and the small parking lot fills up. And if you visit between October and March, consider joining one of the preserve's free guided hikes.
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