True, the desert is not the first place we consider when planning a summer getaway, but that's all the more reason to jet down to Palm Springs now. The striking paradise with an urban sensibility will be less crowded, and cheaper, than most of the usual summer destinations.
Here, seven reasons to spring down to Palm Springs:
1. Deep discounts. Summer vacations are expensive, so the smart traveler will take advantage of every opportunity to save. Good thing Palm Springs is offering special deals this summer. On just about everything. Now through September 30, if you travel to Palm Springs mid-week, you can expect discounts of up to 50 percent on attractions, dining, tours, shopping, and more, as well as deep discounts (and even free nights!) on accommodations. Visit comeplayinpalmsprings.com for full details.
2. Arts and culture. From the famous Follies to myriad film festivals to arts and handicrafts galore, this is an artist oasis. Don't miss the art and street fairs, like Villagefest, College of the Desert Street Fair, and Backstreet Art District ArtWalk.
3. Silver screenings. Come summer, Palm Springs celebrates its Hollywood legacy with yet more films. Check out the Palm Springs International Short Film Festival (June 18-24), or peer into the Palm Springs Art Museum's Global Lens, a film series bringing fabulous screenings throughout the summer.
4. Views from the top. Use the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to leave the desert floor for the alpine forest (at 8,516 feet), or drift over the carved landscape in a hot air balloon. Either way, one thing is certain: The views will take your breath away.
5. Pool parties! In the heavy heat, the natives get restless, and when the natives get restless, fun ensues. Jump in to Knott's Soak City's Dive-In Movies, howl (and have your cards read, and watch the dances, and play in the drum circle...) at the Ace Hotel's Full Moon Parties, or go wild at Hot as Hell Thursdays at the Riviera Palm Springs.
6. Mid-Century modern rules Desert Modernism is notable for its use of glass, clean lines, and indoor/outdoor spaces, and Palm Springs is home to plenty of examples of Jetsonsesque homes and public spaces by respected architects such as Richard Neutra, Donald Wexler and Albert Frey.
7. Pass on Gas. Save the gas money to spend on fun. The flat streets in Palm Springs make for easy biking (just be sure to cool your heels in the height of the midday heat), and many hotels offer free bike rentals. Tack in hotel airport and downtown shuttles and the SunBus, and you've eliminated car stress.
Photo: Balloons Above the Desert