There was a time, not that long ago, when the desert region of Southern California was considered such a novel vacation destination that travelers had to have its appeal spelled out for them.
Palm Springs was where the "work-wearied stars of the film profession" created their own "jewel-sprinkled sandbox," explained Frommer's The West Coast on $5 and $10 a Day in 1968. "When high society takes over the bar stools, you may run into Dinah Shore at the corner drugstore or meet Dean Martin over the tie rack at the menswear shop."
As you can see, Frommer's has been mapping travel paths in Southern California since the area was still building its landmark golf courses and resorts, and Frank Sinatra was a local. We were eyewitnesses to the region's storied heyday—back when the towns now known worldwide as capitals of mid-century modernism were simply responding to the trends of the moment.
We're still showing people the best ways to enjoy California's desert cities today. Only now our advice isn't confined to paper and ink.
Now you can explore the high points of the Low Desert via custom guided itineraries created for mobile devices in partnership with Road.Travel, whose technology opens exciting possibilities in self-guided, Frommer's-assisted touring.
Our new California Desert: Palm Springs, Joshua Tree, and the San Andreas Fault road trip contains the fruits of six decades of Frommer's intimacy with the California desert. The tour's 21 points of interest, handpicked restaurants, and carefully chosen hotel options are designed to give you the ideal springboard for deeper exploration.
Just as Frommer's has branched out beyond pen and paper, the SoCal desert has adapted to modern visitors. The arid region east of Los Angeles, once known mostly to Native Americans and railway pioneers, has blossomed into one of the state's premier leisure grounds. Joshua Tree National Park, designated in 1994, now attracts more than 3 million visitors a year, and the Coachella festival is as much a byword for cool in our era as the names Dino and Frank were for the postwar set.
The road trip plan is tailored to 4-day adventures, but it's also devised with enough latitude to let you pause and pursue relaxation at any stop along the way. You'll be sipping martinis in Palm Springs' luxury resorts one minute and, the next, you'll be inspecting hidden freshwater oases pushed through cracks in the earth by the infamous San Andreas Fault.
From barbecue to mud baths, remote hiking trails to manicured lawns and warm swimming pools, our road trip teaches you to decipher a landscape at the intersection of history, high style, and rugged survival. You'll be shown the way to a world-famous juke joint in a disused film set, ushered into the living room of one of the 20th century's most influential power brokers, and set loose to wander empty sandy spaces.
Our travel pros have come up with a route that allows you to taste a wide variety of the region's surprising diversity. You'll dip into the hot springs that first attracted white settlers to found the town of Palm Springs, be whisked up the aerial tramway to the vertiginous peak of San Jacinto, and be led to the otherworldly Salton Sea, where flooding mishaps resulted in one of the most distinct artists' communities in the western United States. The itinerary doesn't ignore some of the best places to shop, either.
For more information or to purchase our road trip showcasing California's fascinating deserts east of Los Angeles, go to Frommers.Road.Travel. The tour is just one of five guided drives we've created to help you take the perfect California vacation.
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