P.S. We Love You: Destination Weddings Come to Palm Springs
byJolene Rae Harrington, Director of Creative Content
Palm Springs is HOT and we’re not talking about the temperature. Recent years have seen a veritable explosion in the number of Destination Events celebrated in this vacation mecca; and not only is tourism at an all-time high, but more and more singles and families are adopting Greater Palm Springs as their year-round residence.
Yet despite the influx, the area’s relaxed, uncrowded appeal is here to stay, since development is expanding outward into the vast stretches of land that surround the original town. Nowadays, when one refers to “Palm Springs,” they could be talking about any one of the nine cities that make up the sprawling Coachella Valley. The early village of Palm Springs sprang up in the late 1800s with the coming of the railroad, and during Hollywood’s Golden Age became a favorite playground of the elite. In more recent decades, the area lost a tad of its luster, and got a reputation as a sleepy retirement community for old-timers and golfers.
Now all that has changed. The celebrities are back, and many come here for a honeymoon hideaway or a wild wedding weekend. Tempted by the region’s stunning natural scenery, lavish resorts and first-class shopping and entertainment, many bridal couples are skipping Hawaii and opting instead for a Destination Wedding in this desert oasis. Only about a 2-hour drive from anywhere in Southern Cal, Palm Springs is simply bursting with activities—so guests traveling to the wedding from out-of-state (yes, there’s an airport here) also enjoy a mini-vacation. While you’re recovering from the festivities and sneaking off for some private time with your sweetie, a tempting array of diversions will keep everyone happily occupied, from your Cousin Ned “the Jock,” to your snooty Aunt Irma…and you won’t have to do a thing.
“The Valley” really does have something for everyone. You’ve got to love a place that has city ordinances against excessive illumination that interferes with the spectacular starscape. Stargazing isn’t limited to the night sky, though, and the “Walk of Stars” on Palm Canyon Drive, as well as many a street name, pays homage to the rich and famous that have contributed to the area’s legendary glamour. The rest of us humble folk can sample a cavalcade of culture that includes museums, theatre productions, concerts, and comics performing regularly at casinos and swanky nightclubs. Seasonal offerings like January’s International Film Festival attract notables from all over the world, while locals flock to the weekly VillageFest, an arts & crafts fair in the heart of downtown. Palm Desert’s El Paseo is one of the most upscale promenades in all of California, featuring posh boutiques and trendy galleries. Designer bargain-hunters have a field day at the Factory Outlet Stores in nearby Cabazon.
One of Palm Springs’ most unusual attractions is the Living Desert, which features a wild animal preserve, botanical gardens, and a re-creation of an African trading village. Other ways to “go native” include hikes along the Indian Canyon wilderness trails. Get a loftier perspective on the Valley by taking the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, which lifts you in a 360-degree rotating car from the desert floor to an Alpine forest at an elevation of 8,516 feet. Ski in the surrounding mountains during the winter, and splash down in Knott’s Soak City, USA any time of year (the kids will love it here).
Of course, P.S. is a golfer’s Fantasyland, offering over 100 challenging—and many championship—courses. Sporting types will also enjoy tennis clubs, polo clubs, and equestrian stables. Why not tour the area in a Jeep? Or a hot-air balloon? Or a covered wagon? Or on a camel?! Not that adventurous? No need to feel guilty about enjoying some precious “down time.” In fact, the desert invites you to relax and rejuvenate, admire the panoramic sunsets, and indulge in cutting-edge spa treatments. After an exhilarating day, sample an impressive range of culinary offerings, including gourmet bistros, sushi bars, and hearty steakhouses.
In an area as exciting and diverse as the Coachella Valley, playing concierge to your out-of-town guests is a breeze. Still, it’s a good idea help them along with packets of informative literature, available from the accommodating folks at the Palm Springs Visitors Bureau.