The Palm Springs Art Museum has seen many transformations since its inception in 1938. Originally focused on the desert environment and the native Cahuilla people, the museum is now dedicated to both the region's indigenous culture and contemporary art, having hosted exhibits by the likes of Pablo Picasso and Dale Chihuly. Palm Springs' modern flair is encapsulated in PSAM's building, which is a Modernist structure designed by E. Stewart Williams. More than 24,000 objects and artifacts call PSAM home, including fine art, photography archives and fossils. The museum's onsite performance venue, the Annenberg Theater, hosts various musicals, plays, concerts and other performances throughout the year. In 2012, the museum opened a second location in neighboring Palm Desert. The second location features modern architecture and four exhibit galleries.
Ever wonder what a roadrunner and coyote really look like? At The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, you can meet the real life inspiration for these desert-dwelling "Looney Tunes" characters. This Palm Desert zoo focuses on educating visitors about animals from deserts in North America and Africa, including giraffes, warthogs, jaguars and bighorn sheep, to name a few. The Living Desert also has a number of gardens showcasing the various cacti and other plants native to the desert. Hikers, be sure to bring your gear. The Living Desert has 1,080 acres of undisturbed desert land and a number of nature trails through the preserve are open seasonally to the public.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is home to desert creatures from around the world, a romantic setting for wildlife lovers.
Marissa's expert tip: Arrive early in the day, if possible. Not only will temperatures be cooler and the wildlife more active, but you can also watch animals undergo annual exams and surgery at the Marilyn and Bill Tennity Wildlife Hospital and Conservation Center.
Sparkling springs set amid 20,000 acres of lush greenery provide a haven for a myriad desert creatures, just five miles outside of Palm Springs. In the center is a 1000-acre, idyllic palm oasis that served as the backdrop for Cecil De Mille's epic film, King of Kings. Self-guided nature trails, horse trails, and picnic facilities are available. You can also opt for a guided tour along McCallum Trail, one of the flattest and easiest trails in the preserve. Experienced hikers may want to try their hand at the Herman's Hike Loop, Pushwalla Trail or Hidden Palms Trail, some of the more difficult trails at the Coachella Valley Preserve.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: The Coachella Valley Preserve is one of the best natural escapes in the desert, where couples can reconnect with nature and each other.
Marissa's expert tip: Opt for a guided hike along McCallum Trail with one of the preserve's naturalists for a deeper understanding of the desert's ecology.
Beyond the lakes, gondolas and wildlife at the JW Marriott Desert Springs, you'll find The Spa at Desert Springs. The expansive spa area includes steam rooms, showers, two lounges (one designated as a quiet lounge for napping) and pool areas. You can enjoy a deeply relaxing massage in one of the serene treatment rooms or opt for an Ayurvedic treatment with warm oil. Salon services and a fitness center round out the spa experience. If you really need some time to yourself, there's a Sanctuary Suite that can be reserved for six hours. It comes with champagne, chocolate truffles, fresh fruit and butler service.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: The Spa at Desert Springs offers couples treatments and a Sanctuary Suite where couples can relax and recharge.
Marissa's expert tip: Plan to spend an entire spa day here. After your treatment, you can enjoy four steam rooms and an indoor pool or relax in the private outdoor pool area.
Joshua Tree National Park is about a 45-minute drive from Palm Springs, but it feels like a world away. Filled with hiking trails, scenic vistas and larger-than-life rock formations, Joshua Tree is the perfect destination for those looking to get back to nature. The alien-like boulders and twisted joshua trees make for popular photo ops, whether you decide to hike the trails or drive through the park. The preserve is actually the result of two great deserts, the low Colorado and the high Mojave, which come together at Joshua Tree to create a 794,000-acre geological and floral wonderland. A Visitor's Center, art gallery, and cafe-deli welcome you at the park's entrance.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Joshua Tree National Park is filled with out-of-this-world rock formations and hiking trails for adventurous couples.
Marissa's expert tip: Bring plenty of food and water. Desert temperatures can lead to dehydration.
Spa La Quinta at the La Quinta Resort has won a number of awards for its outstanding spa experience. The treatments here include water therapies like the Garden Bath, an aromatherapy bath in a private garden tub, and Grounding Earth Reflexology, which features a cleansing with Balinese spices before opening your energy pathways through the feet. There are also body renewal treatments like the Native Elements treatment, which includes Spanish sage and lime essential oils, and the California Essentials treatment, which features avocado lotion and eucalyptus oil. An onsite beauty salon offers hairstyling, manicures and makeup application. Before you leave, you can duck into the steam rooms or take a dip in one of the private whirlpool baths.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Spa La Quinta offers one of the best spa experiences in town, and couples will find it hard to resist the romance of this award-winning spa.
Marissa's expert tip: If you're traveling with kids, keep in mind the spa offers youth services for children ages 8-17.
Discover the outdoors from the open bed of a red jeep on a Desert Adventures tour. The tour company specializes in eco tours of the Coachella Valley, including tours of Joshua Tree National Park, the Agua Caliente Indian Canyons, Mecca Hills and the San Andreas Fault Line. Many of the guides have been with the company for years and know the desert's wildlife, environment and history better than most locals. The fault line tours are always a popular choice for visitors, offering a rare glimpse into the heart of the San Andreas Fault. Desert Adventures has exclusive access to parts of the fault line through Metate Ranch, a 840-acre site that includes a recreated Cahuilla village and mining camp.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Desert Adventures offers guided tours into the desert's natural wonders, and adventurous couples will particularly enjoy the sunset tours.
Marissa's expert tip: For a little variety, opt for one of Desert Adventure's night tours. As the sun sets, you'll be treated to a tour of a natural palm oasis and the fault's slotted canyons. After dark, your tour guide will lead you through a stargazing session at Metate Ranch's recreated mining town.
Once a community center for the native Cahuilla people, the Agua Caliente Indian Canyons are a recreational oasis for hikers, horseback riders and nature lovers. Protected by the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, the area's hiking trails include Andreas Canyon, Murray Canyon and the popular Palm Canyon. Stop by the Trading Post near the entrance for a trail recommendation, a hiking map and water, if you forgot to bring it. For a relaxing experience in the canyons, pack a picnic and make a day of exploring Palm Springs in its natural state. Streams, natural palm oases and canyon formations are just a few of the natural wonders awaiting canyon visitors.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: The Indian Canyons are lined with palm oases and natural streams, the perfect setting for a romantic picnic.
Marissa's expert tip: Opt for a guided hike. While visitors are welcome to explore the trails on their own, a guided hike with a park ranger offers trailblazers a much richer experience. Not only will your guide be able to teach you about the plants and wildlife found in the canyons, but rangers also share the folk tales and lore of the native Cahuilla people who once inhabited the land.
Coachella Valley is a beautiful, peaceful sight from the air, and the picturesque landscape as seen from above is filled with vineyards, polo fields, golf courses, and orchards. Perks of each trip include an in-flight champagne toast and complimentary shuttle service from major desert resorts. You can also arrange for in-flight photos and commemorative flight certificates. Special romantic events like anniversaries, birthdays and proposals can also be arranged. You can even arrange to be wedded in the sky through Balloon Above the Desert, should you want to take your nuptials above the Coachella Valley. Host Clotaire Castanier has been flying balloons professionally since 1967.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: Balloon Above the Desert offers hot air balloon rides over the Coachella Valley. Proposals and weddings can be arranged.
Marissa's expert tip: Get in touch early to arrange a special romantic event, such as a proposal or wedding.
There's no better way to view the Coachella Valley than from above. Don't settle for the view from your airplane window, though. For the best views of the desert, take a cable car into the mountains at the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. A 12.5 minute ride in the world's largest rotating aerial tramway will offer 360-degree views of the greater Palm Springs area as you climb two-and-a-half miles to Mountain Station in Mount San Jacinto State Park. Once you get to the top of the tram, enjoy a nature walk, a backcountry hike or a meal overlooking the Coachella Valley at Peaks Restaurant. In the winter, swap your hiking gear and pack your scarves and mittens to play in the snow.
Recommended for Romantic Things to Do because: The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway offers romantic 360-degree views of the desert and takes visitors to the beauty of San Jacinto State Park.
Marissa's expert tip: Plan your trip to the tramway in the afternoon, if possible. You'll escape to cooler temperatures during the hottest time of the day and catch the best evening views of the desert from the top of the tram.