Founded in 1938, the Palm Springs Art Museum is one of the best places to experience art in California. It focuses on Native American, western and contemporary art, glass, photography, and natural science works in its collection of more than 24,000 pieces.
Amin Casa is Palm Springs’ newest and hippest boutique hotel with its iconic Spanish architecture, gardens and pool. It was once the desert getaway home for Hollywood Legend Gloria Swanson. Located in the heart of the Historic Tennis Club District, this luxurious bungalow hotel is the place to relive the fabulous Palm Springs Lifestyle.
La Posada is an historic Winslow Arizona hotel designed by famed architect Mary Jane Colter in the Mission Revival and Spanish Colonial Revival architectural styles in 1930. It soon became a popular spot along the Atchison, Topeka & Sante Fe Railway as a Harvey House: one of the iconic Railroad spots to eat and rest while traveling out west.
Soon after opening, traveling across country by automobile became the way of life and the great railroad hotels lost business to those seeking modest accommodations. The inn closed in the 1950's and re-opened forty years later as a National Treasure and iconic stop for those traveling Route 66. Its courtyards, gardens and Southwestern elements make it a must-see.
The Hotel Del Coronado has been the place to be and be seen since opening in 1888. It was the first beach resort on the west coast and was the largest hotel in the world at the time. Hollywood royalty have used this as their playground since the 1920's including Charlie Chaplin, Lucille Ball, Desi Arnaz and Rudolph Valentino. Nighttime is a truly magical experience when the electrical lights frame the Hotel against a moon-illuminated ocean.
Sandstone Peak is probably the most beautiful hike in Southern California. This highest peak of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area soars 3,111 feet to the sky. A moderate-strenuous 3 mile round trip hike take you to the top and back. The result? Breathtaking views of The Pacific Ocean, Ventura, Santa Barbara, Los Padres National Forest, Simi Hills, Conejo & San Fernando Valley's, Angeles National Forest, Rancho Palos Verdes, The Oxnard Plain and The Channel Islands. The views from the top change with the changing of seasons.
Sunny, blue-sky views and a sun-baked landscape
Plants change to reveal Fall colors
My favorite time to visit after a rain brings cloud-blanketed vistas
Vibrant greens contrast against the blue sky
Balboa Park contains 1200 acres and 16 gardens in the center of San Diego. It has been home to two World Fair's, one in 1915-16 and again in 1935-6. Kate Sessions, 'The Mother of Balboa Park', designed the natural landscape. Explore these six of the most impressive gardens.
1935 Old Cactus Garden
Created by Kate Sessions for the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition, its remote location makes it a secluded retreat in this urban park.
Spanish Gardens that recreate the style of Seville, Spain with fountains surrounded by 7,000 annuals.
A canyon trail leads to 2 acres containing 450 palms with some planted as early as 1912.
One of the largest lath structures in the world features seasonal collections surrounded by 2,000 palms, ferns and orchids.
Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden
More than 2,400 rose bushes and 180 varieties cover 3 acres in a spectacular mirage of color.
Desert Garden Balboa Park
1,300 desert plants, cacti and succulents from all over the world make up this inspiring garden.
1. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Named after the town's most famous residents, Borrego means 'bighorn sheep' in Spanish. The town is an International Dark Sky Community, one of only a few in the country, making it the perfect place to watch the stars and a meteor shower. If winter rains allow, springtime brings the most stunning desert bloom on the continent with miles of explosive bloom.
2. Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve
Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve is a park in Riverside County on the edge of the Santa Ana Mountains. The plateau preserves native plants, vernal pools, Engelmann oaks and the historic Moreno and Machado Adobes built in 1846. In the springtime, wildflowers surround the winding trails whose hills turn brilliant shades of green. The geology of the plateau contains rich volcanic history which created a landscape that has looked the same for millions of years.
3. Diamond Valley Lake
Diamond Valley Lake is a manmade reservoir completed in 1999 after 4 years of construction and is one of the largest and newest in the state. The lake also serves as a recreational hub for boating, fishing and hiking along its surrounding hills. If the perfect amount of winter rain falls, the hills turn into a wildflower wonderland in time for Spring.
4. Chino Hills State Park
Chino Hills State Park is a 14,000 acre park located in the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountains. Tongva-Gabrieliño Native Americans used the chaparral and woodland-covered hills to gather acorns and berries. If winter rains cooperate, the hills turn brilliant shades of green and are covered in wildflowers in Spring.
5. Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve
The Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve is a Spring wildflower showstopper. Located in the Mojave Desert outside of Los Angeles, poppies carpet rolling hills to create a stunning mirage of orange. Bloom is generally February through May though can vary each season depending on winter rains.
6. Red Rock Canyon State Park
Red Rock Canyon State Park features a series of dramatic cliffs and rock formations in the Mojave Desert. The park preserves 27,000 acres and has been featured in many Hollywood Films. Kawaiisu Native Americans have lived here for thousands of years and used the colorful canyons as a meeting place for their trade route.
7. Wind Wolves Preserve
Wind Wolves Preserve is the largest non-profit preserve on the west coast at 93,000 acres. The Transverse & Coast Ranges, Sierra Nevada, Mojave Desert and San Joaquin Valley all meet to create one of the most ecologically diverse regions in the country. Visit in the Spring when the golden hills turn a brilliant green and burst with wildflowers.
8. Figueroa Mountain Recreation Area
Figueroa Mountain is a Recreation Area north of Santa Barbara in Los Padres National Forest. Spring is the best time to visit when the hills and mountains put on the most stunning wildflower displays in California. Grass Mountain can become completely covered in poppies it looks orange from miles away and views from the top stretch across the Santa Ynez Valley all the way to the ocean. Whether hiking the many trails or enjoying a scenic drive, Figueroa Mountain will be an unforgettable experience.
9. Carrizo Plain National Monument
Carrizo Plain National Monument is a true wilderness experience in California's Great Central Valley. More than 200,000 acres of untouched beauty reveal what the entire valley looked like long before development. Beautiful grassland plains hug rolling hills blanketed by a rainbow of wildflowers in the Spring.
10. Montaña de Oro State Park
Montaña de Oro State Park is the most beautiful stretch of coastline in Southern California. Stunning sea stacks with crashing waves will leave you breathless while the surrounding mountains turn golden with poppies in the Spring giving it the iconic name 'Mountain of Gold'.
1. Warner's Ranch
Warner's Ranch, high in the mountains of San Diego County, was a Pioneer Ranch built in 1849. It served as a stop for the famous Southern Emigrant and Butterfield Stage Trails that brought immigrants as well as mail into California during the California Gold Rush. For a time, it was the only trading post between New Mexico and Los Angeles.
2. Rancho De Los Kiotes
Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park or Rancho De Los Kiotes is the vacation retreat of famous Hollywood actor Leo Carrillo. Built between 1937-40, he designed his ranch after the Spanish Haciendas of his ancestors. At only $17 an acre, the ranch once contained 2,538 acres. The property can be toured today and includes gardens and adobe buildings as well as a stable, barn and reflecting pool.
3. Daley Ranch
Robert Daley settled here to build a ranch in 1869 which is now protected as the Daley Ranch Preserve, a 3,000 acre park with more than 25 miles of trails in Escondido. A 1.2 mile hike along the ranch house trail takes you to the ruins of the ranch property while winding through beautiful canyons of oak woodland.
4. Hunt Ranch
Located in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains, Wildwood Canyon State Park preserves 900 acres of wild land. The park contains oak woodland, grassland, ancient Native American crossroads as well as the ruins of Pioneer Hunt Ranch. The ranch can be reached from the parking lot by an easy 2 mile out and back hike.
5. William S. Hart Ranch
The William S. Hart Ranch & Museum preserves the beloved home of silent film star, William S. Hart. Hart acted, directed, wrote and produced more than 75 westerns and was one of the all time great actors. He loved the Spirit of the West and built this ranch, 'La Loma de los Vientos' or 'The Hill of the Winds', to house his authentic collection.
6. Will Rogers Ranch
Will Rogers State Historic Park is a beautiful ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains. Once the estate of Will Rogers, the highest paid actor in the 1930's, this ranch was his place of relaxation. With almost 200 acres overlooking the ocean, the ranch contains more than 30 rooms, 7 fireplaces, horse stables, a polo field and hiking trails.
7. Morrison Ranch
Cheeseboro and Palo Comado Canyons contain beautiful trails among rolling hills covered in Coast Live Oaks. 150 years of ranching history can be seen at the Historic Morrison Ranch House ruins with its barn and corrals.
8. King Gillette Ranch
King Gillette Ranch is the perfect starting point for a visit to the Santa Monica Mountains with an informative visitor center and gorgeous grounds. The exterior of the famous 25-room ranch built in 1928 by King Camp Gillette can also be admired with a stroll.
9. Peter Strauss Ranch
Peter Strauss Ranch is an enchanting park in the Santa Monica Mountains. Beautiful oak woodlands surround the ranch house as well as the cactus garden, original swimming pool and bird cage ruins. Trails wind through the National Park Service property which was once the ranch for actor Peter Strauss.
10. Scorpion Ranch
Santa Cruz Island's ranching history is extensive beginning in 1839 when Mexican Captain Andres Castillero claimed the land. The first house went up by 1855 where American Dr. James B. Shaw managed the island after California became a state. He ordered French Merino sheep to the island to start a wool farm for the Civil War. By 1864, twenty-four thousand sheep grazed the island, forever changing the Native plant and animal life.
11. Spooner's Ranch
Spooner's Cove in Montaña de Oro State Park is a stunning cove on the Central Coast. Alden Spooner moved here the the late 1800's and established a farm of dairy and hog. At its peak, his ranch contained 9,000 acres and 6 miles of beautiful coastline. He built a ranch house as well as several barns and warehouse to load ships to deliver. The original house still stand as well as the 100-year-old-flooring purchased from a Sears Roebuck and Co. Catalog.
Part of the Mississippi National River & Recreation Area of the National Park Service and on the National Register of Historic Places is the iconic Minnehaha Falls. It has been a Minnesota Landmark since 1855 when Henry Wadsworth Longfellow featured the falls in his poem 'The Song of Hiawatha':
In the land of the Dacotahs,
Where the Falls of Minnehaha
Flash and gleam among the oak-trees,
Laugh and leap into the valley.
There the ancient Arrow-maker
Made his arrow-heads of sandstone,
Arrow-heads of chalcedony,
Arrow-heads of flint and jasper,
Smoothed and sharpened at the edges,
Hard and polished, keen and costly.
With him dwelt his dark-eyed daughter,
Wayward as the Minnehaha,
With her moods of shade and sunshine,
Eyes that smiled and frowned alternate,
Feet as rapid as the river,
Tresses flowing like the water,
And as musical a laughter;
And he named her from the river,
From the water-fall he named her,
Minnehaha, Laughing Water.
Though Longfellow never made it to the falls himself, people flocked here. It has been featured in Travel Guides ever since along the likes of Yosemite National Park. More than 850,000 people visit each year making it the most photographed place in Minnesota.
1. Pictograph Trail Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
More than two thousand years ago, the Kumeyaay Native Americans lived in this desert and painted these fragile Pictographs on giant boulders. Though the meaning is now lost, some believe they were created for spiritual rituals. Hiking Pictograph Trail involves an easy 2 mile round trip hike if starting from the trailhead parking lot.
2. Barker Dam Petroglyphs Joshua Tree National Park
Barker Dam in Joshua Tree National Park is a man-made reservoir created in 1900 by early cattlemen. It has become a watering hole for Desert Bighorn Sheep. Nearby giant boulders contain petroglyphs which make for a great 1.3 mile loop hike.
3. Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park
Chumash Painted Cave State Historic Park outside of Santa Barbara protects a sandstone cave adorned with Native American rock art. These Pictographs are thought to depict the universe as seen through the eyes of the Native Chumash. The Chumash lived on the Central Coast from Ventura County to San Luis Obispo County as well as the Channel Islands.
4. Painted Rock Carrizo Plain National Monument
Painted Rock in the Carrizo Plain National Monument is an amazing pictograph rock art site. Thousands of years old, these pictographs were created by the Chumash, Salinan and Yokut Natives. The pigments were created from a yucca shrub while they were painted using brushes made of rodent hair. Although the meanings are now lost, the art remains sacred.
5. Hospital Rock Sequoia National Park
Hospital Rock in Sequoia National Park preserves Native American pictographs estimated to be from 1350. The site is located along the Middle Fork of the Kaweah River on the Generals Highway. Notable pioneers, John Swanson and James Everton, were both injured at the spot giving it its unusual name.
Pictograph/Petroglpyh Etiquette: Take many photos but DO NOT TOUCH. Oils from our hands can destroy forever. Do not alter the rock art in any way or form and please stay on the trail to protect the fragile desert ecosystem.
California's Palm Oases are sacred places. They are the only true spots in California where palms grow and thrive naturally while providing important food, water and shelter for wildlife.
1. Borrego Palm Canyon
Borrego Palm Canyon is a stunning 3 mile hike in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Gorgeous rocky waterfalls surround this lush Palm Oasis, the largest in the park while more than 80 migratory birds use it as a watering hole alongside Desert Bighorn Sheep. Visit after a rain for gushing falls and cooler weather.
2. Palm Canyon
Palm Canyon is a magnificent palm oasis on the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians Reservation. These natural palm canyons are what gives Palm Springs its name and are the only palms, along with other nearby oases, that grow naturally in California.
3. Murray Canyon
Murray Canyon is a hidden oasis part of the Indian Canyons of Palm Springs. A 3.9 mile out-and-back trail follows Murray Creek and its cascading waterfalls along stunning palms oases. The trail ends at the secluded Seven Sisters Waterfall and is best done after a winter rain when steady water is flowing through the falls.
4. Andreas Canyon
Part of the Indian Canyons of Palm Springs, Andreas Canyon is the perfect natural Palm Oasis. Stunning fan palms surround rock canyons and 150 plant species along the lush Andreas Creek. One visit will give new meaning to the idea of the desert.
5. Thousand Palms Oasis
Thousand Palms Oasis in the Coachella Valley Preserve is a fine example of a desert palm grove. With its towering California Fan Palms and glorious trails, it is the perfect escape into a wonderland. It is a must to see the 'Palm' in Palm Springs.
6. Willis Palms Oasis
Willis Palm Oasis, located in the Coachella Valley Preserve, is a great place for solitude. A half-mile hike takes you to the base of the oasis which can be explored by hiking the cliffs and springs. Climbing to the top provides sweeping views of Palm Springs, the Coachella Valley and the San Jacinto Mountains making it the perfect spot to watch the sunset.
7. Fortynine Palms Oasis
A 3-mile round-trip hike will take to a more remote part of Joshua Tree National Park with 49 fan palms. Fed by a fault spring, the oasis also serves as an important water source for desert bighorn sheep and coyotes.
8. Oasis of Mara
At the Twentynine Palms Entrance to Joshua Tree National Park is the enchanting Oasis of Mara. Serrano Native Americans planted 29 palms along the spring, one for each boy born during their first year. The palms provided food, clothing and housing while spring water allowed corn, beans, pumpkins and squash to grow.
1. Calico Ghost Town
Founded in 1881 as silver mining town, Calico Ghost Town is now an attraction. In the 1890's when the silver boom declined and borax was discovered, the population soared to 3,500 and became a thriving desert community. This would end by the turn of the century and by 1907 became a true ghost town.
Cima is a ghost town located in the Mojave National Preserve. Founded in 1900 with the opening of a store and later post office in 1905, H.C. Gibson made the town famous because he did not pump gas for his customers making this the original self-service station. The Union Pacific Railroad passes the lazy town each day on its historic route.
Ivanpah, Native American for 'clear water', was a silver ore mining town established in 1869. At its peak, the town included a hotel, two stores and post office. By the 1880's, better mines were discovered in nearby settlements so residents abandoned Ivanpah in search of bigger riches.
Kelso was an important railroad service stop for the Los Angeles & Salt Lake Railroad and was crucial during World War II for the war effort delivering key goods via Union Pacific. The National Park Service saved the iconic train depot from demolition when abandoned after passenger service ended in 1964 and restored it to its original glory.
Amboy is an historic Route 66 Ghost Town on the outskirts of the Mojave National Preserve. It became a boom town in 1926 after the completion of Route 66. In 1938 'Roy's Motel and Café' opened to serve tourists traveling the famed Mother Road. It's iconic Mid-Century modern neon sign was added in 1959. Interstate 40 opened in 1972 and put the town completely out of business.
Zzyzx is the former site of Zzyzx Mineral Springs & Health Spa in the Mojave National Preserve. Curtis Howe Springer founded the spa in 1944 naming it Zzyzx so that it would become the very last word in the dictionary. He claimed his hot springs could heal all health problems. The springs were actually just faked by warming the water with a boiler and adding herbs! The government caught up with Springer in the 60's and the Resort was shut down. California State University built a Desert Studies Center here in the 70's while all that remains of the resort are ghostly ruins. A car graveyard is the highlight of the ruins.
Gold was discovered in 1895 at the Rand Mine and a camp was soon formed in this remote Mojave Desert enclave. Located near the other boom town of Johannesburg, the two names merged to spell Randsburg. With a population today of about 70, it is a true western ghost town. The famous General Store as well as its charming abandoned sites and sounds make it a must stop along the beautiful Highway 395.
At the edge of the Panamint Mountains on the western outskirts of Death Valley lies Ballarat, an historic mining camp that lasted from 1897 to 1917. The town had several hundred residents at its peak with seven saloons, three hotels, a Wells Fargo station, post office, school and infamously no church.
Keeler is a ghost town outside of Death Valley National Park in the Eastern Sierra Nevada known as the 'End of the Line'. The Carson and Colorado Railway extended their railroad all the way here during the Gold Rush in 1883. When nearby mining towns went bust, plans to extend the railway further to Mojave fell through and Keeler became the last stop of the line.
Harrisburg contains the ghostly remains of Peter Aguereberry's famous Death Valley mining camp. He first discovered gold here with his partner Shorty Harris in 1905. Pete would remain here for forty years until 1945. His camp and mining ruins patiently stand against the test of time.
1. Catalina Casino
The Catalina Casino has been one of the most iconic landmarks in Avalon on Santa Catalina Island since 1929. The Art Deco and Mediterranean Revival architecture helped to create the look of the city. It continues to serve as the island's movie theater and grand ballroom.
2. Griffith Observatory
Griffith Observatory is the crown jewel of Los Angeles. On a clear day, gorgeous views of Los Angeles, Hollywood and the ocean are seen for miles. Hugo Ballin painted the Observatory's iconic murals in 1934 depicting gods of the stars, planets and zodiac.
3. Union Station
Opening in 1939, this was the last great railway station built during the Golden Age of train travel. Art Deco, Mission Revival, and Streamline Moderne are its architectural styles making it timeless and iconic.
4. Los Angeles Central Library
The Los Angeles Central Library was built in 1926 in the Art Deco architectural style with Mediterranean Revival and Egyptian influences. The centerpiece is the rotunda with its 4 massive murals, each 40 feet wide, created by artist Dean Cornwell.
5. RMS Queen Mary
The RMS Queen Mary was the last great ocean liner built during the golden age of world travel and sailed the Atlantic Ocean from 1936 to 1967. Luxury & Opulence is the key to this Art Deco Dream. Elizabeth Taylor, Lucille Ball, Gloria Swanson & Fred Astaire among many other silver screen stars called this sailing palace home while on voyage to Europe.
6. The Nethercutt Collection Grand Salon
The Nethercutt Collection contains one of the finest sets of automobiles in the World. With more than 130 antique and vintage autos, the collection will keep you amazed for hours. Its Art Deco Grand Salon recreates the stunning car palaces of the 20's and 30's complete with marble, gold and chandeliers.