Cool Activities for Hot Days in Palm Springs

When summer temperatures soar in the desert our favorite spot to cool off is right here in the shaded gardens at Santiago, under a cold stream of water in our blissful outdoor showers. But if you’re in the mood to explore the world beyond the desert’s favorite gay luxury resort, here are some activities to keep you cool on hot summer days.

Chillax at the Camelot

Head downtown and duck into the a/c at an old-school movie house and catch a film or a world-class film festival. Part of the Palm Springs Cultural Center, Camelot Theatres is a classic 3-screen movie house specializing in first-run art, foreign, and independent films. In June the Camelot hosts the annual Palm Springs International ShortFest, a qualifying event for the Academy Awards with in-person screenings and filmmaker forums June 21-27. Even if you miss ShortFest, the Camelot is always a great escape on a scorching afternoon.

Hitch a Ride on the Tram or to Idyllwild

Significantly cooler temperatures can be found at higher elevations. If you’ve never taken Palm Spring’s famous tram to the top of the San Jacinto mountains, summer is the perfect time. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway travels 2-1/2 miles along the beautiful cliffs of Chino Canyon from the Valley Station (elevation 2,643 ft) to the Mountain Station (elevation 8,516 ft). Temperatures at the top of the tramway are usually 30-40 degrees cooler than on the desert floor, and the scenery and views are absolutely stunning. Enjoy observation decks, a natural history museum, an upscale cliffside restaurant, a cafeteria, and a lounge, plus over 50 miles of hiking trails in Mt. San Jacinto State Park. An easy 20-minute drive from Santiago, the Tram is open every day of the week with extended evening hours in summer.

If you’re up for a beautiful drive through some amazing scenery, the charming town of “mile-high” Idyllwild is a favorite summer excursion for both locals and visitors alike. The 80-minute drive winds past spectacular vista points as you climb from the desert floor and reach deep into the San Jacinto Mountains. Once you arrive in Idyllwild you’ll find an artsy village with galleries, antique stores, restaurants, and other surprises like wine and coffee tastings. Or bring your hiking shoes and explore the quiet, forested wilderness area high above the Coachella Valley. Temperatures in Idyllwild are usually 10-20 degrees cooler than in Palm Springs, so it’s almost always a cool getaway on hot summer days.

Make a Splash at a Pool Party

Splash House is Palm Spring’s biggest summer pool party, attracting the Coachella crowd to multiple resorts over three different weekends in June and August. Big-name DJs spin pulsing house and disco from poolside stages from noon until sundown, and the raucous dance party continues into the evening on the tarmac of the Palm Springs Air Museum. Pool passes and After Hours passes are available at June and August.

If you’re lucky enough to be in town over the July 4th weekend, the hottest spot in town to cool off is at Western Xposure’s Dadfest. This free-flowing event for daddies, bears, and the men that admire them features non-stop pool parties, BBQs, and great music all holiday weekend long at the CCBC Resort. Day and Weekend passes are available at the door or online. Every July.

Of course, you can always create your own private pool party at Santiago. We won’t tell!