Chicago is widely known as the "windy city" but the California city of Palm Springs has been benefiting from its Santa Ana winds since 1982, when the first wind farm was built in the San Gorgonio Pass.
Coming from Los Angeles, travelers will find thousands of turbines — about 4,000 — on both sides of Interstate 10. Driving by, the energy producing "windmills" look big, but travelers can't really get a handle on how big until standing next to one. Some of the blades are more than half the size of a football field, standing about 150 feet tall. At the top, the turbines have a generator that weighs in at 30,000 to 45,000 pounds.
The wind farm provides enough energy to power Palm Springs and the entire Coachella Valley. It is quite a sight, and to get an understanding of how it all works, take a wind farm tour. Best of the Best Tours offers tours with knowledgeable guides that are a lot more fun than science class. For information and to purchase tickets visit thebestofthebesttours.com.
Palm Springs is also known for its movie history. Many famous people lived in this valley, including Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball, Jack Benny, Bing Crosby, Tony Curtis, Sandra Dee, Gene Autry, Cary Grant, Elvis and so many more. It was where they escaped to enjoy privacy and relaxation. Today's stars who can be seen in the area include Leonardo DiCaprio, Suzanne Somers, Barbra Streisand and James Brolin, Robert Downey Jr., Brad Pitt and President Obama and family.
History walking tours are offered through the Palm Springs Historical Society for those interested in the homes of the stars and architecture. Visit pshistoricalsociety.org. Best of the Best Tours also offers a Rich and Famous Tour that includes homes to the stars.
This valley of 48,000-plus residents offers a large variety of entertainment, from theaters, concerts and plays to horseback riding and snowshoeing. Yes, this warm, sunny, palm-tree-lined city offers winter sports. Take a short tram ride up the mountain — 8,516 feet — to Mount San Jacinto State Park, where residents and visitors take part in winter sports and camping, hiking and guided nature walks in the summer. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway takes riders high above the valley to the snow-capped mountains. At the top of the mountain, visitors will find Peaks Restaurant. It offers beautiful views of the Coachella Valley and good food. Also at the top is Pines Cafe, a cafeteria-style restaurant, and the Lookout Lounge, offering alcoholic beverages and appetizers.
The tram itself is an experience. It rotates as travelers ascend and descend the mountain to take in all the views of the valley and the mountains. The first tram was completed in 1963, but a project was completed in 2000 that added new cars and renovated the facilities. It is known as the world's largest rotating tramcar system ever constructed. Visit pstramway.com for details on the tram rides, dining and activities.
For more information on lodging, dining and more go to visitpalmsprings.com.