Mike Powell  /  Getty Images
A model of a couple hiking, silhouetted against the boulders of the Joshua Tree Monument in California.
updated 12/13/2006 12:09:56 PM ET 2006-12-13T17:09:56

You could be relaxing in the sun, maybe playing golf without your heavy jacket while your friends back home are shoveling their cars out of snowdrifts. No passport required. Just do a little preparation on the Web and head for Southern California and the desert resort of Palm Springs.

Click on "Take A Look" at the city's Bureau of Tourism for a lengthy video that will introduce you to the palm trees, golf courses with mountains in the background, desert scenery, shopping, nightlife and more. Then slide your cursor over "Meet Palm Springs" to open a menu and try "Spotlight" for links to museums and a guide to shopping along Palm Canyon Drive. And under that same menu, try "City of Palm Springs" for an eye-catching slide show, and "Weather" to learn that the average high temperature in January is 69 degrees. Do the same routine with "Play Here" to learn about spas, tours, golf, family fun, local attractions and "18 Free Things to Do."

Before you move on to other Web sites, slide across "Stay Here" for hotel links, online reservations, RV parks and the section everyone looks for: Hot Deals.

A map of the city would be handy. Find one by going to the Miniguides from the helpful folks at Fodor's and clicking on "Palm Springs" under California. It'll show you how to find Dinah Shore Drive and the Bob Hope Cultural Center. In addition to the map, this is a handy all-around guide to the city and surrounding area.

Along with your tennis and golf shoes, take your hiking boots and visit Indian Canyons the scenic canyon oases of the Aqua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, including 15-mile-long Palm Canyon. If hiking isn't what you had in mind, look to the bottom of the page for a link to the Agua Caliente and Spa Resort casinos.

In case you need a break from the desert, or if you really miss the snow and ice back home, take a short drive west of town to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway a 15-minute ride up Chino Canyon to an elevation of more than 8,000 feet. You could go just for the view, or you could click on "Things to Do" for details on nature walks and playing in the snow.

East of the city, explore the unique scenery of the sprawling Joshua Tree National Park which says the distinctive Joshua trees begin blooming in late February. Try the privately run Joshua Tree Web site for more details on wildflowers, bird watching, climbing and biking.

To pick up ideas for packing as much as possible into a short visit, try Palm Springs.com and look for their "ultimate Palm Springs Top 20 list" of attractions, everything from museums to gardens to golf courses. If they don't fill your calendar, move on to "Points of Interest" for tips on extra attractions including date palm gardens at Thermal and Indio, the huge Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and the Poynter Golf Museum. Go to California State Parks to look up Anza-Borrego.

For those lucky enough to have more time, go to California's official tourism Web site click on "Regions" and then explore the southern end of the Deserts region.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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