Summer is basically upon us—and in the desert, that means there’s a need to find activities that keep us cool.
Therefore, we here at the Independent have compiled a list of activities, places and events that will help you survive the scorching summer heat.
Wet ’n’ Wild
The former Knott’s Soak City in Palm Springs has new ownership and is now called Wet ’n’ Wild. The water park offers a definite summer survival activity for children and adults alike. With three slides—Pipeline Point, the Sea Snake, and the seven-story Tidal Wave Tower—the thrill element is there. You can also enjoy Kahuna’s Beach House and the 800-gallon Riptide Reef wave pool. If that’s not enough, you can take a ride on the Pacific Spin, featuring a 132-foot-long tunnel that ends with a ride into a 70-foot funnel. If you just want to soak and relax, enjoy a lazy ride on the Sunset River. With season passes starting at just $59, and general admission passes ranging from $26.99 to $36.99, Wet ’n’ Wild could offer a wonderful getaway all summer—or just for a day. Wet ’n’ Wild, 1500 S. Gene Autry Trail, Palm Springs; 760-327-0499; www.wetnwildpalmsprings.com.
If you have children, you’ll need to get them out of the house when they aren’t in school. One idea: There’s something for everyone at Boomers in Cathedral City. There is an arcade—which means air-conditioning! There are also bumper boats, go-carts and a rock wall. This is a perfect place for a child’s birthday; a party room is available. For a family night together, nothing says fun like miniature golf. Boomers Palm Springs, 67700 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Cathedral City; 760-770-7522; www.boomersparks.com.
While our local casinos are a prime spot for gambling, of course, they also offer other things to do. The Spa Resort Casino, Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa, Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, Spotlight 29 Casino and Morongo Casino Resort Spa, as well as other local casinos, include fine restaurants, free shows and world-class entertainment (which you can read about in the Independent, of course). The drinks are often cheaper; the crowds in the dance clubs tend to be lively; and the air conditioning is always cranked up for maximum comfort.
Orange Empire Railway Museum
Sometimes, the best way to beat the heat is to get in the car and venture outside of the desert; even an hour’s drive can lead to a significant temperature difference. Well, the Orange Empire Railway Museum is located in Perris—about an hour outside of the desert. The museum features a collection of Southern California railroad history. A friend of mine who gives tours at the museum has told me in extensive detail about the fully functioning trains that offer short rides; the educational experience that the museum offers to both children and adults; and the great value of the visit. It’s especially great if you’re into trains or looking for a great piece of American history. Admission is free, and on the weekends, an all-day train-ride pass is $8 to $12; a family membership is available for $60. Orange Empire Railway Museum, 2201 S. A St., Perris; 951-943-3020, www.oerm.org.
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
If you’re desperate for relief from the summer heat, consider the fact that the temperature difference between Palm Springs and the top of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway at Mount San Jacinto at 8,000 feet is generally 30 degrees. There are plenty of hiking, camping (great for the family!) and dining options up at the top, as well as guided nature walks. Tickets are $16.95 to $23.95. If want to go up for a nice dinner, the Pines Café offers an incredible package deal of dining and the tram ride for $23.50 to $36. Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, One Tram Way, Palm Springs; 760-325-1449; www.pstramway.com.
The Ace Hotel and Swim Club
Whether or not your home has a pool, consider the Ace Hotel and Swim Club: The Ace has a great pool, with frequent events including DJs and more. A full bar is located near the pool, and the King’s Highway restaurant offers patio service, so you’ll never go hungry or get thirsty while you spend a relaxing day there. Day passes cost $30 and are available between the hours of noon and 6 p.m. I also suggest dropping in on Bella da Ball on Monday nights for both Sissy Bingo and Trivia Night, held in the King’s Highway restaurant and the Amigo Room, respectively. The Ace Hotel, 701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; 760-325-9900; www.acehotel.com/palmsprings.
Joshua Tree Gay Pride Festival
On Saturday, June 14, Joshua Tree will celebrate its sixth annual Gay Pride Festival. I admit I was somewhat skeptical before I attended last year as a volunteer—when I was absolutely amazed at how the community up in Joshua Tree comes out to support the LGBT side of things. The festival brings out some of Joshua Tree’s artists, interesting vendors and the usual gay-related organizations. The entertainment this year is top-notch, with the Joshua Tree Community Jazz Band, the Small Wonder Experience, Indy Amos and many other performers. Attendance is a $5 suggested donation. Joshua Tree Gay Pride Festival, Coyote Corner (Highway 62 and Park Avenue), Joshua Tree; find the Facebook page for more information.
If you are looking for a mini-Coachella-like festival that includes ample pool time, Splash House—from Friday, June 13, through Sunday, June 15—is definitely for you. The lineup this year includes Moby, Neon Indian and Purity Ring, just to name a few of the big-name DJs. This is definitely an awesome event, and your ticket includes a shuttle pass between the three venues: The Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs, the Saguaro, and the Hacienda Beach Club. Tickets are $103. For more information, visit www.splashhouse.com.
21st Annual Jazz in the Pines in Idyllwild
If you’re looking to get out of the desert for a day or two, the Annual Jazz in the Pines up in Idyllwild on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 16 and 17, will be a nice retreat: The temperatures will be a little cooler, and you’ll be in the wilderness of Idyllwild. Of course, the music will be fantastic, too. Tickets are $65 per day for walk-up admission; advance tickets and two-day passes are also available. For more information, visit www.idyllwildjazz.com.
10th Annual Campout with Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven
David Lowery, his two bands, and his friends will be heading to Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace for the 10th annual Campout in September. A lineup has not yet been released for festival-style event, but we know the dates: Thursday, Sept. 11, through Saturday, Sept. 13. Keep checking Pappy and Harriet’s website for ticket info and details. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road; Pioneertown; 760-365-5956; pappyandharriets.com.