Sonny Bono, the late one-time mayor of Palm Springs and one-half of ’60s pop act Sonny & Cher, has a pretty good view. I’m not talking about Sonny’s spirit and wherever it might be in the great beyond; I’m referring to the statue of the man perched in the heart of downtown Palm Springs at Palm Canyon Drive and La Plaza. The homage to Sonny is located in one of the most popular shopping and socialization areas in Palm Springs, no doubt the exact place that the gregarious singer would choose to chat up visitors to his beloved city if he were still alive. And it’s a pretty sure bet that he’d recommend the following Palm Springs attractions.

Downtown and VillageFest: Whether you want to shop or window-shop, grab a drink and a bite to eat or just mingle and people watch, the Palm Canyon Drive portion of downtown is where you’ll want to be. About a dozen blocks are packed with unique shops of all sorts, many reflecting the distinctive artistic flair that Palm Springs is noted for in both their design and items on offer. You won’t find a McDonalds or other chains here; shopping on Palm Canyon Drive is more like an exploration where you’ll discover the quirks and delights of a seemingly endless variety of mom-and-pop stores and indie eateries. Every Thursday evening the road through this area is closed off and VillageFest ( – a street fair/farmers’ market/artist’s mall – takes over, doubling the amount of fun to be had.

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway: Chances are you’ve never been on an aerial tramway quite like this one; there’s only one other in the world that’s like it, and you have to go to Switzerland to find that one. What’s unique about the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway ( is that the gondola car rotates (the inner floor does) as it transports you up and over the sheer cliffs of Chino Canyon in Mt. San Jacinto State Park, ensuring that no matter where you’re standing you’ll have a clear view of all there is to see as you dangle over the craggy mountainside. And there’s certainly plenty to see; a sweeping panorama of the Coachella Valley looking downhill and the rugged alpine cliffs of the mountain looking in all other directions. Up top at the mountain station you can get great pictures, have lunch and adult beverages and browse a sizable souvenir shop. Most take the tramway just for the thrill of the ride, but the mountain station is also a jumping-off point for outdoor enthusiasts who want to stay and spend time enjoying some of the park’s 54 miles of trails.

Palm Springs Air Museum: While the aerial tramway literally takes you soaring, the Palm Springs Air Museum (, located adjacent to Palm Springs International Airport, is the place to indulge all other fantasies of flight. Two giant hangars are filled with American military aircrafts of all sorts, primarily from the World War II era. Fans of military history and aviation in general will love how close they can get to these flying machines, most of which are still capable of flight. Flight simulators, a movie presentation, historic autos and a B-17 that you can climb into for a tour are just some of the other attractions here. The museum also has a sizable library for those interested in doing research on military aviation.

Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway: The next-best thing to Graceland, visit the house that Elvis Presley lived in while he was making some of his movies in Hollywood and the place where he spent his honeymoon with Priscilla. The tour shows you Elvis’ pool and party area, his space-age kitchen, plenty of memorabilia and yes, the bedroom. You’ll hear lots of stories, view a short video presentation and have a chance to play Elvis’ (replica) guitar. Tours must be booked in advance at (760) 322-1192 or

Where to Stay: The Palm Springs Travelodge (333 E. Palm Canyon; is recently remodeled, has rates that are student friendly (Continental breakfast is included.) and is only minutes from all the pubs and restaurants in the downtown area.

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