Skip the Playground, Do the Museum The best part of the Children's Discovery Museum of the Desert is the fifty-plus hands-on exhibits. The stringless harp helps kids explore the various pitches of sound. The Archaeological Dig lets them strap on goggles and gloves as they hunt for hidden artifacts. And a real-life VW Bug is an ever-changing canvas, allowing kids (and their parents) to tie on a smock, grab a brush and paint to their heart's content. There's also a Braille and wheelchair section that gives children a glimpse into life with physical challenges. Admission to this unique Rancho Mirage museum is $8.
Skip the Gym, Visit Lululemon Lululemon Athletica makes waves for its chic yoga attire (and headlines for what some claim are too-sheer pants). But their location in Palm Desert offers fitness classes – yoga and Pilates – throughout the week, and they're free! All skill levels are welcome (and you can wear any pants you want). Check out their Facebook page for up-to-date schedules.
See the Windmills, Visit the Windmills As you near Palm Springs, you'll drive past hundreds of wind turbine generators spinning in unison. Few people realize, though, that you can visit these alternative sources of energy up close. The Palm Springs Windmill Tour is offered seven days a week year-round; it's a 90-minute wind farm excursion that gets you face to face with those the giant blades. But impressive visuals aside, what'll stay with you is the crash course on wind energy and the modern-day perks that come from harnessing the impressive power of the winds that constantly blow through this desert. Pricing depends on the number of people in your party -- $49 to $79 per person – and includes pickup/drop-off at your resort and gourmet snacks.
Skip the Mall, Stroll El Paseo Destination shopping malls abound in Greater Palm Springs; I love The River in Rancho Mirage for the cascading waterfalls, live entertainment and plentiful dining options. But any visitor owes themselves a leisurely stroll down El Paseo in Palm Desert. This beautifully manicured shopping district stretches just a mile but features some 300 shops, including clothing stores, art galleries, jewelry boutiques and restaurants. You'll recognize a lot of the brand names here, like Louis Vuitton and Baccarat. But it's also a wonderful place to stumble upon one-of-a-kind stores. You'll run into El Paseo right off Highway 111.
Skip the Megaplex, Screen the Palme d'Or Corinne Dodge, an L.A. transplant to Rancho Mirage, likes to forgo the many multi-screen theaters for foreign, experimental and artsy film screenings at the classy Palme d'Or. "It's our only theater that plays indies and edgy movies," she says. "This is fun!" The move lineup on a recent weekday afternoon included a screening of Puccini's Tosca recorded at London's Royal Opera House, an encore 3.5-hour showing of Shakespeare's Hamlet from the UK's National Theater and the new controversial doc Escape from Tomorrow. There are daily 21-and-over screenings. And snack options range from fancy popcorn with real butter and gourmet sandwiches to espresso drinks and wines by the glass.
Skip Fleming's, Savor LG's Well-known steakhouses abound here, but we love LG's Prime Steakhouse for the fact it's locally owned. Founded in 1991, it features two desert locations – Palms Springs and La Quinta – and its nine popular USDA prime steaks include a 24- and 30-ounce Porterhouse. Order one of the 100-plus Napa Valley cabernets off the wine list along with the tableside Caesars Salad.
Gabe Saglie is Senior Editor for Travelzoo, which features hotel, spa and local deals throughout Palm Springs and deals to all five 2014 WOW Deal Destinations here: http://www.travelzoo.com/destinations/wow2014/?tz_cs=HPV1.