Out-of-staters don't need a motorcycle license to rent wheels from Scoot Palm Springs, where half-day rentals start at $60. The outfit is based out of the Ace Hotel parking lot. The wide Palm Springs boulevards aren't too terrifying, but do stay off Interstate 10—if you feel like a spontaneous trip to Las Vegas, you can hitchhike.
Story goes that Marilyn Monroe was discovered at Charlie Farrell's Racquet Club in Palm Springs. She's (much) bigger than life at the 26-foot skirt-up sculpture of the icon. It'll stay at the corner of Palm Canyon Drive and Tahquitz Canyon Way—about a 25-minute walk from the Ace—only through June 2013.
The ravines notched in the San Jacinto mountains are part of the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation. Palm Canyon Wash is out past the edge of town, while the Tahquitz Canyon entrance is closer in. Both have fees, but inside are groves of California fan palm trees and desert hiking. Plan on biking or riding a scooter in, then walking on the trails.
Thrift shopping is excellent wherever there are rich old people who take good care of their stuff. The Revivals chain is part of Ace's handout of favorite shops—they call this spot "dependable" for good finds. And it's only a 15 minute walk from the hotel—even faster by bike.
Sick of kitsch? The exhibits are clean and modern at the Palm Springs Art Museum, only a short walk from Mega Marilyn. A design show about an influential Brazilian team opens in November, with a Rauschenberg exhibit planned for early 2013.
Desert modernism began in Palm Springs, where low-lying homes use clean lines and boxy shapes. Check at the Ace front desk for a tour map of the area's best estates; the Twin Palms and Deepwell Ranch area are just a few blocks from the hotel.
What's better than fancy houses? Fancy houses of the stars! Since Palm Springs is only two hours from Hollywood, tons of famous actors and singers made it their retreat. Again, look to the Ace Hotel front desk for a free map that leads to the places once owned by Howard Hughes, Nat King Cole, Sammy Davis Jr., and Liberace. At Frank Sinatra's Twin Palms estate, peek over the brick wall to see this fabulous pool.
Okay, we're kind of cheating—you probably need to take a cab to the base of the Palm Springs Ariel Tramway. But once there, you can ride an extreme form of alternate transportation: the largest rotating tram cars in the world. Head up Chico Canyon for a great view of the Coachella Valley (and enjoy temperatures almost 30 degrees cooler than those in town).