Desert Playground: Palm Springs, California
Why: Think of it as your can't-miss adventure escape: The city has everything from cycling to golfing to climbing (Joshua Tree is just 45 minutes away).
What to Do: Mecca Hills Wilderness, a Utah-like slot canyon 40 miles south of town, has a dozen hiking routes. The best is the 4.3-mile Ladder Canyon loop.
Where to Stay: The upscale Ace Hotel, with its pre-party on December 30 and a DJ on New Year's Eve.