Mount Jacinta shows many scenic faces from dry and rocky to northern California forest all in one drive. The shopping in both Palm Springs (older) and Palm Desert (newer) was terrific. Friendly faces wherever you go.
The windmill farm in the desert pass is also a nice modern touch to the area.
29 Palms natural Oasis allows just outside town allows one to "walk over" the San Andreas Fault while exploring an old desert outpost - very Western indeed!
Fly in to Ontario, California rather than LAX. It is much closer and not as congested!
Best Way To Get Around:
A bus route does exist, but an air-conditioned car is really required to drive around the vicinity.