This tidy restaurant in uptown Palm Springs wins big each year in desert magazine popularity polls, including scoring a Best of the Best award in the annual Palm Springs Life contest. Entrée prices range from $9-$19.95, but the lunch special is a deal at $8.25-$9.50. It's served 11:30 a.m.-4 p.m. and includes soup or salad, tea, steamed rice and an entrée.

651 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; (760) 320-5503, http://www.thaismilepalmsprings.com.

8. Tyler's

Ask almost anyone in Palm Springs where to get a great burger and the answer most probably is Tyler's, a landmark for 16 years. The octagonal-shaped building once was the city's Greyhound depot; now it serves up fat, juicy burgers and other simple foods. (The addictive potato salad sells out each day.) This chic indoor-outdoor café, in the downtown Plaza, is so popular it can make its own rules: cash only; open from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., closed Sundays. Burgers from $6.75.

149 S. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs; (760) 325-2990, http://www.tylersburgers.com.

FREE THINGS

1. Hike the hills

Stand under a waterfall, visit a desert oasis, spot a bighorn sheep in the wild. Palm Springs' mountains and rocky ridges offer hiking conditions ranging from easy to strenuous. Check out Ten Best Day Hikes in Palm Springs at http://www.visitpalmsprings.com/overview/play/hiking-in-palm-springs/13681

2. Wheel around town

Tackle miles of bike trails that meander through historic districts and downtown Palm Springs. Many hotels offer free bike use, or bring your own. Pick up a map at the Visitors Center, 2901 N. Palm Canyon Drive, (800) 347-7746.

3. Take a do-it-yourself tour

Architecture buffs aren't the only ones who enjoy Palm Springs' famous Midcentury Modern homes and buildings. Get a Modern Palm Springs map at the Visitors Center, 2901 N. Palm Canyon Drive, (800) 347-7746.

4. Count the stars

Hollywood may have started the tradition, but Palm Springs built on it with its own walk of fame. Stars are memorialized in the city's "Walk of Stars," which can be seen on the sidewalks of downtown Palm Canyon Drive.

5. See the classics

Check out a different kind of superstar at McCormick's Classic Car Showroom, the home of Palm Springs' quarterly classic car auction. (The next event is Feb. 24-26; call [760] 320-3290.) But you can see a range of classics for free any day at the consignment showroom, which is always full of privately owned classic vehicles. Recent stars include a '97 Bentley and a '49 Cadillac Sedanette. It's at 244 N. Indian Canyon Drive. http://www.classic-carauction.com.

6. Stroll and shop

Window shoppers can spend a pleasant afternoon exploring Palm Canyon Drive, visiting galleries, home furnishing shops, consignment stores and fashion boutiques. http://www.visitpalmsprings.com/shop

7. Visit the museum

On most days, adults pay $12.50 to visit Palm Springs Art Museum, where exhibits include contemporary and Western art, Cahuilla basketry collections and a sculpture garden. Get free admission 4-8 p.m. Thursdays and the second Sunday of every month. 101 Museum Drive, (760) 322-4800, http://www.psmuseum.org.

8. Check out Villagefest

Thursday also is the time to visit Villagefest, an old-fashioned street fair with musicians, food, arts and crafts and a farmers market. It all happens 6-10 p.m. on Palm Canyon Drive, between Amado and Baristo roads.

9. Chill out at an oasis

Take a short stroll or a longer trek at the serene 13,000-acre Coachella Valley Preserve. Just outside of town, the preserve features dunes, springs and stunning Washington palms. Ramon Road to Thousands Palms Road. (760) 343-1234, http://www.coachellavalleypreserve.org

10. Get out in the wild

Mule deer, desert bighorn sheep and bobcats are among the wildlife found at 31,000-acre Big Morongo Canyon Preserve and Covington Park. The wildlife sanctuary, in the Little San Bernardino Mountains near Morongo Valley, ranges from 600 to 3,000 feet. You'll find a picnic area and hiking trails. Call for hours and directions. (760) 363-7190, http://www.bigmorongo.org

travel@latimes.com