12 Amazing Things to Do in Palm Springs, California: Top Attractions to Visit

by Jen
Amazing Things to Do in Palm Springs, California
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Are you thinking about visiting Palm Springs in California this year? Here are some of the most fun and unique things to do in Palm Springs. These radiant sights, activities, and attractions are sure to make for an unforgettable vacation experience.

Ah, Palm Springs! Just the name conjures up images of palm-fringed streets, endless sunshine, and a backdrop of mountains that look like they’ve been painted onto the sky. Wondering about the things to do in Palm Springs? This desert oasis has long been the go-to escape for Hollywood’s elite, and it’s easy to see why. With its mid-century modern architecture, vibrant arts scene, and an array of outdoor adventures, Palm Springs is a playground for all ages and interests.

But let’s not forget the real stars of the show: those iconic windmills that greet you as you drive into town. They’re like sentinels, whispering secrets of the desert wind, beckoning you to explore further. And trust me, you’ll want to. From the moment you step foot in this sun-kissed paradise, you’ll feel the magnetic pull of its laid-back vibe and endless list of things to do.

Whether you’re a culture vulture looking to soak up some art, a thrill-seeker wanting to conquer the great outdoors, or simply in need of some good old-fashioned R&R, Palm Springs has got you covered. So, pack your bags, put on those oversized sunglasses, and let’s hit the road. Palm Springs is calling, and you won’t want to miss what it has to offer. Here’s everything you need to know about these fun things to do in Palm Springs, California.

The amazing places to visit in Palm Springs, California right now
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Best Places to Visit in Palm Springs

Ready to jump into all the coolest things to do in Palm Springs? As noted above, there’s something for everyone at this top vacation spot in Southern California. So keep reading to discover all these unique Palm Springs places to visit.

Are you looking to go hiking, golfing and exploring thriving arts and culture scenes in the heart of this Californian gem? Or would you prefer relaxing in world-class spas and tranquil desert landscapes? Whatever you’re planning, these must-sees in Palm Springs can accommodate your needs. Here’s all the best attractions in Palm Springs (and the surrounding areas) that you should know about.

1. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

If you’re seeking an adventure that combines awe-inspiring views with a dash of adrenaline, look no further. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is your ticket to an unforgettable experience. Imagine this: you’re ascending two and a half miles in a rotating tram car, watching as the desert floor shrinks away and the alpine forests of Mt. San Jacinto State Park comes into view.

Wondering about the best things to do in Palm Springs, you ask? Well, once you reach the top, you’re greeted with a plethora of activities. Whether it’s hiking through the pristine wilderness, capturing the perfect Instagram shot, or simply enjoying a meal with a view at Peaks Restaurant, the options are endless.

The tramway is not just a ride; it’s a gateway to a different world. The temperature drops as you ascend, offering a refreshing break from the desert heat. And let’s not forget the sunset views; they’re the kind of vistas that make you appreciate the beauty of the world we live in.

So, if you’re in the mood for something that’s both exhilarating and serene, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is your dream destination. Trust me, this is one journey you won’t want to miss.

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is one of the amazing things to do in Palm Springs, California
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway elevates your adventure with breathtaking views.

2. Joshua Tree National Park

Ah, Joshua Tree National Park! This is where the Mojave and Colorado deserts meet, creating a surreal landscape that’s straight out of a Dr. Seuss book. Now, if you’re wondering where to visit in Palm Springs, let me tell you, this national park is a must-see.

You drive in, and it’s like entering another realm. The iconic Joshua Trees stand tall, their spiky leaves reaching for the sky as if in a perpetual dance. But it’s not just about the trees; the rock formations here are equally captivating. Picture yourself scrambling up the boulders at Hidden Valley or staring in awe at the natural arches.

How about stargazing? Absolutely out of this world. The park’s remote location makes it one of the best places in Palm Springs for a celestial show. Whether you’re an amateur astronomer or just someone who appreciates the simpler things in life, a night under the Joshua Tree sky is nothing short of magical.

So, what’s the verdict? Joshua Tree National Park is where you’ll find both natural beauty and a sense of wonder.

Joshua Tree National Park: Where two deserts meet for a surreal landscape near Palm Springs.
Joshua Tree National Park: Where two deserts meet for a surreal landscape near Palm Springs, California.

3. Indian Canyons

You know those places that make you forget you’re just minutes away from civilization? Indian Canyons is one of those Palm Springs attractions that does just that. Imagine you’re walking through a palm oasis, the sound of trickling water in the background, and the only thing on your mind is the sheer beauty surrounding you.

But wait, there’s more! The canyons offer a variety of hiking trails that range from easy strolls to challenging treks. One moment you’re meandering through lush palm groves, and the next, you’re navigating rocky terrain with panoramic desert views.

And let’s not forget the cultural significance. The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians consider these canyons sacred, and once you visit, it’s easy to see why. The spiritual energy here is palpable.

If you’re compiling a list of the coolest things to do in Palm Springs, Indian Canyons should be right up there. It’s not just a hike; it’s an experience that nourishes the soul.

Indian Canyons is a Palm Springs attraction that transports you to a tranquil oasis.
Indian Canyons is a Palm Springs attraction that transports you to a tranquil oasis.

4. Moorten Botanical Garden

The Moorten Botanical Garden—a place where even the prickliest personalities feel right at home. If you’re a fan of succulents and cacti, this is your paradise. It’s one of those unique places in Palm Springs that offers a different kind of beauty, a stark contrast to the surrounding desert and palm trees.

You’ll find yourself wandering through a living museum of desert flora, complete with a “Cactarium”—yes, that’s a real thing. It’s like an aquarium but for cacti. From towering saguaros to tiny, colorful blooms, the variety here is astounding.

Thinking of what to do in Palm Springs when you want a break from the heat? Well, the garden provides plenty of shaded areas where you can sit and admire the prickly wonders. It’s a fantastic spot for photography, so make sure your camera is fully charged.

The garden has a rich history dating back to the 1930s and was even a hotspot for Hollywood celebrities. So, you’re not just walking through a garden; you’re strolling through a piece of Palm Springs history.

Moorten Botanical Garden is a paradise for succulent and cacti lovers in Palm Springs.
Moorten Botanical Garden is a paradise for succulent and cacti lovers in Palm Springs, California.

5. Palm Springs Art Museum

Ever wondered where to visit in Palm Springs for a dose of culture and art? Look no further than the Palm Springs Art Museum. Situated in the heart of downtown, this museum is a sanctuary for art lovers and culture vultures alike.

The museum’s collection is as diverse as Palm Springs itself, featuring everything from contemporary art to Native American pieces. You’ll be captivated by the intricate sculptures, thought-provoking paintings, and even some unexpected installations that challenge the norms of traditional art.

But the museum isn’t just about what’s hanging on the walls. The architecture of the building is a masterpiece in itself, blending seamlessly with the surrounding desert landscape. And let’s not forget the Annenberg Theater, where you can catch live performances that are nothing short of mesmerizing.

What are the best places to go in Palm Springs for a date night? The museum often hosts evening events, complete with wine and hors d’oeuvres, making it a sophisticated yet relaxed setting for a romantic evening.

If you’re keen to dive into the local art scene or just escape the desert heat for a few hours, a visit to this museum is among the unique things to do in Palm Springs, California.

Palm Springs Art Museum is a downtown sanctuary for art and culture enthusiasts.
Palm Springs Art Museum is a downtown sanctuary for art and culture enthusiasts.

6. Sunnylands Center & Gardens

Sunnylands Center & Gardens, a place that’s as radiant as its name suggests. This estate is a hub for international leaders and a sanctuary for those in search of serenity.

You’re probably wondering, what makes Sunnylands one of the coolest activities in Palm Springs? Well, for starters, the architecture is marvelous. Mid-century modern design meets desert chic, creating an atmosphere that’s both elegant and inviting.

But let’s talk about gardens. Imagine strolling through nine acres of arid beauty, where cacti and succulents reign supreme. It’s not just a walk; it’s an experience. The gardens are designed to be a living work of art, and they succeed spectacularly.

And if you’re a fan of bird-watching, you’re in luck. Sunnylands is a certified bird sanctuary. From hummingbirds to hawks, the variety is astonishing.

For those who love history, the estate offers guided tours that delve into the Annenbergs’ legacy and their role in global diplomacy. It’s a must-see in Palm Springs for anyone interested in the intersection of history, art, and nature.

Sunnylands Center & Gardens is both a radiant estate and a sanctuary for serenity.
Sunnylands Center & Gardens is both a radiant estate and a sanctuary for serenity.

7. The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

Ready for an adventure that’s not your typical day at the zoo? Exploring the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is one of Palm Springs things to do if you’re keen on exploring the fascinating world of desert flora and fauna.

This isn’t just a zoo; it’s an ecological marvel. Visualize yourself walking through North American and African deserts, all without leaving California. From the majestic mountain lions to the quirky roadrunners, the animal encounters here are nothing short of extraordinary.

But hold on, we’re not just talking about animals. The gardens are a spectacle in their own right. Bursting with desert blooms and intricate cacti formations, it’s a botanist’s dream come true.

Ever thought about feeding a giraffe? Here, you can! It’s one of those Palm Springs attractions that lets you get up close and personal with some truly rare creatures.

And if you’re traveling with kids, they’ll love the model train exhibit, which is one of the largest in the world. It’s a delightful detour that adds a touch of whimsy to your visit.

Whether you’re an animal lover, a plant enthusiast, or simply someone looking for an exceptional experience, The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is a must-see.

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens offers a glimpse into the captivating world of desert flora and fauna.
The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens offers a glimpse into the captivating world of desert flora and fauna.

8. Palm Springs Air Museum

You’re in Palm Springs, and you’re wondering what to do that’s a bit off the beaten path. Well, how about a trip through aviation history? The Palm Springs Air Museum is not just another museum; it’s an experience that takes you back in time.

Imagine walking among vintage aircraft, each with its own story to tell. From World War II bombers to modern-day jets, the collection here is awe-inspiring. You can even climb into some of the cockpits, giving you a pilot’s-eye view of history.

But the museum offers more than just static displays. They have docents who are often veterans themselves, eager to share their firsthand experiences. It’s a living history lesson that you won’t find in any textbook.

And don’t miss the flight simulator! It’s as close as you’ll get to flying one of these historic planes without actually leaving the ground. It’s one of the fun activities in Palm Springs, especially for those who’ve always dreamed of taking to the skies.

For the history enthusiasts, the library is a treasure trove of archival footage, photographs, and documents. It’s a deep dive into the past that’s both educational and utterly fascinating.

Looking to elevate your Palm Springs trip? The Air Museum is a must-see. It’s not just a place to visit; it’s a journey through time. Is this among the top things to do in Palm Spring, CA? You bet!

The Palm Springs Air Museum offers an offbeat Palm Springs experience, immersing you in aviation history.
The Palm Springs Air Museum offers an offbeat Palm Springs experience, immersing you in aviation history.

9. Palm Canyon Drive

Ah, Palm Canyon Drive! This bustling street is the epitome of Palm Springs charm. See yourself strolling down the palm-lined avenue, each step taking you closer to a new discovery. From chic boutiques to art galleries that make you stop and stare, this is where Palm Springs comes alive.

You might be wondering, what makes this place so special? Well, it’s not just a street; it’s the city’s beating heart. Here, you’ll find a blend of the old and the new, the glamorous and the quirky. Mid-century modern architecture stands proudly next to Spanish Revival designs, creating a unique aesthetic that’s quintessentially Palm Springs, California.

Let’s talk about food, shall we? The culinary scene on Palm Canyon Drive is nothing short of spectacular. Whether you’re craving gourmet tacos or a classic American burger, your taste buds are in for a treat. And let’s not forget the cocktail bars! If you’re a fan of mixology, this is your paradise.

Thinking of the best things to do in Palm Springs? Search no more. Whether you’re shopping for vintage treasures or soaking up the local culture, Palm Canyon Drive offers something for everyone. And as the sun sets, the street transforms into a vibrant hub of nightlife, complete with live music and dancing.

When compiling a list of Palm Springs places to visit, make sure Palm Canyon Drive is right at the top. It’s not just a destination; it’s an experience you won’t want to miss.

Palm Canyon Drive: Where Palm Springs comes alive with charm, boutiques, and art galleries.
Palm Canyon Drive: Where Palm Springs comes alive with charm, boutiques, and art galleries.

10. Coachella Valley Preserve

A world where the desert landscape is punctuated by lush palm oases and tranquil ponds. Welcome to the Coachella Valley Preserve, a sanctuary that defies the arid stereotypes of desert life.

You’ll be greeted by towering palm trees that seem to touch the sky, their fronds whispering secrets of the desert. Wander along the well-marked trails, and you might just stumble upon a hidden pond, its surface mirroring the azure sky. It’s a hiker’s dream and a photographer’s paradise rolled into one.

The preserve is also home to the endangered Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard. Keep your eyes peeled, and you might spot this elusive creature darting between the sands.

Curious about the cool destinations in Palm Springs if you’re a nature lover? This is it. The Coachella Valley Preserve offers guided hikes, bird-watching opportunities, and even horseback riding for those looking to explore the desert in style.

As you leave, the sun dipping below the horizon paints the sky in shades of orange and pink, a fitting farewell from this desert haven. Trust me, a visit to the Coachella Valley Preserve is not just a detour; it’s a journey into the soul of the desert.

Coachella Valley Preserve defies desert stereotypes with lush palm oases and tranquil ponds in its unique sanctuary.
Coachella Valley Preserve defies desert stereotypes with lush palm oases and tranquil ponds in its unique sanctuary.

11. The Saguaro Palm Springs

You’ve seen the desert, you’ve hiked the trails, but have you experienced the vibrant soul of Palm Springs? Say hello to The Saguaro Palm Springs, a hotel that’s as colorful as the city’s eclectic spirit.

From the moment you walk in, you’re greeted by a kaleidoscope of colors that instantly lifts your mood. Each room is painted a different hue, reflecting the rainbow of desert flowers. But it’s not just about the aesthetics. The Saguaro offers a range of activities that make it one of the coolest things to do in Palm Springs, California.

Fancy a poolside yoga session to start your day? They’ve got you covered. How about a mixology class where you can craft your own desert-inspired cocktails? Sign me up! And let’s not forget the curated events, from live music to art shows, that bring the local culture right to your doorstep.

Planning where to go in Palm Springs for a taste of its vibrant culture and a splash of color? The Saguaro Palm Springs is your answer. It’s more than a hotel; it’s a lifestyle. And it’s waiting for you to dive in.

The Saguaro Palm Springs is one of the amazing things to do in Palm Springs, California.
The Saguaro Palm Springs: A colorful hotel that embodies Palm Springs’ eclectic spirit.

12. Agua Caliente Casino

Ready to roll the dice on a night of glamour? Agua Caliente Casino is your go-to spot for a dash of elegance in the heart of the desert. Forget what you thought you knew about casinos; this place redefines the experience, making it a must-see in Palm Springs, California.

Picture this: You walk into a grand foyer, where sparkling chandeliers hang from the ceiling, and the air is tinged with the scent of luxury. You’re not just in any casino; you’re in a world where sophistication meets excitement. From high-stakes poker games to an array of slot machines that would make Vegas blush, Agua Caliente offers a gaming experience like no other.

But it’s not all about the gamble. The venue also boasts a state-of-the-art theater that hosts concerts, comedy shows, and more. Hungry? Choose from a variety of dining options that cater to every palate, from fine dining to casual eateries.

Agua Caliente Casino is a destination where every moment is a winning experience.

Agua Caliente Casino: Redefining elegance and entertainment in the heart of the desert.
Agua Caliente Casino: Redefining elegance and entertainment in the heart of the desert.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the Amazing Things to Do in Palm Springs

Looking for more content on the top things to do in Palm Springs? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to Palm Springs:

What’s the best time to visit Palm Springs?

While Palm Springs is a year-round destination, the most pleasant weather can be found from January to April. However, if you’re a fan of scorching heat and smaller crowds, the summer months are for you.

Is there much to do in Palm Springs?

Absolutely! Palm Springs, located in the Sonoran Desert of southern California, offers a mix of natural beauty, cultural attractions, and recreational activities. Here’s a list of things to do in Palm Springs:

  1. Aerial Tramway: Take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to Mount San Jacinto State Park. It’s the world’s largest rotating tram car, offering breathtaking views of the desert below.
  2. Hiking: Explore the numerous trails in the area, including those in the Indian Canyons and Joshua Tree National Park.
  3. Mid-Century Modern Architecture: Palm Springs is renowned for its mid-century modern architecture. Consider taking an architecture tour or visiting during Modernism Week.
  4. Palm Springs Art Museum: This museum features an impressive collection of art, including works by major American, Native American, and Western American artists.
  5. Spa Day: Given its name, it’s no surprise that Palm Springs has numerous spas. Enjoy a day of relaxation and pampering.
  6. Golf: Palm Springs is a golfer’s paradise with numerous beautifully designed golf courses.
  7. Shopping: Downtown Palm Springs offers a variety of shops, from high-end boutiques to vintage stores.
  8. Dining: Enjoy the diverse culinary scene, from upscale restaurants to casual eateries.
  9. VillageFest: Every Thursday night, downtown Palm Springs transforms into a lively street fair featuring arts, crafts, food, and entertainment.

Is Palm Springs family-friendly?

Yes, Palm Springs is family-friendly, offering a variety of attractions and activities suitable for all ages. Families can enjoy outdoor adventures, visit family-oriented museums, and explore the natural beauty of the desert while also finding kid-friendly dining options and accommodations.

How do I get around Palm Springs?

Getting around Palm Springs is easy with several transportation options. You can rent a car for flexibility, use rideshare services, take advantage of the local SunLine Transit buses, or explore the downtown area on foot. Biking and golf carts are also popular for short trips within the city.

Are there any must-see events in Palm Springs?

Yes, Palm Springs hosts several must-see events throughout the year. The Palm Springs International Film Festival, Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, and Modernism Week are some highlights. These events offer diverse entertainment, culture, and art experiences that draw visitors from around the world.

Cacti in Indian Canyons, Palm Springs, California: Desert flora in a tranquil oasis.
Cacti in Indian Canyons, Palm Springs, California: Desert flora in a tranquil oasis.

What are some unique things to do in Palm Springs?

Explore Palm Springs’ unique attractions like the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, which offers stunning views from Mount San Jacinto. Visit the Moorten Botanical Garden, showcasing desert flora. Tour Elvis Presley’s former home, Graceland West. Experience mid-century modern architecture on a guided tour or visit the Palm Springs Art Museum.

What is Palm Springs best known for?

Palm Springs is best known for its luxurious resorts, mid-century modern architecture, and stunning desert landscapes. A popular getaway for Hollywood celebrities, it offers a mix of outdoor activities, cultural attractions, and vibrant nightlife. The city is also famous for hosting the annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

How do you spend a day in Palm Springs?

Spending a day in Palm Springs can be a delightful experience, given its mix of natural beauty, cultural attractions, and recreational activities. Here’s a suggested itinerary for a day in Palm Springs:

Morning:

  1. Breakfast:
    • Start your day at one of Palm Springs’ popular eateries. Consider Cheeky’s or Wilma & Frieda’s for a hearty meal.
  2. Palm Springs Aerial Tramway:
    • Head to the tramway early to beat the crowds. The rotating tram car offers breathtaking views as it takes you up to Mount San Jacinto State Park. Enjoy a short hike or the cooler mountain air at the top.

Lunch:

  1. Dine Downtown:
    • Enjoy lunch at a downtown restaurant. Lulu California Bistro and Trio are local favorites.

Afternoon:

  1. Visit a Museum:
    • Depending on your interests, opt for the Palm Springs Art Museum or the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum.
  2. Relax by the Pool:
    • If you’re staying at a local hotel or resort, lounge by the pool and soak up the sun.

Late Afternoon:

  1. Indian Canyons:
    • Explore the Indian Canyons, especially the Palm Canyon, home to the world’s largest California Fan Palm oasis.

Evening:

  1. Dinner:
    • Dine at one of Palm Springs’ renowned restaurants. Copley’s or Workshop Kitchen + Bar offer delightful culinary experiences.
  2. Stroll at VillageFest (if visiting on a Thursday):
    • Experience VillageFest as downtown transforms into a lively street fair with arts, crafts, food, and entertainment.

Is Palm Springs worth visiting?

Absolutely, Palm Springs is a must-visit! It’s a desert oasis that offers something for everyone, from its iconic mid-century modern architecture to its stunning natural landscapes. Whether you’re into hiking, art, or just lounging by a chic pool, Palm Springs delivers an unforgettable experience.

Final Thoughts on Visiting Palm Springs

So there you have it, wanderlusters! A comprehensive guide to the Palm Springs attractions that will make your trip unforgettable. Whether you’re into the great outdoors, looking to soak up some culture, or simply want to unwind in style, this desert oasis has got you covered. Trust me, once you’ve had a taste of Palm Springs, you’ll be planning your next trip before you’ve even left. So pack those bags, grab your shades, and get ready to experience the magic that is Palm Springs. See you in the desert!

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