With a name as dreamy as Palm Springs, it’s no surprise that there are lots of things to do in this California city. It’s located in the Sonoran Desert in Southern California, so if you’re looking for a hot getaway, this is the destination for you.
Shorts and sundresses are the perfect outfits for this vacation. And you can expect to spend lots of time out in the sun too, unless you choose indoor air-conditioned events.
So, here are 12 fun things to do in Palm Springs that will leave you wanting more.
#1 – Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
If you’re looking for the most incredible views that Palm Springs has to offer, check out the Aerial Tramway. The tramway goes between the peaks of the San Jacinto Mountains, 10,000 feet above the desert below. At the higher end, you can cross-country ski, hike, or snowshoe before taking the tram back. The ride is less than 10 minutes, but it’s a must-see in Palm Springs. Yet, if heights make you queasy, you might want to reconsider.
#2 – Coachella Valley Preserve
The Coachella Valley Preserve is another one of the best things to do in Palm Springs if you’re looking for outdoor adventures. It’s a protected outdoor space that takes up 13,000 acres, so there’s lots to explore. It’s mostly a desert space, with miles of hiking trails. While hiking, you’ll come across woodlands, wetlands, and possibly even rare wildlife. There is a visitor center for additional information, and guided tours are offered occasionally. Just be sure to bring a map and sunscreen to keep yourself safe!
#3 – Palm Springs Art Museum
The Palm Springs Art Museum has an impressive art collection that first opened in 1938. It’s smaller than you’d expect, but it still holds pieces from many big names like Andy Warhol and Marc Chagall. It’s best known for its contemporary art, with a variety of photographs, glass artwork, paintings, and sculptures. If you love seeing new art pieces, then this is a great attraction to get away from the heat for a while.
#4 – Palm Springs Air Museum
The Palm Springs Air Museum is likely to draw in a different audience than the art museum, but it’s still an exciting experience. This museum showcases a wide variety of military aircraft, which you can get up close to. Many of these planes are still capable of flying. It even has a kid area, where younger audiences can sit in the cockpit and learn about how planes fly. If you go on a guided tour, it’s likely that a veteran will be the person showing you around.
#5 – Indian Canyons
The Indian Canyons is a protected nature sanctuary that you can explore. It’s home to three canyon environments: Palm Canyon, Murray Canyon, and Andreas Canyon. It has miles of hiking trails with lots of amazing desert scenery. Exploring this space not only gives you impressive views, but it’s also a great way to learn about Native American culture. Nearby, there are places to purchase authentic Native American items, areas to go horseback riding, and even golf courses.
#6 – Palm Canyon Drive
While admiring the Indian Canyons, you should also stop by the nearby Palm Canyon Drive. It’s one of the most fun things to do in Palm Springs because it allows you to take a break from nature and do some shopping instead. Along this street, you’ll find lots of shops, restaurants, museums, theaters, and so much more. You’ll definitely want to get out of your car and walk around because there’s so much to see!
#7 – The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
This attraction began as an idea to preserve some desert space, but now, it’s known as a famous zoo! It’s not a huge zoo, but it has many amazing animals from North America and Africa. Some animals you’ll see are camels, wolves, mountain lions, giraffes, zebras, hyenas, and more. In addition to the animals, it’s also home to over 1,400 plant species, such as cacti and agave. It’s an exciting adventure, but it’s best if you arrive early in the morning since the park doesn’t offer a lot of shade.
#8 – VillageFest
If you visit at the right time, you can catch the exciting VillageFest on Palm Canyon Drive. VillageFest is a celebration that occurs every Thursday. The city blocks off a portion of the road so vendors can set up booths along the street. You’ll find lots of interesting trinkets for sale, including jewelry, art, snacks, and more. There’s often lots of live entertainment too, so even if you don’t plan on buying anything, it’s an exciting area to explore.
#9 – Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is a desert oasis less than an hour away from Palm Springs. It has hiking trails and even campgrounds for overnight camping trips. Many visitors also have picnics, look for wildlife, or go rock climbing. Like any desert, it’s hot with many unique plants, and you’ll even find a cacti garden. Even if you’re just driving through, it’s a good idea to bring lots of water and sunscreen since it’s as sweltering as it sounds.
#10 – Moorten Botanical Garden
This attraction isn’t your typical botanical garden. Like many of the other attractions, you’ll find cacti and other desert plants rather than your traditional flowers. It has lots to see in a small space with plants from outside of the country. This attraction is open year-round, but during the cooler winter months, you can get a free tour with admission. It even has a botanical nursery, where you can see plants grow and purchase some for yourself.
#11 – Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway
The Alexander Estate, more commonly known as the “Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway,” is an important structure in history. As the nickname implies, it’s where Elvis Presley and his wife Priscilla had their honeymoon and spent a few years. It was first the home to 1960s socialites Robert and Helene Alexander, but they leased it to the celebrity. Today, fans love touring the estate for its history and unique architecture. It’s especially exciting if you’re an Elvis fan.
#12 – RoboLights
RoboLights is by far one of the most unique things to do in Palm Springs. It has a collection of quirky sculptures made from a variety of unconventional mediums. The sculptures are the most exciting around the holiday season, when they’re lit up with Christmas lights. The sculptures were created by artist Kenny Irwin and they have lived on year after year. It’s the type of attraction that’s hard to explain, so you’ll just have to see it for yourself!
Are you ready for a warm, sunny getaway? If so, you should check out these 12 exciting things to do in Palm Springs! Whether you’re looking to soak up the sun or spend the day inside, there are plenty of activities to try. So, it’s a trip you’re sure to reminisce about for years to come.