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30 Things to Do in Palm Springs, California

May 22, 2018

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Things to Do in Palm Springs

Palm Springs has no shortage of things to do for all ages and interests. It is a hotspot for weekend getaways, spring break, and can even lure people in to stick around all winter long. With so much to see and do, I always recommend people visit Palm Springs more than once as it can be a new experience every time.

Below I have rounded up 30 Things to do in Palm Springs, California. Most of them are tailored for adults, but most can be enjoyed by the whole family as well!

Moorten Botanical Gardens

Chances are if you’re on instagram, you’ve seen Moorten Botanical Gardens. This historic landmark opened in 1938, and houses more than 100 varieties of cacti. A must see in Palm Springs!

Cabazon – Dinasours and Desert springs Outlet mall

Head about 25 minutes outside of Downtown Palm Springs to the famous Cabazon and Desert Springs Outlets. Take some pictures with the dinosaurs (and if you’re with kiddos, head inside for cute giftshops!). Stop at In-N-Out or Hadley’s for a date shake post shop.

Windmills (Windmills tour)

Thousands of windmills dot the desert as you make your way into Greater Palm Springs. While you can admire them from a far as you enter the city, there are tours that dive deeper into the purpose they serve for communities all over the world. If you’d rather take pictures only, drive to Palm Springs Station Road and you can find some great photo spots. Golden hour is the best time for photos here!

ARRIVE Pool

Arrive Pool Palm Springs

With Bocce, Ping Pong, a killer restaurant (Reservoir and Draughtsman both on the property), an Ice Cream Shoppe, and delicious poolside cocktails, it’s easy to spend a sunny afternoon here in Palm Springs!

Eldorado Polo Club

Spend a Saturday or Sunday sipping Champagne in the sun and watching polo for a unique experience in the desert! Head to the Tack Room afterwards for some drinks and snacks!

Nordstrom Rack & The River Rancho Mirage

I had to put Nordstrom Rack on the list because I never leave Palm Springs without a trip there! I’m not much of a shopper, so this one-stop shop with great prices on designer brands is right up my alley. It’s also not as picked over as the other Nordstrom Rack’s I’ve been to. It’s right next door to Whole Foods and just down the street from The River, a giant complex complete with movie theatre, Forever21 and boutique shops and a ton of restaurants. Work up an appetite shopping and then head over to The River for happy hour.

El Paseo Drive- Happy Hour, Spa’s, Shopping, People watching

I love spending the day on El Paseo. You can start by doing some shopping as you wander down the outdoor promenade. From there, visit one of my favourite restaurants: Pacifica (seafood), Mamma Gina’s (Italian), Tommy Bahama’s (great happy hour and grapefruit basil martini’s) or Venue Sushi.

Lay by the pool

It wouldn’t be a blog post about what to do in Palm Springs without some poolside action would it?! Spend the day at your hotel/Airbnb pool, or hop around to some of Palm Springs best hotel pools like ARRIVE, Saguaro and ACE hotel.

Golf

Again, when it comes to things to do in Palm Springs, golf is easily in the top 1%. It’s a golfers nirvana. Visit Golfnow.com for tee times and course ideas!

Joshua Tree National Park

Women walking in desert

It took me 28 years to visit Joshua Tree National Park, and I can’t believe I missed out on this gem given I used to live in Palm Springs! The park offers hiking, climbing, walking trails, and beautiful campgrounds set amongst the rocks. Don’t leave without a visit to Pappy and Harriot’s and Pioneer Town!

Salvation Mountain

Another great road trip from Palm Springs is to Salvation Mountain, a man made art installation that took 28 years and 500,000 gallons of paint to build. Chances are you’ve seen the rainbow coloured hillside splashed over social media. Head there at sunset for some pretty photos!

Melvyn’s

What can I say about Melvyn’s? It is a must visit while in Palm Springs! Melvyn’s is a bar and restaurant in Ingleside Inn, one of the best hotels in Palm Springs. Head there on a Sunday around 3pm, or after dinner for some drinks and live music. If it’s good enough for Frank Sinatra, it’s good enough for just about anyone! Some of the best cocktails and people watching around!

The Living Desert

Normally I would never promote a visit to a Zoo as I don’t believe in animals in captivity. However, the Living Desert is a not-for-profit organization committed to preserving the desert, educating visitors through exhibits and programs and aims to bring awareness to the threats of our eco-systems, including extinction and animal protection. It’s a great, family friendly experience and one of the most popular things to see in Palm Springs.

Spa

Palm Springs is a very popular destination to relax and unwind. There is no shortage of opportunities to do so at some of the state of the art spa facilities. A few of my favourites include:

  • Spa La Quinta at the La Quinta Resort (Make sure you have dinner at Adobe Mexican Restaurant afterwards!)
  • Yacht Club at The Parker
  • JW Marriott in Palm Desert

Cooking Class at Copley’s

Copley’s is one of the most popular restaurants in Palm Springs. The courtyard is situated under the mountains, making it one of the best places to eat dinner for the views alone! I didn’t find out until recently that they offer cooking classes! This would be such a fun activity to do late afternoon as the sun sets.

Ace Pool Party – King’s Highway

Pool Party for Palm Springs Bachelorette

King’s Highway, once a Denny’s, is one of the most popular restaurants in Palm Springs. Go there for lunch and then grab a margarita or drink at the Amigo Room. Take it outside and sip it on the patio overlooking the pool.

Shopping on Palm Canyon Drive & People watch at Lulu’s

You can’t visit Palm Springs without walking the strip downtown and doing a little shopping. Afterwards, pop into Lulu for a bite! Lulu’s is a staple in Downtown Palm Springs, famous for their all day happy hour in the bar. I personally prefer to sit on the patio and people watch. It’s one of the best spots to do so in the city!

Tennis

While golf is the city’s bread and butter, many flock to Palm Springs for the plethora of tennis courts! With a climate like Palm Springs, it’s easy to see why all these outdoor activities are so popular. Grab a racket and some lemon water and work on your game. If you’re serious, book a lesson! Many seasoned tennis players reside in the area.

Concert

Google “Palm Springs Concerts” to see if any acts are in town during your stay. The casinos, special events and festivals usually draw quite a few artists throughout the year!

Casino

Speaking of casinos, there are some fantastic casinos in Palm Springs. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa and Spa Resort Casino are a few favourites.

 Shields Date Farm

Come for the date shakes, stay to explore the beautiful grounds and onsite restaurant!

Overnight trip to LA for sport/concert/beach

Palm Springs is a quick 2 hour drive to San Diego and Los Angeles. If you’re craving cooler weather and the beach, consider driving over for a night! I do this all the time for sporting events. I don’t usually stay overnight, but there are some great hotels and Airbnbs on the water! This is a great way to break up your trip if you are spending more than a week in Palm Springs!

Palm Springs Art Museum

The art scene in Palm Springs is incredible. There are two art museums, one downtown and one in Palm Desert. Check out the website for featured artists 

Tour the Albert Frey House

Modern Tours offer exclusive tours of homes built by famous architects like Albert Frey, Donald Wexler and E. Stewart Williams. The homes were once owned by celebrities like Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley and Elizabeth Taylor. If you are visiting Palm Springs in February, I highly recommend buying tickets to  Modernism Week. It’s the perfect chance to explore these homes!

Door Tour

Palm Springs Door Tour

Downtown Palm Springs has some of the best mid-century modern architecture in the world. Those easter egg coloured doors have become synonymous with Palm Springs.

Some great streets for doors are Alhambra, Yosemite, East Sierra Way and Murray Canyons Drive in Palm Springs.

Sunnylands

Ambassadors Walter and Leonore Annenberg lived in this 200-acre estate in Rancho Mirage for more than 40 years. During their time there, they welcomed renowned politicians, celebrities and royalty. The grounds are still used for confidential presidential meetings every so often, but it is also open to the public! Spend the afternoon touring around the property snapping photos.

Aerial Tram

I’ll be honest, I’ve been going to Palm Springs for 28 years and I’ve only been up the tram once. I definitely want to revisit as so many people ask me about it. It is no doubt one of Palm Springs biggest tourist attractions and offers incredible views, access to hikes and a restaurant overlooking all of Greater Palm Springs. Pack warm clothing though! It is at least 20 degrees cooler up there.

Vintage Shopping

With some of the best vintage shopping in the country, it would be rude not to visit a few boutiques in the area! The Frippery and Fine Art of Design are the most popular thrift stores in Palm Springs.

Coachella Valley Preserve or Indian Canyons/Taquitz Canyon

Hiking Indian Canyons Palm Springs

Palm Springs has some incredible hiking considering it’s a desert! Check out any of these three areas for great trails for any fitness level! Make sure you bring lots of water and your wallet, as Taquitz Canyon and Indian Canyons charge an entrance fee (Coachella Valley Preserve is by donation).

Village Fest – Thursdays

Every Thursday, the streets of Downtown Palm Springs shut down and vendors set up shop selling food, jewelry, home decor, craft items and more. It’s fun to stroll down checking out all the offerings before ducking into one of the many restaurants on North Palm Canyon Drive.

A visit to Idyllwild is a great way to escape the heat and spend the day exploring this vast pine forest haven.  There are plenty of hiking trails and the town offers shopping and a great art and music scene. Idyllwild is 45 minutes from Palm Springs.

Big League Dreams

Always wanted to make it to the big leagues but didn’t have the skills to get that fat contract? Well, there’s still hope! With replicas of Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium and Wrigley Field, you can finally make your big league dreams come true. Drop-in, explore the parks and try out the batting cages.

Century La Quinta and XD followed by In-N-Out (across the parking lot)

The ultimate movie theatre experience. With luxury loungers that recline, cold beer and wine, quality picture and sound, it’s the best of both worlds! Don’t eat too much popcorn so you can walk across the parking lot to In-N-Out for an animal style grilled cheese and lemonade.

I hope this gave you some ideas for Things to Do in Palm Springs for your next visit to the desert! As you can see, there is more to this sunny destination than golf, poolside hangs and happy hour (although I have to say, that’s not a bad way to spend a week!). As always, please feel free to comment below with any questions. Enjoy your trip to my home away from home!

Palm Springs Itinerary

 

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