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 Dinosaurs and Desert Hills Premium 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 gift shops.
Afterward, explore the plethora of outlet stores including Nike, Adidas, Saks Off 5th, All Saints, 7 for All Mankind, Alexander McQueen, Hugo Boss, Chloé, Prada, Bose and more. Stop at In-N-Out or Hadley’s for a date shake on the way home.
Windmills (Windmills tour)
Thousands of windmills dot the desert as you make your way into Greater Palm Springs. While you can admire them from afar 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!
With Bocce, Ping Pong, trendy restaurants (Wexler’s Deli (formerly Reservoir) and Draughtsman both on the property), an Ice Cream Shop(pe), and delicious poolside cocktails, it’s easy to spend a sunny afternoon here in Palm Springs! They value community so you don’t need to be a guest to enjoy the pool and atmosphere.
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 afterward for some drinks and snacks!
The River Rancho Mirage
A giant shopping complex complete with movie theatre, Forever21, boutique shops and a ton of family-friendly restaurants like Cheesecake Factory and YardHouse.
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 favorite 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.
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
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 Pioneertown!
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-colored hillside splashed over social media. Head there at sunset for some pretty photos!
What can I say about Melvyns’? 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 was good enough for Frank Sinatra, it’s good enough for just about anyone! Some of the best (and strongest) 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.
Palm Springs is a very popular destination to relax and unwind. There is nothing like a massage or facial after a day in the sun. A few of my favorites include:
- Spa La Quinta at the La Quinta Resort (Make sure you have dinner at Adobe Mexican Restaurant afterward!)
- Yacht Club at The Parker
- JW Marriott in Palm Desert
- Sands Hotel and Spa
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 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.
Ace Pool Party – King’s Highway
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. Afterward, pop into Lulu for a bite! Lulu California Bistro 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!
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.
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!
Speaking of casinos, there are some fantastic casinos in Palm Springs. Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa and Spa Resort Casino are a few favorites.
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, 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!
Downtown Palm Springs has some of the best mid-century modern architecture in the world. Those easter egg colored 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.
Palm Springs Architecture Tour by the Palm Springs Historical Society
Take a guided walking tour hosted by the Palm Springs Historical Society. These tours are approximately 1.5 hours long and take you through some of the most iconic spots in town. Pick a tour based on your interests. There are tours of Hollywood Homes, Albert Frey Designs or walks showcasing pivotal moments in Palm Springs history.
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. If you want to tour the Annenberg Estate, you need to buy tickets a few weeks in advance.
If you’ve ever wanted to do a paint night, where you get a step by step guide on how to paint a specific setting (with wine!), Palm Springs has a Pinot’s Palette. Bring your friends and check out the schedule here.
Two Bunch Palms Hot Springs
Spend the afternoon at the world-renowned mineral-rich hot springs. Spend the night or simply purchase a spa package, giving you a full day at the hot springs, complimentary entree at their on-site restaurant, and access to their movement and enrichment classes. With the installation of the solar field, they became the first carbon-neutral resort in America.
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.
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/Tahquitz Canyon
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 Tahquitz 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.
Palm Springs Air Museum
Ranked #1 Air Museum in California and amongst the top 14 in the world, Palm Springs Air Museum offers onlookers a glimpse into the role Air Power played in America’s history. Planes that flew in World War Two, Korea and the Vietnam War are on display, most of which are still in flyable condition. The space is beautiful and often rented out for events. If you visit in November, make sure you check out the Palm Springs Props and Hops Craft Beer Festival!
PGA West Golf Academy
The ultimate golf experience! If you’re tired of yelling FORE after you slice one to the right into someone’s condo (what, me?..never), this is the answer! The lesson includes a custom club fitting, state of the art video analysis, launch monitor systems, as well as on-course instruction. They also offer weekend packages if you want to take it to the next level!
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!