27 Best Things to Do in Palm Springs, CA

 Palm Springs is a fantastic destination in California, that can be enjoyed any time of the year – winter included. This is a city that made a name for itself while sitting in the middle of the desert. While it plays host to festivals like Coachella, it really has the appeal to draw tourists during the rest of the year? As part of our series of posts about visiting the Golden State, we offer you this list of things to do in Palm Springs.
27 Best Things to Do in Palm Springs, CAThere are plenty of exciting, entertaining, and even educational things to do in and around Palm Springs. If you used Palm Springs as a home base, you could travel to places like La Quinta and El Paseo to explore all of the wonders of the California desert, including:
  1. Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
  2. The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
  3. Palm Desert Visitor Center
  4. Palm Canyon Drive
  5. Old Town La Quinta
  6. El Paseo Shopping District
  7. Las Palmas
  8. Palm Springs Air Museum
  9. Palm Springs Art Museum
  10. Coachella Valley History Museum
  11. Cabot’s Pueblo Museum
  12. Children’s Discovery Museum
  13. Sunnylands Center & Gardens
  14. Moorten Botanical Garden
  15. Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway
  16. Frank Sinatra’s Grave
  17. Patriot Park
  18. Painted Canyon
  19. Indian Canyons
  20. Palm Canyon
  21. Lake Cahuilla Recreation Area
  22. Coachella Valley Preserve
  23. Tahquitz Canyon
  24. Mission Creek Preserve
  25. Coachella Valley Vista Point
  26. Shields Date Garden
  27. Ruddy’s General Store Museum
In this post, I will show you 27 different things you could do in and around Palm Springs. Whether you manage to visit all of these spots or just a few, you’ll be adding exciting diversity to your vacation.

Why You Should Visit Palm Springs

Coachella is known to be a desert resort in California, a shining jewel in the midst of the dryer regions of the state. Home to a total of 44,000 residents, the population explodes with the arrival of festival season. Whether you’re in the area for Coachella or just passing through on vacation, though, you’ll be able to enjoy visiting a litany of shopping centers, natural resorts, and tastes of Palm Springs’ foundational past.

27 Best Things To Do In Palm Springs, CA

So, here’s your list of 27 different and exciting things for you to do in and around Palm Springs. While Palm Springs itself is a pretty entertaining place, you can trek one or two hours out of town to really explore the beauty of the California desert.

Do be aware that, if you’re traveling long-distance to Palm Springs (either from overseas or another state), you’ll need a car to comfortably move from place to place.  You’ll be able to enjoy personal tours at a number of the following locations, but it’s a matter of getting to them, first!

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Palm Springs Tramway

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is the world’s largest rotating tramcar. There’s no better way to travel if you want to get a look at Chino Canyon. This two and a half mile trip takes travelers across the Canyon’s cliffs and into a corner of Mt. San Jacinto State Park. You’ll also have the opportunity to eat dinner at the top of the cliffs for an additional ticket charge.

If you’re looking for aerial adventure in Palm Springs, this is the place to find it. Hours vary based on the season and day of the week. Prices for the ride only, however, remain consistent throughout the year:

  • Adults: $24.95
  • Children (3-10): $16.95
  • Seniors (65+): $24.95

You can learn more about this Palm Springs hotspot on its website.

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

Want to walk on the wild side? The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens of Palm Springs actively protects the habitats of some of the location’s native plant and animal life. It has been in place for the past fifty years and currently stands as an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Whether you’re looking to entertain your kids or want to see what the wildlife in Palm Springs looks like, it’s worth the visit.

Hours vary based on the day and season. Ticket prices remain consistent year-round:

  • General Admission: $24.95
  • Seniors (62+): $22.95
  • Children (3-12): $14.95
  • Children (>3): Free

You can learn more about this Palm Springs hotspot on its website.

Palm Desert Visitor Center

If you start your trip through Palm Springs in the downtown area, you’ll want the Palm Desert Visitor Center to be among your first stops. There’s no better place in Palm Springs for information about the city’s many sites and activities. You’ll be able to take as many guides as you need from the visitor’s center free of charge.

The Palm Desert Visitor Center is open from 8am-5pm every day of the week. You can learn more about this Palm Springs hotspot on its website.

Palm Canyon Drive

Palm Canyon Drive at sunset in Palm Springs, California
Palm Canyon Drive at sunset in Palm Springs, California | Photo by Visitor7

You can readily move from the Palm Desert Visitor Center to the city’s shopping center. Palm Canyon Drive is the main street of Palm Spring’s, and it’s filled to the brim with shops, art galleries, and restaurants for you to enjoy. Whether you’re looking to enjoy a night out on the town or to get breakfast before heading into the desert wilderness, Palm Canyon Drive will greet you with a friendly atmosphere.

Palm Canyon Drive
Palm Canyon Drive | Photo by joenevill

Each shop, restaurant, and gallery on the strip has its own hours, so do your research ahead of time if you think you’ll be visiting outside of standard operating hours. You can learn more about this Palm Springs hotspot on its website.

Old Town La Quinta

If you’re looking for a quainter shopping experience than the one Palm Canyon Drive offers, you’ll want to head out to the base of the Santa Rosa Mountains. Here you’ll find Old Town La Quinta. Old Town La Quinta houses over 30 shops and restaurants amidst some of the area’s natural landmarks.

Again, each of the shops and restaurants in this strip keeps their own hours, but you’ll be able to enjoy the area whether you’re looking for nightlife fun or a peaceful brunch. You can learn more about this Palm Springs hotspot on its website.

La Quinta Museum

In the midst of the Santa Rosa Mountain Range sits La Quinta Museum, a great stop for history buffs and nature lovers. The museum’s site was once covered by the waters of the Pacific Ocean. Nowadays, it serves as a space to learn about the geological and cultural transformations that shook California to its core.

The museum is open every day except Sunday and Monday from 10 AM to 4 PM. You can learn more about this Palm Springs hotspot on its website.

El Paseo Shopping District

If you’re especially keen on getting your shopping in, why not change up your view? El Paseo Shopping District was the dream of Cliff Henderson, and it sits in the middle of the desert. It looks like a Hollywood movie set combined with the Los Angeles of old. Head to this shopping district if you like incredible aesthetics, fine dining, and the opportunity to shop ’til you drop.

Like the other shopping centers in this guide, the stores and restaurants in El Paseo Shopping District keep their own hours. You can make the most out of a night in El Paseo, or you can stopover in this desert wonderland for the day. Either way, you’ll be diving into the smart avenue of Cliff Henderson’s dreams.

You can learn more about this Palm Springs hotspot on its website.

Las Palmas

Feel like stalking a few celebrities? Then why not drive through Las Palmas? Las Palmas is a renown celebrity neighborhood that still houses some of America’s 1 percent. You’ll be able to spot Elvis’s own honeymoon home here, a spot which will be mentioned later on this list.

If you’re not looking to commit to tours of celebrity homes but still want to get a glimpse of high life, take a daytime drive or tour through Las Palmas. While the strip doesn’t have any shop-wide operating hours, the tours surrounding it do, so plan ahead and try to remain respectful of the people making a home where Elvis once slept.

Palm Springs Air Museum

Do you have a flyboy on your hands? Then you’ll need to visit the Palm Springs Air Museum. This museum is home to an impressive collection of Korean and Vietnamese aircraft from WWII. Unlike a number of other similar museums, there aren’t barriers keeping visitors away from these crafts. Instead, you and your kids will be able to approach them as you please for a new perspective on the airships of old.

The Palm Springs Air Museum is open every day of the week (except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and February 15th) from 10 AM to 5 PM. Ticket prices range as follows:

  • General Admission (18-65): $17.50
  • Seniors (65+): $15.50
  • Retired Military: $15.50
  • Youth (13-17): $15.50
  • Children (6-12): $10.50

You can learn more about this Palm Springs hotspot on its website.

Palm Springs Art Museum

Cousin to the Palm Springs Air Museum is the Palm Springs Art Museum. While the museum has moved several times since its inception in 1938, it now resides on the corner of Tahquitz-McCallum Way and Indian Avenue. The museum is full to the prim with beautiful exhibits depicting some of Palm Spring’s early architectural features. You’ll also be able to visit two sculpture gardens and a 433-seat theater kept on the museum’s campus.

Hours for the museum vary based on season and the day of the week. Admission for all visitors is free every Thursday and on the second Sunday of every month. You can learn more about this Palm Springs hotspot on its website.

Coachella Valley History Museum

If you’re interested in learning about the birth of Coachella Valley, you’ll want to visit the Coachella Valley History Museum. This museum actively preserves the artifacts that define Coachella Valley’s history. Walk through a replica of a local Blacksmith shop, explore the Memorial Date Garden and el Jardin del Desierto. You’ll also find the oldest tree in Coachella Valley, the Liberty Tree, here.

Hours vary based on the season and day of the week. Prices, however, remain fairly consistent year-round:

  • Adults: $8
  • Seniors (55+): $6
  • Children 18 and Under: Free​

Available discounts include:

  • Free for Active Duty Military with a valid ID
  • Free on the first Sunday of the month
  • Free with NARM member ID

You can learn more about this Palm Springs hotspot on its website.

Cabot’s Pueblo Museum

The Cabot Pueblo Museum was built in 1941 with the intention of being part museum and partially a residence for its titular family. Nowadays, the pueblo stands as one of the only modern representations of Hopi architecture not kept on an active reservation. The Museum stands at four stories tall and has 35 rooms. It is full to the brim with Hopi artifacts and works that Cabot created himself.

You can visit the museum between 9 AM and 1 PM every day of the week save for Sunday and Monday. Admission to the pueblo is free. You can learn more about this Palm Springs hotspot on its website.

Children’s Discovery Museum

The Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert differs from some of the other museums on this list with its child-oriented mindset. The museum prizes the growth of its community almost as much as it prizes its exhibits. Bring your children to this museum, and you’ll have the opportunity to engage in hands-on workshops that allow your kids to explore the exhibits around them. Alternatively, let your kids wander freely, climbing on accessible exhibits at their leisure.

Children's Discovery Museum of San Jose

Hours vary based on the season and day of the week. The cost of entry ranges from:

  • General Admission: $2 with EBT card and ID; $9.95 per person without
  • Active Military: $7.95

You can learn more about this Palm Springs hotspot on its website.

Sunnylands Center & Gardens

The Sunnylands Center opened in 2012 to create success. The Center now serves as a meeting place and entertainment center for international and national leadership. If you’re interested in learning about the various arrangements that have taken place in this building, or if you just want to explore the campus’s beautiful gardens, you can stop by the Center most days of the week. It is free to enter the center, although donations are welcome. Feel free to pursue that natural Palm Springs foliage and the records of the city’s historical significance.

Guest House Sunnylands Center & Gardens, Rancho Mirage
Guest House Sunnylands Center & Gardens, Rancho Mirage | Photo by Steven dosRemedios

Sunnylands Center & Gardens reopens on September 11, 2019, when it will debut its new hours of operation. You can learn more about this Palm Springs hotspot on its website.

Moorten Botanical Garden

If you want to enjoy a collection of cacti and flowers unrivaled across California, head to the Moorten Botanical Garden for the day. The garden is open on a daily basis from 10 AM to 4 PM in the fall, winter, and spring, but it is closed every Wednesday.

Giant Golden Barrel Cacti
Giant Golden Barrel Cacti at the Moorten Botanical Garden | Photo by Megan Hansen

Price for entry ranges between:

  • Adults and Seniors: $5.00
  • Children (5-15): $2.00
  • Children (0-5): Free

You can learn more about this Palm Springs hotspot on its website.

Elvis’s Honeymoon Hideaway

We mentioned Las Palmas earlier on this list, but there’s one residence that stands out among the rest. The Elvis fans who travel to Palm Springs have the opportunity to visit Elvis’s Honeymoon Hideaway. This home held Elvis and Priscilla Presley after their wedding on May 1, 1967.

House of Tomorrow / Elvis Presley Honeymoon Hideaway Palm Springs
House of Tomorrow / Elvis Presley Honeymoon Hideaway | Photo by Gary Bembridge

Known as “The House of Tomorrow,” this estate revels in its Modernism. You can tour through the house for $35 per person. Children under the age of 12 can take a peek around this iconic estate for $15. If you want to make it to one of these tours, make sure you clear your schedule at either 1 PM or 3:30 PM seven days a week.

Frank Sinatra’s Grave

Speaking of the rich and famous: Frank Sinatra isn’t too far away from Elvis’s honeymoon home. If you make your way over to Memorial Park, you can tour the graves of some of the United State’s most memorable celebrities. While Sinatra’s grave is now worn from many visits, you can still make out its epitaph: “The best is yet to come.”

Frank Sinatra's grave at Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City, California
Frank Sinatra’s grave at Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City, California | Photo by IrishFireside

Because Memorial Park is a public cemetery, there is no admissions fee. The cemetery is open from dusk until dawn every day of the week, and maps are available for those folks who want to make a day out of visiting the celebrities of old.

Patriot Park

If you’re feeling patriotic or in Palm Springs about Memorial Day or the Fourth of July, you’ll want to spend some time in Patriot Park. The park’s claim to fame is its numerous flags. These flags light up every night and the park is full of decorations around the major patriotic holidays.

Because this is a public park, it does not cost anything to visit. The park is open from dawn until dusk.

Painted Canyon

Painted Canyon received its name based on its gorgeous, geological coloration. You can hike through this canyon with ease, climbing up and down various ladders to stay on the path. Be warned; there is not a lot of shade on the paths you can hike, and the weather in the canyon is always hot and dry. If you go early in the morning, though, you’ll be able to enjoy Painted Canyon’s stunning appearance without sweating too much.

It’s free to park near Painted Canyon, and you can hike through the area from dusk until dawn. You can learn more about this Palm Springs hotspot on its website.

Indian Canyons

If you’re moving from canyon to canyon and want to take a break, Indian Canyon is an oasis in the desert. This location was once a community center shared by the native Cahuilla. Nowadays, it serves as a recreational center for hikers and horseback riders. There’s a trading post nearby that can direct you onto different trails and that will provide you with water if you didn’t bring it with you. From this stop, hikers and horseback riders can move onto Andreas Canyon, Murray Canyon, or Palm Canyon.

Indian Canyons
Indian Canyons | Photo by Grempz

Costs to enter the canyon vary as follows:

  • Adults: $9.00
  • Seniors (62+): $7.00
  • Students (with ID): $7.00
  • Children (6-12): $5.00

The canyon is open from 10 AM to 5 PM. Do bring money with you, though, if you want to buy anything from the trading post. You can learn more about this Palm Springs hotspot on its website.

Palm Canyon

Speaking of Palm Canyon: this isolated canyon will introduce you to the true beauty of Palm Springs. The canyon is fifteen miles long and houses the largest palm trees in California, the California Palms. You can walk alongside these majestic beauties for miles, as there are 3,000 in total in the area.

Palm Canyon
Palm Canyon | Photo by Roman Boed

Costs to enter the canyon vary as follows:

  • Adults: $9.00
  • Seniors (62+): $7.00
  • Students (with ID): $7.00
  • Children (6-12): $5.00

The canyon is accessible from dawn until dusk. You can learn more about this Palm Springs hotspot on its website.

Lake Cahuilla Recreation Area

Palm Springs is the perfect setting for nature-lovers everywhere. If you’re less inclined to hiking and more a fan of gorgeous views, you’ll want to head to Lake Cahuilla Recreation Area. You can spend the day near the Santa Rosa Mountains and explore Coachella Valley, or you can spend the night in the are and balance a day of exploring with La Quinta’s nightlife.

Lake Cahuilla is home to over 91 group and individual campsites for folks who want to spend their nights under the stars. The cost of these campsites will vary, and there’s no charge for spending the day in the recreation area. You can visit the recreational area between 6 AM and 7 PM every day of the week. Come fish on the 135-acre lake and enjoy horseback riding on the nearby trails – but be aware that these individual activities may run you some additional expenses.

You can learn more about this Palm Springs hotspot on its website.

Coachella Valley Preserve

The Coachella Valley Preserve is another fantastic spot for nature lovers to visit. The staff at this location aims to protect and restore the native California foliage and to eliminate the crawl of invasive species. Take a few hours to wander across the Coachella Valley Preserve campus, and you’ll find plenty of opportunities to learn about the foliage that makes up the natural California environment.

Coachella Valley Preserve System

Coachella Valley Preserve’s hours vary based on the season. From June 1 to September 30, the park will be open from 6 AM to 8 PM. Starting October 1, the park is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, but you can visit every other day between 8 AM and 4 PM.

You can learn more about this Palm Springs hotspot on its website.

Tahquitz Canyon

If you’re interested in learning more about the native Cahuilla Indians, you’ll want to visit Tahquitz Canyon. This canyon is the home to a number of the tribe’s cultural monuments. As you hike through the canyon, you’ll spot rock art like none you’ve ever seen before. Ancient irrigation systems speak to the success of a community that now offers to share its artifacts with tourists from all around the world.

Tahquitz Canyon Trail PS 122
Tahquitz Canyon Trail | Photo by David Lofink

Tahquitz Canyon’s Visitor Center allows tourists to get a better grasp on the history they’re hiking past courtesy of a number of carefully cultivated exhibits. You can visit the center free of charge between 10 AM and 5 PM most days of the week. Enjoy a showing of “The Legend of Tahquitz Canyon” in the center’s theater or take a walk out onto the observation deck.

You can learn more about this Palm Springs hotspot on its website.

Mission Creek Preserve

You wouldn’t expect to find a wetland environment in the midst of the California desert. Mission Creek Preserve, however, would prove you wrong. Settled between the Sonoran and Mojave deserts, you’ll find a unique ecosystem 4,760 acres in size. Travel through the painted hills and enjoy the lingering streams as they play host to an exceptional variety of natural flora and fauna.

Mission Creek Preserve is a great place to hike and explore.
Mission Creek Preserve is a great place to hike and explore. | Photo by Ryan Hallock

Mission Creek Preserve serves as one of many stops along the Pacific Crest Trail, which stands two miles away from the preserve’s center. Whether you’re interested in long-form hiking or a day spent in nature, though, you’ll be able to enjoy what this preserve has to offer. Come and see the beauty of Mount San Gorgonio and more seven days a week free of charge. The preserve’s hours run from dawn until dusk, fluctuating with the time of year and weather, as necessary.

You can learn more about this Palm Springs hotspot on its website.

Coachella Valley Vista Point

If you want to quickly visit one of California’s most beautiful spots while on the road, you’ll need to stop by Coachella’s Valley Vista Point. This point is a mere five miles away from Highway 74. When you head out in this direction, you’ll be able to see the Bighorn Country Club and the beauty of Indian Wells, not to mention La Quinta in the distance.

Once you reach the top of the Vista Point, you can park for free and enjoy the view in front of you. The whole of Palm Springs will spill out in front of you like a landscape painting by Bob Ross, and you won’t have to pay a thing to enjoy it. Visit Coachella Valley Vista Point at any time, any day of the week, and see why Palm Springs is considered one of the prettier places in the United States.

You can learn more about this Palm Springs hotspot on its website.

Shields Date Garden

While you can take your partner on a date to Shields’ Date Garden, that’s not quite what the sign means when it says it’s “a taste of date culture.” No, the Shields’ Date Garden is home to everything and anything date-related – the fruit, that is.

You can tour this 17-acre garden at your leisure while tasting date shakes and other sweet treats. If you’re lucky, you can even catch a viewing of “The Romance and Sex Life of the Date,” which plays several times over the course of the day.

It costs $5.00 per person to attend the garden. While this hot spot is, at the moment, closed, check in on it during your next visit to Palm Springs and take a tour between 10 AM and 5 PM. You can learn more about this Palm Springs hotspot on its website.

Ruddy’s General Store Museum

Are you nostalgic for the California of old? Ruddy’s General Store can fill that hole in your heart. A connoisseur of sarsaparilla and silk stockings, Ruddy’s General Store is a quaint little shop to visit while on the road in Palm Springs. Its 1930s aesthetic will appeal to those fans of the original Wizard of Oz – or anyone who wants to dive back into the good old days.

Admission to Ruddy’s General Store Museum is $0.95 cents per person, and you’ll be able to visit it between 10 AM and 5 pm all seven days of the week. You can learn more about this Palm Springs hotspot on its website.

Best Things To Do In Palm Springs, CA at Night

If you’re looking to throw a bachelor or bachelorette party, or just to spend some time out on the town, then you’ll want to hit up Palm Spring’s more exciting spots, including:

  • Palm Canyon Drive
  • Old Town La Quinta
  • El Paseo Shopping District

These shopping centers have a great diversity of places to visit and can keep your group’s energy high until the wee hours of the morning.

Most Romantic Things To Do In Palm Springs, CA

If you’re looking to get a little cozy with your partner in Palm Springs, you’ll have ample opportunity to do so. Try taking a picnic or enjoy the views in some of the following spots:

  • Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
  • Sunnylands Center & Gardens
  • Mooten Botanical Garden
  • Elvis’s Honeymoon Hideaway
  • Indian Canyon
  • Coachella Valley Vista Point

If you plan your day right, you can take your partner out for dinner or go hiking through beautiful landscapes, all while enjoying the time spent together.

Palm Springs, California is more than just a city in a desert. It is a thriving oasis full of opportunities for visitors from around the world!

We’re not done just yet! We have another post about the best day trips around Palm Springs – don’t miss out on that one! And for even more suggestions in the Palm Springs area, check out this list of top things to do in the Coachella Valley.

Looking for more destination in Cali? Make sure you read our post about the best 19 cities to visit in California. And finally, a nice image you can use to pin this post on Pinterest!

27 Best Things to Do in Palm Springs, CA

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