Are you looking for the top things to do in Palm Springs? We’ve got you covered. To enjoy everything the quintessential desert getaway brings, head over to the laid-back destination of Palm Springs!
Palm Springs, located in California, is unique in beauty and biodiversity. During our visit, we were immensely impressed with its perfect blend of nature, sophistication, and culture — all waiting for you to explore.
Top Things To Do in Palm Springs
During your time as a Palm Springs visitor, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to things to do in Palm Springs. From mid-century modern architecture and interesting museums to a myriad of recreational activities and dining opportunities, you will never run out of interesting things to do. So much so that picking what to do can get tough!
Since we’ve been there (and stayed for a good couple of days in the best boutique hotel in Palm Springs), we can help you filter out the top 10 things you MUST try. Keep reading to learn about our picks! You don’t need to visit the Palm Springs Visitor Center. We’ve got you taken care of.
Satiate Your Inner History Buff At Palm Springs’ Museums
History lovers, rejoice! Palm Springs is home to world-class museums jam-packed with inspiring and educational experiences.
Visit the Palm Springs Art Museum to get mesmerized by a huge collection of contemporary art with a desert theme. From Native American and Modernism to American West, there is a wide range of art displayed in a 10,000-square-foot auditorium.
For aviation enthusiasts, the Palm Springs Air Museum boosts over 70 aircraft on display, some belonging to the World War II era. There’s also a dedicated research library and education center — it truly tickled our flight fantasies!
Much like a museum, you can visit the homes where stars like Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe lived. Try our the Legends and Icons Tour.
Grab A Souvenir At The Cabazon Dinosaurs
The Cabazon Dinosaurs are one of the most iconic roadside attractions, making people passing by stop and take a click with them. We loved the 100-ton Brontosaurus and T. Rex sculptures — and the gift shop inside Bronto’s Belly is the perfect spot to grab a souvenir from your travel experience to Palm Springs.
Take A Magical Ride On The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
If your preferred things to do in Palm Springs include an aerial view of the city’s beauty, the gondola ride at Aerial Tramway is your best bet. It connects the Coachella Valley and San Jacinto Peak. At the top of San Jacinto, you can hike, click jaw-dropping photos, visit the gift shop, and delve into a natural history museum. You can also devour delicious lunch at Pines Cafe or Peaks. Tip: The temperatures here are approximately 30 degrees cooler than on the desert floor, so be sure to pack layers.
Shop Till You Drop On Palm Canyon Drive
Dotted with plenty of galleries, shops, pubs, and restaurants, Palm Canyon Drive in downtown, Palm Springs, provides a plethora of activities. You can shop the day away, admire the historical buildings, browse art galleries, try new cuisines, and grab a drink at an outdoor table.
There are a plethora of boutiques offering luxury brands, like a very chic pair of Hermes sandals that I wanted, but was not going to pay the Hermes price. Fortunately, I found s list of Hermes Sandal dupes that pacified my “need” for them. I highly recommend you check them out, too!
If you’re simply looking for a lively stroll, the beautiful palm trees adorned with lights and vibrant storefronts will provide the perfect experience. Oh, and don’t forget the Palm Springs Walk of Stars. You will more than likely see it as you peruse around Palm Canyon.
Downtown Palm Springs offers a ton of photo ops, like a huge Marilyn Monroe statue.
Visit The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is a slice of the unique Colorado desert. Broadly, it is split into North American and African parts. You will find an incredible array (over 1400 species) of plants and many desert animals, including wild cats and hoofed mammals. You’ll also get to feed the giraffes — an experience of its own!
Explore San Andreas Fault On A Jeep Tour
This is your chance to go off-roading in a desert! You will experience the wonders of deep canyons and rock mountains while spotting many desert animals along the way. You will also have a friendly tour guide that will be happy to answer all your questions. Jeep tours are a fabulous way to experience the Palm Springs desert.
Go Horseback Riding At Murray Canyon
If your list of things to do in Palm Springs prioritizes horseback riding, the Murray Canyon is where to head. Look for mule deer, bighorn sheep, foxes, and rabbits along your ride. There are also plenty of cowboy-guided tours through the canyons. We 100% recommend these if you’re a nature lover.
Marvel At The Tahquitz Canyon
The Tahquitz Canyon is part of the cultural history of the Cahuilla Indians. It is home to a spectacular waterfall, native wildlife, ancient irrigation systems, and rock art. So, you can expect plenty of sightseeing. You can also learn about the story of a legendary shaman (who inspires the name of this canyon) in a theater room at the visitor center.
Enjoy the Robolights Show
The extraordinary four-acre light display at the Robolights Show features an explosion of colorful and quirky sculptures created from donated junk/found objects. During the show, we felt like we stepped into a parallel dimension with plenty of sci-fi vibes, immersive music, flashing lights, lasers, and so much more.
Enjoy Some Laid-Back Pool Time
If simply laying back and enjoying relaxing desert moments under the sun is one of your preferred things to do in Palm Springs, the city’s resorts will elevate your experience to a whole new level. Here are a few of the options to pick from:
- Miramonte Indian Wells Resort & Spa — for enjoying spectacular views while chilling in the pool. Bonus points if you reserve a poolside cabana.
- Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort and Spa — features a lazy river, water slides, and a splash pad. This is a good resort particularly if you’re traveling with family.
- The Paloma Resort– of course, this is where we stayed during our visit, but the resort offers day passes. Whether you are visiting and want a relaxing day poolside, or if you are in the Greater Palm Springs area, make your way to The Paloma.
Takeaway from the Top Things to Do in Palm Springs
And that’s a wrap, readers! We hope you now know which activities to prioritize on your list of top things to do in Palm Springs. It all boils down to what you prefer in terms of travel experiences.
Tip: Palm Springs is very close to Joshua Tree National Park. If you’re in for a good hike, a trip to Joshua Tree will satiate all your adventure desires.
Some other places worth considering if you have the time are hiking in the San Jacinto Mountains, a visit to the Moorten Botanical Garden, and a day trip to the Coachella Valley Preserve.
If you’ve been to Palm Springs, share your top experiences with us. We’d love to hear your travel stories 🙂 You can contact us here.
Frequently Asked Questions | FAQs
Canyon Drive is walkable. There are plenty of things that are further apart from each other, so if you have a bike, that is great. If not, you may find it easier to Uber to a lot of places, if you do not have a car.
If you are on the West Coast or find easy flights from the East Coast, yes! It is definitely a place you can spend a weekend trip, but trust us. You will want to spend more time, especially to get everything in! Or, plan another trip while you are there.
Yes, yes, and yes! All of the things on this list, of course, but the food and jazz clubs- a must! It is a wonderful town for date night or a couples’ getaway!