The Perfect 3 Days In Palm Springs Itinerary (2024 Guide)

Here is the perfect 3 days in Palm Springs itinerary, an amazing addition to your adventures in Southern California!

While exploring Southern California, consider spending a weekend in Palm Springs! With its retro-chic charm, mid-century modern architecture, and picturesque palm-lined streets, Palm Springs has a timeless allure that makes it a popular place to visit for all types of travelers.

From world-class spas and luxurious resorts to eclectic boutiques and art galleries, Palm Springs has many attractions and activities to suit every taste and interest. The city is surrounded by natural beauty, including Joshua Tree National Park, Indian Canyons, San Jacinto State Park, the Santa Rosa Mountains, and more.

In addition to its nature and attractions, Palm Springs just has a laid-back elegance and leisurely pace of life that makes the city feel like a true desert oasis.

With its warm hospitality, vibrant arts scene, and unparalleled natural beauty, Palm Springs beckons travelers to unwind, rejuvenate, and create unforgettable memories in paradise. If you’re thinking of planning a Palm Springs weekend getaway, we’ve curated the ultimate 3 day itinerary for your Palm Springs trip!

Find more things to do in Palm Springs so you can make the most of your stay.

3 Days In Palm Springs Itinerary

Here is our 3 day Palm Springs itinerary, including the best hikes, excursions, museums, and sights in the area. You can modify this Palm Springs weekend adventure to suit your tastes and preferences, but it’s a great place to start.

Day 1

On the first day of your Palm Springs weekend getaway, hang out around downtown Palm Springs and soak in the sights. That includes riding the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, checking out museums such as the Palm Springs Art Museum, and indulging in the nightlife!

Morning: Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is a remarkable feat of engineering that offers visitors an unforgettable journey through the rugged landscapes of California’s Coachella Valley.

Rising from the desert floor to the towering peaks of the San Jacinto Mountains, this aerial tramway is renowned as the world’s largest rotating tramcar system. As passengers ascend, they are treated to breathtaking panoramas of the surrounding desert terrain, which gradually gives way to pristine wilderness and alpine forests.

The journey spans a vertical rise of nearly 6,000 feet, showcasing the diverse ecosystems that exist within a relatively short distance in this region. Whether it’s the cool breezes at the mountain station or the stark contrast of the desert vistas below, the tramway experience offers a unique perspective of the Greater Palm Springs area.

At the mountain station, located at an elevation of over 8,500 feet, visitors can explore a variety of recreational activities and amenities. From hiking trails that wind through the pristine wilderness to observation decks that provide sweeping views of the entire Coachella Valley, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

During the winter months, the station transforms into a winter wonderland, offering opportunities for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and even snowman-building. Additionally, the station features a restaurant where guests can savor a meal while taking in the views of the surrounding mountains.

So spend the morning enjoying this incredible attraction, and book your ticket online in advance to ensure it doesn’t sell out!

Afternoon: Attractions in Downtown Palm Springs

Next on your weekend in Palm Springs itinerary, head into the heart of the city and explore the attractions. Here are some of the top places to check out during your weekend in Palm Springs.

Palm Springs Art Museum

The Palm Springs Art Museum is an amazing cultural attraction with a diverse art collection and engaging exhibitions. Located in the heart of downtown Palm Springs, the museum is housed in a modernist building designed by renowned architect E. Stewart Williams.

Inside the Palm Springs Art Museum, guests are treated to a comprehensive array of art spanning contemporary, modern, and Native American genres, as well as a notable collection of photography. From iconic works by masters such as Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol to thought-provoking installations by emerging artists, the museum offers a dynamic exploration of artistic expression.

Beyond its impressive permanent collection, Palm Springs Art Museum hosts an array of temporary exhibitions, educational programs, and cultural events, fostering a deep appreciation for the arts within the local community and beyond.

Palm Springs Art Museum
Check out the cool works of art and sights at the Palm Springs Art Museum!
Agua Caliente Cultural Museum

Those looking to engage with the history and culture of California during their Palm Springs weekend getaway should visit the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum. The museum preserves and celebrates the rich heritage and history of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and the broader indigenous communities of Southern California.

Visitors are immersed in the vibrant traditions, customs, and artistry of the Cahuilla people, gaining insights into their deep connection to the land, spirituality, and resilience.

From interactive displays showcasing traditional crafts and languages to insightful exhibitions exploring contemporary issues and contributions, the museum offers a multifaceted exploration of Native American culture and identity.

Read next: 20 Best Places To Visit In California

Walk of the Stars Palm Springs

The Walk of the Stars in Palm Springs is a glittering tribute to the luminaries of entertainment, honoring the iconic personalities who have left their mark on film, television, music, and theater.

Stretching along Palm Canyon Drive in the heart of downtown Palm Springs, this palm-lined sidewalk features more than 400 golden stars embedded in the pavement, each commemorating a legendary figure in the entertainment industry.

From Hollywood legends like Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra to contemporary stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Oprah Winfrey, the Walk of the Stars pays homage to the diverse talents and achievements that have shaped popular culture.

If you are interested in learning about celebrities, you could also consider booking a Legends and Icons guided van tour of Palm Springs! You’ll get to drive past celebrity homes and learn about the history of the area from a local guide.

Evening: Nightlife in Downtown Palm Springs

On the first night of your weekend in Palm Springs itinerary, spend the evening exploring the gems of downtown. As twilight descends, the streets full of palm trees come alive with bustling cafes, chic boutiques, and lively entertainment venues.

Visitors can indulge in a leisurely stroll along Palm Canyon Drive, where they’ll discover an eclectic mix of shops, galleries, and restaurants nestled amidst the iconic mid-century modern architecture.

If you’re looking for dinner spots, the downtown area has lots of dining options, ranging from upscale eateries serving gourmet cuisine to cozy cafes offering al fresco dining under the stars.

After dinner, you can seek out some live music performances, theater productions, and art exhibitions. Whether it’s catching a show at the historic Plaza Theatre or savoring a cocktail at a trendy rooftop bar with panoramic views of the cityscape, downtown Palm Springs promises an unforgettable evening filled with excitement.

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Day 2

On the second day of your weekend in Palm Springs itinerary, it’s time to explore the Greater Palm Springs area with a jeep tour. Check out the local botanical garden, and then finish off the day with a relaxing spa treatment in Desert Springs. The fun continues on your Palm Springs weekend getaway!

Jeep Tour Palm Springs Scenery
You’ll get to see some cool nature and cultural sights on a jeep tour of Indian Canyons.

Morning: Jeep Tour of Indian Canyons

Start the day with an exciting tour into the rugged rock formations and desert landscapes of Indian Canyons near Palm Springs, hosted by Red Jeep Tours.

Embark on an exhilarating jeep tour led by knowledgeable guides and get a fascinating insight into the ancestral lands of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.

Along the journey, guests have the opportunity to learn about the rich cultural heritage of the Cahuilla people, as well as the unique flora and fauna that thrive in this arid yet remarkably fertile environment.

From the thrill of off-road exploration to the tranquility of nature’s hidden gems, a Jeep tour of Indian Canyons is a must during your Palm Springs weekend getaway.

Afternoon: Moorten Botanical Garden

Nestled amidst the arid beauty of Palm Springs, Moorten Botanical Garden is a verdant desert oasis showcasing a stunning array of plants from around the world.

Founded in 1938 by Patricia and Chester “Cactus Slim” Moorten, this botanical gem spans one acre and is home to over 3,000 varieties of succulents, cacti, palm trees, and other desert plants.

As visitors meander along winding pathways, they encounter a mesmerizing collection of plant species, ranging from towering saguaros to delicate aloes, each adapted to thrive in the harsh desert environment.

The Moorten Botanical Garden is a cool place to learn about the natural world during your weekend in Palm Springs itinerary.

Evening: Visit a spa in Desert Hot Springs

About 25 minutes outside of Palm Springs lies Desert Hot Springs, a charming city in the Greater Palm Springs area. Visiting a spa in Desert Hot Springs allows you to immerse yourself in the healing properties of natural hot mineral waters, renowned for their therapeutic benefits.

Set against the backdrop of the stark desert landscape, these spas provide a lovely haven where you can escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and unwind in mineral-rich pools fed by underground aquifers.

You can book a day pass at most of the exclusive resorts and spas in the area and treat yourself to some soothing therapies.

From soothing soakings to invigorating hydrotherapy treatments, visitors can experience the restorative powers of these ancient waters, known for their ability to alleviate stress, soothe sore muscles, and promote overall wellness.

The spas also offer a range of holistic therapies and wellness services designed to promote relaxation and rejuvenation. Guests can indulge in massages, facials, and body treatments tailored to their individual needs, incorporating natural ingredients and traditional techniques to enhance the spa experience.

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Day 3

On the final day of your Palm Springs weekend getaway, venture out to Joshua Tree National Park to hit the hiking trails. Then as you drive back towards Palm Springs, spend the afternoon and evening in Palm Desert, another gem of the Coachella Valley.

Morning: Hiking in Joshua Tree National Park

A day trip to Joshua Tree National Park is a quick and easy way to explore the Mojave and Colorado deserts during your weekend in Palm Springs.

Upon arrival, travelers can embark on scenic drives along park roads, stopping at iconic viewpoints such as Keys View to marvel at panoramic vistas stretching across the desert floor and rugged mountain ranges.

Hiking trails in Joshua Tree National Park are everywhere! Pick a trail to discover the hidden oases, ancient petroglyphs, and unique geological formations like Skull Rock and Arch Rock of the desert.

Among the best hiking options is the Hidden Valley Trail, a moderate 1-mile loop that winds through a picturesque valley surrounded by towering rock formations, offering glimpses of ancient Joshua trees and opportunities for rock scrambling and bouldering.

For those seeking panoramic vistas, the Ryan Mountain Trail is a popular choice, ascending steadily to the summit of Ryan Mountain at 5,457 feet, where hikers are rewarded with breathtaking views of the park’s vast expanse of rugged terrain and iconic Joshua Tree forests.

Another standout hike is the Barker Dam Loop, a leisurely 1.3-mile trek that meanders past a historic water reservoir built by early ranchers, surrounded by stunning vistas and opportunities for wildlife sightings including bighorn sheep and desert birds.

Whether it’s exploring hidden valleys, scaling rocky peaks, or marveling at ancient petroglyphs, visiting Joshua Tree is an amazing excursion to take during your weekend in Palm Springs.

Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is one of the best day trips from Palm Springs.

Afternoon: The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

After spending the morning in Joshua Tree, drive about 45 minutes back in the direction of Palm Springs. You’ll spend the evening around the Palm Desert area, which is just south of Palm Springs.

Your first stop is the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, a remarkable facility home to a diverse array of desert-dwelling animals from around the world, including majestic giraffes, elusive mountain lions, and playful meerkats.

As visitors explore the zoo’s carefully curated habitats, they gain insight into the ecosystems of desert environments and the importance of conservation efforts. Beyond the animal exhibits, the Living Desert boasts extensive botanical gardens showcasing a stunning variety of native and exotic desert plants, from towering cacti to vibrant wildflowers.

Through immersive experiences, educational programs, and conservation initiatives, the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is a cool place to visit during a Palm Springs itinerary for people of all ages!

Evening: El Paseo Shopping District

Spend the evening in the heart of Palm Desert exploring the El Paseo Shopping District. Lined with upscale boutiques, art galleries, and gourmet restaurants, this renowned shopping destination exudes elegance against the backdrop of palm-lined streets and mountain vistas.

As the sun sets, the district comes alive with the glow of twinkling lights, casting a romantic ambiance over the bustling thoroughfare. Visitors can stroll along the palm-fringed sidewalks, perusing the latest fashions, discovering unique artworks, and indulging in culinary delights ranging from fine dining to casual eateries.

With live music drifting through the air and a palpable sense of excitement, an evening in El Paseo invites exploration, relaxation, and the chance to savor the epitome of desert chic in Southern California. It’s a great place to hit the town during your Palm Springs weekend getaway!

Read next: 8 Best Day Trips From Los Angeles

Palm Springs Travel Guide

Now that we’ve covered the ideal Palm Springs itinerary, here is a travel guide to help you prepare for your long weekend getaway. We’re going to cover when to visit, how to get around, and where to stay for your 3 days in Palm Springs!

The best time to visit Palm Springs

There is no bad time to visit Palm Springs! But the fall and spring months, from October to November and March to May respectively, offer the most favorable weather conditions, with warm, sunny days and comfortably cool evenings.

During these shoulder seasons, temperatures typically range from the mid-70s to low 90s Fahrenheit (around 23-32 degrees Celsius), making it ideal for outdoor activities such as hiking, golfing, and exploring during a weekend in Palm Springs.

Additionally, these months coincide with fewer crowds and more affordable accommodation rates compared to the peak summer and winter seasons in Palm Springs.

For those seeking to escape colder climates, the winter months, from December to February, provide a welcome respite with mild daytime temperatures averaging in the 60s to 70s Fahrenheit (around 15-25 degrees Celsius).

Winter is also prime time for outdoor dining, cultural events, and exploring the vibrant arts scene of Palm Springs. However, it’s worth noting that while the days are generally sunny and pleasant, evenings can be cooler, requiring light layers.

Summer in Palm Springs, from June to September, brings scorching temperatures exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit (37 degrees Celsius) during the day, making it less appealing for outdoor activities.

Nonetheless, summer does offer opportunities for budget travelers to find discounted hotel rates and enjoy indoor attractions, such as museums and galleries, away from the heat. So summer may be best if you want to save money during a weekend in Palm Springs.

Palm Springs California
Palm Springs has warm weather year-round!

How to get around Palm Springs

The best way to get around during your Palm Springs weekend getaway is with a rental car. All the best hikes, museums, spas, and attractions are pretty spread out so you’ll want the mobility and flexibilty of having your own car.

You can rent a car when you arrive at Palm Springs International Airport and just drive to your accommodation in town. Or you can rent one in downtown Palm Springs.

Additionally, Palm Springs has well-maintained roads and ample parking, making driving a convenient and efficient way to get around during your weekend in Palm Springs.

For those who prefer to leave the driving to someone else, Palm Springs offers several alternative transportation options. Ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft are widely available in Palm Springs, providing convenient and affordable transportation around the city.

Additionally, the SunLine Transit Agency operates a comprehensive bus system that serves Palm Springs and the surrounding Coachella Valley, offering convenient access to popular destinations including downtown Palm Springs, Palm Desert, and Cathedral City.

With its array of transportation options, it will be pretty easy to get around the area during your Palm Springs itinerary!

The best way to get around is to rent a car and explore on your own! We recommend Rental Cars, which has the largest range of vehicles for the best value on the market.

Best Places To Stay In Palm Springs

Now it’s time to pick a place to stay for your Palm Springs weekend getaway! There are lots of amazing accommodation options right in downtown so you’re conveniently located when you explore Palm Springs. Here are some top-rated options for every budget.

Best Budget Accommodation in Palm Springs: Vagabond Motor Hotel

If you’re hoping to enjoy a Palm Springs weekend itinerary on a budget, the Vagabond Motor Hotel is a great choice. Palm Springs is an upscale destination, so there are no hostels and this is about the cheapest place you can find for your Palm Springs weekend!

Located within 1.6 km of downtown Palm Springs, the hotel is in the perfect place for the itinerary. Each room has a tv, refrigerator, and coffee machine, and there is an outdoor pool and spa with mist cooling systems. The front desk can also help you book other fun activities if you have more time to spare during your Palm Springs weekend.

Best Mid Range Accommodation in Palm Springs: Alcazar Palm Springs

Another excellent option for your Palm Springs weekend getaway is the Alcazar Palm Springs. With gorgeous pool and mountain views from the rooms, you can relax in a modern, comfortable hotel room at this upscale hotel located right near downtown.

Complimentary coffee, tea, juice, espresso, and fresh pastries are free daily, and the staff can help organize bike rentals and tours for your Palm Springs weekend. There is also live entertainment onsite, as well as two restaurants.

Best Luxury Accommodation in Palm Springs: L’Horizon Resort & Spa, Hermann Bungalows

Treat yourself to luxury during a long weekend in Palm Springs by staying at the L’Horizon Resort & Spa, Hermann Bungalows. You can rent your own private bungalow with stunning views and enjoy impeccable service during your weekend in Palm Springs.

The resort also includes free use of bicycles, premium amenities and a pool, spa, and wellness centre. Immerse yourself in the extravagant atmosphere of Palm Springs with a stay at this top-notch resort!

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Alesha and Jarryd

Hey! We are Alesha and Jarryd, the award-winning writers and professional photographers behind this blog. We have been travelling the world together since 2008, with a passion for adventure travel and sustainable tourism. Through our stories and images we promote exciting off-the-beaten-path destinations and fascinating cultures as we go. As one of the world's leading travel journalists, our content and adventures have been featured by National Geographic, Lonely Planet, CNN, BBC, Forbes, Business Insider, Washington Post, Yahoo!, BuzzFeed, Channel 7, Channel 10, ABC, The Guardian, and plenty other publications. Follow our journey in real time on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

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