Looking for all the best attractions in the Golf Capital of the World? Our guide with all the best things to do in Palm Springs is all you need!
Welcoming Hollywood stars since the 1920s, Palm Springs, California, is a notoriously well-known resort destination in Southern California.
The playground for movie stars and celebrities, the city is prevalent with history, world-class golf courses, fine-dining restaurants, eclectic shops, natural hot springs, palm tree gardens, and beautiful landscapes.
Combined with the perfect sunny weather year-round, all these attributes have transformed the Palm Springs area into the ideal vacation spot.
Palm Springs blends art, nature, cuisine, and culture into the perfect melting pot of attractions drawing in visitors from all over the world. The city is teeming with mid-century architecture, many of which have been designed by famed architects like John Lautner and Donald Wexler.
And riding the Aerial Tramway through the famed Coachella Valley Preserve offers the opportunity to see the natural architecture of the surrounding cacti-filled desert and the mountain-dotted valley of Palm Springs.
From hiking the historic Indian Canyons to going on a jeep tour through the mountains, check out our carefully curated list of the best things to do in the Palm Springs area!
Table of Contents
- The Best Things to Do in Palm Springs, California
- 1) Explore Downtown Palm Springs
- 2) Scour The Collection At Palm Springs Art Museum
- 3) Hitch A Scenic Ride Up The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
- 4) Peer At Intriguing Rock Formations At Joshua Tree National Park
- 5) Ride On A Vintage Warbird At The Palm Springs Air Museum
- 6) Visit The Natural Hot Springs In San Bernardino National Forest
- 7) Stroll Down The Famous Palm Springs Walk of Stars
- 8) Grab House-Roasted Coffee & Souvenirs On Palm Canyon Drive
- 9) Learn The Local Culture & History At The Agua Caliente Cultural Museum
- 10) Visit The Famous Coachella Valley Preserve
- 11) Adventure The Historic Indian Canyons
- 12) Start Your Trip Off At The Palm Springs Visitor Center
- 13) Travel In The Shade Of Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve
- 14) Have A Family Day At The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens
- 15) Stroll Through The Desert Oasis Of The Moorten Botanical Gardens
- 16) Trek To The Peak Of The San Jacinto Mountains
- 17) Scour The Historic Palm Springs Architecture and Design Center
- 18) Take A Historic Hike on the Tahquitz Canyon Trail
- 19) Step Back Into The Swinging 60s At The Purple Room Supper Club
- 20) Join An Exclusive Private Tour Through The San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm
- 21) Test Your Luck At The Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage
- Where to Stay in Palm Springs, California
The Best Things to Do in Palm Springs, California
Are you looking for what to do in Palm Springs, California? Then you need to check out this list of the area’s top attractions, from exploring the social hub of downtown Palm Springs to hitching a ride on a vintage Warbird at the Palm Springs Air Museum. Palm Springs has it all!
1) Explore Downtown Palm Springs
Downtown Palm Springs is a social hub full of restaurants, entertainment, shops, and other popular attractions framed by palm trees and boulevards.
Head downtown on a Thursday for the Palm Springs VillageFest. Hosted year-round, every Thursday, the Palm Springs VillageFest closed down a quarter-mile of Palm Canyon Drive to host a night market and street fair teeming with booths of artists, food vendors, and more!
Enjoy some much-needed retail therapy at the numerous local boutiques and shops selling handmade goods, souvenirs, and high-quality products.
Head to Lolli & Pops for a sweet treat of curated boxes of caramel popcorn, chocolates, gummies, and other sweet treats.
There are plenty of offerings and activities to consider throughout downtown Palm Springs, like this legends and icons tour that visits the celebrity homes for more than 50 hours, including the home of Frank Sinatra.
2) Scour The Collection At Palm Springs Art Museum
Founded in 1938, the Palm Springs Art Museum homes a vast permanent collection of compelling art pieces. It is the most important cultural institution in the Coachella Valley and the only major art museum between Phoenix and Los Angeles.
The museum’s impressive collection of artwork showcases modern and contemporary art of the 19th to the 21st century, focusing on a range of cultures from Mesoamerican to Native American.
Within the museum is the Annenberg Theater, on the lower level, which offers performances and hostings of Broadway, opera, cabaret, and jazz.
Sit in for an art class or lecture at the museum if you want to learn. Then, stroll the museum’s sculpture gardens and settle in for a meal at the cafe after peering at the museum’s impressive art collection.
- Address: 101 Museum Drive, Palm Springs, CA 92262
- Hours: Thursdays 12 pm – 8 pm, Fri-Sun 10 am – 5 pm
- Cost: $16
Exploring more of southern CA? Check out our list of the best things to do in Los Angeles!
3) Hitch A Scenic Ride Up The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
The largest rotating aerial tramway in the world, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, was opened in 1963. Its purpose was to form a method of transportation from the Coachella Valley floor to the top of San Jacinto Peak.
The tramway traverses over two miles, with outlandishly gorgeous views of Chino Canyon and the wilderness beyond.
Sadly, the journey only lasts ten minutes, which can feel too short when wanting to bask in the scenery. During the trip, the tram car rotates to offer more picturesque views of the valley.
Reaching the Mountain Station on top, visitors can sit down for a meal at the two restaurants, tour the natural history museum, and adventure hiking and horseback riding trails that extend over 50 miles, look out over the observation decks and visit the two educational documentary theaters.
- Address: 1 Tram Way, Palm Springs, CA 92262, United States
- Hours: 10 am – 8 pm (Opens at 8 am on weekends)
- Cost: $29.95
4) Peer At Intriguing Rock Formations At Joshua Tree National Park
The place where two deserts and two ecosystems meet, Joshua Tree National Park is named after the unique gnarly Joshua trees that sprinkle throughout the park.
Joshua Tree National Park is well-known for its many sights, such as its rough desert landscape and rock formations. Arch Rock is one of the park’s famous formations, forming a natural arch that makes it a highly photographed spot.
Other intriguing features of the park include the Cholla Cactus Garden and sighting opportunities of native species such as the roadrunner and jackrabbit—and of course, the undeniably stunning sunsets backed by endless stretches of desert.
5) Ride On A Vintage Warbird At The Palm Springs Air Museum
Dedicated to preserving World War II combat aircraft, the Palm Springs Air Museum uses top-class exhibitions to teach others the crucial role of aircraft, pilots, and American citizens in winning WWII.
The Palm Springs Air Museum houses the world’s most extensive collection of flyable WWII airplanes, preserving and exhibiting other related artwork and artifacts. Having taken over 70 million people’s lives during World War II, the inclusion and power of aircraft drastically altered the course of history.
The museum educates others on how aerial force empowered change in the war. Visitors can peer at vintage aircraft, a flyable B-17 bomber, join a flight simulator, and fly around the valley in a vintage warbird for a one-of-a-kind experience!
- Address: 745 N Gene Autry Trail, Palm Springs, CA 92262, United States
- Hours: 10 am – 5 pm
- Cost: $22
Venturing over to the nearby city of San Diego? Here is our list of the best things to do when you get there!
6) Visit The Natural Hot Springs In San Bernardino National Forest
Featuring the rugged mountain peaks of the San Bernadino Mountains, the San Bernardino National Forest has been a protected national forest for more than a hundred years.
Hiking is one of the most popular activities in the forest thanks to the enriching and prosperous landscape full of flora and fauna.
During winter time, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling are all popular winter activities enjoyed through the winter wonderland of the San Bernardino National Forest.
The Deep Creek Hot Springs is another favored attraction, the natural hot spring featuring five main pools with ample space.
These are only a small number of recreational activities at San Bernardino National Forest, the ultimate outdoor playground!
7) Stroll Down The Famous Palm Springs Walk of Stars
The Palm Springs Walk of Stars is one of the world’s most famous sidewalks, boasting more than 400 names of favorite celebrities and personalities that have lived in the area.
A stroll down Palm Springs Walk of Stars includes sections of other top Palm Springs attractions like Tahquitz Canyon Way, Museum Drive, and Palm Canyon Drive. Some noteworthy people honored include pioneers, Presidents of the United States, humanitarians, and Medal of Honor recipients.
- Address: 10 N Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262, United States
8) Grab House-Roasted Coffee & Souvenirs On Palm Canyon Drive
The main street downtown, Palm Canyon Drive, is hopping, with trendy shops and top-notch restaurants waiting to be explored.
The byway winds through the low desert plain before hitting the palm tree-speckled downtown.
Ditch Starbucks and head to Koffi, serving up house-roasted coffee and an expansive lawn with backdrops of the San Jacinto Mountains.
Palm Canyon Drive also features historical structures like the Welwood Murray Memorial Library, the oldest intact civil structure in Palm Springs, and the Plaza Theatre, which premiered the 1930s classic Camille.
Read next: The Ultimate 3 Days In San Diego Itinerary
9) Learn The Local Culture & History At The Agua Caliente Cultural Museum
Dedicated to telling the Tribe’s artifacts and art collections, the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum welcomes visitors to learn about the Cahuilla people’s true creation story.
A cultural journey, the first exhibit highlights the Indian Canyons and the culturally and historically significant to the Tribe.
Next, the gallery displays an artistic expression of ceremonial practices and artifacts, such as ollas (clay vessels for food storage). Then, the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum details how the Tribe changed and adapted.
Visitors will learn the cultural importance of the Agua Caliente Hot Mineral Springs, Séc-he while walking through the museum. And then, found in the last exhibition area, guests can peer at historically important archaeological artifacts, including metates and manos dating back to 8,000 years.
- Address: 140 N Indian Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262, United States
- Hours/Cost: Find more info on the website!
10) Visit The Famous Coachella Valley Preserve
World-famous for hosting the country’s best music and arts festivals, the Coachella Valley Preserve draws in people from all over the world to experience celebrated musicians and artists. It is also home to some of the best Palm Springs activities and attractions.
Within the preserve are Joshua Tree National Park, the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, and the Palm Springs Natural Hot Springs.
More than a few noteworthy desert hot springs in Coachella Valley Preserve System offer desirable healing properties for the ultimate rejuvenation.
This San Andreas open-air jeep tour includes an informational naturalist guide that explores the history, geology, animals, and plants of Coachella Valley Preserve.
11) Adventure The Historic Indian Canyons
The ancestral home of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, the Indian Canyons consists of the Chinho, Murray, Palm, Andreas, and Tahquitz Canyons.
Long ago, the ancestors of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians settled in the area, developing communities in each of the canyons. The historic site presents traces of this, including irrigation ditches, reservoirs, rock art, and foundations.
Each of the Indian Canyons offers exceptional opportunities to explore its landscape. First, hitch a horseback ride in Palm Canyon through rocky gorges and sprawling desert.
Then, join a ranger-led hike for an educational tour of ancient artifacts and cultural exhibits in Tahquitz Canyon. Or, consider this Indian Canyons hiking tour by jeep to discover the ancestral home of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.
12) Start Your Trip Off At The Palm Springs Visitor Center
Welcoming all who visit Palm Springs, the Palm Springs Visitor Center offers a wealth of information to learn more about this historic city.
The center is located in the historic Albert Frey building, representing the mid-century modern architecture of Palm Springs.
For more information on the wealth of culture, history, and adventure in the city, like where to dine and play or to find some early or last-minute souvenirs, head to the local visitor center!
- Address: 2901 N Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262, United States
- Hours: 10 am – 5pm
Heading up the California coast? Here is our list of the best things to do in San Francisco!
13) Travel In The Shade Of Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve
Featuring the palm trees that thrive in the hills of California, the Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve is another one of the best things to do in Palm Springs.
Fed by groundwater pushing up the surface, the California fan palms, or Washingtonia filifera, flourish in the Southern California desert ecosystem. People looking for shade and solace come to bask under the drooping fronds.
The Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve boasts more than 25 miles of hiking trails traversing through desert landscapes, including canyons and dunes. And at McCallum Pond, surrounded by 150-year-old palms, you can rest surrounded by a canopy of palm fronds and desert.
- Address: 29200 Thousand Palms Canyon Rd, Thousand Palms, CA 92276, United States
- Hours: 7 am – 5 pm Wednesday – Sunday
- Cost: Free
14) Have A Family Day At The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens
Drawing in more than half a million visitors annually, the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens specialize in desserts and the species that live in them.
With over 500 species of animals, including mountain lions, warthogs, and Peninsular pronghorn, the zoo is perfect for a family day in Palm Desert.
Feed giraffes, the tallest mammal in the world. Head to the botanical garden, presenting replicas of deserts such as Madagascar and Baja California’s Vizcaino Desert. Hike the zoo’s natural trails or take the shuttle to the Wildlife Hospital to observe the zoo’s conservation efforts.
- Address: 47900 Portola Ave, Palm Desert, CA 92260, United States
- Hours: 8 am – 5pm
- Cost: $29.95
15) Stroll Through The Desert Oasis Of The Moorten Botanical Gardens
The Moorten Botanical Garden is a family-owned garden transformed from a residence estate into a living museum and desert paradise of cacti, fossils, and crystals.
Opened in 1938, the garden has long been established as the best of its kind, featuring special exhibitions of rare plants called “The World’s First Cactarium.” From big to small, more than 3000 species of desert plants scour the gardens in concentrated habitats settled along a nature trail.
The Cactus Castle, the Moorten family’s Mediterranean-style home, is one of the biggest noteworthy attractions here. Located in the Palm Grove Oasis, the Cactus Castle is a haven, exuding a tranquil charm in the desert beauty of the Moorten Botanical Garden.
- Address: 1701 S Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92264, United States
- Hours: 10 am – 4 pm (Closed Wednesdays)
- Cost: $5
16) Trek To The Peak Of The San Jacinto Mountains
In San Jacinto State Park you’ll find the San Jacinto Mountains and some of the most picturesque desert landscapes ever seen.
Within the park are camping options and hiking trails available to visitors desiring a rewarding adventure of San Jacinto State Park.
Trek the national scenic route surrounded by palm oases and snow-capped mountains. The hike to the top of Mount San Jacinto Peak is challenging on the Deer Springs Trail, but it’s one of the most breathtaking hikes in all of Southern California.
17) Scour The Historic Palm Springs Architecture and Design Center
The Palm Springs Art Museum also hosts an Architecture and Design Center in downtown Palm Springs is renowned for its modern mid-century structure, established by the prominent architect E. Steward Williams.
Recently designated a Class I Historic Site, the glass pavilion’s ground floor displays a variety of design and architecture exhibitions.
Through the museums are floor-to-ceiling windows that present outstanding views of downtown Palm Springs and the San Jacinto Mountains while scouring the natural science exhibitions, including Cahuilla Indian artifacts.
Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center’s museum store is located in the original bank vault of the former Santa Fe Federal Savings & Loan Association.
- Address: 300 S Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262, United States
- Hours: Thursdays 12 pm – 8 pm, Fri-Sun 10 am – 5pm
- Cost: $5
18) Take A Historic Hike on the Tahquitz Canyon Trail
This two-mile loop in the historic Tahquitz Canyon leads to the 50-foot plus Tahquitz Falls. The falls are the perfect example of a natural desert oasis, with natural-formed stone stairs that lead the trail up to the falls.
The Tahquitz Canyon Trail is minutes from downtown, beginning at the visitor center. At the center, visitors can view intriguing artifacts, peer out at the stunning views on the observation deck, and then watch a short film on local folklore and history in the theater room before heading out on the trail.
The canyon is owned by the Agua Caliente Band of the Cahuilla Indians, home to more than 5,000 years of history connected to the tribe.
As a result, the Tahquitz Canyon Trail has multiple pinpointed points of interest to look out for, including a hefty sacred rock featuring ancient paintings.
Looking for more epic hiking destinations in California? Check out our list of the best things to do in Lake Tahoe!
19) Step Back Into The Swinging 60s At The Purple Room Supper Club
The old-school Purple Room Supper Club is one of the best things to do in Palm Springs, its enchanting ambiance resurrecting the glamor of the Rat Pack era.
Located in the Club Trinidad Hotel, Purple Room Supper Club is the premier supper club in the desert, welcoming guests to hop into the vitality of the swinging 60s.
Famous for its celebrity sightings, stepping into the supper club, guests will sink into an intimate yet inviting atmosphere paired with world-class cuisine, live entertainment, and classic cocktails.
- Address: 1900 E Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92264, United States
- Hours: 4 pm – 10 pm Tuesday – Thursday, 6 pm – 10 pm Fri/Sat, 5 pm – 9 pm Sundays, Closed Mondays
20) Join An Exclusive Private Tour Through The San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm
One of three major wind farms in California, the San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm is a special place to stop in Palm Springs.
As one of the best things to do in Palm Springs, the notorious sight of thousands of giant windmills effortlessly sifting through the wind, the windmills are settled within a natural wind tunnel in the San Gorgonio Pass, between Southern California’s two highest mountains.
Opening in 1982, the San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm was the first windmill farm in Southern California dedicated to providing clean energy.
Reaching its 40th anniversary, the windmill farm opened a new exhibit devoted to its history as the first in Southern California.
San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm is also the windmill farm in the United States to offer in-depth tours throughout the private wind farm, making it a trendy tourist attraction in Palm Springs.
21) Test Your Luck At The Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage
Setting the standard for luxury, the Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage boasts award-winning casino flour, a five-star spa, and its renowned hotel. It’s one of the top-rated greater Palm Springs resorts!
Relax into luxury at the resort’s multi-award-winning five-star Sunstone Spa, named the sole Forbes Five-Star Spa Casino in California. Whether it be a halotherapy, massage, or facial session, you can bask in sublime rejuvenation enriched with healing energy at the spa.
Test your luck at Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho’s casino featuring high-limit gaming, table games, video poker machines, and the hottest slots for exceptional gaming opportunities.
Afterward, dine at The Steakhouse, an award-winning restaurant delivering mouth-watering culinary creations to splurge on the art of cuisine.
Where to Stay in Palm Springs, California
Now that you know the best things to do in Palm Springs, let’s check out the best places to stay! From a cheap hostel to a luxurious Palm Springs resort, there are options for every budget.
Best Hostel in Palm Springs
Offering free private parking and WiFi, Crashpod Hostel is less than ten minutes from the Palm Springs Visitor Center and Escena Golf Club. Guests have access to a shared lounge, bathroom, and kitchen, with the benefits of an a la carte breakfast every morning.
Best Mid-Range Hotel in Palm Springs
Providing everything you’ll ever need for an exemplary stay, Travelodge by Wyndham Palm Springs is near all of the top Palm Springs attractions.
Access to the local hiking trails, downtown’s top shopping and dining options, luxurious spas, and world-class golf courses is within easy reach of the hotel.
Best Luxury Hotel in Palm Springs
Located near downtown Palm Springs, The Paloma Resort offers a superior setting featuring historic mid-century bungalows and stunning mountain backdrops. First, sit down for Spanish-inspired tapas in a historic mission Adobe restaurant, Sol y Sombra.
Then, bask in the vibrant personalities of the resort’s desert-inspired bungalows and suites, capturing the unique essence of Coachella Valley.
DISCLAIMER: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means if you book accommodation, tours or buy a product, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help us keep creating more free travel content to help people plan their holidays and adventures. We only recommend the best accommodations, tours and products, and regularly review these. Thanks for your support, kind friend!