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15 Unforgettable Things to Do in Palm Springs California

Visiting Palm Springs? Don’t miss these things to do.

We’ve only been to Palm Springs twice despite having lived in both LA and San Diego. It’s one of the most popular quick weekend getaways when you need a break from the city.

Now that we’re back in the Southwest, we can’t wait to be pool hopping in Palm Springs. Today, we wanted to share a list of things we thought were worthwhile as well as some things we hope to do on our next trip.

15 Can't Miss Things to Do in Palm SpringsPin

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Last Updated: March 18, 2023

15 Unforgettable Things to Do in Palm Springs CA That You Can’t Miss

1. Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

1 Tram Way, 92262, map

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is the largest rotating aerial tramway in the world. The 10 minute ride takes you over 2.5 miles along the Chino Canyon, giving you great views of the cliffs, vistas, and the valley below.

Once you arrive at the top, the temperature drops roughly 30 degrees from the desert floor. There are two restaurants, viewpoints, and over 50 miles of trails to explore. There’s even some bouldering in the area, and you can camp over night with advanced registration. 

Local Tip: They offer discounted Ride ‘n’ Dinner combos, which will save you money if you plan on eating at the Pines Cafe.

2. Palm Springs Art Museum

101 Museum Drive, 92262, map

Stop by downtown Palm Springs to visit the local museum. It has a great permanent collection of works by western, contemporary, and glass artists. It also brings in exhibitions from internationally acclaimed artists. Besides enjoying the art, they also run art classes and workshops for kids and adults.

Local Tip: The museum is free every Thursday from 4-8PM and every second Sunday.

3. Palm Springs Air Museum

745 N Gene Autry Trail, 92262, map

Any history or WWII buff needs to stop by the Palm Springs Air Museum. It has one of the world’s largest collections of flyable WWII planes, and the museum focuses on the role these planes had in winning the war.

4. San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm

San Gorgonio Pass California 92230, map

The San Gorgonio Pass is one of three major wind farms in California and one of the windiest places in SoCal. It’s bound to catch your eye when you’re driving in and a great spot to take photos. It’s definitely a memorable area for us. Not only did we take our anniversary photos here with our friend Kassia Phoy, but it’s where we almost lost our Airstream awning.

Pro Tip for Photographers: Bring a wide lens and long lens to give you options. The long lens will compress the photo and make you look closer to the windmills.

Pro Tip for RVers: We heard a lot of RVers lose their awnings in this area, so be sure you secure it tight before coming through.

See More: 5 year Anniversary Shoot in Palm Springs

5. Stroll Down Palm Canyon Drive

Palm Canyon Drive is in the heart of the city, where you’ll find shops, art galleries, restaurants and more.

Besides the drive, the Palm Springs area is full of art galleries, antique shops and furniture stores to check out during your visit. Here are some of the most popular.

  • House 849
  • Imago Galleries
  • Stewart Galleries
  • Palm Canyon Galleria
  • Modernway
  • Modern Home Design Showroom
  • Studio 111 Palm Springs
  • Trina Turk Residential

6. Palm Springs Visitor Center

2901 North Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA, 92262, map

Whether it’s your first or hundredth visit to Palm Springs, the Visitor Center is always a great resource for the most up-to-date info. The unique roof also makes it hard to miss.

7. Tahquitz Canyon Waterfall Hike →

500 W. Mesquite Palm Springs, CA 92262, map

This 1.7 mi. easy, loop hike is one of the most popular hikes in the area. Starting from the Visitor’s Center, you will climb 350 feet in elevation over steep terrain and giant steps. At the end, you’ll get to enjoy the beautiful Tahquitz Waterfall.

Local Tip: There is very little shade on this hike, so bring plenty of water, dress appropriately, and wear sunscreen.

Tahquitz Falls Palm Springs WaterfallsPin

8. Joshua Tree National Park →

6554 Park Blvd, Joshua Tree, 92252, map

Palm Springs can be a great base for exploring Joshua Tree, especially if you want luxury accommodations. It’s less than an hour drive from either the South or West entrance.

Jtree is usually what distracts us from spending more time in Palm Springs. Not only does it have the most epic sunsets we’ve ever seen, it’s also a playground for climbers. Since we started rock climbing, Jtree has easily become our National Park.

Local Tip: Pick up an American the Beautiful Pass to save money on all your National Park visits.

See More: 11 Amazing Things to Do in Joshua Tree National Park

9. See the Fan Palms at Palm Canyon

Palm Springs, CA 92264, map

In this 15 mile long section of Indian Canyons, you will find the largest Fan Palm Oasis. You can picnic near the stream, hike the trails, and learn more about the significance of this area to the Cahuilla Indians.

Local Tip: Stop by the Trading Post for hiking maps and more information.


10. Coachella Valley Preserve

29200 Thousand Palms Canyon Road, Thousand Palms, 92276, map

The Coachella Valley Preserve has hiking trails and exhibits to explore. A great place to start is at the Preserve’s visitor center in the Paul Wilhelm Grove. The Thousand Palm Oasis is also a popular stop.

Local Tip: This is the only place in the world where you can spot the Coachella valley fringe-toed lizard. 


11. Moorten Botanical Garden

1701 S Palm Canyon Dr, 92264, map

The legacy of Patricia and Chester “Cactus Slim” Moorten, the Moorten Botanical garden and Cactarium really showcases their love of the desert. There are outdoor displays of beautiful desert plants and a greenhouse with cacti and succulents. 

See More: The Most Beautiful California Flower Fields to Visit This Spring

Palm Springs Moorten Botanical GardenPin
photo: Douglas Sanchez

12. Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway

1350 Ladera Cir, Palm Springs, CA 92262, map

The Alexander Estate was originally known as “the house of tomorrow” when it was built. In 1966, Elvis Presley took up residency here as a retreat from LA then one year later, Elvis and Priscilla celebrated their honeymoon here. Architecturally, it’s unique because there are no square rooms in the house.

Local Tip: Daily guided tours are available at 1 PM & 3:30 PM. Call ahead for reservations and to double check their schedule.

13. The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

47900 Portola Ave, Palm Desert, CA 92260, map

There are over 500 animals and 150+ species at this zoo. You can feed giraffes, pet goats, and say hello to all the animals. There also have two African black rhinos and a carousel on site. Plus there are some beautiful gardens to stroll through.

14. Palm Springs Villagefest

Every Thursday night, you can hang out with locals and tourists at the Palm Springs Village Fest in the downtown area. Palm Canyon Drive, between Indian Canyon Drive and Belardo Road, turns into a pedestrian street fair with over 180 vendors.

palm springs villagefestPin
mcrvlife / Shutterstock

15. Cabazon Dinosaurs

50770 Seminole Dr, Cabazon, 92230, map

The Cabazon Dinosaurs are iconic roadside attractions in southern California. There are two massive dinosaurs named Dinny the Dinosaur and Mr. Rex. Dinny is 150 feet long and Mr. Rex is 65 feet tall making it easy to spot as you drive by. Inside, you’ll find a dinosaur-themed gift shop and a dinosaur exhibit. You can even climb up Mr. Rex all the way to his mouth.

Closed: Ruddy’S General Store Museum

221 S Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262, map

Unfortunately it looks like Ruddy’s didn’t make it through the pandemic.

Have you ever wanted to time travel? Unfortunately time machines still don’t exist as far as we know, but Jim Ruddy’s General Store Museum can take you back in time. The museum showcases pristine products from the 1930s in their original boxes and tins.

Ruddys General Store Museum + 15 Palm Springs Attractions You Can't MissPin

Map of Palm Springs Attractions

More Things to DO in Palm SPrings (Area)

Best Places to Eat Palm SPrings

Essential Tips

  • Desert climates mean extremes. Check the weather before you visit and be prepared for hot weather during the day but cooler temps at night.
  • Pack plenty of water if you plan on hiking. These are our go to water bottles: insulatinglight, & a reservoir.
  • Bring a sunhat, sunglasses, & sunscreen. Be sure to reapply throughout the day.

Best Places to Stay in Palm Springs

What’s Nearby

Planning Checklist

Have you been? Any other things to do in Palm Springs that we missed?

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Esther and JacobPin

Esther + Jacob

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.

Follow along on Instagram (E + J), YouTube, TikTok, and Pinterest.

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