Palm Springs is, at best, a cosmopolitan oasis in the Sonoran Desert. The area is best known to locals for its mid-century modern architecture, soothing hot springs, and picture-worthy landscapes. Palm Springs is 100 miles away from the hustle and bustle of LA and is the principal city of the Coachella Valley—a string of desert towns in Southern California. With reliably pleasant weather, chic shopping and boutiques, and endless resorts and spas, visitors from around the world are drawn to Palm Springs.
10 visit-worthy gems in Palm Springs to check out
Palm Springs Art Museum
The Palm Springs Art Museum is located in downtown Palm Springs and is a space that is dedicated to art, natural science, and the performing arts. The permanent collection of the museum consists of 24,000 objects ranging from fine art and photographic archives to Native American and Mesoamerican artifacts. There is a showcasing of 12,000 archaeological and geological specimens, such as ceramics, minerals, fossils, tools, and weapons.
If you are stuck in the car for a long handful of hours, stop by the roadside attraction and stretch your legs near the biggest man-made dinosaurs, Dinny the Dinosaur and Mr. Rex, towering 150 feet tall. These two steel and concrete dinosaurs were completed in 1975 and 1986, to attract customers to a nearby restaurant, which has since, sadly, closed down. The two Cabazon Dinosaurs have gained traction in popular media from music videos to commercials, making it a great attraction for grownups and children.
Naturists can discover the quieter and serene side of Palm Springs with a visit to Indian Canyons. This nature preserve has a group of canyons located in the Agua Caliente Cahuilla tribal land on the west side of Palm Springs. Some footpaths provide Instagram-worthy photos of soaring red cliffs, fan palms, and cool cacti. If you reach the trail’s end, you will find a terraced waterfall named Seven Sisters that greets its hikers. The region’s Native American culture can be celebrated at a visitor center.
Palm Springs VillageFest
Every Thursday evening downtown Palm Springs comes to life when a portion of the Palm Canyon Drive is closed off to allow vendors to set up and display their handmade artworks, candles, photography, and food. The colorful VillageFest is a wonderful evening out for adults looking to shop for arts, crafts, and jewelry, whilst tasting treats from nearby local restaurants and artisanal providers.
Moorten Botanical Gardens
The Moorten Botanical Gardens is a must-see in Palm Springs for lovers of nature with a green thumb. Established in 1938, this privately owned one-acre arboretum was created to share the beauty of a true desert wonderland. The Moorten Botanical Gardens is a living museum of desert lore, full of crystals, colorful rocks, ancient fossils, and pioneer gold mining relics. Those who love and house cacti will be thrilled with the featured cactuses, desert trees, colorful succulents, and other prickly plants in this world cactarium.
Explore the Desert in a Red Jeep
Red Jeep Tours by Desert Adventures, in covered, air-conditioned red Jeeps, give Palm Desert visitors the chance to explore the desert firsthand. With exclusive access to an 800-acre private area, you will find this tour has signage and displays, making it a giant geology theme park. There is a three-hour San Andreas Fault Jeep Tour from Palm Desert that takes passengers to the famed San Andreas Fault, where you can tour two of Earth’s tectonic plates come together, and see a palm oasis fed by a hidden underground spring! The tour is led by an experienced naturalist, including bottled water and pickup/drop-off in Palm Desert.
Visit the Living Desert Zoo & Gardens
If you have children, a visit to the Living Desert Zoo & Gardens is one of the top attractions in Palm Desert. Here, experience both captivating and educational exhibits, allowing you to discover the world’s landscapes and wild inhabitants. There are desert animals from Africa and North America. Meet and feed majestic creatures such as giraffes, fennec foxes, and cheetahs.
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
Ride abroad the world’s largest rotating gondola 6,000 feet up the cliffs of Chino Canyon into Mt. San Jacinto State Park and capture some breathtaking photos of Southern California’s Coachella Valley. The Aerial Tramway served as a means of reaching the top of San Jacinto Peak from the Coachella Valley floor as a transportation service. Today, it offers a one-of-a-kind perspective on the city of Palm Springs, CA, and surrounding areas.
Hike the Bump and Grind Trail
Considered to be one of the most popular hiking spots in Palm Springs, the Bump and Grind Trail is a short but tough circle climb that packs a lot of excitement into one day. The trail puts you in the heart of the beauty of the desert foothills while you and your family or friends experience a tough, yet doable climb.
Appreciate the History of the Cabot’s Pueblo Museum
If you find yourself exploring the Desert Hot Springs you may be surprised to find a Hopi village in Cahuilla territory. The Cabot’s Pueblo Museum is made up of ancient hand-built structures, and full of interesting stories. The house depicts the numerous exploits of homesteader Cabot Yerxa, one of Desert Hot Springs’ early founding fathers. The property is a beautiful architectural example of the Pueblo revival design, using natural objects collected in the surrounding desert. Both the water gallery and museum are open for guests to visit without paying a dime, though the best experience of visiting Pueblo and learning about all of its tales is on a one-hour guided tour.
Get Retail Therapy at the El Paseo Shopping District
While the El Paseo shopping district isn’t the cheapest around, it serves as one of the most popular destinations to get your retail therapy. Enjoy over 250 stores that specialize in fashion, jewelry, spa treatment, and various dining experiences. The Shop on El Paseo is an indoor mall that houses the best high-end shopping in the neighborhood. You can visit world-renowned fashion houses including Ralph Lauren, Gucci, and Burberry, along with brand names like Louis Vuitton and Tiffany & Co.
Interested in all that Palm Springs, CA has to offer you? From various outdoor family-friendly activities to resorts to stunning shopping scenes, Palm Springs has just about anything and everything to do when you stop in the city. Explore the best of Palm Springs today.