Beach resort complex in Palm Springs, California

Things to do in  Palm Springs

It never goes out of style

Palm Springs' reputation as LA’s desert playground began in the 1920s when it became the destination du jour for Hollywood’s brightest stars. A century later, Los Angelenos and SoCal locals still flock to the Sonoran Desert city. Mid-century modern architecture, chic hotels, and pool parties are still top of the list for any itinerary. Hikes into the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto mountains and Indian Canyons are becoming increasingly popular things to do in Palm Springs.

Top 14 attractions in Palm Springs

Mojave Desert

The driest desert in North America, the Mojave is home to Death Valley National Park, which is best known for its Badwater Basin, the lowest point on the continent at 282 feet (86 meters) below sea level. The Mojave’s 25,000 square miles (65,000 square kilometers) also encompass Las Vegas, Lake Mead, Mojave National Preserve, and more.More

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park lies at the crux of the Colorado and Mojave deserts and spans 429,690 acres (173,889 hectares) of wind-swept Southern California plains. Famous for its starlit night skies and surreal geological features, the park's rich landscape and signature flora draw day-trippers, rock climbers, and backpackers alike.More

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Covering more than 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) on a 10-minute journey, the popular Palm Springs Aerial Tramway provides spectacular views of Chino Canyon and Mount San Jacinto State Park. Activities at the top—accessed by one of the largest rotating aerial tramcars in the world—are offered year-round.More

Mt. San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness

Mt. San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness covers 14,000 acres (5,665 hectares) west of Palm Springs, including the second-highest mountain in Southern California. It is home to subalpine forest, hiking trails—including a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail—and cross-country skiing tracks that draw visitors throughout the year.More

San Andreas Fault

Running down the state of California, from Cape Mendocino to the Mexican border, the San Andreas Fault forms a continuous, narrow break in the Earth's crust between the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate. Seismologists predict that the fault will eventually cause what's known on the West Coast as "the big one" (an earthquake of 7.8 or higher magnitude on the Richter scale).More

Indian Canyons

Located on the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation, Indian Canyons is the ancestral home of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and is made up of three canyons: Palm Canyon, Andreas Canyon, and Murray Canyon. The canyons attract hikers with more than 60 miles (95 kilometers of trails.More

Palm Springs Air Museum

Home to a large collection of airplanes from World War II, as well as from the Korean and Vietnam wars, the Palm Springs Air Museum is a history museum dedicated to the role of aviation in American military conflicts. Not only are the aircraft preserved and displayed, the planes are also flown in air shows and demonstrations.More
Coachella Valley Preserve

Coachella Valley Preserve

Home to more than 25 miles (40 kilometers) of hiking trails, Coachella Valley Preserve sits between Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National Park. The preserve is known for its Thousand Palms Oasis and other palm oases, which are formed by water flowing from the San Andreas Fault.More

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

California’s largest state park protects an arid mountain wilderness that’s home to wildlife and vegetation like bighorn sheep, eagles, roadrunners, iguanas, wildflowers, palms, and cacti. Its remote atmosphere attracts visitors who want to hike the trails or explore the park via 4-wheel-drive.More
Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Springs brings together wildlife and plant life from desert landscapes. From snakes and lizards to mammals including mountain lions and giraffes, the creatures appeal to children and adults alike. Visitors come to learn more about how life thrives in the desert.More
Oasis Date Gardens

Oasis Date Gardens

Amid the cacti and scrub brush of the desert outside Palm Springs, a 175-acre (70-hectare ranch provides the chance to learn a bit about Southern California agriculture and have lunch surrounded by date palms. At Oasis Date Gardens in Thermal, Medjool and other varieties of dates are grown, sold, and served up in cold milkshakes—perfect for beating the desert heat.More
Colorado Desert

Colorado Desert

Southern California’s Colorado Desert, part of the larger Sonoran Desert, stretches from Mexico north to the Mojave Desert, covering 7 million acres (28,000 square kilometers of terrain. Hikers, rock climbers, and campers are particularly drawn to the region for the numerous hiking trails and desert scenery to be explored.More
Tahquitz Canyon

Tahquitz Canyon

Part of the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation, Tahquitz Canyon is known for its rock art and 60-foot (18-meter) waterfall at the end of a hiking trail. It’s a popular activity for those looking for an outdoor attraction that’s not too far from Palm Springs.More
Mission Creek Preserve

Mission Creek Preserve

Part of the Wildlands Conservancy group of California nature preserves, Mission Creek Preserve spans more than 4,700 acres between the Sonoran and Mojave deserts. In addition to the typical arid landscape of the desert, the preserve features a patch of wetlands and is home to wildlife such as deer, bears, and bighorn sheep.More

Top activities in Palm Springs

Palm Springs Indian Canyons Bike and Hike
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The Legends & Icons Tour of Palm Springs
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Covered Wagon Adventure & BBQ

Covered Wagon Adventure & BBQ

Palm Springs Windmill Tours
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Palm Springs Windmill Tours

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All about Palm Springs

When to visit

The blazing heat of Palm Springs lingers from May through September, often reaching past 100°F (38°C). Some local spots may not be open during this time. Daytime temperatures cool starting in November, but peak season is January through April. This is when visitors from colder climates come to the desert resort city to golf, lounge poolside, and hike.

The popular Modernism Week, showcasing the city’s iconic mid-century modern architecture, draws a crowd in February.

Getting around

Like other Southern California cities, Palm Springs is best navigated by car, especially if you will be exploring farther-flung places such as Joshua Tree National Park or the Coachella Valley Preserve. However, if your plans are to hang poolside or keep within the pedestrian-friendly downtown, you can do without. Many hotels offer beach cruisers, which are great for cool morning rides. SunLine routes 1, 2, and 4 will get you around the city with fares around US$1.

Traveler tips

Palm Springs is surrounded by natural desert beauty that is worth exploring on foot, by bike, on horseback, or via ATV. Head a few miles outside of town to find Indian Canyons on the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians Reservation. Here you’ll find a running river, palm oases, and skirted palm trees. There are several family-friendly hikes within Andrea, Murray, and Palm canyons that range from a 1-mile (1.6-kilometer) loop to a 4-mile (6.4-kilometer) out-and-back trail.

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People Also Ask

What is Palm Springs most known for?

With its focus on leisure, including golf, spa treatments, and poolside lounging, Palm Springs is best known as a warm-weather getaway in Southern California. Hollywood celebrities popularized the destination in the 1920s. Another icon? The city’s mid-century modern architecture.

What is there to do in Palm Springs for adults?

Things to do in Palm Springs include mid-century modern architecture touring, vintage shopping, and hiking in nearby Indian Canyons. And golf courses, spas, and pools abound in this warm-weather playground in Southern California. Head up the mountain on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to the station that sits at 8,516 feet (2,596 meters) above sea level for cooler temperatures and to enjoy the San Jacinto forest.

Is it worth going to Palm Springs?

Yes, Palm Springs is a great getaway for creative inspiration and to soak up the sun. Visitors flock to this desert town for its stylish accommodations, funky personality, and upbeat charm. Consistently warm weather makes hiking, golfing, pool lounging, and mid-century modern architecture touring easy and accessible, especially in winter.

What is the nicest part of Palm Springs?

The best part of Palm Springs depends on your interests. The small city’s neighborhoods are bisected by Indian Canyon and Palm Canyon drives, along which you’ll find popular hotels, resorts, and restaurants. Neighborhoods known for luxurious mid-century modern and contemporary estates include Vistas Las Palmas, the Movie Colony, and Deepwell Estates.

Is downtown Palm Springs worth visiting?

Most visits to Palm Springs will include the downtown area, which is hard to miss. Two parallel thoroughfares, Indian Canyon and Palm Canyon drives, bisect the city and are where most businesses are found. Along these streets is a popular farmers market and the weekly VillageFest street fair.

What is there to do on a day trip to Palm Springs?

Whether you love mid-century architecture, spa treatments, or desert landscapes, there are plenty of things to do in Palm Springs during a day trip. Families love the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, while art lovers enjoy the Sunnylands Center and Gardens and Palm Springs Art Museum. Outdoor pursuits include hiking Indian Canyons and Tahquitz Canyon and riding the aerial tramway.

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