Best Things To Do In Palm Springs-
Palm Springs, “The Playground of the Stars”, is a beautiful resort city in the desert region of California. A popular destination for vacation on the West Coast, Palm Sp is a perfect place where visitors can indulge in relaxing outdoor activities. If your goal is to enjoy great weather while doing a range of activities in a picturesque desert scenery, travel to Palm Springs in Southern California.
The city is a home to many unique places. It offers a perfect blend of things like hiking trails, sights, recreation spots, malls, spas, pools, golf courses and diverse choices of entertainment and accommodation etc.
Below is a list of best things to do in Palm Springs, California to help you spend your time here in a more creative way.
PALM CANYON DRIVE-
The main area of the pedestrian friendly Downtown Palm Springs is one of the most popular things to do here. This driveway is featured in most of the postcards of Palm Springs. The street is lined with signature tall palm trees. A lot of the city’s best dining and shopping centers will be found on its map. A lot of attractions are located on Palm Canyon Drive.
Museums, galleries, boutiques etc. dots the place. That is why Palm Canyon Drive is a good place for the visitors to start exploring the city. It also has a range of accommodation choices like hotels, motels, BnBs etc.
Museums like the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum, the Palm Springs Historical Society, and the Cornelia White House are located at Palm Canyon Drive only. Other quirky attractions like the Palm Canyon Theatre, the Welwood Murray Memorial Library, and Ruddy’s General Store are also located here at the walking distance.
A range of restaurants of various cuisines like French, Italian, Japanese, and Mexican are present in abundance here. Shops that sell books, clothing and gifts of all ranges can be easily found here.
Every Thursday night, the Palm Springs VillageFest is hosted at the Palm Canyon Drive. It’s a street fair that features three city blocks of art, entertainment, food, and shopping. Local merchants like antique dealers, arts and crafts makers, writers, and food vendors are present here.
They get lined up on the Palm Springs Canyon and sell a diverse range of objects. Local artists, entertainers and performers of all styles of music are present at the street fair. These include solo singers, instrumentalists, and groups.
It is another popular destination that provides a fun tour of the desert scenery in Palm Springs. This protected area also has a lot of trails to explore. You may not want to miss the Palm Canyon. It is a 15 mile long palm trees lined canyon with a creek and waterfalls. It has the world’s largest grove of California’s fan palms.
The hiking trails of various lengths and difficulties are available here. They also have a gift shop which sells various Indian Canyons dedicated souvenirs, Indian Art, and other tribal related items.
Another popular canyon here is called Andreas Canyon. It is the best place to take a photo of birds. Murray canyon has less populated trails. This makes it a good spot for wildlife like deer observation.
Nearby is Tahquitz Canyon that has a 60 feet tall waterfall. It is also protected tribal land. These places fall under the National Register of Historic Places.
Palm Springs is best known for its rich agricultural history. One of the key crops grown here are dates. Palm Springs produces more than 80 percent of the dates of the States. So, visiting a date farm here is another one of the cool things you can indulge in.
The Shields date Garden in Indio is a 20 acre data farm. The farm has a café that serves fresh date shakes that everyone should try. It also provides tours through the date grove and screens a kitschy 1940s movie about date farming in its theater.
Get up close and personal with the windmills at San Gorgonio Pass, just outside the Palm Springs. It is the windiest place, hence it makes an ideal field for setting up windmill power plants.
Palm Springs Windmill Tours is the best way to access these giant machines. They are the only official tour providing company of the Windmills.
PALM SPRINGS ART MUSEUM-
This place is not only dedicated to art, but it is also a natural science and performing art center of Riverside County, California. The museum is housed in a modern style building. Visiting this place is one of the best things to do in Palm Springs by art lovers.
The museum is home to a vast 24,000 objects in its art collection. The arts collection of the museum is dedicated to various contemporary artists like Charles Russell, Frederic Remington etc. It also boasts artifacts dedicated to Native American and Mesoamerican Art and other cultures. It includes sculpture, studio art glass, and architecture archives which further includes fine art, fine art photography, photographic archives.
The natural science museum has artifacts including ceramics, lithic, tools, weapons, minerals, fossils, rocks, casts of fossils, herbaria, mounted invertebrates, preserved amphibians and reptiles, study skins and whole mounts of birds and mammals.
It also has a 437-seat theater called Annenberg Theater. This theater is the performing art center of the museum which hosts a lot of screenings of theater, and performances and concerts of famous artists. The museum also operates the Frey House II of legendary architect Albert Frey.
Apart from all this, the museum keeps hosting events like Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert, and other exhibitions, and informative talks. It has free admission every Thursday from 4.00 to 8.00 p.m.
PALM SPRINGS AERIAL TRAMWAY-
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is the largest rotating aerial tramway of the world. If you have less time on your hand, make sure you don’t miss this. The tramway takes you on a twelve and a half minute, 2.5 mile long trip from where you can enjoy a fantastic view (incredible at night!) of rugged Chino Canyon.
The rotating tramcars will not let you miss the breathtaking view of Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains. It starts at the Valley Station and ends at Mountain Station at 8516 ft. above sea level. It courses its way through five different biomes, all of which is visible aerially from the top. On a clear day, one can even see Mt. Charleston in Nevada, and Salton Sea on any day.
At the end of the trip, the visitors get to enjoy the wilderness of Mount San Jacinto State Park. It has guided nature trails where you can walk, hike or camp to find wild animals of the alpine forest. Or you can enjoy winter activities like skiing, snow trotting etc. in winters.
You can also take a break from exploring the wilderness of the area at the Peaks Restaurant. This place specializes in fine dining. Enjoy delicious local cuisine at an 8500 ft. elevation with a spectacular view of the Coachella Valley. There’s also the Pines Café offers snack food options to the visitors.
Both stations also feature a gift shop that sells Palm Springs Aerial Tramway merchandise. Mountain station has a theater where they screen an informative video about the history of this tramway. Original tramcars are at the display of Valley Station entrance.
Make sure you don’t get confused between the Visitor Center and the Base Station.
COACHELLA VALLEY PRESERVE-
On Thousand Palms Canyon Road, you’ll find a protected area that is a critical habitat of endangered Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizards. The Coachella Valley Preserve is one of the top attractions of the region. It is situated very near to Indio hills. This 880 acres of desert wetlands has many trails and exhibits to explore. It is divided into three different preserve areas including Thousand Palms Oasis.
Its visitors center is an impressive old building from the 1930s from where a lot of trails start. This 28 miles of trails weave across many different landscapes including raw desert and mountain. Guided tours, available from October to March, are a great way of exploring the area. There is even a horseback riding trail passing through the middle of Coachella Valley Refuge.
MOORTEN BOTANICAL GARDEN-
This one acre botanical garden is best known as home to various cacti and other desert plants. It is a family owned property and is part of the Colorado Desert Ecosystem. The couple who founded this garden collected plants from Baja California to Guatemala. At present the garden hosts more than three thousand plants of various species of various desert regions.
There are exhibits according to various regions of the States including Arizona, Sonoran and Yuma Deserts, Texas-Chihuahuan Desert etc. There is also an outdoor collection that has plants like Agave, Bombax, thorned Ceaselpenia, Aloes etc.
The cacti greenhouse of the garden features various cacti and succulent species. The Moorten Residence, called the Cactus Castle, is a Mediterranean design house which is also an attraction here. This place is a must visit for all the budding botanist travelers.
Group tours with a guide and rentals for special events like wedding ceremonies are also available here. Check the availability of your choice date with the administration of the garden beforehand.
ELVIS HONEYMOON HIDEAWAY-
This is best known as the honeymoon house of Elvis and Priscilla. Also known as the House of Tomorrow, the estate is known for being a mid-century modern architecture with quirky circular layouts. Informative tours about the artist and the couple’s time here are provided.
Special events are also hosted here to commemorate the life and death of Elvis Presley. It also hosts various personal events like weddings on booking. Visitors can also rent a room here.
LIVING DESERT ZOO AND GARDEN-
Located at the foothills of Santa Rosa mountains in the Sonoran Desert, the Living Desert Zoo and Garden is a botanical garden and a zoo. This is another outdoor place near Palm S that is dedicated to spreading awareness about various desert ecosystems around the globe. It is also popular among kids.
The zoo houses a lot of animals from North American and African regions. These animals are foxes, tortoises, camels, coyotes, wolves, foxes, badgers, mountain lions, raptors, zebras, giraffes, hyenas, leopards, gazelle, bighorn sheep etc. It is advised to visit the zoo in the morning as the animals are more active then. Various programs like guided nature walks, wildlife shows, and animal feeding hours are available in their time table.
The popular highlight of this place is giraffe feeding activity. Visitors get the opportunity of feeding giraffe herd from a tower. It is done in the morning in summer, and the whole day during the rest of the year. Visitors can also experience camel feeding, grooming and training with the keepers.
It also has a lot of garden exhibits. These gardens feature various desert plant community ecosystems. There’s also a Hummingbird garden that has plants that attract hummingbirds. Various other gardens include butterfly and wildflower garden, opuntia garden, cacti garden, smoke tree, agave, yucca, garden etc. The primitive garden has plants from the Jurassic period.
The Palo Verde Garden Center of the zoo sells plants and plantlets that are only grown here. Guided tours are also available here.
JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK-
This national park is known to be one of most interesting things to do in the Palm Desert near Palm Springs. There are characteristic rock formations and bristled Joshua trees spread all over its desert floor. It features a lot of hiking trails and campgrounds. Visitors can park their vehicles and make a tent for themselves to enjoy a night under the stars in a desert.
The park includes two desert- lower and warmer Colorado desert, and higher and cooler Mojave desert. It encompasses 429,690 acre of wilderness.
The nature walks of the park include various loops of several miles, e.g., the Hidden Valley, the Indian Cove, and the Cholla cactus Garden. The park is also a famous spot for rock climbers. Other well known activities like birdwatching, star gazing, amateur astronomy etc. are also done here.
Wildlife here include birds, lizards, ground squirrels. Nocturnal animals like snakes, bighorn sheep, kangaroo rats, coyotes, lynxes, and black-tailed jackrabbits are also a frequent sight here. Various frogs, toads, moths, tarantulas and threatened species of desert tortoise are also seen here.
PALM SPRINGS AIR MUSEUM-
If you have extra time on your hand, visit this place to experience the history of the air force of the country. The museum is dedicated to spreading knowledge about the role of various aircrafts in the Second World War.
The exhibits here feature one of the world’s largest collections of flying World War II warplanes in good condition. This place has three main display hangers, a theater, a gift shop, ramp and airport access for flight demonstrations and visiting planes, research library, simulator and education center. It also features an aviation art collection by Stan Stokes.
The museum grounds are also available for rent to host events. Many public events are hosted here. Guided tours and school trips are also available. The museum is open to the public daily.
AGUA CALIENTE CULTURAL MUSEUM-
This is a culture and history museum dedicated to Cahuilla people of Coachella Valley. The admission here is free. The Florence Patencio Collection here features information about a cultural leader of the community. Various online and featured exhibitions keep happening here from time to time.
The off site exhibits of this museum are at Spa Resort Casino Hotel Lobby, California State University and Palm Springs City Hall.
Palm Springs is known for the festivals and events it hosts all year round, forcing people to visit the city. If you plan your visit around its calendar, you’ll be able to enjoy these unique events at one of the weekend. Click here to find the calendar of events of the city.
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