15 Best Things to Do in Palm Springs

Palm Springs was a hot spot in the 20th century. It was a place that Hollywood stars and directors adored for its year-round sunshine.

This oasis in the desert has become a popular tourist spot and a site of pilgrimage for those who wish to experience old Hollywood cool.

This place is surrounded by beautiful desert and has fascinating history. If you are tired of celebrity sightings and trendy bars, visit one of the many museums in the area.

These are the top 15 things to do in Palm Springs

1. Enjoy the Aerial Tramway’s View from Above

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Palm Springs is blessed by arid desert and snow-capped mountains. This aerial tramway takes you up to Chino Canyon, stopping in San Jacinto Park at 8,516m.

The incredible views from the mountain-top restaurant and station will allow you to see the entire desert below. You can enjoy the stunning views while sipping a cocktail or go on to the park to explore some of the most challenging trails.

2. Take an Architecture Tour

Palm Springs Visitor Center

Palm Springs is known for its Modernist architecture, surrounded by palm trees and swimming pool. The most iconic building is probably the tramway gas station, now a visitor’s center, which was designed by Albert Frey. It has an oddly distorted, gravity-defying roof.

These incredible buildings were built especially for Hollywood royalty. Many companies offer bespoke walking tours that will take you to the most important architectural landmarks of Palm Springs. You can also surf the internet to find a list of walking routes that you can take on your own.

Be on the lookout for unusual builds by Richard Neutra, John Lautner, and Donald Wexler among others.

3. You’ll find some amazing cacti at Moorten Botanical Gardens

Moorten Botanical Garden

This incredible desert garden was once the private property of a local family that was obsessed with cacti. Now it is open to all.

You will find thousands of desert flowers, cacti and succulents if you follow the trails that have been carefully planted. You will find doves and turtles roaming the grounds. There are also more exotic birds attracted by the rarer flowers.

It will be a great educational experience for those with green fingers. You may even want to buy a cactus at the gift shop.

4. Fly a Fighter Jet at Palm Springs Air Museum

Palm Springs Air Museum

This museum is dedicated the American air force. It features some incredible planes. The museum’s historical exhibits are extensive and extremely detailed. They also highlight the importance of women and minorities during the Second World War.

The museum’s main message is that aircraft technology has protected Americans in many of the 20th century conflicts, including World War Two, Korea war, and Vietnam.

You can take a flight in one these amazing vintage planes for a small fee to see this technology up close. You will have an unforgettable experience flying over the desert with local pilots.

5. Melvyn’s Lounge: Dine like Sinatra

Cocktail

Melvyn’s Lounge, Palm Springs, was once a popular spot for the Rat Pack. It’s still as trendy today as it was in those days. You will find champagne brunches, fancy cocktails and dinners at this bar, which is often voted the best in America.

The restaurant was once frequented often by mega-stars like Elizabeth Taylor. It has a fascinating history. This chic joint recalls Palm Springs’ golden age with its modernist decor and pool front.

The Piano bar is a great place to go out on a night. It features talented musicians who perform classic songs from Sinatra.

6. Find the Waterfall at Tahquitz Canyon

Tahquitz Canyon

One of the many hiking trails around Palm Springs is Tahquitz Canyon.

The Canyon is now part of Agua Caliente Indian Reserve. Cahuilla Indians, who once ruled this region of California, maintain a reservation and museum here.

You’ll reach a waterfall that gushes out of the rockface after passing through narrow passages and groves full of palms. This oasis in the desert is home to a number of historical rock art as well as tons of local history.

Visit the Visitors Centre to learn more about how this watering hole played an important role in the lives and times of the Indians.

7. Visit Cabot’s Pueblo Museum House

Cabot’s Pueblo Museum House

Cabot Yerxa, an explorer and explorer, built this unusual museum. The building is constructed in the style of an old Pueblo Indian home and is quite a maze. It has 35 rooms and a total of 5000 sq. ft., 150 windows and 65 doors.

Cabot built the house using scrap materials and most of his belongings are still on the shelves.

The home exudes a cool bohemian feel. Cabot’s unique artwork, as well as his vast collection of Native American artifacts, is displayed throughout the museum.

8. Visit the Coachella Valley Preserve

Coachella Valley Preserve

The Coachella Valley is a charming oasis in the desert that surrounds Palm Springs. It feeds a lush palm forest. This preserve is home to rare birds and other wildlife, as it can support vegetation in most of the surrounding areas.

It’s far more shaded than other trails in the region and is the best hike if you want the heat to stay away.

These palms have been allowed to grow wild and reach extraordinary heights. Take a stroll along the boardwalk to see these magnificent trees.

9. Visit the Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway

Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway

Elvis Presley was one the most famous stars to have ever lived in Palm Springs. His stunning modernist mansion can be toured. This luxurious home was the honeymoon destination for Elvis Presley and Priscilla.

The building is stunning, and Elvis fans will love it.

Superfans will be pleased with the extensive Elvis memorabilia collection and the knowledgeable tour guides.

10. Visit Palm Springs Art Museum

Palm Springs Art Museum

This amazing art museum features avant-garde pieces dating back to the 1950s and 1960s. The glass sculpture collection is a unique and fascinating addition that is well worth a visit. This remarkable piece of modern architecture was built in 1938.

People come to the museum for Bill Anderson’s iconic photographs of movie stars and celebrities of the mid-20th century. Some of his amazing photos include glamorous shots of Ava Gardner and Judy Garland.

The museum also has an excellent collection of Native American art for those who have more earthy tastes.

11. Drive through the Palm Springs Windmill Farm

Palm Springs Windmill Farm

The desert landscape is complemented by this forest of turbines. It’s stunning! This park is one of the most unusual things to do in Palm Springs. It offers both self-driving tours as well as bicycle rides. You can also learn more about renewable energy and take in the views while you’re there.

On arrival, visitors are given a tablet and sent into the windy valley for a history lesson on wind power.

For stunning, dusty sunrises on this amazing stretch of desert, come here early in the morning.

12. Ruddy’s General Store: Step back in time

Ruddy’s General Store Museum

Ruddy’s General Store, an early 20th century drugstore, has been preserved well. This small museum is one of the best in Palm Springs. It offers a break from the flashier side of Palm Springs, and lets you see the more humble side of life.

Admire the antique furnishings and browse the shelves full of interesting old products. The cash register, which dates back to the 1930s, is especially cute.

You can find the Palm Springs Historical Society, which runs the museum right next to it. Visit the museum to find out more about this desert city’s history.

13. Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree Park is located at the edge of Palm Springs and is home to a wild area of desert that is full of unusual animals and plants.

Here, the Colorado and Mojave deserts are combined in one park. The Colorado section is characterized by rolling sand dunes, dusty grasslands and beautiful scenery. Meanwhile, the Mojave area is a favorite spot for climbers because of its large rock formations.

Named after a native tree, the park also contains many other rare plants. You can get a detailed guide from park rangers or you can explore the area on your own.

14. Shanghai Reds Bar and Grill – Get your fill

Shanghai Reds Bar and Grill

Anthony Bourdain once gave this famous seafood restaurant a high-five. Fresh oysters and fish dishes are exceptional. The grill’s most popular dish is the fish tacos. They should be enjoyed with a cold beer.

You can dance after eating on the patio at the bar.

You can order a bucket of seafood or sit down at the bar and enjoy small bites while listening to live music.

15. VillageFest Market – Shop

VillageFest Market

VillageFest, a local flea marketplace, opens every Thursday in Palm Springs. This market is far more glamorous than your average local market. You will find amazing artwork, antiques and delicious food here.

The food stands attract young people and offer a variety of food options, from traditional burgers to innovative fusion foods.

The streets are alive late into the night with great performances from local bands.