Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Desert Hot Springs, CA

  • Published 2022/02/24

The best things to do in Desert Hot Spring go beyond its mineral springs.

Desert Hot Springs is part of Riverside County.

Coachella Valley is the geographic area in which the city is located.

It is so named due to the abundance of hot springs that naturally flow from below the ground.

Desert Hot Springs is one of only a few locations on Earth where naturally flowing cold and hot mineral springs coexist.

Unlike sulfurous hot springs, the city’s mineral springs are odorless.

In the 1950s, Desert Hot Springs became a tourist attraction due to its tiny spa hotels and boutique hotels.

The city is popular with “snowbirds,” individuals who move from colder regions of North America to milder southern destinations in the winter.

Desert Hot Springs is an ideal day trip or weekend vacation location.

It offers various activities, from exhilarating outdoor experiences to restorative health retreats.

Here are the best things to do in Desert Hot Springs, California:

Travel Back in Time at Cabot’s Pueblo Museum

Exterior view of Cabot's Pueblo Museum

Jllm06, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

With 160 acres, Cabot Yerxa, 30, began his homesteading career at Desert Hot Springs in October 1913.

When he dug a well near his house in search of water, he discovered hot mineral water steps away from his front door.

Cabot drilled another well 600 yards away and found the Mission Springs Aquifer’s clean, cold water.

When he started constructing the Pueblo in 1941, he used components from his old house.

Until his death in 1965, he labored tirelessly to complete this mansion and museum.

Cabot created many adobe-style and sun-dried bricks in the courtyard that make up the Pueblo.

Cabot’s works of art, Native American relics, and souvenirs from his trips worldwide are exhibited in the Pueblo Museum, which opened its doors in 1950.

Be One with Nature at Mission Creek Preserve

The 4,760-acre Mission Creek Preserve, which sits at the meeting point of the Sonoran and Mojave deserts, is home to a diverse array of plants and animals.

In the middle of the preserve, you may find a beautiful wetland surrounded by eroded painted hills and Mount San Gorgonio.

This wetland area is an essential habitat protecting the endangered least Bell’s vireo and the southwest willow flycatcher.

Aside from them, you may also spot summer tanagers and vermillion flycatchers here.

Deer, bighorn sheep, bears, and mountain lions also thrive in the preserve, and when it rains, the wildflowers bloom spectacularly.

Go Hiking through Pushawalla Palms Trail

Located in the Coachella Valley Preserve, just east of Palm Springs near Thousand Palms, the Pushawalla Palms Trail is a short 10-minute walk from where you started.

Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizards can be found nowhere else in the world in the 17,000-acre location.

In addition, Thousand Palm Oasis, which is nourished by water leaking from the San Andreas Fault, is located here.

Other palm oases include the Paul Wilhelm Grove, Hidden Horseshoe, Willis, Pushawalla, and Indian Palms.

While other trails in Desert Hot Springs are gated and closed some days, the Pushawalla Palms trailhead, located just off the road outside the visitor center, is always open.

Swing a Club at Desert Dunes Golf Course

Desert Dunes Golf Course was Robert Trent Jones, Jr.’s first foray into the desert.

Many experts refer to it as Southern California’s top public golf course.

When you play Desert Dunes, you’ll feel like you’re playing on an authentic Scottish links course in the middle of the desert.

Water hazards come into play on several holes, making this a very difficult course to master.

The terrain undergoes several height variations throughout the race.

There are a lot of desert plants and flora left in place, which makes the route tougher.

Loosen Up at Two Bunch Palms

Two Bunch Palms is a contemporary health retreat nestled within 77 acres of beautiful desert terrain outside Los Angeles and minutes from Palm Springs, home to ancient palms and tamarisk trees.

One of the world’s oldest lithium streams flows through the property, providing a sanctuary of wellness and healing for those seeking a weekend away from it all.

You’ll find organic materials, hand-crafted antique tiles, and ipe wood in the hotel’s 67 freshly redesigned bedrooms, including 13 suites with their private patios.

In addition to the numerous holistic treatments and enrichment activities offered each week, there are 19 indoor and outdoor spa therapy rooms, a yoga dome, and mineral-rich pools.

Sustainable, locally produced, California-inspired cuisine offers the perfect atmosphere for a meal, a rest, and a break from technology.

Bring the Family to Unwind at Desert Hot Springs Spa Hotel

The Desert Hot Springs Spa Hotel is a great example of mid-century modern architecture, located at the city’s top.

Natural mineral water is used to create a relaxing environment open year-round, making it a historical monument for the city.

It is a short drive from Cabot’s Pueblo Museum and a short drive from downtown Palm Springs, but this colorful spa hotel with midcentury modern design is only 18 minutes from the city center.

There are minifridges and balconies in simple rooms. Others have hot baths and grilling areas outside.

A full-service spa and a central courtyard with three natural mineral pools are available for a daily fee.

In addition, there is a coin-operated laundry, a laid-back cafe, and a poolside sports bar with occasional entertainment.

Grab Some Fresh Fruits and Vegetables at Farmer In the Dale Produce

Farmer in the Dale, a family-owned grocery shop in Desert Hot Springs, was established in the late 1990s.

Due to its stable stock and customer-oriented attitude to business, the tiny independent supermarket has had some surprising success throughout the epidemic.

You can get anything from delicious limes to cherimoyas at this small-town grocery shop with a wide variety of unusual produce.

Residents of Desert Hot Springs bought fruit from the store’s owners Dale and Josefina Draayer long before they ever built a physical location.

Farmers from all around the world are now part of its extensive supply chain.

You’ll receive the most bang for your dollars in this local market.

Have a Romantic Escapade at Azure Palm Hot Springs Resort & Day Spa Oasis

From its vantage point on Miracle Hill, Azure Palm Hot Springs provides guests with the ultimate hot springs spa experience.

This spot is for adults-only get-togethers, perfect for an intimate escape with your significant other backdropped by the magnificence of the desert.

Relax in the comfort of your in-room soaking tub with a soothing dip in the mineral spring water.

Spend the night or just the day at the spa and take advantage of the over 30 exclusively crafted services.

The only real Himalayan Salt room in Palm Springs offers a rejuvenating and therapeutic experience.

Our yoga studio is a great place to relax and get in shape.

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all served at The Azure Palm Café, where you can savor fresh juices, coffee, and more.

Stop Over at Palm Springs/Joshua Tree KOA

The Palm Springs/Joshua Tree KOA in southern California’s Coachella Valley offers a range of services and activities in a beautifully manicured resort-style environment to travelers from around the world.

Guests can stay in one of the new deluxe cabins or tent sites with full hookups.

Make your next trip one-of-a-kind by staying at a KOA with distinctive housing.

A tepee or an Airstream may be on the list. RV sites and Deluxe Cabins at KOA Campgrounds are accessible to those with disabilities.

You’ll be able to keep active throughout the day at this RV resort by participating in one of its numerous recreational activities or simply relaxing by the pool.

Chill at Playoffs Sports Lounge

Looking for a spot in Desert Pot Springs where you can drink and chill?

Playoffs Sports Lounge is a cozy and diverse sports bar.

Sports fans may watch all the main athletic events and several sports packages on twelve high-definition large-screen televisions, including Sunday Ticket.

Those in need of a midnight snack are welcome to stop by any time during the night.

In addition to 10 tap handles displaying various microbrews, it has the largest liquor collection in the city.

Everyone is welcome in the Playoffs, but there is only one rule: Be good or go!

You may also celebrate your special occasions at the bar.

Try the European Flavors of Farm Fresh Market by Austrian Homestead Inc.

Elke and Paul, the Austrian-born proprietors of Farm Fresh Market, moved to California because they liked the climate.

While living in Palm Springs, they decided to buy land in Sky Valley to build the Austrian Homestead Farm.

Try one of its homemade sandwiches!

The Farm-Fresh Market has a coffee shop, where you can buy local eggs from Paul’s hens, and a bakery where you can buy farm-fresh bread from Paul.

There is a European flavor to the market, with baked pastries and local products from her farm or a neighboring vendor.

Food and farm souvenirs are available at the Austrian Homestead Farm market, with a selection of necessities and farm animals’ fleeces for sale.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Pay a Visit to Living Desert Zoo & Gardens

Name sign of Living Desert Zoo & Gardens.

Simone Hogan /

Desert botanical gardens and a zoo coexist in the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert, California, 12 minutes away from Desert Hot Springs.

Each year, the Living Desert attracts over half a million people and houses over 500 creatures from over 150 different species.

A giraffe near the water at Living Desert Zoo & Gardens.

Big X /

With a 1,200-acre site outside Palm Springs, The Living Desert features a zoo and gardens spread over 80 acres, an educational center, and a botanical garden.

Some of the animals you may find here include the Peninsular bighorn sheep and Arabian oryx.

Animals at Living Desert Zoo & Gardens.

Zack Frank /

If you’d like, you’re welcome to bring your food to this location.

The park features several picnic tables to have your lunch or a snack.

Ride the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Cable cars at Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.

FajarPangestu /

Chino Canyon’s spectacular cliffs are seen from the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, the world’s biggest rotating tramcar, which goes over two-and-a-half miles to the unspoiled wildness of the Mt. San Jacinto State Park.

Your ten-minute ride on the tram is filled with breathtaking views of the valley floor below as it gently rotates.

A cable car at Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.

Kate Scott /

At an altitude of 8,516 feet, the Mountain Station has two restaurants, observation decks, a natural history museum, a gift shop, two documentary cinemas, and more than 50 miles of hiking paths for visitors to explore.

There are various excellent and informal eating options available at Valley and Mountain Stations. Purchase your Tram tickets in advance online to guarantee your seat.

This Aerial Tramway lies 13 minutes away from Desert Hot Springs.

Stairs at Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.

Jeff Whyte /

Explore the Palm Springs Air Museum

Exterior of the Air Museum.

Steve Cukrov /

At the Palm Springs Air Museum, 19 minutes away from Desert Hot Springs, visitors learn about the importance of airpower in maintaining American freedom and way of life through a live history exhibit.

At the Palm Springs Air Museum, you may get up close and personal with antique World War II and Korean/Vietnam period planes.

A plane at Air Museum.

Steve Cukrov /

Many of the docents at the museum are former pilots or sailors who served in the armed forces during World War II.

Each hangar has a distinct theme, and the displays that line the walls are all tied to that subject.

Colored dots are given to visitors who arrive through the Lobby and pay at the Gift Shop.

Lined up planes at Air Museum.

Steve Cukrov /

Gaze at the Stunning Local Art at Palm Springs Art Museum

Name sign of the Palm Springs Art Museum.

S. Witchayakul /

With over 150,000 square feet of exhibit space and a 433-seat Annenberg Theater, it’s little wonder that the Palm Springs Art Museum is the Coachella Valley’s greatest cultural institution.

This museum, previously the Palm Springs Desert Museum, lies 22 minutes away from Desert Hot Springs.

Located between Los Angeles and Phoenix, it’s the only major art museum of its kind in the area.

A vertical car display at Palm Springs Art Museum.

Noah Sauve /

Contemporary California art, Native American art, Mesoamerican art, classic western, Mexican art, European modern art, and more are all represented in the museum’s permanent collection.

On the Annenberg Theater’s Lower Level, you’ll find Broadway, cabaret, jazz, classical music, opera, dance, and entertainment industry speakers.

The museum includes art lessons, seminars, films, a cafe, two sculpture gardens, and a museum store full of one-of-a-kind products that you won’t find anywhere else.

Exterior of the Palm Springs Art Museum.

bonandbon /

Final Thoughts

Inspiring and transforming, the natural splendor of Desert Hot Springs is hard to resist.

Its picturesque wetlands, a perennial stream, native flora, and wildlife provide an opportunity for exploration.

If you want to explore this stunning oasis in the Coachella Valley, our list of the best things in Desert Hot Springs has you covered.

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