15 Best Things to Do in Palm Springs, CA

Palm Springs, CA
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The Sonoran Desert is a complete contrast to what many people picture it.

This vast desert that covers Baja, California, Mexico, and Arizona is a beautiful and diverse region with numerous cities and towns thriving.

One of the best Sonoran Desert oases is Palm Springs in Riverside County, California.

This quintessential city is renowned for being one of Southern California's best vacation destinations.

Long touted as one of the places for Hollywood celebrities to escape the limelight, Palm Springs offers you plenty of attractions and activities to enjoy.

Its streets have plenty of mid-century architecture, art galleries, shopping centers, restaurants, and countless recreational opportunities.

While you can chill and spend your day at one of its resort pools, why not head out and explore the vast Sonoran Desert?

Are you considering a short vacation in this desert oasis?

Below are the best things to do in Palm Springs, California, for itinerary ideas.

Ascend the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

View of  Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
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Hop on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to get the best view of Palm Springs and the vast Sonoran Desert.

Your visit to Palm Springs won't be complete without riding on this famous tramway along Tram Way Street.

It mainly features a huge rotating cable car that takes you on the San Jacinto Peak with an elevation of 8,517 feet.

Scenic view of  Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
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While aboard, you'll be in awe of the breathtaking scenery of Palm Springs and the nearby towns and cities below.

This famous tramway has lifted millions of tourists since operating in 1963, making it a tourist icon in the city.

Besides the breathtaking views, proceed hiking through San Jacinto Peak or head to one of its mountaintop restaurants for a delicious meal.

View of Palm Springs Tramway
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Chill at the DeMuth Park

Head to DeMuth Park if you're searching for Palm Spring's most relaxing spot.

Visit this public park along E. Mesquite Avenue.

The park spans 61 acres and is also home to the Demuth Park Community Center.

Like most parks, it has a playground, an open green space, numerous sports fields, picnic areas, and a walking trail for everyone to enjoy.

DeMuth Park is your go-to place if you're yearning for a break after a tiring drive to Palm Springs.

It has a peaceful atmosphere, fresh air, and all the amenities to make your visit there convenient.

Browse the Palm Springs Art Museum

Entrance to Palm Springs Art Museum
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After taking a short break, proceed to the Palm Springs Art Museum.

Drop by this art museum along N Museum Drive.

This art museum is one of the must-visit attractions in Palm Springs.

It has already welcomed countless visitors since it opened in 1938.

Inverted car sculpture at Palm Springs Art Museum
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You'll find a vast collection of artworks, everything from sculptures, paintings, photographs, and a mixture of modern, contemporary, and classic arts.

Besides the art galleries, watch plays, concerts, and other live performances featuring local artists and groups at the Palm Springs Art Museum.

Spending an hour or two at this art museum offers a more fascinating and worthwhile experience touring the city.

Interior view of Palm Springs Art Museum
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Traverse the Scenic North Palm Canyon Drive

The North Palm Canyon Drive is one of Palm Springs' best attractions.

This stretch is home to dozens of restaurants, shops, and art galleries.

Simply put, it's Palm Springs' most vibrant portion, where most businesses and people are concentrated.

Driving through this famous street allows you to immerse in the locals and indulge in plenty of worthwhile leisure activities.

Go to a restaurant hopping and taste Palm Springs' local food scene.

Or perhaps go on a shopping spree from the dozens of shops lining the street while vibing with locals.

For entertainment, check out various theaters and museums along North Palm Canyon Drive for a more satisfying experience.

Wander Through the Indian Canyons

Palm trees at  Indian Canyons
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The vast Sonoran Desert isn't just a barren land.

It's also home to scenic canyons and other natural rock formations, such as the Indian Canyons.

Find one of the canyons' entrances along S. Palm Canyon Drive.

This picturesque group of canyons is the closest natural attraction in Palm Springs.

Waterfall at  Indian Canyons
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A total of three canyons make up the entire area, which any visitor can explore by hiking or riding on horseback.

The entire terrain of Indian Canyons is perfect for outdoor activities.

Along the way, you'll come across stunning sceneries and local wildlife, making this place worthy of exploring.

To complete your visit, head to the visitor's center and buy souvenirs as your remembrance of spending your day at this place.

Hiking trail at  Indian Canyons
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Step Into Cabot's Pueblo Museum

Cabot's Pueblo Museum along Desert View Avenue is a unique historic house constructed by early pioneer Cabot Yerxa.

The entire building features a four-story, 35-room Hopi-style pueblo with a Pueblo Revival style architecture.

This unique historical attraction allows you to browse a vast collection of artifacts and artworks.

These museum displays came from Native American and Alaskan cultures, including memorabilia of the desert homesteaders.

It's a nice place in Palm Springs to take photos with the beautiful pueblo as your background.

At the same time, join guided tours at Cabot's Pueblo Museum to learn about its construction back in the day to complete your visit there.

Discover Rare Desert Plants at Moorten Botanical Garden

Architecture of Moorten Botanical Garden
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Moorten Botanical Garden is an excellent place to get acquainted with rare and unusual desert flora.

Arrive at this charming garden via S. Palm Canyon Drive.

This garden primarily features the Sonoran Desert's flora and fauna through its 1-acre facility, the only existing Cactarium in the world.

Plants at Moorten Botanical Garden
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You'll see over 3,000 varieties of succulents, cacti, and other rare desert plants you won't find anywhere else.

If you're a plant lover, you're guaranteed to love this place and see up close beautiful and rare desert plants.

At the same time, try the Moorten Botanical Garden's scenic trail, which features more of the plant collection.

Cactus garden at Moorten Botanical Garden
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Test Your Luck at Agua Caliente Casino Palm Springs

Signage of Agua Caliente Casino Palm Springs
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Agua Caliente Casino Palm Springs serves as one of the leading entertainment hubs in Palm Springs' downtown area.

Check this top-notch casino out along E. Amado Road.

It mainly features a 24-hour world-class casino facility featuring over a hundred slot machine games, poker tables, and plenty more casino games to keep you up all day.

Facade of Agua Caliente Casino Palm Springs
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At the same time, walk over to the lounge for a relaxing break after wagering from your favorite casino game.

Head to the casino's steakhouse and treat yourself to some delicious prime cuts after finishing playing.

Of course, there are plenty of exciting activities at Agua Caliente Casino Palm Springs, so make sure to list this in your itinerary.

Garden at Agua Caliente Casino Palm Springs
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See World War 2 Planes Inside the Palm Springs Air Museum

Exterior view of Palm Springs Air Museum
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The Palm Springs Air Museum offers you a rare opportunity to see a massive collection of vintage warplanes up close.

This museum along Gene Autry Trail will tickle your fancy if you're a huge fan of planes.

Get up close and personal with well-preserved warplanes such as the Douglas DC-3 Skytrain, Grumman F7F Tigercat, and the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress.

Entrance to Palm Springs Air Museum
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There are plenty more aircraft inside this museum ranging from World War II, Korean War, and Vietnam War-era planes.

Compared to other plane museums in the nation, this one allows everyone to sit in one of the plane's cockpits for a more immersive experience.

Exhibits at Palm Springs Air Museum
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To make your visit to the Palm Springs Air Museum more enjoyable, join its guided tours for an educational experience.

So, remember to spend your day at this magnificent museum and be in awe of the dozens of vintage warplanes you won't see anywhere else.

Spot Your Favorite Celebrity Marker at the Walk of the Stars Palm Springs

Street view of Walk of the Stars Palm Springs
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The Walk of the Stars Palm Springs resembles the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles.

Spot this attraction in various locations throughout the city, along Museum Drive, Palm Canyon Drive, and Tahquitz Canyon Way.

View of Walk of the Stars Palm Springs
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While strolling, you'll see hundreds of celebrities such as Elvis Presley, former President Ronald Reagan, and Elizabeth Taylor.

This attraction in Palm Springs is an excellent showcase for those who have yet to visit the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Strolling through the Walk of the Stars Palm Springs is one of the most fun things in this city, especially taking photos of your favorite star's marker.

Tony Sandler & Ralph Young's star at Walk of the Stars Palm Springs
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Roam the Kaufmann House

Outside view of Kaufmann House
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Head to the Kaufmann House to see first-hand what an elegant retro home looked like back in the day.

This famous house is on West Vista Chino.

Visiting this place allows you transport to Hollywood's Golden Age, where groovy aesthetics and mid-century modern architecture meet.

This attraction is considered a historical landmark after being photographed in the 1970s, eventually becoming a pop culture icon.

Entrance to Kaufmann House
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The house's interiors, including its famous pool, have been printed on various novelty items you can still see up to this day.

So, visiting this place is a rare opportunity to pose at one of the most famous houses in California or even perhaps the entire world.

Besides being a pop icon, the Kaufmann House is a benchmark for many aspiring architects and designers worldwide for its unique and gorgeous design.

Pay Tribute to the One and Only Marilyn Monroe at the Forever Marilyn Shrine

Statue of Marilyn Monroe
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Forever Marilyn is a massive statue of the famous Hollywood actress Marilyn Monroe.

This unique is open to visitors along Museum Way, featuring the masterpiece by celebrated artist Seward Johnson up close.

The statue depicts Monroe's iconic Billy Wilder 1955 scene.

It stands 26 feet tall and weighs over 34,000 pounds, made from stainless steel and aluminum.

The statue mainly pays tribute to the great actress first discovered in Palm Springs in 1949.

In addition, Monroe considered Palm Springs as one of her favorite places to visit back in the day, making it relevant to her life.

Taking photos as your souvenir and for your social network is an excellent way to make the most of your visit to Forever Marilyn.

Venture into Another World at Robolights

Robolights is an out-of-this-world attraction on E. Granvia Valmonte Street, featuring the unique artworks of artist Kenny Irwin Jr.

See an eclectic display of life-sized and pastel-colored robots and sci-fi sculptures.

This former school project started 30 years ago has grown into a 4-acre attraction that draws thousands of visitors annually.

Take photos of a bunch of robot sculptures, aliens, and other odd-looking characters.

Overall, Robolights offers a refreshing sight in Palm Springs' tropical and desert landscape.

Tour Palm Springs' Best Spots with Smoke Tree Stables

Signage of Smoke Tree Stables
Visitor7, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Smoke Tree Stables is the premier horseback-riding tour company in Palm Springs.

Join their exciting tours by signing up at its HQ on S. Toledo Avenue.

This family-owned company has been operating since 1927, making it an institution in Palm Springs' tourism industry.

It mainly specializes in horseback-riding tours through the Seven Sisters Fall and Murray Canyon Haul.

Their horseback-riding tours include parts of the Andreas Canyon and the Agua Caliente Indian Canyons.

You'll be delighted to see gorgeous canyons, cliffs, and mountains along the way.

At the same time, spy various local wildlife with the facility’s provided binoculars.

Overall, Smoke Tree Stables' horseback-riding tour is a spectacular way to explore Palm Springs' desert beauty.

Take Part in the VillageFest

Visitors purchasing at VillageFest
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Palm Springs' famous Palm Canyon Drive closes to traffic every Thursday evening to make way for Villagefest.

This unique weekly street market features the best of Palm Springs.

It has over a hundred vendors displaying their best products amidst the festive atmosphere of the area.

Stalls at VillageFest
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After it started in 1991, it soon became a weekly event that attracted visitors throughout California.

While strolling through the entire Palm Canyon Drive, you'll find various stalls selling food, artwork, jewelry, and other novelty items.

An artist painting with his hands at VillageFest
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Overall, the VillageFest is the perfect place and event to rub elbows with Palm Springs' locals and see how its community comes together for this unique occasion.

It’s a fantastic way to cap the circuit of a Palm Springs visit.

Final Thoughts

Palm Springs has been renowned as a favorite holiday destination because of its year-round tropical weather.

Consider Palm Springs as your next destination, explore its main attractions, and discover plenty of hidden gems.

If you're looking for more outdoor adventure, head out to the Sonoran Desert and get captivated by its breathtaking scenery.

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