14 Must Do Palm Springs Area Activities


You have to get past the miles and miles of shopping malls to appreciate the great things that the Palm Springs area has to offer.

Here is my personal list of 14 Must Do Palm Springs area activities.

  • Visit the Palm Springs Art Museum and admire their blown glass exhibit. Admission is free on Thursdays from 4pm to 8pm. Otherwise adults can expect to pay $12.50. The permanent collection focuses on international modern and contemporary painting.
"Palm Springs Art Gallery"

Palm Springs Art Gallery

  • Drive up to Idyllwild and delight in the change of environments as you head from desert to Ponderosa Pine country. There are excellent hikes up here, especially on the ‘Zen Center to Red Tahquitz Overlook’ trail.
"Idyllwild area - high above Palm Springs"

Idyllwild area - high above Palm Springs

  • Rent a bike and do the 15 mile loop around Palm Springs. You will pass through 50’s and 60’s vintage residential neighbourhoods which are architecturally very interesting.
  • Take a tour of the art galleries in the Palm Desert area. You will find more than 20 galleries to visit with the bulk of them on El Paseo. Palm Springs has another 10 art galleries so in all likelihood you’ll find something to match your taste.
  • Visit the Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge if you enjoy bird watching. Thousands of waterfowl and other birds spend the winter here including American avocets, snow geese, pintails, green winged teals, eared grebes and the Canada geese. The primary purpose of the refuge is to provide habitat for over wintering and migrating birds.
  • Enjoy a date shake at Shields Date Garden. Then watch a video on the sex life of a date (who knew?) and marvel at the sheer number of varieties.

  • If celebrity gazing is up your alley then you can choose from either the Palm Springs Celebrity Tour or the Grand Tour which focuses on the entire Coachella valley. You’ll pass dozens of homes occupied by the rich and famous, past and present including those owned by Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope and Walter Annenberg.
  • If architecture is your thing then try a Segway tour with Robert. His three hour citywide tour is offered twice daily (9:30am and 1:30PM) and will set you back $75. He also offers architectural tours on SEGWAYs for $125 though you won’t cover as much ground. Contact him by email at psmoderntours@aol.com or by calling 760-318-6118.
  • Check out the Palm Springs Air Museum where you’ll find the world’s largest collection of WWII planes.
  • Visit one of over thirty spas in the Coachella Valley. One of the best known is the Two Bunch Palms Spa and Resort which in 2008 was considered to be one of the 10 best spots in the country to relax your mind and body. Sounds good to me.
  • Visit Joshua Tree National Park. There are many days worth of hiking if you are so inclined. Numerous 1-2 mile hikes will give you a sense of the area, particularly the Hidden Valley and Barker Dam trails. The rock formations are reminescent of Fred Flintstone country.
"Joshua Tree National Park"

Joshua Tree National Park

  • Ride the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Adult tickets cost $23.25 each. The first car up is 10am on a Monday to Friday basis and at 8am on weekends and holidays. You’ll rise 8,516 feet over just 10 minutes. Once at the top you can enjoy over 50 miles of hiking and snowshoeing/cross country skiing in the winter months. You’ll also find a cafeteria and a fine dining restaurant on top.

  • Hikes on one of the more than 140 hikes in the area. The Palm Oasis in Indian Canyon was one of my favourites.
  • If you’re a gardener then a trip to the Moorten Botanical Gardens is in order. The gardens are small but fun to wander through. You’ll see 3000 desert cacti and other desert plants grouped by geographical region. The founders, Patricia and Chester Moorten, collected plants and designed and installed landscapes for Frank Sinatra. Today, Clark Moorten is the curator and renowned expert on succulent plants in America. He propagates them and many are available for sale. Admission is only $3. The gardens are open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 4pm but it is closed on Wednesdays and Sundays.
"Moorten Botanical Garden"

Moorten Botanical Garden

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