Palm Springs was established in 1938 and has more than 350 days of sunshine with less than five inches of rain. It is a desert resort city within the Coachella Valley and located approximately 55 miles east of San Bernardino. It’s quickly regaining its’ reputation of being a vacationers hot spot with events and attractions like festivals, national parks, museums, and the famous Aerial Tram. It’s the perfect spot to retreat from winter’s grip. The following list is the top things to do in Palm Springs.
10. El Paseo Day Trip
It’s been said that El Paseo Palm Desert is the desert’s Rodeo Drive, with more than 250 retailers with independently owned boutique shops featuring jewelry, artwork, home décor, day spas, beauty bars and so much more; all on a mile long strip. But there is more than just shopping here. There are weekly events such as the art walk on Friday evenings or fun and free spring concerts at The Gardens on El Paseo on Saturday evenings. There’s also sidewalk cafés, and two dozen dining establishments that offer an eclectic fare from Pacific seafood to French cuisine. If you like to shop and relax in the afterglow of sunset, then this is one of the best places to visit in Palm Springs.
9. Shields Date Garden
Known as the Date Capital of the World, Shields Date Garden has been giving the populace sweet treats that are preservative, chemical, and sodium free since 1924. The couple that started the company bred their own varieties of dates and invented the Date Crystals which stay good for many years when kept in a moisture-proof container and can be used in cooking, and on cold cereals. There is a beautiful garden that winds around the 14-acre farm, giving the visitor a chance to relax and gaze upon some exquisite statues.
8. Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway
The Alexander Estate, aka The House of tomorrow, or better known as the Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway is a very popular attraction in Palm Springs and was originally built in 1960 by developer Robert Alexander for his wife. It was designed in four perfect circles, on three separate floors, incorporating glass and stonework to allow indoor and outdoor living. It features four bedrooms, five bathrooms, and is 5,000 square feet. The house became famous in 1967 when Elvis and Priscilla moved in after they eloped in Vegas. Today, it has been restored to its original glory with the couple’s pink canopy bed, leopard-print walls, and a huge collection of memorabilia. This is a must-see for visitors interested in architecture and/or for Elvis enthusiasts.
Every Thursday evening from 6:00pm to 10:00pm October – May and 7:00pm to 10:00pm June – September, grab the kids and enjoy Villagefest which has been voted the area’s best event with over 200 booths offering beautiful art, handcrafted items, and unique food. This festival started more than 20 years ago and now attracts thousands of visitors each week. The city closes the streets so you and your family can walk around, enjoy the variety of products for sale, and see the great entertainment that is offered on each block. The festival and shops are also dog friendly, so you don’t have to leave your furry children at home.
6. Indian Canyons
Many years ago, The Indian Canyons were home to the Agua Caliente Cahuilla where they developed complex communities and grew crops of melons, squash, beans, and corn; as well as gathering seeds for food, medicines, and basket weaving. The canyons consist of Palm Canyon, Andreas Canyon, and Murray Canyon and offers miles of scenic hiking trails. Today, a visitor can still see rock art, house pits, foundations, irrigation ditches, dams, reservoirs, trails, and food preparation areas that were left by the Cahuilla society. Tours are offered on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10:00am to 1:00pm that last approximately one and half hours and are one mile in length.
5. The Living Desert
The Living Desert is a zoo like none other with 1,200 protected acres holding 450 wild animals and a botanical garden. There are live shows including the new Zoorassic Park that features a trio of Hollywood-caliber dinosaur characters, along with dinosaur related activities such as digging for dinosaur fossils, scavenger hunt, and taking pictures with a 7 foot tall, 15 ½-foot long Tyrannosaurus Rex who stomps, growls and blinks. Other areas of the zoo include the Village WaTuTu which is an authentic replica of a village found in northeast Africa with camels, hyenas, addax, leopards, tortoises, and many others. When you’re ready to cool down, visit the Thorn Tree Grill to get some icy drinks along with grilled food, salads, and African cuisine.
4. Palm Springs Art Museum
The art museum has collections of modern and contemporary art and traditional art of the Americas. It’s located in the heart of downtown and includes works from Marc Chagall, Louise Bourgeois, and Ansel Adams, among others. The museum also features glass, photography, architecture and design all of which is spread over 150,000 square feet. It has two outdoor sculpture gardens, a café, and a gift shop. They are open every day except Mondays and major holidays and offer free admission Thursday evenings from 4:00pm to 9:00pm and every second Sunday.
3. Palm Springs Air Museum
CNN Travel has ranked this museum as belonging to the world’s top 14 aviation museums with over 28 flyable planes dating back to World War II and the Vietnam and Korean Wars. The planes are kept in three climate-controlled theme hangers totaling 65,000 square feet. The first hanger is the Pacific Navy hanger and features a diorama narrated by NBC’s Tom Brokaw along with planes like the Grumman cats, the Avenger, and the Corsair. The next hanger is the European Army Hanger with B-25 Mitchell Bomber, P-47 Thunderbolt, and the C-47. The third hanger is the Berger Youth Exploration Center with interactive undertakings for young people. Lastly, there is a research library with 9,200 volumes, an Education Center, and the Buddy Rogers Theatre. Daily rates are $16 for adults, $14 for seniors and $9 for children 6 and above. They have free admission Thursdays from 4-8pm and every second Sunday.
2. Mount San Jacinto State Park
For those who love to be active, there are many hiking possibilities in the area, but none as gorgeous as Mount San Jacinto. The range extends for approximately 30 miles from the San Bernardino Mountains to the Santa Rosa Mountains. These mountains are considered a humid island, or sky island, above the surrounding desert as it contains numerous species of flora and fauna that cannot tolerate the desert’s heat. Some of these include California black oak, Ponderosa pine, Jeffery pine, Incense cedar, White fir, and a grove of Giant Sequoia Trees. The state park is part of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument which encompasses about 280,000 acres. Permits are required, even for day hikes but they are easy to gain. There are several routes up the mountain but the most traveled is the Palm Springs Tram which begins your journey in Long Valley.
1. Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
The tramway has been voted many times as the top of all the tourist attractions in Palm Springs. It was built in 1963 and has seen nearly 18 million people travel the 10 minute, 2 ½ mile ride which begins at an elevation of 2,643 feet and ends at the Mountain Station which has an elevation of 8,516 feet. It’s the largest aerial tramway in the world and offers access to hiking and camping trips within the Mount San Jacinto State Park. The view is awe-inspiring as you travel up the sheer cliffs of Chino Canyon and look down upon the valley once you reach the top. It is perfect for friends to get together or, if you are in a romantic mood, you can buy a trolley and dinner package. Dinner is at the Peak’s Restaurant or Pines Café, and both offer stunning views. Remember that it can get quite cool up on top of Mount San Jacinto so bring a jacket with you.
Even though many well-known celebrities have made Palm Springs their home, it still has a village atmosphere with palm-tree lined streets and open avenues full of boutique shops and art galleries. It is situated at the base of southern California’s Santa Rosa Mountains, just south of Interstate 10, at the westernmost extension of the Sonoran Desert. Winter temperatures average in the 70s with nights in the mid-40s. The dry desert heat of summer pushes daytime temperatures into the 100s so dress accordingly.