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Palm Springs Travel Guide: Everything You Need to Know

Palm Springs is the perfect getaway for any age. Located in the Sonoran Desert, a short 2 hour drive from Los Angeles, it is surrounded by four picturesque mountain ranges and beautiful desert. It is known for stylish hotels, golf courses, spas, and incredible mid century modern architecture. You also don’t need to spend a ton of time there to see a lot so it makes for the perfect weekend vacation spot. This guide includes where to stay, where to eat, and things to do! Our guide to Palm Springs was put together after tons of research and of course visiting this amazing city. Here is our Palm Springs Travel Guide: Everything You Need to Know.

Things to do in Palm Springs

There really are so many fun things to do in Palm Springs and it seems like the list is always growing. We love a city that has a lot to do, but also allows time for relaxing. A lot of these activities do not take a lot of time so you can get a lot done in a short amount of time.

1. Moorten Botanical Garden

This botanical garden sits on over an acre of land and houses 3000+ desert plants. It is a fun place to walk around and you can even spot some desert tortoises. Garden tours are available as well. The path is easy to navigate. We took our stroller, but I don’t think it is wheelchair accessible. It would be difficult in some areas to maneuver a wheelchair.

Open Daily from 10-4, closed Wednesdays. Adults are $5 and children $2.50

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2. The Living Desert

A fun interactive zoo where you can feed giraffes for only $7. With Nature trails, a tram ride, a carousel, shows and exhibits, the zoo is a fun place to spend the morning. Plan on 2-3 hours total.

3. Pool Hop

Palm Springs is the perfect place for a swim. The great news is, you are not confined to your hotel pool. Most pools are open to the public as long as you purchase food, or a drink, or a small cover charge. We love the Saguero for the colorful view, bocce ball, and shaded areas to relax. The Arrive Hotel and Holiday House are also really nice pools to check out.

4. Palm Springs Art Museum

This is such a fun unique museum to explore. There are three different areas to explore with different theming. It is currently closed but check their website for opening details and pricing for when it does open.

There are detailed sculptures as well as works made of glass, and photography from renowned artists such as Andy Warhol and Diane Arbus.

Address: 101 N Museum Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262, USA

5. Hike

There are so many fun hikes to do in Palm Springs- ranging from easy quick nature trails, to more difficult longer trails.

Tahquitz Canyon Trail

This trail is 1.8 miles long with an elevation gain of 350 feet. The hike is beautiful and ends in a waterfall. The official website labels it as strenuous but that depends on your level and hiking experience.

Palm Canyon Trail

This is an easy 2 mile trail with 295 feet of elevation. It is a great hike with picnic areas by a creek. This trail is shaded with fan palms for a mile and you will see incredible rock formations.

6. Go on a Driving Tour of Former Celebrity Homes

Palm Springs is known for their incredible architecture. We drove around lots of neighborhoods and saw some of these old celebrity homes. If you want to take your own tour, below is our map, as well as order you can go in to make the best time. Service in these areas can be a little low, so plan accordingly.
Here is a map of all the homes as well as where we went.
1. Kaufman House
2. Kennedy/ Lawford Home
3. Marilyn Monroe Estate
4. Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway
5. Dean Martin’s Home
6. Ann Miller’s House
7. Elizabeth Taylor’s House
8. Liberace House
9. Sinatra House
10. Bob Hope’s House
11. Cary Grant Estate

7. Take a Door Tour

Palm Springs is full of the cutest doors in possibly the world. There are so many colorful and intricate doors to see. The best way to see the colorful doors is to drive or bike around certain neighborhoods. We spent an hour one day looking for cute doors. Most of the good doors are in the Indian Canyons neighborhood near the Saguaro Palm Springs Hotel.

***Please remember these are people’s homes and private property. Be respectful and stick to your cars or sidewalks if you want a photo***

Self Guided Palm Springs Door Tour
That Pink Door
Located: 1099 East Sierra Way

This is probably the most famous door right now in Palm Springs and even has its own Instagram account. You can rent this luxurious property on Airbnb right now if you want to see the whole house as photographs with the door are not permitted.

The Lions
Located: 11087 East Sierra Way

This house has two Chinese Lions on either side and the owner switches up the decor on them frequently. When we visited it was lips. I can’t wait to see what may be on it next time.

The Red Door
Located: 1947 Cadiz Circle

Baby Blue Door
Located: 1598 Circo Circle

Magenta Door
Located: 1500 Lobo Way

Yellow Door
Located: 2344 S Yosemite Drive

Seafoam Door
Located: 2297 Camino Real

Teal Door
Located: 2325 Via Lazo

The Flowers Door
Located: 2063 South Madrona Drive

The Turquoise Door
Located: 1221 East Sierra Way

Lime Green Door
Located: 2455 East Via Lazo

If you are planning to take a lot of photos, the best time of day to visit these doors is two hours before sunset. The mountain shades the city and creates a beautiful light.

8. Vintage Shopping

Palm Springs is full of unique fun thrift stores with incredible stuff. Palm Canyon Drive is the place to shop. There are so many independently owned boutiques that are full of fun stuff to look at (and buy).

9. Sonny Bono Statue

Are you a Sonny Bono Fan? He has is very own statue. Made famous from his politics and former partnership with Cher, he was also the acting mayor of Palm Springs for 4 years as well as a congressmen.

Address: 155 S Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262, USA

10. The Alexander Estate

Also known as the Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway. This is the house where Elvis and Priscilla Presley not only had their honeymoon, but they also spent a year of their lives here.

There is a birthday celebration thrown here each year, but you can easily drive up to the house and view it from the cul de sac. They also offer tours of the home if you want to see the inside. $30 per adult, children 12 and under are $15

Address: 1350 Ladera Cir, Palm Springs, CA 92262, USA

11. Palm Springs Sign

We love when cities have a big sign to see and Palm Springs has a good one. You can easily find it via google, but it is on a busy road, so be safe.

12. Pioneertown

Step back in time and visit A functioning 188o’s themed town. This is the set of 20+ westerns and is still a working production set today. The post office is the most visited in the country! Pioneertown is a little more than a few city blocks long. Only Horse and Foot Traffic is allowed on Downtown Mane Street, so you will need to park your car at either end and enjoy all the sites on foot.

13. World Famous Crochet Museum

Located in the town of Joshua Tree, the museum features an eclectic assortment of crocheted animals & other creations in a converted drive-thru photo stand. Bonus, its FREE

Located: 61855 CA-62, Joshua Tree, CA 92252

***BONUS TIP*** If you plan on visiting the crochet museum and Pioneertown from Joshua Tree National Park, enter Joshua Tree from the south entrance and work your way up and exit into Joshua Tree the town.

14. Shields Date Garden

Learn how the super food dates grow and try this delicious fruit. There is a cafe and it is a fun open space to walk around. Try a date shake, or some homemade date butter on bread. This is a different experience you won’t find many places. 

Open everyday from 9-5
Cost: $5 per person, kids 12 and under are free

15. Visit the Windmills

You can get pretty close to the windmills and even take a tour if you are super curious about them. To drive to the windmills, you’ll want to drive North on N. Indian Canyon Drive (inbetween the I-10 and W San Rafael Drive). Before you reach the I-10, take a left onto Garnet Ave. Drive for about 1 mile and you’ll see some side roads to the left where you can pull off and walk closer to the windmills

Where to Eat in Palm Springs

We love cities with good food options and Palm Springs is full of delicious places to eat. Food is on the pricier side (for our way of travel), around $12-20 per meal. There are definitely more budget friendly options, but a majority of the food that we tried tended to be in that price range. One thing about Palm Springs is that there are so many breakfast and brunch places to choose from. Take advantage of the yummy brunch options.

Palm Springs Food (in no particular order) $-$10 or less, $$-$20 or less, etc…..

Farm $$ (breakfast and brunch, also dinner)
Delicious Breakfast and brunch. They are also open for dinner as well with a set menu.

Stout Burgers and Beer $-$$ (lunch/ dinner)
Really good fresh burgers with unique flavors. The loaded tots or fries are a must.

Townie Bagels Bakery and Cafe $ (breakfast/ lunch)
The bagels here are so delicious and made fresh in house. They had a really good breakfast sandwich, as well as a yummy blt. Their cream cheese is delicious and so flavorful.

Sherman’s Deli and Bakery $-$$ (breakfast, lunch, dinner)
This place has the most delicious dessert items and sandwiches. Stick to the popular items on the menu (pastrami, corned beef, etc..), skip the steak sandwich and cottage fries (they are kind of bland and soggy). The pastrami sandwich is the best I have ever had and we tried many of the desserts. The pistachio cake and Napoleon are both amazing.

Cheekys $-$$ (breakfast and brunch)
Amazing breakfast and lunch options. This place is usually super busy but worth the wait. Vegan options as well.

The Sandwich Spot $ (lunch and dinner)
Yummy sandwiches. This is a great option to save a little money. The sandwiches are fresh and filling

Wilma and Frieda’s $$ (breakfast, lunch, and dinner)
another great option in palm springs

El Patron $$ (lunch dinner)
We had really good tacos here. We sat out on the patio and it was so nice. You order at the counter and they bring your food out to you. The el pastor is delicious, as well as the ground beef hard shell tacos.

Koffi $
Coffee, breakfast sandwiches, pastries and more.

Where to Stay in Palm Springs

Palm Springs is full of fun boutique hotels, as well as mainstream chain hotels. We usually use Priceline and find the cheapest/ nicest/ most conveniently located place. We stayed at the Hyatt Downtown and it was so nice. The location was incredible, the pool was spacious and fun, and the rooms are all suites, which is so nice when traveling with a child. You really can’t go wrong when staying in Palm Springs as there are so many options for hotels.

Palm Springs Hotels

Hyatt Palm Springs– upscale hotel, centrally located, open air dining, and pool. This hotel location can’t be beat. It is located in downtown and close to so many great restaurants.
285 N Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262

The Saguaro– Remodeled rooms, colorful inside and out, this place is quintessential Palm Springs. The hotel features an on site restaurant as well as lawn games and incredible pool.
1800 E Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92264

Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs– Beautiful, modern hotel with luxury amenities, located in Downtown Palm Springs
100 W Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs, CA 92262

Renaissance Palm Springs Hotel– Close to the downtown main street, beautiful and spacious pool.
888 E Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs, CA 92262

Parker Palm Springs– this luxury hotel is a retreat in itself. With a spa, incredible on site food, luxurious pool, this hotel is often a place to spot a celebrity or 2 if that is your thing.

Getting Around Palm Springs

If you are not driving to Palm Springs, I highly highly recommend renting a car. The city is pretty spread out and having a car was super nice. Parking was also free at so many spots as well and our hotel included free parking.

While a car is super convenient, you could also rent a bike to see Palm Springs a different way. This company rents bikes by the half day, full day, or week. They also have bike tours (pre pandemic). The city is pretty flat and easy to bike in.

When to Visit: Palm Springs Travel Guide

You can visit Palm Springs year round! A lot of the city used to close in the summer months, but are now open year round because of the demand. We loved visiting in the early spring because the weather was perfect. We could swim still and enjoy sitting out by the pool, but it was not too unbearably hot.

Each season brings its own benefits. Desert X runs March 13- May 16th and is a huge desert art instillation. “The Desert X 2021 exhibition will explore the desert as both a place and idea, acknowledging the realities of people who reside here and the political, social, and cultural contexts that shape their stories.” -Via The Official Website
Coachella and Stagecoach- popular music festivals that usually take place in April are also huge draws in the spring.

You can’t go wrong by visiting Palm Springs. Go when you can and enjoy the desert weather at any time of the year.

Day Trips From Palm Springs

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is located a quick hour drive from Palm Springs. The park is created from two deserts meeting to create this magical National Park. There are 2 ways to get there. You can take either way but more of the hikes are located in the northern part of the park but there is stuff to see and do all over. We started at the bottom of the park and worked our way up and it was awesome. We did a bunch of small hikes and nature trails, saw the recommended sites, and drove through the whole park. Visit the official site for hours and openings.

Salvation Mountain

One and a half hours outside of Palm Springs, Salvation Mountain can be found. The artist, Leonard Knight, hand-made Salvation Mountain with over half a million gallons of latex paint. What started as a small monument turned out into a beautiful mountain tribute to God. Declared as “a folk art site worthy of preservation and protection” in the year 2000, Salvation Mountain is definitely a unique site to see.

Free to visit and open every single day of the year.

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Palm Springs Tips and Tricks

Palm Springs should be on your list of places to visit. The city is fun, the weather incredible, and there are so many things to do.

-Palm Springs is a desert and while it can be super hot in the day, it can cool down quite a bit at night. Make sure to pack accordingly
-There is a noise ordinance in Palm Springs. Be respectful and follow it.
-Drink lots of water

We had the best time exploring this fun city and cannot wait to go back. It doesn’t matter your age, you can find so many enjoyable things to do. Take advantage of nearby Joshua Tree, explore colorful doors, and eat delicious food. We hope you found our Palm Springs Travel Guide: Everything You Need to Know helpful.

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Palm Springs Travel Guide
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