Exciting Palm Springs Itinerary: Perfect Weekend Getaway [2024]

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Whether you’re looking for poolside relaxation or a heart-thumping hike (or both, like us!), you’ll find it in this perfect Palm Springs itinerary. We’ve rounded up the best things to do on a weekend escape in this desert oasis!

Indian Canyons Palm Canyon hike Palm Springs

Located in the desert just over 1.5 hours from Los Angeles, Palm Springs makes a fantastic weekend getaway whether you’re coming from LA or you’re flying directly into Coachella Valley.

Back in the day, this used to be a favorite vacation destination for old Hollywood celebs, such as Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, and Elvis Presley. Today, it attracts hikers, foodies, golfers, and everybody in between!

The combination of endless Palm Trees coupled with mountains looming in the not-too-far distance is jaw-dropping.

Known for vibrant mid-century modern architecture, boozy brunches, poolside lounging, desert hikes, a thriving LGBTQ+ scene, and world-class golfing, Palm Springs certainly has a little something for everyone!

We’ve put together a list of the best things to do and exactly how to plan the perfect itinerary for a Palm Springs weekend getaway.

Palm Springs travel guide

Psst! Want to see what our time in Palm Springs looked like in real life (plus some behind the scenes stuff)? See all the videos and tips on our Instagram highlight!

Palm Springs itinerary overview

Palm Springs

The itinerary below is for a long weekend and spans 4 days. This amount of time allows you to see both the big sights and hidden gems, as well as leaving time to relax poolside. Below is the outline, but keep scrolling for all the details (aka business hours, entrance fees, insider tips, what to order, etc.). 

Our advice: If possible, we recommend arriving on a Wednesday evening/Thursday morning and departing on Sunday evening/Monday morning. 

Day 1 (Thursday)

  • Hike to Tahquitz Canyon waterfall
  • Have savory crepes for lunch at Gabino’s Creperie
  • Treat yourself to a cone at Kreem
  • Wander the Moorten Botanical Garden
  • Relax at a pool
  • Head downtown for the Thursday Night Street Fair and get dinner from one of the vendors
  • End your evening at a cocktail bar

Day 2 (Friday)

  • Do a day trip to Joshua Tree National Park (we have it all planned out for you here!)
  • On your drive home, stop on Garnet Ave for a sunset view of the windmill farm. (If you miss this today, aim for one of the next nights instead.)

Day 3 (Saturday)

  • Grab coffee and a pastry to-go
  • Hike in Indian Canyons
  • Admire the architecture on your drive
  • Grab a gigantic sandwich at TKB Deli
  • Tour a date farm and cool off with a famous date shake
  • Optional: hit up a brewery or two on your way back to town
  • Dinner downtown (check if you need reservations)

Day 4 (Sunday)

  • Enjoy brunch
  • Ride the Aerial Tram and explore the trails at the top
  • Spend the afternoon relaxing at your pool
  • Head downtown for dinner (check if you need reservations)

Have less time? If you won’t be here on a Thursday, then you can easily cut the Thursday street fair. You can also combine the things you’d like to see most from Day 3 and 4. Alternatively, you can choose to cut either one of the hikes or Joshua Tree. (Our advice: We highly recommend not skipping Indian Canyons!)

Palm Springs itinerary map

Palm Springs itinerary map

Click on the map above for a closer look at our perfect Palm Springs itinerary.

Day 1

On day 1 of your Palm Springs itinerary, you’ll do a bit of hiking and enjoy some casual (but excellent!) food options.

Tahquitz Canyon

Tahquitz Canyon Palm Springs

Located on a Native American reservation, this canyon boasts a 2-mile loop that brings you to a waterfall in the middle of the desert (with surprisingly frigid water!). 

The hike is pretty easy and short, so it’s a nice way to start your day. 

Be sure to read all the information below so you’re prepared. There are some things you’ll need to know before you go!

Tahquitz Canyon hike

Tahquitz Canyon Palm Springs
  • Distance: 2 miles 
  • Elevation gain: 324 feet
  • Type of trail: loop
  • Difficulty: Though it’s rated on Alltrails as “moderate”, we’d personally rate this as easy or on easy side of moderate
  • AllTrails map

Tahquitz Canyon details

Tahquitz Canyon Palm Springs
  • Entrance fee: $15 per person
  • Hours: 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Be sure to bring water – they check and will make you buy a bottle if you don’t have enough. (32 oz. per person on hot days, 16 oz. on cool days)
  • Good to know: They have a limit to how many people can be in the canyon at a time, so they will close it to visitors until enough people leave. We were turned away when we arrived and were told to return an hour later.
  • Tip: At Indian Canyons, we got a coupon for $2.50 off the entrance fee per person. So if you want to take advantage of these savings, you can swap these days in your itinerary.

We have a complete guide to hiking Tahquitz Canyon on our sister site with all the info you need to plan your hike.

Lunch at Gabino’s Creperie

Gabino’s Creperie Palm Springs

Featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, this spot is nestled back in a narrow alley. Order from a tiny window, then enjoy your crepe at one of the outdoor seating areas.

Each of their savory crepes also features a tantalizing Parmesan crisp that adds a bit of a crunch. 

Personal experience: We loved both the pesto chicken and BBQ chicken. We highly recommend adding pickled jalapenos if you like a little kick and extra flavor!

Treat yourself to ice cream

Kreem ice cream Palm Springs

I don’t know about you, but I can always go for an ice cream cone. Especially after a hike in the desert!

There are a few different choices in Palm Springs when it comes to ice cream:

  • Kreem: Since it’s located in the same building as Gabino’s Creperie, this will be the most convenient choice after lunch. The shop is super cute and the cones are reasonably-priced. Choose from unique flavors, such as rosemary and vegan ube with toasted marshmallow. My only complaint is that the flavors (while good) were a little on the weak side.
  • Great Shakes: One of my only regrets is that I didn’t find this place until after our trip to Palm Springs. Do me a favor and try a shake here! They look super cute and are served with mini donuts, and whipped cream or homemade marshmallows. I am drooling over the key lime pie shake, so if you try it, let me know how it is!
  • Lappert’s Super Premium Ice Cream: With several locations in Southern California, this chain is known for Dole Whip, date shakes, and their “mangonada”, which features mango sorbet, Mexican chamoy sauce, fresh mango, and tajin for a little sweet and spicy treat!  
  • Gelato Granucci: This small shop serves solid gelato. We got the hazelnut and Joshua Tree Coffee in a dark chocolate cone (they have a few flavored cones to choose from). It was a really good combination of standard gelato.

Moorten Botanical Garden

This family-owned “cactarium” houses a diverse array of desert flora from around the world, as well as rare plants not found elsewhere. Spend as much or as little time as you like wandering the serene pathways through a forest of cacti and succulents.

They also have a nursery on site where you can buy your own desert plants to take home with you. (Though if you want a cactus souvenir, we highly recommend digging your own at Cactus Mart!)

Thursday Market

Thursday Market Palm Springs

If your trip to Palm Springs happens to fall over a Thursday, be sure to make it to the downtown Village Fest. This street fair happens each Thursday evening from 6 – 10 p.m. and features more than 180 different vendors. It stretches roughly 3 blocks of Palm Canyon Drive, which is closed to cars during this event. 

It’s a great place to grab a bite to eat for dinner. Whatever you’re craving, you’ll find it – tamales, street tacos, sushi, kebabs, pupusas, and more!

Thursday Market Palm Springs
Thursday Market Palm Springs

There are also many vendors selling artisan goods. With jewelry, art prints, and woodwork, this makes a great place to get a Palm Springs souvenir.

Insider tip: Be sure to spot the gigantic (26-foot-tall) Marilyn Monroe sculpture! And on that note, here’s a fun fact: She was discovered in Palm Springs and became a regular visitor of this California town.

Cocktail bar

Cocktails Palm Springs

Palm Springs has a number of fun cocktail bars, each with its own vibe. If you’re up for it, head out for a cocktail (or mocktail) and a chance to unwind from a busy day of exploring!

  • Boozehounds: beautifully-designed space for cocktails and bites
  • 1501 Uptown Gastropub: rustic-chic space with a nice variety of cocktails and comfort foods. If you’re looking for a snack, their onion rings are solid.
  • Truss & Twine: craft cocktails and small plates in historic El Paseo building with industrial-chic vibes. If you’re hungry, try the oxtail grilled cheese.
  • Bootlegger Tiki: classic tiki bar with fun drinks and a relaxed atmosphere

Want a brewery instead?

  • Las Palmas: located in downtown Palm Springs, this pocket-sized boho-chic brewery has just a few beers on tap, but it’s a nice atmosphere (especially on the patio where they play movies on the wall in the evening hours)

Day 2

This is your day to explore Joshua Tree National Park. You can see a lot with a short amount of time, but plan on it taking the majority of your day.

Dig your own cactus

Cactus Mart Palm Springs

If you’re not in a rush to get to the national park, then make a stop at Cactus Mart on the way. This nursery opens at 9 a.m. and has a “dig your own” cactus bar. It makes a fun activity as well as a unique souvenir.

Choose from a variety of 79-cent cacti and handmade ceramic pots, then roll up your sleeves and get digging! You can also add rocks to the top for your very own DIY cactus garden.

We flew home with ours in a paper bag and it survived the flight just fine!

Day trip to Joshua Tree

Hall of Horrors Joshua Tree National Park

We’ve created an article with exactly how we’d recommend spending your time if you have just one day to explore Joshua Tree National Park (including where to grab some great food!).

Spoiler alert: You can actually see a great deal of this national park in just one day.

See sunset at a windmill farm 

Sunset windmills Palm Springs

There’s no way you can miss the thousands of wind turbines just outside of Palm Springs.

While they are cool to see at any time of day, they are particularly picturesque at sunset. If you time it out just right, you may even be able to hit it at the perfect time on your drive back into town from Joshua Tree, like we did!

We’ve seen a lot of pictures from Instagram of influencers posing beside the windmills in beautiful dresses while the sky turns cotton candy pink. If you’re into photography, then this makes a great backdrop for a little photoshoot. But be prepared for a lot of wind – the turbines are in this spot for a reason, after all!

Where to get a view of the wind turbines in Palm Springs?

Sunset windmills Palm Springs

If you drive north of Palm Springs, west on Highway 10, there’s no way you can miss these giants. But if you’re looking for a spot where you can park your car and get out to take some photos, exit the highway and get onto one of the frontage roads. 

  • If you are headed west on Highway 10, you will aim for: 20th Ave
  • If you are headed east on Highway 10, you will aim for: Garnet Ave

As you drive on the frontage road, look for a good spot to pull over – there will be many opportunities. Be sure to look out for signs that say “no stopping”, and respect the rules. Only pull over where there is ample space and no signs prohibiting it.

Alternative: If you’re interested in learning more about wind farms, there is a tour available that gets great reviews. You can either book a self-guided tour here or reserve a guided golf cart tour on their website.

Day 3

Start day 3 of your Palm Springs itinerary by hiking in our favorite area in Palm Springs. Then continue the fun with a famous date shake and dinner downtown!

Grab coffee & a pastry

Are you like us and need a little caffeine kick before you can start your day? Stop by one of the many cute coffee shops in town to get a little pick-me-up and a light breakfast to fuel up for the hike ahead.

  • Cartel Roasting Co.: great house-roasted brews and a small selection of baked goods in a setting giving hipster vibes
  • Café Mon Amour: cozy French cafe with excellent pastries
  • Koffi: with a few locations in town, this popular spot makes a convenient choice (try the cold brew infusions!)
  • Café La Jefa: cute and colorful decor (very “Instagrammable”), coffee and matcha, breakfast sandwich & burrito, and a variety of pastries
  • Townie Bagels: if you care more about breakfast than coffee, this bagel shop makes excellent breakfast sandwiches and bagels with cream cheese, but expect a wait if you aren’t there early
  • Ristretto: decent coffee, excellent muffins

Hike in Indian Canyons

Indian Canyons Palm Canyon hike Palm Springs

Hiking in this area is unquestionably our favorite thing to do in Palm Springs

Real talk: We even liked it (quite a bit!) better than Joshua Tree National Park. So we highly recommend not skipping this spot during your visit.

This desert oasis will take your breath away! With groves of fan palms and a babbling stream, this place is almost too beautiful to be real.  

Indian Canyons Palm Canyon hike Palm Springs
Indian Canyons Palm Canyon hike Palm Springs

Located on a Native American reservation, you must pay a $12 fee per person to enter. 

Once inside, you have the opportunity to hike a number of different trails. Which ones you choose will depend on how much time you want to spend here. 

No matter which trail you go with, be sure to make your way down to a secluded spot on the stream (there are lots!) and sit for a while so you can take in the sounds of birds chirping and the water flowing in this desert oasis.

We have a complete guide to hiking in Indian Canyons on our sister site with more info, but below you’ll find a few of our favorite trails.

Palm Canyon

Indian Canyons Palm Canyon hike Palm Springs

Short and easy trail that hugs a small stream. This trail is shaded by large palm trees for much of the way.

  • Distance: 2 miles
  • Elevation gain: 209 feet
  • Type of trail: out and back
  • Difficulty: easy
  • AllTrails map

Andreas Canyon

Loop trail that is mostly shaded by palms and brings hikers past different water features

  • Distance: 1 mile
  • Elevation gain: 177 feet
  • Type of trail: loop
  • Difficulty: easy
  • AllTrails map

Murray Canyon to Seven Falls

If you’re up for a bit of a longer hike, this fun trail leads to a (very) small waterfall. It requires some scrambling and a few stream crossings (water shoes, like Chacos, recommended).

  • Distance: 3.7 miles
  • Elevation gain: 5.38 feet
  • Type of trail: out and back
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • AllTrails map

Indian Canyons details

  • Entrance fee: $12 per person
  • Hours: 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • Good to know: Dogs aren’t allowed
  • Google Maps location

Admire the Palm Springs architecture

Palm Springs art deco architecture

Palm Springs is known for its sometimes quirky mid-century architecture. As you are leaving Indian Canyons, there are some great examples of houses that can only be described as “Palm Springs style”.

  • Drive along East Sierra Way to glimpse some beautiful homes. 
  • While you’re in the area, be sure to see The Saguaro hotel. This icon is one of the most vibrant buildings in the entire city. 

While the hotel itself gets mixed reviews, there’s no denying that it is simply stunning. Either drive past, or park and get out to truly appreciate the rainbow of colors set against the desert landscape.

Fun fact about Palm Springs: Did you know that Elvis and Priscila Presley took their honeymoon in Palm Springs? You used to be able to tour Elvis’ Honeymoon Hideaway (aka the House of Tomorrow), but it is no longer open to the public.

Tour a date farm

Shield's Date Farm Palm Springs

You don’t have to be in Palm Springs long to notice that dates are a big deal in the Coachella Valley. It is said that this area has the perfect climate for growing dates. Today, it is estimated that 90% of dates grown in the U.S. come from this valley.

One thing you should absolutely add to your Palm Springs itinerary is visiting a date farm. 

Shield’s Date Garden

Shield's Date Farm Palm Springs

This date farm is one of the oldest in the country and boasts a long and interesting history. 

You can’t miss this spot, with a giant kitschy sign of a knight (with a shield, get it?!) alerting passersby to stop and sample their famous dates. Step into their showroom where you can shop their large variety of dates (we loved the soft medjool), as well as date products, like date butter and date sugar.

In addition to the showroom, don’t miss the short film called “Romance and the Sex Lives of Dates”. While it appears the film hasn’t been updated for a few decades, it is really interesting and worth watching. I was blown away by how complicated it is to cultivate dates!

While you’re here, you can’t leave without trying one of their famous date shakes. Thick, creamy, and just the right amount of date sweetness, it’s a perfect treat on a hot afternoon. 

With a shake in hand, head out the back door of the showroom. Follow the path for a 20-minute walk through the date garden

Palm Springs

Look up and see the ladders that are permanently installed on the date palms. Smell the orange and grapefruit trees in bloom (Ben was obsessed with the smell!). Along the walk, there are statues that feature scenes from the Bible of Jesus’ life (which may or may not be exciting to you!).

Good to know: You can find date shakes around the Coachella Valley. But it is said that Shield’s are the original, and claim to be the best.

Good to know: If you’re not feeling lunch at TKB, you can grab a bite at the onsite cafe at Shield’s instead.

Sam Cobb Date Farm

If you want to support a black-owned business, then plan a date at the Sam Cobb Date Farm (see what I did there?!). 

This farm is only open on Saturdays. Guided tours ($42 per person) are at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., so you’ll have to plan your itinerary around it. Tours are led by Sam himself, who guests say is a “bundle of happiness”.

Lunch at one of the highest-rated delis in the USA

TKB Bakery & Deli Palm Springs

Located in Indio, not far from Shield’s Date Garden, is one of the most successful delis in the United States.

TKB Bakery & Deli was rated the “#4 restaurant in America” by Yelp in 2018. So it’s worth checking out for lunch when you’re in the area.

TKB stands for “the kids’ business” and it’s run by 3 siblings who grew up with a passion for food and business. 

We ordered “The Trump Card” and “Pesto Chicken” sandwiches and they were both fabulous. The Trump Card is their most popular item on the menu, and I can see why – it’s amazing.

Insider tip: If you visit Sam Cobb Date Farm instead of Shield’s and don’t want to drive all the way down to TKB but still want a deli lunch, head to Sherman’s Deli & Bakery in downtown Palm Springs. This NYC-style deli is famous for their corned beef and pastrami sandwiches, their matzo ball soup, and their coconut cake (which we particularly loved!). 

Brewery hop

La Quinta Brewing Co. Palm Springs

If you still have time to kill, you can stop by a number of breweries that are located in between Indio and Palm Springs

Go to one, or do a little brewery hop to compare! (The first 3 breweries on this list are on the same stretch of highway, while Luchador requires taking a different route to Palm Springs.)

  • Desert Beer Company: large, friendly environment with creative beers, such as “Mexican candy” (sour) and chocolate chip stout, among others
  • La Quinta Brewing Co.: casual spot with indoor and outdoor seating and a variety of their own beers as well as guest taps; they also have a location in downtown Palm Springs
  • Coachella Valley Brewing Company: decent beer selection, but very limited seating (and no outdoor options)
  • Luchador Brewing Company: selection of beers as well as seltzers, wine, and margaritas; they also have a Mexican food truck

Dinner downtown

Rooster and the Pig Palm Springs

There are so many wonderful places to eat in Palm Springs. There are also some duds (all tourist towns have mediocre spots as well as gems).

Here are the top places we’d recommend:

  • Rooster and the Pig: small unassuming spot in a strip mall that has cool vibes and Vietnamese fusion fare. Either come early or expect a wait (don’t take reservations)
  • Tac/Quila: Mexican fusion with a focus on seafood; great tequila and mezcal cocktails (reservations required)
  • Sherman’s Deli & Bakery: this NYC-style deli is famous for their corned beef and pastrami sandwiches, their matzo ball soup, and their coconut cake (which we loved!). (no reservations required)
  • Sammy G’s Tuscan Grill: rustic Californian-inspired Italian cuisine. They have a great happy hour and a lovely atmosphere on the patio (reservations recommended)
  • Workshop Kitchen & Bar: fancy(ish) New American dining in a beautifully designed former movie house. If you like mushrooms, get the fried oyster mushroom starter! (reservations required)
  • Blue Coyote Grill: casual Southwestern dishes and margaritas in a beautiful patio setting (try the mahi mahi tacos!) (reservations recommended) 

Insider tip: Before you make your choice, check which require reservations. Many popular spots in Palm Springs need to be booked in advance. 

Day 4

Today is more relaxing, starting with brunch, taking an aerial tram, and relaxing poolside. If you want to add more, then jump down to see more things to do in Palm Springs!

Indulge in a boozy brunch

…or non boozy, if you prefer!

Palm Springs is known as a great place to brunch. And my oh my, you’ll have lots of wonderful options to choose from! (Almost too many options!)

  • Farm: eatery serving farm-to-table Provençal fare on a patio that will make you feel as if you’ve been transported to the French countryside; they’re known for a mean Bloody Mary as well as chicken and waffles, brioche French toast, croissant sandwich, and fresh watermelon juice (our top pick!)
  • Cheeky’s: modern decor and a nice outdoor seating area with specialties such as cinnamon rolls, their bacon flight, corn pancakes, chilaquiles, breakfast quesadillas, and Bloody Marys.
  • The Tropicale: neon-lit supper club vibes with some unique brunch items and an extensive cocktail menu (including bottomless mimosas)
  • Pinocchio in the Desert: casual spot with breakfast classics and reasonably-priced bottomless mimosas
  • Spencer’s Restaurant: old school upscale desert vibes with excellent benedicts as well as a prix fixe 3-course set brunch available on Sundays

Ride to the top of Palm Springs on the Aerial Tramway

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Taking the Aerial Tram is a must-do that you should definitely include on your Palm Springs itinerary. Trust me! We’ve been on quite a few tramways around the world, but we haven’t experienced any quite like this.

This is the world’s largest rotating tram car. You will get 360º views on the 10-minute ride as you travel more than 8,000 feet up the mountain.

Did you know: There are 3 mountain ranges that surround Palm Springs. These are The San Jacinto, The Santa Rosa, and The San Bernardino. This aerial tram takes you into the San Jacinto mountain range.

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Once you reach the top, you will see that you’ve traded palm trees for pines and a desert oasis for a winter wonderland. Snow covers the ground during much of the year, so be sure to wear your warmest layers and close-toed shoes.

This area comprises Mt. San Jacinto State Park and boasts more than 50 miles of hiking trails. If it is a clear day, you will have stunning views over Palm Springs. Following the Desert View Trail, stop at the “notches” for different viewpoints of the valley below.

Insider tip: Check the weather forecast a few days before your trip. Aim to reserve your tramway tickets for a clear day if possible. Even if you get clouds, it’s worth it (in our opinion!). We visited on a cloudy day and still had a blast!

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

In addition to hiking trails, there are observation decks, a small natural history museum, theaters that play documentaries, a gift shop, a bar, and two restaurants: Pines Cafe (cafeteria-style) and Peaks Restaurant (sit-down).

Alternative to brunch in town: Peaks Restaurant made Architectural Digest’s list of the World’s Best Cliffside Restaurants, so it could be a good option for lunch. (reservations recommended)

You can either book your tickets in advance, or you can purchase them onsite. 

Good to know: It’s actually $1 cheaper to book online than in person

Our personal experience: I went on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway on vacation with my family as a teenager. It was the experience I remember most from that trip. I was absolutely blown away by the difference in climate from the desert floor (479 feet) to the top of the mountain (8,516 feet). When I returned nearly two decades later, I was just as much in awe. 

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway info

  • Hours: hours vary a bit by season (see them here), but in general:
    • Weekdays: first tram up is 10 a.m., last tram up is 8 p.m., last tram down is 9:30 p.m.
    • Weekends: first tram up is 8 a.m., last tram up is 8 p.m., last tram down is 9:30 p.m.
  • Cost: $30.95 per adult (see all ticket options here)
  • Google Maps location

Relax poolside

Palm Springs pool

Just about every hotel in Palm Springs has a pool. We’d highly recommend making sure yours does before you click “book”. You will love coming back after a morning of adventuring to relax in the pool before dinner – trust us! 

Insider tip: When searching for accommodation, we like to check the filter to only show properties with pools to make our search easier. Both Booking.com and Airbnb make this super simple!

Don’t have a pool at your hotel? There are actually quite a few hotels with amazing pools that also offer day passes to non-hotel guests. We recommend browsing the options on Resort Pass in order to compare the pools and vibes (party vs. tranquil vs. family-friendly) to choose the one that suits you best.

Family-friendly  picks

Palm Springs pool
  • The Saguaro Hotel: pool area is stunning and features the hotel’s iconic brightly colored facade, palm trees, and mountains. ($40 per adult, $20 per child)
  • Omni Rancho Las Palmas: located in Rancho Mirage, this resort has both adults-only pools as well as a pool and waterslide for kids, making it a good choice for both couples seeking peace and families ($50 for adult passes and $35 for kids passes)
  • Margaritaville Resort: With a kids pool and plenty of dining options, this is a good choice for families. ($45 per person for a day pass, infants free)

Adults-only picks

  • The Colony Palms Hotel: the Spanish Colonial architecture is a stunner, 18+ only ($100 per person)
  • Ingleside Estate: historic desert estate feels secluded and luxurious, 21+ only ($45 per person)
  • Drift: large rectangular pool at this modern hotel, nice cocktail selection ($40 per person)
  • Arrive: luxurious pool with cabanas, fire pits, and a poolside restaurant and bar, 21+ only ($50 per person)
  • Ace Hotel & Swim Club: boho decor and party vibes with occasional live music ($40 per person)
  • Avalon Hotel & Bungalows: boutique style accommodation with 3 small but beautiful pools, 21+ only ($45 per person)

When to visit Palm Springs

Palm Springs
  • January – March: Besides Coachella, this is Palm Springs’ peak tourist season. Temperatures are generally good, but be prepared for some cooler nights. Expect the popular tourist attractions to be crowded.
  • April: For two consecutive weekends in April, Coachella Music Festival draws hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world. The festival takes place in the town of Indio, a 35-minute drive from Palm Springs. The entire area gets very crowded and prices for accommodations skyrocket. Unless you’re keen on visiting for the festival, we’d avoid visiting Palm Springs during most of April.
  • May & June: The shoulder season sandwiched between April’s Coachella crowds and summer’s peak heat could be a good time to visit Palm Springs, but be prepared as temperatures start to rise into the high 90s.
  • July – September: Summers in Palm Springs are hot – we’re talking daytime temps in the triple digits – which might be okay if you want to spend all your time in the pool, but not so much if you’re hoping to get some hikes in. On the flipside, summer is low season, so it could be a budget-friendly option for those who can handle the desert heat.
  • October – December: We think fall is the best time to visit Palm Springs, with comfortable temperatures and good hiking weather, but without the tourist crowds of spring.

Our personal experience: We visited Palm Springs in early March and we had some really nice days with temps in the high 70ºs (25ºC). We also had some cooler, windier days (50ºF/10ºC) which we were not prepared for. Be sure to pack a couple of cooler layers in case you get some wind and chillier temperatures (especially in the evenings and mornings).

Where to eat in Palm Springs

Palm Springs has some really great restaurants, as well as some very mediocre ones. Below are our top dining recommendations for Palm Springs:

  • Rooster and the Pig: small unassuming spot in a strip mall that has cool vibes and Vietnamese fusion fare; either come early or expect a wait (don’t take reservations)
  • Tac/Quila: Mexican fusion with a focus on seafood; great tequila and mezcal cocktails (reservations required)
  • Sherman’s Deli & Bakery: this NYC-style deli is famous for their corned beef and pastrami sandwiches, their matzo ball soup, and their coconut cake (which we loved!). (no reservations required)
  • Sammy G’s Tuscan Grill: rustic Californian-inspired Italian cuisine, they have a great happy hour and a lovely atmosphere on the patio (reservations recommended)
  • Workshop Kitchen & Bar: fancy(ish) New American dining in a beautifully designed former movie house (if you like mushrooms, get the fried oyster mushroom starter!) (reservations required)
  • Blue Coyote Grill: casual Southwestern dishes and margaritas in a beautiful patio setting (try the mahi mahi tacos!) (reservations recommended) 

Want recs for meals other than dinner? Click the links below to jump to our specific recommendations:

More things to do in (and around) Palm Springs

Palm Springs

Have more time to spend in Palm Springs? Here are more ideas of things to do in the area:

  • Do a guided tour of the windmill farm
  • Attend a Drag Brunch at the Saguaro Hotel (held every Friday, Saturday, Sunday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.), tickets start at $60 per person
  • Visit Coachella Valley Horse Rescue
  • Take a day trip to the mountain town of Idyllwild, and stop at the town’s brewpub
  • Go golfing at one of the many courses in the area
  • Go on a Red Jeep tour, which brings you on a rugged ride to the San Andreas Fault (aka the tectonic boundary between the Pacific Plate and the North American Plate). We did a similar tour in Sedona and loved it!
  • Visit Anza Borrego State Park
  • Take in the quirkiness of the Salton Sea and while you’re there, don’t miss Salvation Mountain
  • Explore the Coachella Valley Preserve
  • Check out the Palm Springs Art Museum
  • Satisfy your sweet tooth at Brandini Toffee
  • Take a tour of the Palm Springs Air Museum
  • Walk the trails at Whitewater Preserve, located just north of Palm Springs, and one of the area’s best-kept secrets
  • We’re not big fans of zoos so we can’t personally recommend it, but the Living Desert Zoo in Palm Desert is a popular attraction

Did you know that the Greater Palm Springs area actually encompasses 9 cities? 

Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Indio, and Coachella all comprise Greater Palm Springs and each has its own personality and fun things to do. Explore as many as you have time for!

Hikes in Palm Springs

Indian Canyons Palm Canyon hike Palm Springs
  • Indian Canyons: area with lots of hiking trails, such as Palm Canyon Trail, Murray Canyon Trail, and Andreas Canyon
  • Tahquitz Canyon: 2-mile loop to a waterfall in the middle of the desert
  • Joshua Tree National Park: iconic national park with lots of hiking trails, also one of the only places in the world to see the quirky Joshua tree
  • Simonetta Kennett Viewpoint (via South Lykken Trail): excellent views over Palm Springs as well as the chance of seeing big horn sheep

Have more time in California? Here are some more desert hikes in Southern California to add to your list!

Our personal experience in Palm Springs

Palm Springs

I vacationed in Palm Springs when I was a senior in high school for spring break and remember loving it. I have fond memories of sitting by the pool and being absolutely blown away by the aerial tram, but outside of that, my memories are kind of fuzzy.

I’ve been wanting to go back for a while now, especially since I declined to hike in Indian Canyons with the rest of my family so I could sit by the pool and work on my tan for prom instead. Oh, how I’ve changed since then! 

When my parents booked a beautiful 2-bedroom Airbnb for the month of March, it didn’t take much convincing for us to book a flight. (Especially since Bend just started operating a direct flight to Palm Springs through Avelo, a discount airline!) They’ve spent a lot of time in Palm Springs over the years, so they were really excited to show us their favorite hikes and things to do around town.

Not the trip we’d planned…

Unfortunately, on my parents’ long drive from Minnesota to California, my dad fell and broke his ankle. He found out he’d need surgery as soon as he arrived in Palm Springs, so all of the things we had planned to do with my parents fell through at the last minute.

But, we made the most of it and did quite a bit of exploring on our own. My parents watched Juniper for most of the time we were there (because the person Grandma and Grandpa really wanted to see was our toddler!). 

It was Ben’s first time in the area and he was really impressed by all the things to do in Palm Springs. Since we were somewhat limited on dining (being that my dad couldn’t get around very well!), we still have lots of places on our Palm Springs bucket list that we’ll have to get back for eventually!

How to get to Palm Springs

How to get to Palm Springs

The easiest way to get to Palm Springs is by flying into the Palm Springs International Airport. 

Budget tip: We flew via a new (to us) budget airline – Avelo. They fly directly from our small airport in Bend, Oregon a couple of days a week, and tickets are really cheap! Check their website directly to see if they operate any flights near you!

  • Los Angeles to Palm Springs: 1 hour 40 minute drive
  • San Diego to Palm Springs: just over 2 hours driving 
  • Las Vegas to Palm Springs: 4 hours 20 minutes driving 

Where to stay in Palm Springs

Palm Springs

Palm Springs has some incredible boutique hotels and Airbnbs. Here are some of our top picks:

Tip: We’d recommend choosing one with a pool if possible! (All our recommendations have pools.)

  • Drift Palm Springs: modern hotel with tranquil, spa-like decor, pool, and free bike rentals
  • Alcazar Palm Springs: highly-rated hotel offering daily complimentary coffee, tea, juice, espresso, and pastries
  • Palme Diem: colorful, maximalist condo in a building with a heated outdoor pool, hot tub, and tennis court
  • Stardust Oasis Guest House: cheerful, queer-owned guest house with ensuite, private outdoor shower, pool access (adults only)
  • Dreamy Desert Vibe: vibrant home with fully-fenced patio and private pool

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Which day of this Palm Springs itinerary are you most excited for? Do you still have any questions after reading this article? Tell us your thoughts or ask us your questions in the comments below and we will do our best to get back to you!

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