Palm Springs Area Day Trips - Things to do in Palm Springs

Things to Do in Palm Springs - Local Guide

Vacation Palm Springs

Top 10 Things to Do & See!
Palm Springs California Vacations
Day Trips, Activities, Sightseeing

Fun Things to Do: Plan a Day Trip or excursion for your Palm Springs Vacation with our complete local guide for the best tourist attractions and quick trips around the Palm Springs Area!

Looking for great things to do while you're visiting Palm Springs? See our top 10 daytrips and tourist attractions - explore the Greater Palm Springs area - quick trips from 2 hours to 2 days! Plan your day with top local recommendations for affordable tourist attractions & day trips in the Palm Springs California area. Family friendly. Fun. Outdoors. Indoors. Find great ideas for things to do here!

The Indian Canyons Trails

Mountains of Palm Springs

The Palm Springs Indian Canyons are a group of three canyons (Palm Canyon, Murray Canyon, Andreas Canyon), all with their own interesting trails that take visitors through Palm Springs mountainside wilderness.

Opportunities to view wildlife are always present, and palm tree groves mark the path of creeks that criss-cross the trails. Most visitors appreciate the noticeable temperature drops that occur upon entering these palm groves.

The Indian Canyons are a great opportunity to get outdoors for some exercise, commune with nature, and fulfill a desire for adventure and exploration. With several different trails of varying length, this day-trip offers the flexibility to be just a few hours or an all-day affair.

South Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, Ca 92262
Open daily from 8am to 5pm October through June and Friday through Sunday July through September
Admission is $8 for adults; $6 for seniors, students, and military; $4 for children under twelve. Guided Ranger-led hikes are also available for $2-3 per person
4.5 Miles from downtown Palm Springs
(760) 323-6018

The Palm Springs Tram

Cable Cars to Mountain Top

Open year round, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway Cable Cars offers Palm Springs visitors (and locals) the opportunity to escape the summer heat, and to reach snow in winter, all while taking in the best views of the Palm Springs area.

The vistas are amazing from the top of the mountain, valley views or city lights of Palm Springs and provide some of the best photography opportunities for photo lovers.

In 1963, after two years of construction along the Chino Canyon slopes in North Palm Springs, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway opened for business as a unique and spectacular way for desert residents and visitors to go from the palms of Palm Springs to the pines at the top of the San Jacinto Mountains in a matter of minutes.

The short scenic ride up to the top of the mountain is filled with stunning views of the magnificent Chino Canyon and of the Palm Springs valley below.

At the top, a lodge with dining, historical and ecological information, and magical vistas awaits visitors. From this base, there are a number of trails for hiking and other outdoor activities like cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing.

A complimentary guided nature walk is also available for those interested in learning more about the flora and fauna of the area.

Between the rides up and down and exploring the mountainside, visitors can easily spend half a day to a full day on this not-to-miss Palm Springs day-trip.

Palm Springs Tram

1 Tramway Road, Palm Springs, Ca 92262
Open 10am on weekdays, 8am on weekends, until 9:45pm
Day passes are available for adults at $24 and for children at $17. Annual passes can also be purchased at $150 for adults and $90 for children. Senior discounts may also be available.
6.5 Miles from downtown Palm Springs
(760) 325-1391

Palm Springs Art Museum

The Palm Springs Art Museum's exhibitions focus on art of the Southwestern United States, from Native American sculpture to the Palm Springs modern home photography of Julius Schulman, offering a diverse portrait of local and regional art for the culturally inclined.

With the museum's location so close to the heart of downtown Palm Springs, it's an easy walk from restaurants and shopping, and a good place to get out of the sun for a while. This spot can be seen in half an hour, but you'll want to stay longer to take in all the exhibits.

101 Museum Drive, Palm Springs, Ca 92262
Open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 10am to 5pm, Thursday from 12pm to 8pm, but may keep different hours in the summer.
The Palm Springs Museum is $12.50 for adults, $10.50 for seniors, $5 for students and military, and free for youths under 17. The museum also opens its doors to free access for the public between 4pm and 8pm on Thursdays.
0.2 Miles from downtown Palm Springs
(760) 322-4800

Palm Springs Architectural
Tours - Midcentury Modern
PS Modern Tours

Palm Springs Modern Tours operator Robert Imber serves as your expert guide as you explore Palm Springs mid-century modern architecture by van-ride.

Over three hours during which Imber showcases his seemingly endless knowledge of mid-century architecture, this architectural tour provides a fascinating history of Palm Springs.

The guided tour visits views the exteriors of famous Palm Springs homes and commercial buildings in and around downton Palm Springs designed by Wexler, Neutra, and Krisel, among other notable architects who created iconic Palm Springs buildings in the 1950s to 1970s era.

Robert Imber can also arrange coach tours for larger groups by appointment. Advance booking is recommended as his popular tours tend to fill up quickly!

Palm Springs, Ca 92262
0.0 miles from downtown Palm Springs
By appointment, contact Robert Imber at
Or Phone Palm Springs Modern Architectural Tours: (760) 318-6118

Mountain Village of Idyllwild

Idyllwild, California is a beautiful village located in the mountains above Palm Springs and offers a variety of outdoors activities, from mountain biking to hiking to rock-climbing, all at an elevated location that offers a break from the desert heat.

Equally attractive is the scenic drive up to Idyllwild on Highway 74, which features several vista points where visitors stop to take in the desert below. Pack a picnic for the trail or eat at one of the cozy local restaurants.

Whatever your activity of choice, Idyllwild is an opportunity to change setting for the day, or even just an afternoon before heading back down to your Palm Springs vacation paradise.

Idyllwild, Ca, 92549
No admission fee
50 Miles from downtown Palm Springs; approximately 1.5 hours drive time
Visit above website for Idyllwild business phone numbers and more detailed information.

Palm Springs Gardens

The Moorten Botanical Gardens

Moorten Botanical Gardens of Palm Springs, Ca.

1701 S. Palm Canyon Drive
Palm Springs, California 92264
Open Monday-Saturday: 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Sundays: 10 am to 4 p.m. Closed Wednesdays.
Adults: $4; Children: $2
Approx 1.5 miles from downtown Palm Springs
(760) 327-6555

The Moorten Botanical Gardens and Cactarium is a popular and very affordable Palm Springs tourist attraction that features the natural beauty of Desert indigenous plants and wildlife.

Established in Palm Springs in 1938, this indoor-outdoor arboretum of desert plant life includes more than 3,000 examples of desert cacti and other desert plants organized by geographic areas of the world including Arizona, Baja California, California, Colorado, the Mojave desert, the Sonora desert and more.

Outdoor collections include agaves, bombax, crested Cereus, cardon and boojum trees, arborescent "candelabra" Euphorbia, a two-story Pachypodium, thorned Caesalpinia and Bursera, and aloe plants.

In a greenhouse on the Palm Springs botanical gardens property known as a "Cactarium" you'll find gorgeous cacti and succulents.

Clark "Slim" and Patricia Moorten, founders of the Moorten Botanical Gardens in Palm Springs, also installed landscapes for Frank Sinatra at Sinatra's Palm Springs home. They were also friends of Walt Disney at his Palm Springs Smoke Tree Ranch home when Disney was a Palm Springs resident. They consulted the famous Walt Disney to help design the western theme of "Frontierland" for his new amusement park which is now known worldwide as Disneyland.

Clark Moorten is curator of the Moorten Botanical Gardens and is widely known as an expert on succulent plants and cacti. Clark tends the garden and offers cuttings and small versions of many of the garden's beautiful plants for sale. He's often present at his namesake Palm Springs Moorten Botanical Gardens to welcome visitors.

The beautiful Moorten Botanical Gardens in Palm Springs can be rented for weddings, special events and celebrations. Please phone (760) 327-6555 for pricing and information about special events.

Palm Springs Street Fair
"Village Fest"

Thursday Nights Downtown

What began 17 years ago, Palm Springs' weekly Street Fair known as Villagefest, continues to be a popular Thursday evening activity of Palm Springs life for both local residents and tourists.

Each Thursday evening throughout the year, a large section of downtown Palm Springs "main street" known as Palm Canyon Drive is closed off to vehicle traffic, allowing vendors and performers of all kinds to set up shop along the street, making for great people-watching and shopping.

More than 200 booths display art, jewelry, unique food, and sometimes even more unusual entertainers. Villagefest also allows pedestrians to do their regular downtown shopping and dining in the cool of the evening, as most businesses stay open later for the Palm Springs Villagefest.

Allow an hour or two to peruse the booths and view some performances at this lively and relaxing location in downtown Palm Springs, Ca.

Palm Canyon Drive between Amado and Baristo, Palm Springs, Ca 92262
Year-round, every Thursday evening. Villagefest hours are 6pm to 10pm from October-May, and 7pm to 10pm June-September
There is no admission fee for the Palm Springs Village Fest, but make sure to bring some cash for shopping the local vendors and enjoying the wide variety of home-cooked food.
0.0 Miles from downtown Palm Springs
(760) 320-3781

Palm Springs Zoo & Botanical Gardens

"The Living Desert"

The Living Desert, commonly known as the "Palm Springs Zoo," provides a unique look into desert wildlife and plantlife, with dozens of exhibits, ranging from indigenous populations to animals from the plains of Africa.

The varied inhabitants of the zoo are part of a mission statement from the park operators to preserve, rehabilitate, and research desert animals, as well as to educate visitors.

Taking a trip to the Living Desert is an opportunity to see these beautiful creatures up close. One could spend an entire day, but plan on at least two or three hours for this day-trip just a short drive from Palm Springs, Ca.

47-900 Portola Avenue, Palm Desert, Ca 92260
September to June 15th hours: 9am to 5pm, and June 16th to August 31st hours: 8am to 1:30pm
General Admission is $17.50, with Seniors and Military getting a $1.50 discount, and children under 12 receiving a $8.50 discount. Summer rates are about 30% less
15.2 Miles from downtown Palm Springs
(760) 568-9685

Vacation Palm Springs

Palm Springs Area Outlet Malls

Also known as the Palm Springs Outlet mall, the Cabazon Outlets or Outlet Mall is home to over 130 brand outlets from athletic to business, casual to high-end, and even home decoration stores. If you're looking for a popular name-brand, chances are you will find it in Cabazon, California.

The mall offers an endless selection of goods at reduced prices up to 70% off department store retail. Also, the Cabazon Outlet Mall is located right next to Casino Morongo, which was recently named the best casino in California.

Allow several hours for shopping, and if you're headed to the casino, plan on spending a good part of your day on this trip.

48750 Seminole Drive, Cabazon, Ca 92230
10am to 8pm Sunday through Thursday, 10am to 9pm Friday and Saturday
Free Admission and Parking
19.1 Miles from downtown Palm Springs
(951) 922-3000

Santa Monica Pier, the Beach,
and Third Street Promenade

If you're interested in venturing toward the beaches of Southern California, the Santa Monica Area of Greater Los Angeles provides a wealth of options for shopping, dining, and fun and sun for all ages.

The famous Third Street Promenade is a prime location to spend the morning hours before the sun heats up, shopping people-watching, and grabbing a bite to eat. Most retail stores are of the trendy but not overly pricey variety and food options are many and diverse. Yangtze Restaurant offers traditional Chinese, Korean, and Thai food, while Johnnie's New York-style Pizza serves up some of the best pizza in Los Angeles.

After lunch, head out to the Santa Monica Pier for amusement park fun at Pacific Park, or hit the beach, both of which are walking distance from 3rd Street. Blazing Saddles Bike Rentals, also located by the pier, offers an opportunity to pedal along the coastline several miles on the beachside bike path. This trip is an all-day event, so plan to spend the day and arrive back in the evening.

3rd Street, Santa Monica, Ca 90401
The beach is best experienced in the summer months, but the Pier and the Promenade are truly year-round activity centers.
Plan on $7 for parking, whether by the pier or just off 3rd street, but consider that 3rd Street parking structures offer the first 2 hours free of charge. Clothing shops range from modestly priced to expensive, as do dining options. Pacific Park is a bit costly, but offers day passes and packages that can help keep prices down. Bike rentals will cost between $7-$9 an hour.
122 Miles from downtown Palm Springs; approximately 2 hours drive time

Horse Back Rides

Trails of Coyote Ridge Stables

Located about 20 minutes north of Palm Springs, these guided horse trail rides take you up 3,200 feet through the canyons of Morongo Valley, with beautiful vistas of the San Gorgonio mountains and Mt. San Jacinto. Enjoy the gorgeous mountain terrain and wildlife and plant life. Experience magnificent eagles, red tailed hawks, and kestrels soaring high above, or maybe you'll even see coyotes at play.

For more information or reservations, phone (760) 363-3380


Children's Discovery Museum of the Desert

The Children's Discovery Museum is an interactive combination of exhibits and activities for kids. Programs offered include weekend art classes, toddler programs and skill-building programs for young children.

If you have young children in your family, this facility is a great place for them to spend some time while the adults go out for lunch at one of several excellent dining options at The River in Rancho Mirage. Most programs are one or two hours long, with summer full-day camps available as well.

71-701 Gerald Ford Drive, Rancho Mirage, Ca 92270
Call or check the website for a weekly schedule of events
$25 year-long membership
10.6 Miles from downtown Palm Springs
(760) 321-0602

Pappy & Harriet's Pioneertown 

The legendary Pappy & Harriet's Pioneertown Palace has been delighting locals and travelers alike since 1982, with its mesquite barbeque, live music, dancing and friendly service. 

History: In 1946, Pioneertown was founded by a group of Hollywood investors with dreams of creating a living movie set - an 1870"s frontier town with facades for filming and interiors open to the public. On the outside were stables, saloons, and jails, and on the inside, were ice cream parlors, bowling alleys, and motels. Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Russel Hayden, and the Sons of the Pioneer (for whom the town was named) were some of the original investors and personalities who helped build and invent Pioneertown. More than 50 films and several television shows were filmed in Pioneertown throughout the 1940's and 1950's. 

53688 Pioneertown Road, Pioneertown, CA 92268

Thrusday - Sunday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Monday 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Closed Tuesday and Wednesday 

Lunch and Dinner: Dinner Reservations Highly Recommended

Service is from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Monday 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Live Music:
Pappy and Harriets is well known for its wide variety of live music. Please see their website for the complete list of events, dates, and pricing. 


31.4 Miles from downtown Palm Springs



(760) 365-5956

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