Discover Palm Springs, CA

There’s more to Palm Springs, CA than golf courses and spas. Its sunshine-filled days and close proximity to many of the cities in Southern California make it one of the region’s favorite getaway spots. There are plenty of things to do in Palm Springs too. Outdoor enthusiasts have their choice of national parks and mountains to hike. Daredevils can opt for a heart racing experience aboard a historic aircraft or simply float along the valley in a giant hot air balloon. History buffs can spend all day learning about the Agua Caliente Indians. Art lovers can indulge on everyday walking tours that feature some of the best modern architecture in the country, while the best in music flock to Palm Springs during the weekend of Coachella.

Here some of the best things to do in Palm Springs.

Things to Do in Palm Springs, CA

Plenty of Hiking

Things to Do in Palm Springs: Views from the trails at Joshua Tree National Park
Views from the trails at Joshua Tree National Park

Palm Springs is a hiker’s paradise. There are dozens of hiking trails nearby, most are within 30 minutes drive. The trails are also suitable for people with varying skill levels and are have different sceneries to choose from. The desert trails of Joshua Tree National Park present hikers with images of a beautiful but barren landscape filled with twisted rocks and granite monoliths, while the canyon trails at Whitewater Canyon Preserve offer watering holes and an explosion of color, thanks to the wildflowers that grow on the canyon floor. The steep mountain trails at Mount San Jacinto follow a route filled with pine trees and vegetation, rewarding hikers with spectacular views of Coachella Valley.

A Bird’s Eye View

Things to Do in Palm Springs: Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Visitors to Palm Springs have a unique opportunity to see the city and the surrounding Coachella Valley from the backseat of authentic World War II warbirds. The Palm Springs Biplanes offer a 15-minute ride on either a 1940, three-seater, Stearman Biplane which comes equipped with a 450 horsepower engine or the 1943, two-seater, which carries a 300-horsepower engine. Rates begin at $99 per person. Another way to get a bird’s eye view of Palm Springs is to take a relaxing hot air balloon ride over Coachella Valley. Balloons Above the Dessert offers seasonal hot air balloon rides from November to May. Prices begin at $180 per person. If you prefer a less heart pounding way, check out the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway ride, which ascends two and a half miles up the San Jacinto Mountains. See spectacular views of the rugged cliffs of Chino Canyon and enjoy the region’s variety of landscapes up close. Round trip tickets begin at $16.95.

Cultural Heritage

Things to Do in Palm Springs: Agua Caliente Indians
Basket Weave Design by the Agua Caliente Indians

Their ancestors have lived in the city we now refer to as Palm Springs for over 2,000 years as gatherers and peaceful hunters. They are the Agua Caliente Indians who thrived in the area undisturbed for centuries. It was not until the arrival of Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza in the 1700s that they met someone outside their community. In the 19th century, the tribe was infected by smallpox and almost became extinct. Fast forward 150 years and they are thriving again, owning several businesses that include Palm Springs hotels, casinos, and a golf resort at nearby Indian Canyons Preserve.

Modern Architecture Trend

Things to Do in Palm Springs: Desert Modernism
The Factor House, an example of Desert Modernism

If Miami is the capital of early 20th century Art Deco, then Palm Springs is the capital of mid-century Modern architecture or what is also called Desert Modernism. Everywhere you look, you’ll see houses or buildings plastered with glass and natural resources. They are often accentuated with clean-cut lines and sharp angles. Notable buildings include the Visitor’s Center, the Kaufmann Desert House, and Palm Springs City Hall. People like Richard Neutra, Albert Frey, and John Lautner are household names and have greatly contributed to the image of Palm Springs we know today.

The Sound of Music

Things to Do in Palm Springs: Coachella 2013, Indio CA
Coachella 2013, Indio CA: Photo Thomas Hawk, CC BY-NC 2.0

Every year, for two weekends in April, everyone who’s anyone in the music business, as well as aspiring artists and devoted music fans, converge in Palm Springs for the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. This music festival is one of the largest and perhaps the most popular in the United States. Tickets normally sell out within 24 hours after being released to the public. Some of the biggest names in music like Jay-Z, Prince, and Sir Paul McCartney have been part of the main lineups. The festival occurs on the grounds of the Empire Polo Club at nearby Indio, California.

It takes more than just a weekend to discover Palm Springs and all that it has to offer and that’s why people continue to come back for more. For additional information on accommodations, other activities, restaurants, and other things to do in Palm Springs, please go to Visit Palm Springs, the city’s official tourism website.

About Iris A


Born in the Philippines, but grew up in Texas, Iris has been traveling and writing about her experiences for well over a decade. Her work has been published on well-known travel sites like Hipmunk (#hipmunkcitylove) and D Magazine Online Travel Club. She has been all over Europe, the US, and has recently started exploring Latin America. She loves trying local cuisine and visiting UNESCO deemed World Heritage sites. Her favourite city is New York, with London, following a close 2nd. You can follow her on Twitter @sundeeiris or through her travel blog, Traveling With Iris.

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  1. Making Your Trip to Coachella Music Festival | Go 4 Travel Blog

    […] the event actually has its roots in a Pearl Jam concert held at the Empire Polo Club in Indio near Palm Springs, California. The Empire Polo Club remains the site of Coachella to this day. The original Pearl Jam concert, in […]


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