Things to do in Palm Springs

Your Palm Springs travel guide for the best vacation
front of vacation rental in palm springs with mountains in the background
backyard of vacation rental in palm springs with private pool and orange lounge chairs

Heading out for a trip to Palm Springs, California? Sandwiched between Coachella Valley Preserve, the Sonoran Desert, and Joshua Tree National Park, Palm Springs is a southern California oasis with attractions for every traveler. The city boasts glamorous shopping districts, golf courses, hot springs, music festivals, and ample outdoor opportunities.

We asked our team at Vacasa for their must-see spots for where to relax, eat, and play when vacationing in Palm Springs. Here are our recommendations for the best things to do with kids or fun activities for a solo adventure. Plan your itinerary and savor some desert dreaming.

sushi from Sandfish in Palm Springs

Places to eat

Start your morning off in sunny California with breakfast at Farm (a hidden Provencal-style gem) and dig into croissants, crepes, and baked brie in their garden seating. Wind down the afternoon at Azúcar’s rooftop happy hour, where you can sit back and relax with a drink and views of the San Jacinto Mountains. For dinner, stroll down the Walk of Stars to Sandfish, for delicious upscale Japanese cuisine and sushi (as well as top-notch whiskey cocktails).

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Sandfish is the perfect splurge restaurant in Palm Springs—the chef's tasting menu is pricier than your average dinner, but is great for a special occasion.
Madeline Johnson, Sr. Manager, Digital Content
Orange front door of Palm Springs vacation home

What to see

Appreciate the city from a new perspective with the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, the world’s largest rotating tram car, which will carry you up 2.5 miles up the cliffs of Chico Canyon for unparalleled views at 8,516 feet. Along Palm Canyon Drive, you can grab a breath of fresh air at the Moorten Botanical Garden or book a tour at Palm Springs Art Museum to experience modern and contemporary art, architecture, and design. If you’re on a budget and looking for free things to do, go for a drive and try a self-guided tour of the city’s famous mid-century modern homes.

As for Palm Springs’s hiking trails, Tahquitz Canyon Trail brings you to a gorgeous waterfall past its visitors center and Indian Canyons makes a great spot for hiking or horseback riding with a chance to see early Native American drawings along the way.

desert and trees inside Joshua Tree National Park

Activities for kids

If you’re traveling with kids, plan a stop at the Palm Springs Air Museum or the Living Desert Zoo, which was rated in the 10 Best Zoos in the U.S. by Condé Nast Traveler. Make sure to take a day trip over to Joshua Tree National Park, where kids can explore the desert terrain and enjoy the trees’ unique shapes. The RoboLights sculpture garden is another fun sightseeing attraction any time of year.

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Joshua Tree is a must-do. It is unreal and really feels like you're on a different planet.
Amanda Lucaj, Graphic Designer
Private pool in backyard of Palm Springs vacation home

Where to stay

Whether your sights are set on the fairway, Coachella Music Festival, or Joshua Tree National Park, a downtown Palm Springs or Palm Desert vacation rental is your best bet to stay close to the action. You’ll find sprawling ranch-style family homes, golf-course-adjacent condos, or secluded plush pads. Save your spot with plenty of room for your crew and an outdoor pool to escape the desert heat.

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Palm Springs has such a unique landscape and climate. You’re surrounded by all the dry mountains, but never too far from a pool.
Kate Nutting, Brand Marketing Manager

Find your paradise in a Palm Springs vacation rental

Palm Springs travel guide FAQ

Palm Springs is a Southern California desert city, located between the Coachella Valley Preserve and San Jacinto Mountains. It lies about an hour's drive from San Bernardino and an hour from Joshua Tree National Park.

Palm Springs is famous for its golfing, festivals, mid-century modern homes, and desert glamour. As an oasis to the surrounding dusty red sands, you’ll find swanky hotels with pools and golf resorts, boutiques and restaurants downtown, as well as a thriving and diverse art scene. The city rests at the base of the San Jacinto Mountains and has access to Joshua Tree National Park, making it a destination for outdoor enthusiasts as well.

Palm Springs sees 269 days of sunshine every year, making it an ideal snowbird travel spot. Its most popular travel season is from October through May, when the heat cools down. Popular music festivals also bring in crowds, with Coachella Music Festival and Stagecoach in April, as well as the PGA Tour's American Express Men's Golf Tournament and the Palm Springs International Film Festival in January.

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