Around 100 miles east of Los Angeles, Palm Springs is the largest city in Coachella Valley. Once known as a hotspot vacation destination for celebrities like the Rat Pack, Sinatra, Elvis and many others, Palm Springs in now home to a mix of snowbirds, hipsters and travellers on weekend getaways from the West Coast!
The city is well-known for hosting tons of Coachella festivalgoers during April, but there are many amazing things to do throughout the year. Whether you want a relaxing holiday by the pool or an outdoors adventure, there will always be something fun to do. From cool poolside bars, an incredible vintage shopping scene, art galleries and stunning desert landscapes, Palm Springs is the ultimate destination for a weekend getaway.
Art and Culture
With world-class galleries, museums and art festivals, Palm Springs is the perfect place for art and architecture enthusiasts. Start your art journey in the heart of Palm Springs at Palm Canyon Drive, home to several art galleries including the Elena Bulatova Fine Art Gallery and the eclectic Stewart Galleries. The Backstreet Art District is a collection of art galleries and studios offering a wide range genres and styles. Explore the neighborhood on the monthly Art Walk and get a behind-the-scenes experience into the creation of different works of art.
On Thursday nights, head downtown and check out the Palm Springs VillageFest, a free festival of art, entertainment and food. Enjoy a variety of live entertainment and discover unique art and crafts from local artists.
Palm Springs is widely known for is modern design aesthetic, which became popular during the mid-19th century. The city celebrates this unique style not only within architecture, but during the annual Modernism Week. You can take a tour to explore the desert design throughout the city as well as seeing some of the houses of celebrities that used to call Palm Springs home. One of the most popular celebrity houses is the Alexander Estate, where Elvis and Priscilla Presley spent their honeymoon, and the house often has events celebrating the “King’s” life.
Surrounded by the desert landscape and various national parks, Palm Springs is a hiker’s paradise. Explore hundreds of trails within the Coachella Valley, including several popular ones within Indian Canyons like the West Fork Falls, which is an fairly easy trail leading to a beautiful waterfall. Or, for a more difficult trail, take the Palm Canyon Trail to Palm Canyon Creek and the Stone Pools. If you want a breath-taking way to view the beauty of Palm Springs, go for a ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to Mt. San Jacinto peak!
Just an hour from Palm Springs is Joshua Tree National Park. This desert oasis is aperfect place to spend the day or set up camp, with more with nine camping sites located throughout the park. Aside from the iconic tree the park is named after, Joshua Tree is also home to some unique rock formations and wildlife. The eastern side of the park is also one of the best places in the world for star gazing due to its high elevation and distance from any major cities.
If you visit Palm Springs on a rare day of rain, don’t fret, there are some cool (and unusual!) museums to visit during your trip. Check out the Historical Society and Museum of Palm Desert to learn more about the region’s history as well as its famous inhabitants in the 1950s and 1960s.
In the heart of downtown, Palm Springs Art Museum is a must-see during your trip. The 150,000-square-foot museum is climate controlled – which makes it the perfect place to escape the extreme heat in summer. Featuring a wide variety of art from modern, contemporary, western and photography, the museum’s permanent collections highlight works from Warhol, Lichtenstein, and Rauschenberg, among others. Head to the museum after 4 p.m. on Thursdays for free entry!
Go bananas for bananas at the International Banana Museum. With over 20,000 banana-related items, it is the perfect place to monkey around and try some banana milkshakes, banana splits or even 4 types of banana soda!
Palm Springs is a mecca for vintage shopping, with a range of thrift stores as well as some more high-end boutiques. No matter if you are looking for vintage furniture, clothing or décor, something from the 1950s or 1990s, you will find it in Palm Springs.
Head to the Uptown Design District, where dozens of antique, resale and retro galleries are located. If you’re in the market for designer deals, check out the Déjà vu Vintage Factory or Fine Art of Design, which have gently used items from names like Lilly Pulitzer, Nina Ricci, Valentino, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent and Fendi. Route 66 West has an incredible selection of vintage and costume jewelry as well as home goods and collectibles, while Hedge and Spaces have some incredible vintage art and furniture. These shops are just a few located within the town, so make sure to check online to see what shops are perfect for you or even ask the staff at other stores for suggestions!
Palm Springs and its surrounding areas are most known as the location for Coachella Art and Music Festival. The festival started in 1999 and has grown in popularity and size every year since. The festival was originally known as an indie festival, but now hosts a wide variety of acts and genres from pop to indie to hip-hop and EDM. Most recently, the festival was headlined by Beyoncé, The Weekend and Eminem, among others. The festival has become a hotspot for celebrities and has increasingly become known for having whimsical and trendy food options, including deep-fried mac and cheese, vegan ramen and ice cream tacos.
Stagecoach is a country music festival that is held in the same location. Known as California’s Country Music Festival, past headliners have included Florida Georgia Line, Keith Urban and Garth Brooks. Like Coachella, the festival offers a range of food and even has its own BBQ competition!