The desert has something for everyone, whether you're an art aficionado or family of four trying to keep the kids entertained. Uptown Palm Springs is home to a number of art galleries and vintage shops, while the Backstreet Art District in South Palm Springs offers a chance for you to see artists at work in their studios. If you're bringing the kids, family-friendly attractions like the Children's Discovery Museum will keep everyone entertained. Dozens of outdoor tours and hiking trails offer a chance to experience the desert's natural wonders - including slot canyons, waterfalls and oases - up close and personal.
Some attractions are closed seasonally, like Knott's Soak City which is only open in summer, and some outdoor tours, which go on hiatus when summer temperatures soar into triple digits.
Whether you're coming to the desert during the warm winter months or in the hot summer, if you're headed outside, be sure to pack sunscreen, a hat and plenty of water.
If you're a fan of Old Hollywood or a lover of all things modern, you'll want to stick near downtown Palm Springs where dozens of boutique hotels boast mid-century architecture and famous guests like Marilyn Monroe. You'll also be within walking distance of Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs' downtown strip and the airport. In neighboring cities like Palm Desert, La Quinta and Rancho Mirage, you'll find larger resorts with onsite spas, salons and even lakes, but you'll definitely need a car to get around. There are also plenty of pet-friendly Palm Springs hotels if you're bringing furry travel companions.
Many of downtown Palm Springs' boutique hotels are adults-only. Be sure to call ahead to confirm a kid-friendly accommodation if you're bringing the family.
The two main restaurant districts are El Paseo in Palm Desert and downtown Palm Springs. Both areas feature restaurants with award-winning chefs, and the restaurants in these districts tend to both buck and set the trends. Visitors can enjoy a taste of the Coachella Valley as a number of farm-to-table restaurants are now in the Palm Springs area, and chefs are using seasonal, local ingredients to create inventive menus.
Restaurants on El Paseo and in downtown Palm Springs get crowded in the early evenings. Make a reservation or be prepared for a wait.
Be Sure to Sample:
California fusion cuisines by the numerous award-winning chefs in the desert...and don't forget the date shakes.
Bars, live music venues and clubs abound in Palm Springs, offering a fitting late night option no matter what your style. In the spring, mega music festivals like Coachella Fest and Stagecoach come to the desert, and the winter season is filled with live music ranging from blues and soul to heavy metal and reggae. Year-round, the dance floors at clubs like Zelda's and Toucans are filled with locals and tourists looking to dance the night away. Palm Desert and downtown Palm Springs are your best bets for finding local watering holes.
Take It or Leave It:
The desert has a reputation for turning in soon after the sun sets, and for good reason. Don't expect to see many venues open until the wee hours.
There are plenty of shopping destinations in the desert, but Palm Desert is the place to go if you're looking to indulge in a shopping spree. The desert's answer to Rodeo Drive, El Paseo is home to designer boutiques and upscale brands like Saks Fifth Avenue. Nearby, Westfield Palm Desert offers a traditional shopping mall experience, and Highway 111 is lined with eclectic shops and thrift stores galore. On the weekends, Palm Desert's College of the Desert campus transforms into a street fair, and on Wednesdays, the city's Chamber of Commerce parking lot hosts a weekly farmers' market.
Best Local Souvenir:
Box of dates, local artwork or modern, resort-style threads from a local designer.