From History Museums to Cable Cars, Palm Springs Offers Something for Everyone

Marissa Willman

By , Local Expert, Palm Springs
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Palm Springs was once an exclusive getaway spot for Hollywood celebrities. Marilyn Monroe was discovered poolside at a Palm Springs hotel, and members of the Rat Pack like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin were regularly spotted at their Palm Springs hideaways. With palm trees and sunshine as far as the eye can see, it’s no wonder celebrities have turned to the desert for decades when in need of a little rest and relaxation.

While Palm Springs is still a celebrity favorite, the city has transformed into an oasis with a little bit of something for everyone. Art aficionados enjoy the city’s art museums and galleries, while history...  Read more »

  • 1

    Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

    The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is the perfect way for the entire family to see desert dwellers up close and personal.

    Local Expert Tip: "Arrive early in the day, if possible. Not only will temperatures be cooler and the wildlife more active, but you can also watch animals undergo annual exams and surgery at the Marilyn and Bill Tennity Wildlife Hospital and Conservation Center."

  • 2

    Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

    The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is the world's largest rotating tramway, offering 360-degree views of the Coachella Valley.

    Local Expert Tip: "Plan your trip to the tramway in the afternoon, if possible. You'll escape to cooler temperatures during the hottest time of the day and catch the best evening views of the desert from the top of the tram."

  • 3

    Indian Canyons

    The Indian Canyons offer a look at the natural history of Palm Springs, from waterfalls and palm oases to sacred Native American sites.

    Local Expert Tip: "Opt for a guided hike. While visitors are welcome to explore the trails on their own, a guided hike with a park ranger offers trailblazers a much richer experience. Not only will your guide be able to teach you about the plants and wildlife found in the canyons, but rangers also share the folk tales and lore of the native Cahuilla people who once inhabited the land."

  • 4

    Palm Springs Air Museum

    The Palm Springs Air Museum is home to the world's largest collection of flyable WWII planes, and many docents are actual war veterans.

    Local Expert Tip: "While the museum's impressive fighter plane collection can be viewed in the hangars anytime, there's nothing like seeing a P-51 Mustang or an F-18 Hornet soar through the air. Planes are regularly taken out for a spin to maintain their working condition; call the museum ahead of time to schedule your visit during their next flight demonstration."

  • 5

    Knott's Soak City Water Park Palm Springs

    Knott's Soak City is the desert's premier water park, offering a great way for the entire family to cool off.

    Local Expert Tip: "Bringing the family? Grab a few lounge chairs near the wave pool or rent a private cabana for the day. Looking for a more adult pool party? Head to the Big Island Yacht Club, a special poolside section serving alcoholic drinks for guests 21 and older."

  • 6

    Palm Springs Art Museum

    The Palm Springs Art Museum boasts more than 24,000 objects and artifacts in a mid-century modern building that embodies the essence of Palm Springs.

    Local Expert Tip: "Drop by the Palm Springs Art Museum on the second Sunday of the month or on Thursdays after 4 p.m. to enjoy complementary admission to both the museum and any scheduled activities. Combine the Thursday free admission offer with a trip to Villagefest, downtown's weekly street fair, for a budget-friendly night in Palm Springs."

  • 7

    Children's Discovery Museum of the Desert

    The Children's Discovery Museum of the Desert is a popular attraction for families, thanks to its fun approach to educational activities.

    Local Expert Tip: "Don't miss a chance to paint on a real car. At the museum's "Paint the Bug" exhibit, children grab their smocks and paint brushes to paint a real Volkswagen Beetle. The permanent exhibit is constantly evolving as visitors add their own creative flair, so be sure to leave your mark!"

  • 8

    Cabot's Pueblo Museum

    Cabot's Pueblo Museum is a historic home in Desert Hot Springs, showcasing the desert's history and the art of homesteading.

    Local Expert Tip: "Cabot was more than just a homesteader; he also discovered the natural aquifers for which the spa town of Desert Hot Springs was named. After touring the museum, experience Cabot's discoveries for yourself with a trip to one of the city's renowned hot springs spas."

  • 9

    Village Fest

    Village Fest is one of the desert's favorite weekly markets, turning downtown Palm Springs into an outdoor...  Read more »

    Local Expert Tip: "Most of the businesses lining South Palm Canyon Drive stay open late during VillageFest, so you can also browse the stores for clothing, souvenirs and the like."

  • 10

    Desert Adventures

    Desert Adventures offers a look at the natural side of the desert with open-air jeep tours of local natural wonders.

    Local Expert Tip: "For a little variety, opt for one of Desert Adventure's night tours. As the sun sets, you'll be treated to a tour of a natural palm oasis and the fault's slotted canyons. After dark, your tour guide will lead you through a stargazing session at Metate Ranch's recreated mining town."



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