The Best Free Things to Do in Palm Springs

While Palm Springs got its start as a playground for Hollywood's stars, you don't need a celebrity's bankroll to have fun in the desert. There are plenty of attractions and things to do for the best price of all: free.

Some of the most popular free events in Palm Springs are the weekly markets held in Palm Springs and Palm Desert. Every Thursday night, downtown Palm Springs transforms into an outdoor street fair during VillageFest. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, the College of the Desert parking lot hosts a weekend outdoor market known as the COD Street Fair. Both are free to visit.

Palm Springs' distinctive neighborhoods also make for great – and free – ways to spend an afternoon browsing unique shops and boutiques. Downtown Palm Springs, the Uptown Design District and the Backstreet Art District are just a few of the city's best neighborhoods to explore for free.

Some of the desert's top attractions also offer free admission on select days. The Palm Springs Art Museum, for example, is free on Thursday afternoons and the second Tuesday of each month. Nearby, Joshua Tree National Park offers free admission to its hiking trails and viewpoints on select days as part of the National Park Service's free entrance days.

Check out the full list of free things to do in Palm Springs below.



Santa Rosa and San Jacinto National Monument provides the picturesque background for the Coachella Valley. The Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains line the desert, and in the winter months, these peaks are snowcapped for the ultimate photo...  Read More

Joshua Tree National Park


Joshua Tree National Park is about a 45-minute drive from Palm Springs, but it feels like a world away. Filled with hiking trails, scenic vistas and larger-than-life rock formations, Joshua Tree is the perfect destination for those looking to...  Read More



With more than 25 miles of hiking trails, the Coachella Valley Preserve is a hiker's paradise. The area is ripe with natural oases and lush vegetation due to the San Andreas Fault, which produces seismic activity that feeds underground springs....  Read More

Agua Caliente Cultural Museum


Long before Palm Springs became a playground for Old Hollywood's stars, the Coachella Valley was home to the Cahuilla Indians. Today, the history of the Cahuilla people is preserved and showcased at the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum in downtown...  Read More



South Palm Canyon Drive transforms into an open-air market every Thursday evening during Village Fest, a weekly street fair in downtown Palm Springs. Vendors set up stalls selling everything from arts and crafts to local produce. If you get...  Read More



The Palm Springs Art Museum has seen many transformations since its inception in 1938. Originally focused on the desert environment and the native Cahuilla people, the museum is now dedicated to both the region's indigenous culture and...  Read More



A stroll through downtown Palm Springs is a must for any trip to the desert. The downtown area is filled with boutique clothing stores, art galleries, public art and all things modern. You can spend a day window shopping at the designer...  Read More



Every Saturday and Sunday morning, the College of the Desert parking lot transforms into the desert's largest street fair. Hundreds of vendors set up makeshift shops at this sprawling outdoor market, but you don't need to spend any money to...  Read More



Charming, retro and uniquely Palm Springs are three ways to describe the Uptown Design District, and if you're a modernism fan in any sense, you won't want to miss the chance to stroll through this retro district. This stretch of Palm Canyon...  Read More

Backstreet Art District
Photo courtesy of Kelly Truscott


The Backstreet Art District in Palm Springs is a haven for local artists to create sculptures, photography, jewelry, paintings and more. If you enjoy local art, don't miss a chance to drop into the dozens of studios in this art district. You'll...  Read More


Meet Marissa Willman

Marissa Willman moved to the Coachella Valley in 2001 and loves discovering the best that the desert has to offer. As a Palm Springs local, Marissa enjoys sharing her knowledge of this desert...  More About Marissa