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6 Best Things to Do in Palm Springs, California

Until a few decades ago, ‘Hollywood’s desert playground’, as Palm Springs is also called, was the domain of movie stars and golfing retirees. Snowbirds, hipsters, and hikers have also discovered the sunny place. Retro and chic are combined, from glass bungalows – designed by famous architects – to vintage hotels and hip bars. The calming oasis in the middle of the desert is an excellent stopping point between the Grand Canyon/Phoenix and Los Angeles.

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is the largest rotating cable car in the world and brings you from the desert to the mountains. The cable car ascends almost two kilometers and offers a beautiful view over the Chino Canyon and the surrounding area. The starting point (Valley Station) is at an altitude of 800 meters, and about twelve minutes later you are at 2,596 meters. The floor of the tram rotates and during the ride, you make two circles. This way you don’t miss anything of the view. At the top of the funicular, you will find a restaurant, a souvenir shop, and observation decks.  At the valley station, you can see the authentic trams that were used from the opening in 1963.

Pro tip: The station theater is showing ‘Building on a Dream’, an 18-minute film about the history and construction of the Tramway.


Can you book tickets in advance?

Yes, while it is possible to book tickets in the Valley station, it might be a better option to book your tickets online in advance.

What is at the top?

At the top you can have dinner at the restaurants, enjoy the views from the observation deck or go on a hike on the Long Valley trails.

Indian Canyons

One of the best things to do in Palm Springs is visit Indian Canyons. The Indian Canyon is a collective name for the Tahquitz Canyon, Palm Canyon, Andreas Canyon, and Murray Canyon, which used to be sacred grounds for Native Americans. You’ll find huge rock formations, water currents, horseback riding, and picnicking. But most people come here to hike. You literally follow in the footsteps of the Indians. At the Trading Post, you can buy hiking maps, food, and drinks, but also Indian art and utensils.

Pro tip: Admire the California Fan Palm as Indian Canyons is home to the largest oasis in the world.


How to reach Indian Canyons?

Indian Canyons is just a few miles away from Palm Springs. You can find it at 38520 S Palm Canyon Drive.

What is the best hike in Indian Canyons?

If you are short on time Andreas Canyon Loop is a good option as it gives a good glance of what Indian Canyon is all about. If you have more time and want to cool off at the end, Murray Canyon Palm Springs is ideal. The trail leads to a waterfall and pool where you can swim.

Palm Springs Art Museum

For a long time, Palm Springs, California was a go-to place for artists. Founded in 1933, this museum houses a remarkable collection of modern art, glassware, and Native American and Mesoamerican art. The permanent collection includes works by Charles Russell and Ruscha. The museum is not too big but well worth a visit if you love art and have a few hours to spare while visiting Palm Springs.


Pro tip: Events often take place and professional music and theater performances are often staged in the accompanying venue.



Do I need to purchase tickets on Free Thursday?


No, on Thursday night admission is first come, first served. You don´t need to book your visit in advance.


Are dogs allowed in the museum?


No, only service dogs are allowed on a leash.


The Palm Springs Air Museum

Palm Springs Air Museum is a non-profit educational museum and features one of the world’s largest collections of flyable fighter aircraft from World War II. Documentaries about the Air Force are shown in the accompanying cinema. The emphasis here is on the Second World War. Uniforms, utensils, and original photos are also on display.


Pro tip: For an unforgettable experience, book a flight with one of the historic aircraft. You can see scheduled flights and a list of aircraft on the official website.



How many planes are in the Palms Springs Air Museum?


The museum has nine aircraft that are held in optimal flying conditions. It is possible to book a flight with them.


Are dogs allowed in the museum?


The museum allows pets to enter the museum as long as they behave.




Heading to Joshua Tree? Just north of Palm Springs is the Old West movie set Pioneertown. The town was built in 1946 by Roy Rogers, Dale Evans, and Gene Autry and is the setting for ‘gunfight shows’ every summer. You can go to Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace for a refreshment such as a beer or linger here for a barbecue with live music.


Pro tip: Short on time? Visit Mane Street to see the best of Pioneertown.



Is Pioneertown an actual cowboy location?


No, real cowboys never lived here. Pioneer town is a movie location that was often used to shoot old westerns. Still, the town has some residents living here.


How to reach Pioneertown?


Pioneertown is located at a quite secluded location in the desert. The best way to get there is by car. There is free parking on the site.


Joshua Tree National Park.

Of course, a visit to the beautiful Joshua Tree National Park should not be missed during your stay in Palm Springs. The city is an excellent base for visiting the Park. From Palm Springs you can reach this spectacular National Park within 45 minutes.


The Park owes its name to the trees in the Park. Those trees were called Joshua Trees, a type of cactus that got its name from the Bible. The branches of these trees resemble the arms of a biblical figure, the prophet Joshua. The park is also popular for its secluded locations which allow visitors to see the milky way at night.


Pro tip: There are two parts to Joshua Tree: The lower Sonoran Desert and the higher Mojave Desert. The higher Mojave desert area is a landscape full of giant granite blocks. This area is a favorite place for many mountaineers. In the lower part, you will find a number of sights and many walks are possible.


Which entrance is best at Joshua Tree National Park?


The western entrance is the most popular amongst visitors as it gives access to hiking trails.


Is there an entrance fee for Joshua Tree National Park?


Yes, as a national park, an entrance fee needs to be paid when entering the park. The price is 30 dollars per vehicle. This allows access to the park for 7 days.



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