It takes about two hours to drive from Los Angeles to get to the Coachella Valley city of Palm Desert, which is east of the more famous city of Palm Springs. Many golf courses, shopping malls, and country clubs can be found in this region.
Things To Do In Palm Desert CA, Art galleries, fine dining, and high-end designer stores line El Paseo’s well-known Shops at Palm Canyon drive. Getting out into the surrounding desert is just one of the many options for fun things to do.
To get the most out of your Palm Desert visit, book a hiking tour with Tallgrass Hiking & Tours, take a hot air balloon ride with Balloons Above, or just wander around the shops and art galleries. Prior to your visit, call the attractions, best places and restaurants to confirm the most up-to-date hours of operation.
List Of 17 Things To Do In Palm Desert CA Today
1. Bump and Grind Trail
As one of the most popular hiking trails in Coachella Valley, the Palm Desert Bump-n-Grind Trail is one of the best options. Desert Mirage Trail, Desert Drive, Dog Poop, and Patton Trail are some of the other names used by locals.
At the trailhead, the trail is narrow; as you proceed, it widens. With a gain of about 1,000 feet, it’s a popular choice for those looking for a good workout and a view of Palm Desert on the way up to Palm Springs Aerial tramway.
If you’re lucky, you might get a glimpse of some of the area’s endangered wildlife, including bighorn sheep at Indian Canyon.
2. Cabot’s Pueblo Museum
Located in a large, Hopi-style pueblo home, the Cabot’s Pueblo Museum is a historical house museum. Cabot Yerxa, an explorer and activist, built the home from materials he found in the desert. It is a stunning example of Pueblo revival architecture at Palm Spring indian wells.
Sun-dried bricks and reclaimed wood from nearby cabins were used to construct every part of the house. Yerxa began construction in 1941 and continued to work on the house until his death in 1965.
The house has a total of 35 rooms and is four stories high. A museum containing artifacts, works of art, and memorabilia related to the architect’s life and career now occupies the home that he and his wife once opened to the public for tours in downtown palm springs.
67616 Desert View Avenue, Desert Hot Springs, CA 92240, Phone: 760-329-7610
3. Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
Animals and plants can be found at Palm Desert’s living desert zoo and botanical garden, previously known as the Living Desert Museum (LDM). Desert animals from around the world, particularly from North America and Africa, are featured in the park.
This year’s highlights include the Mexican Wolf, eagles, giraffe, zebra and many others. This section of the park’s gardens includes a butterfly garden as well as cacti, as well as a palm oasis.
Early in the day, when it’s still cool, is the best time to see the animals because that’s when they’re most active. Plan ahead, wear sunscreen, and drink plenty of water when visiting the zoo in the summer.
479000 Portola Avenue, Palm Desert, CA 92260, Phone: 760-346-5694
4. Palm Desert Aquatic Center, Palm Desert, CA
Located in the heart of Palm Desert, the Palm Desert Aquatic Center offers year-round family fun in the sun. The complex has three swimming pools, numerous water slides, diving boards, and a variety of play features to accommodate guests of varying ages and interests.
Water sports enthusiasts will appreciate the property’s 8-acre size, which provides plenty of space. The property can be rented out as a special event venue for those looking for a location. They also have a wide variety of exercise classes, both on land and in the water, for those who prefer to keep active while on vacation.
73751 Magnesia Falls Drive, Palm Desert, CA 92260, Phone: 760-565-7467
5. Palm Springs Art Museum
One of the most important museums in Palm Springs is the Palm Springs Art Museum. It’s also a place where shows are put on. The museum was originally established as a museum devoted to the desert, but it has since evolved into a leading arts institution.
For example, the collection has a strong focus on western art, Native American art, international modern and contemporary painting/sculpture, classic Western American artwork, and contemporary and studio art glass.
Docent-guided museum tours are included in the price of admission. Special in-depth tours are also available for specific events and exhibitions.
101 N. Museum Drive, Palm Springs, CA 92262, Phone: 760-322-4800
6. Palms to Pines Scenic Byway
Highway 74 and 243 form the Palms to Pines Scenic Byway, a scenic drive that stretches from Palm Desert to Banning Pass.
Because of the abundance and variety of scenic vistas to be found along the route, the byway has been designated as a scenic byway. Stunning forests, the Southern California desert, and snow-capped mountains are all part of its route.
It’s unusual to see such a wide range of environmental conditions in such a small area. The road is windy and sparsely populated, but the views are well worth the effort.
7. San Andreas Fault
The San Andreas Fault is one of the world’s most famous fault lines. The tectonic plate boundary between the North American and Pacific tectonic plates is marked by this fault, which runs for about 1,200 kilometers through Southern California.
The well-known fault is a popular attraction for visitors to the state. For many, visiting the fault will be an underwhelming experience because it isn’t the gigantic fissure in the Earth they had in mind.
In fact, the lack of recent seismic activity makes it difficult to discern subtle differences. Many sections of the fault line are located on publicly owned land, making them easily accessible. Check with local nature centers and parks if you’d like to go on a day trip with a geologist or naturalist.
8. Smiler’s Point, Palm Desert Springs, CA
Smiler’s Point on California’s State Route 74 appears to be nothing more than a simple curve to the untrained eye. Film buffs have dubbed the curve “Smiler’s Point” because of its resemblance to the character’s face.
This spot on the highway was the site of the tragic death of reckless driver Smiler Grogan in the classic 1963 film It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
Fans of the film still regard it as a major influence and a must-see for any cinephile. Because there are no designated paths for viewing the point on foot, most people opt to cruise slowly through the area instead.
Highway 74, South of Palm Desert
9. Tallgrass Hiking and Tours
As a tour operator in the Greater Palm Springs Air Museum, Tallgrass Hiking and Tours offers a variety of excursions. For more than a decade, the company has offered hiking tours in the area, as well as custom minibus and luxury bus excursions.
The Salton Sea, the east valley’s agricultural region, the San Gorgonio Pass, and Redlands are just a few of the places you can visit on a tour of the region.
Joshua Tree National Park, Big Morongo Canyon Coachella Valley Preserve, and many more are great places to go hiking in the Los Angeles area. Professional guides lead each and every tour, ensuring that you have a memorable and educational experience at downtown palm springs.
45300 Portola Avenue, Unit 1514, Palm Desert, CA 92260, Phone: 760-219-3000
10. Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve, Palm Desert
Preserved land located in the Coachella Valley known as Thousand Palm Springs International Airport Oasis Preserve Over 20,000 acres of desert wilderness and hiking trails make this a popular spot for activities like hiking, picnicking, wildlife viewing, and more at rancho mirage.
The Palm House, a rustic visitors center, provides the bare essentials for visitors. Free guided hikes are offered several times each week by Docent guides.
Visitors can sign up for short (2-mile) hikes that focus on a particular aspect of the park. You can choose from desert bird walks, a tour of two oasis, and many more hiking opportunities.
29200 Thousand Palm Canyon dr Road, Thousand Palms, CA 92276, Phone: 760-343-2733
11. Wilma & Frieda
The Gardens on El Paseo, a bustling shopping district, is home to the popular cafe Wilma & Frieda. In an understated setting, the restaurant serves comfort food updated with a modern twist for breakfast and brunch.
Her grandmothers, Wilma and Frieda, had a profound impact on her decision to open her own restaurant. Breakfast, weekday brunch, and weekend specials are all available on the menu.
There are a variety of French toast options to choose from, as well as filet mignon and eggs (the banana caramel French toast is especially drool-worthy). This is a great place to go with a large group if you need to cater to a variety of dietary preferences.
73575 El Paseo #2310, Palm Desert, CA 92260, Phone: 760-773-2807
12. Desert Willow Golf Resort, Palm Desert
Palm Desert’s Desert Willow Golf Resort is a popular destination for golfers from all over the world. It is home to two of the Coachella Valley’s best golf courses. It’s more difficult to complete the Firecliff Course because of the numerous water features and other natural hazards that can be encountered along the way.
The Mountain View Course, on the other hand, is much more forgiving and offers a more relaxing experience.
There’s a clubhouse on-site, as well as lovely outdoor dining options and plenty of room for events and meetings. Additionally, the resort features a world-class golf academy right on site for those looking to improve their game.
38-995 Desert Willow Drive, Palm Desert, CA 92260, Phone: 760-346-0015
13.Fix on El Paseo
Fix on El Paseo, It’s a rustic but chic coffeehouse with a full bar that serves breakfast, lunch, and desserts all made in-house. You can pick up a breakfast burrito or an oatmeal brulee with fruit on your way to some of the other places on our itinerary.
Fix offers a variety of lunch options, including tapas, sandwiches, flatbread pizzas, and crepes for lunch. Alternatively, you can just pop in for a cup of coffee and a piece of cake and you’ll be fine. Additionally, they’re a popular place to buy a wedding cake in the Palm Springs area.
73580 El Paseo, Palm Desert, CA 92260, Phone: 760-340-3040
Every day, Grill-A-Burger serves up burgers, hot dogs, and salads to an ever-growing number of regular customers and tourists alike. The Palm Desert restaurant is decked out in an island-themed décor, making it ideal for a relaxing meal.
Some of the best ingredients around, including hormone and antibiotic-free 100 percent all-natural USDA beef, are used in the restaurant’s burgers. As you can see, they have a wide variety of options for those with food allergies or dietary restrictions.
73091 Country Club Drive, Palm Desert, CA 92260, Phone: 760-348-8170
15.AJ’s on the Green, Palm Desert, CA
An entertainment venue, not a restaurant, is what you’ll find at AJ’s on the Green. The Palm Springs area’s best live music venue has been recognized year after year by the restaurant.
Every day of the week, they’re open and serving up some of the best food and entertainment in town. Diverse choices include seafood, Italian, and New American fare, all of which are prominent on the menu.
Be careful not to overeat because you’ll want to save room for their creme brûlée and salted caramel ice creams, no matter what you order. For the most up-to-date entertainment options, visit their website, and don’t miss the jazz brunch on Sunday.
36200 Date Palm Drive, Cathedral City, CA 92234, Phone: 760-202-1111
16.Balloons Above, Palm Desert, CA
Balloons Above is a hot air balloon tour company that operates in the Napa Valley area. You can choose from a variety of tours, including one that includes a 1-hour flight over Napa Valley and a champagne brunch at C Casa, a restaurant that has been awarded the Michelin Bib Gourmand award multiple times.
In addition to the flight and brunch tour, you can also book a flight and wine tour. You can’t go wrong with either option if you want to soar above the picturesque California Wine Country.
Model Bakery, 644 1st Street, Napa, CA 94559, Phone: 800-464-6824
17. Coachella Valley Brewing Company
The Coachella Valley Brewing Company, located in an industrial park in Thousand Palms, is a craft brewery that uses locally sourced ingredients to make its beer.
On Fridays and Saturdays, the brewery offers quick tours to the general public, allowing them to see the brewing process and equipment up close and personal while also getting a sense of the dedication and expertise of the staff.
As a bonus, there is a taproom that serves a variety of small plates and over 20 different kinds of craft beer. Located just off the 10 Freeway, it is accessible to most of Palm Springs and the surrounding area.
30-640 Gunther Street, Thousand Palms, CA 92278, Phone: 760-343-5973
FAQs Things To Do In Palm Desert
What is Palm Desert CA known for?
The Coachella Valley is home to the city of Palm Desert, which was incorporated on November 26, 1973. Palm Desert is the cultural and retail hub of the desert communities.
What’s the difference between Palm Desert and Palm Springs?
As the first settlement in the desert, Palm Springs has a long and distinguished history. Every Thursday night, there is a street fair/market in the downtown area. Original mid-century modern homes and boutique hotels can be found throughout the city. As a result of its numerous resorts and upscale shopping centers, Palm Desert has a decidedly suburban vibe.
In Palm Desert, when is the best time of year to visit?
The desert is at its most beautiful during the winter months. The best months to visit are from January to March when the sun shines all day and the temperature hovers around the comfortable range of 22 to 27 degrees Celsius. Obviously, this is a great day for hiking or biking in the val.