The resort city of Palm Springs, California lies at the western end of the Coachella Valley. Among the many area attractions are lovely botanical gardens, fascinating museums, spectacular scenery, and unique shopping opportunities. Activities near the majority of Palm Springs vacation rentals include riding an aerial tramway, exploring the desert by Hummer, and observing the valley from a hot air balloon. Here are the top things to do in and around Palm Springs.

moorten botanical garden palm springs
Source: Flickr/Chris Goldberg

1. Moorten Botanical Garden

The Moorten Botanical Garden and Cactarium is a lovely oasis near downtown Palm Springs. The facility specializes in cactuses and other desert plants. As you wander its outdoor gardens and greenhouse, you become familiar with species such as agaves, bombax, boojum trees, and aloes. The collection includes plants from diverse locations such as California, Colorado, Mexico, South Africa, and the Patagonia Desert in South America.

2. Palm Springs Street Fair

Don’t miss the fun at the weekly Palm Springs street fair known as VillageFest. Palm Canyon Drive, the city’s main central thoroughfare, closes up, and hundreds of vendors set up their booths in the cool of the evening. Stroll and shop for jewelry, artwork, handicrafts, and freshly cooked food while you enjoy live entertainment.

3. Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

You get on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway at the western edge of Palm Springs, and it takes you two and a half miles through the Chino Canyon to a high peak in San Jacinto State Park. The tram car slowly rotates so you can absorb the scenery on the way. When you get to the top, you can enjoy the breathtaking view, hike nature trails, and dine at the Peaks Restaurant before returning to Palm Springs.

4. Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in nearby Palm Desert offers a fascinating look at flora and fauna from the deserts of the world. Its habitats include environments and animals from North America, Africa, Asia, and Australia. Among its many animal species are giraffes, cheetahs, leopards, wolves, and camels. Special gardens have foliage that attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.

5. Palm Springs Art Museum

The Palm Springs Art Museum is a massive structure with thousands of displays that can absorb your attention for hours. Permanent exhibits highlight areas such as modern, Mesoamerican, and Native American art. Other collections focus on photography, contemporary glass, and architecture and design. The museum also hosts rotating exhibitions from around the world.

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6. Adventure Hummer Tours

Adventure Hummer Tours offer you a terrific opportunity to explore the desert surrounding Palm Springs in comfort. Air-conditioned shuttle vehicles pick you up at your vacation rental and take you to a waiting bright yellow Hummer with soft seats and heavy-duty suspension. Destinations include the spectacular canyons of the San Andreas Fault or the visual wonders of Joshua Tree National Park.

7. Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert

The Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert features interactive playtime that absorbs kids in the learning experience. Activities include playing in fun environments such as a grocery store, an archeological dig, and a pizza parlor. Children can navigate a rope maze, climb a rock wall, dress up in costumes, and construct items with blocks, boards, and gears. Among the other museum attractions are puzzles, games, and opportunities to create artwork.

8. Brandini Toffee Factory

Indulge your sweet tooth and your curiosity with a tour of the Brandini Toffee Factory. Tours demonstrate how its products are made, and you can try samples of toffee, toffee popcorn, and other delicacies. Afterwards, you can relax with a toffee shake and pick up some gift tins of toffee at the shop.

9. Cabot’s Pueblo Museum

The amazing Cabot’s Pueblo Museum is in Desert Hot Springs, which adjoins Palm Springs to the north. The 35 rooms in the pueblo take up over 5,000 square feet of space. They are full of fascinating Native American pottery, artwork, photographs, and other artifacts.

10. Palm Springs Air Museum

Located beside Palm Springs International Airport, the Palm Springs Air Museum hosts an immense collection of flyable aircraft from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. No ropes impede your ability to get up close to the planes. The facility also has exhibits on military aviation history, a library and education center, and computer flight simulators where you can learn the principles of flight.

11. Coachella Valley Preserve

The Coachella Valley Preserve, also known as the Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve, lies just a few miles east of Palm Springs and features hiking trails and wildlife observation in a beautiful pristine desert environment. From the visitors’ center, you can join a guided hike or head off on your own.

12. Five Star Adventures Legends and Icons Tour

Many movie stars in the past and present have resided in Palm Springs, and in air-conditioned comfort, this tour takes you to see over 50 of their residences, including the homes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Kenny Rogers, and Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell. Past stars whose homes you can view include Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball, and Dean Martin.

13. Smoke Tree Stables

A horseback ride through the desert can both relax and thrill you. Located within the Palm Springs city limits, Smoke Tree Stables offers rides for an hour or up to a full day past flowing streams and verdant oases along the beautiful trails of the Indian Canyons. If you like, the tour can include a picnic lunch or a full western cookout with entertainment.

14. Palm Springs Historical Society Walking Tours

Located on Palm Canyon Drive at the Village Green Heritage Center, the Palm Springs Historical Society offers interesting guided walking tours around town. Options include emphasis on the downtown area, history, architecture, artwork, or the homes of celebrities.

15. Magic Adventure Balloon Rides

For the thrill of a lifetime, explore the Coachella Valley by hot air balloon. Balloon flights take off early or late in the day near sunrise or sunset and include champagne or juice, snacks, and photos. You can see the entire city, the valley, and the nearby mountains from your lofty perspective.

 
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