Whether you’ve come to Palm Springs to relax and unwind or get your groove on, there’s a little something for everyone. Since my first time in this sunny little city about a year and a half ago, I’ve been back for more of the good life a handful of times. As each trip comes and goes, I seem to uncover new places that are truly unique to Palm Springs.
At first glance Palm Springs may seem like its not much more than an infinite selection of golf courses (about 124) and midcentury modern architected neighborhoods sprawled along the Great Desert Basin. In all actuality, after a myriad of trips, I can confidently say that if you’re bored in Palm Springs, you haven’t truly explored it. The city itself is rather quaint in size compared to it’s big sister, Los Angeles, but what I’ve discovered is that to really experience the best of what it has to offer, you’ve gotta dig beneath the surface just a bit.
“I really regret that trip!” …Said no one ever.
I’m a sucker for perspective and in Palm Springs, there’s no better vantage point than from the worlds largest rotating aerial tramway. The 8,500 foot ride up will cost you $21.95 but if you plan it right, you can make the most out of your excursion by including a day hike through the trails beginning at the tram drop off or camp at one of their six primitive campgrounds in the Mount San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness area. There is a restaurant and bar situated at the top for those that prefer to be wined and dined, otherwise it’s recommended to bring your own supply of water and snacks.
Moorten Botanical Garden and Cactarium
This botanical garden or “cactarium” as the Moorten family refers to it as, is tucked away just off the main road in town. Succulents are a defining design feature seen all throughout Palm Springs and may be just as indicative to where you are as the giant windmills and palm trees. The property boasts thousands of plants and many different varietals of cacti meticulously scattered along a trail and inside their greenhouse. On the back of the lot, you’ll find the Moorten’s family home, a beautiful Spanish style hacienda, originally built in 1929 for renowned photographer, Stephen Willard. Stephen’s photographs of Palm Springs in the early 30’s are said to have been an influential part of putting this burgeoning city on the map. Not long after that, Cactus Slim, the founder of Moorten’s Botanical Garden and Cactarium, opened up shop in 1938 and it still remains a family owned and operated business to this day. Perhaps a visit here isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but one can certainly appreciate the history and unique beauty this place has to offer. Next time you’re in Palm Springs, swing by and say hello to Clark, he’ll be happy to see to it that you have a pleasant visit, just tell him Desirée sent you.
Wet ‘n Wild
Who says water parks are only for kids?! When temperatures soar in Palm Springs, you’ll realize there’s no better place to be than Wet ‘n Wild if you’re looking for some bikini clad adventure. The park isn’t as big as some of the other water parks I’ve been to in Florida but it surely has all you could need – slides, tide pools, lazy river, cabanas and a fully stocked bar.
*Tip: To receive up to 50% off on tickets, purchase yours at the local Costco. These tickets also include general parking. Score!
San Gorgonio Pass Windmills
The Palm Springs windmills are iconic. Built in the early 1980’s, they have become the landmarks that roadtrippers like myself look upon with eager eyes as we enter the city. The windmills stand at 150 feet tall, methodically spinning as if waving hello to all who have come to visit. These make for great photo ops, especially during sunrise or sunset. For those looking to take an official tour of the windmills, you can find tickets here, however, I’ve found that it’s quite easy to get beautiful pictures, even from the road.
Trendy bites at Kings Highway Diner at the Ace Hotel & Swim Club
The Ace Hotel is a popular destination in Palm Springs for hip travelers and photographers alike. This quirky diner, once a neighborhood Denny’s, is one of my favorites in town for brunch. Anyone who’s been here and appreciates a good avocado & egg toast breakfast will know what I mean. Fresh, locally sourced produce make this the perfect pit stop for some seasonal nosh and the décor definitely adds to the overall ambiance.
The Saguaro Hotel (Sa-wah-ro)
This vibrant hotel isn’t just for overnight guests. With daily yoga classes, desert bike rentals, in-house spa, and delicious eats (check out El Jefe for their Taco Tuesday specials), this joint has it all. The lobby features games like ping pong and a trendy gift shop and the outdoor courtyard boasts a beautiful pool and snack bar, corn hole, hammocks and more. Perhaps a chilled beverage and some people watching is all you need, and there’s no shortage of that here.
Rocket Fizz Soda Pop & Candy Shop
Ever had barf soda? How about maple bacon saltwater taffy or candy coated ants? Pop in for a sugar fix or just to check out all the whacky things on display. Rocket Fizz features thousands of unique edibles and fun gag gifts that are sure to put a smile on your face.
Hacienda Cantina & Beach Club
Soak up the sun and enjoy a frosty cocktail in the comfort of a flamingo floaty or perhaps try your luck at a game of corn hole on the lawn. Many of the best parties are hiding just beyond unsuspecting walls, so don’t let your perceptions fool you.
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Rirhandzu MarivateSeptember 29, 2016 at 05:29
I would quite like to go for the botanical and food exploration of Palm Springs. I have never been to Palm Springs, not even that place with the same name in South Africa. I think I would enjoy myself quite thoroughly there 😉
DarielSeptember 28, 2016 at 21:14
Didn’t get to visit Palm Springs when I visited the States and this looks like a cool and beautiful place! Will put the windmill tour on my to-do list if I do come by!
Jaye ShieldsSeptember 28, 2016 at 16:54
PSP is great, we have layovers there but I never thought of hitting up a waterpark!
Rosi C,September 28, 2016 at 12:39
Palm Springs look like a nice place to visit. Looks like a great experience. Love rollercoasters and hammocks. Great pics 🙂
Joy SheehanSeptember 28, 2016 at 12:38
This is the coolest list! I recently(ish) moved to Sacramento but I’ve wanted to visit Palm Springs for a while now and I’ll definitely be coming back to this post of yours for ideas once I start to travel down that way!
LusineSeptember 28, 2016 at 12:18
Looks like a really nice place to explore! California is on my bucket list, so will not miss Palm Springs for sure!
Eniko KrixSeptember 28, 2016 at 11:41
It’s a shame I didn’t visit Wet N Wild during my 2 month road trip in the US. We visited many theme parks, but not water parks. Anyways I keep it in mind for next time! 🙂
SorayaSeptember 28, 2016 at 11:40
These are all fantastic suggestions for a trip to Palm Springs. The aerial tramway sounds awesome! I am a sucker for great views so I’m sure I’d enjoy it. The sanguaro hotel sounds cool! I love vibrant hotels and that it offers yoga classes!
ClaudiaDecember 10, 2018 at 08:35
during the cold season, there’s snow in the mountains, even better!!!
CandySeptember 28, 2016 at 11:08
This was such a great read! I’ve been to Palm Springs a few times and never knew that you could take a windmill tour!!! I’m doing that for sure next time 🙂
Elisa MartinezSeptember 24, 2016 at 15:04
I miss Palm Springs! I believe it’s been 4 years. Need to go back 1 day. Great post by the way!
DeziStyleSeptember 25, 2016 at 23:56
I miss it every time I leave, too! Thanks for the love, Elisa! 🙂