Palm Springs City Hall

One Week Itinerary for Palm Springs California

This spring we decided to spend a week in Palm Springs vacationing. Contrary to what we first thought, there was so much to do in Palm Springs that we weren’t able to fit it all in our schedule. And we had so much fun there! Here is our itinerary for a week in Palm Springs California:

*We use ads so we can pay for our travels and continue to bring you free travel advice. We also use affiliate links.
If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no cost to you

Those who have been reading my previous posts probably noticed that we drove from Northern California to Palm Springs for the week of spring break. We rented a nice condo with a pool, and our plan was just to chill and do some hiking close by.

The weather was really hot (35C/100F) but we quickly got used to it and we spent a lot of time swimming. Finally, after a long and cool winter, it really felt like we were on a true vacation!

Since my husband had to work few days from there, I and my friend together with our kids drove all the way to the Carlsbad Flower Fields for one day. It is nearly all the way to San Diego, so I wont include that on my itinerary I built up for you.

Another reason for that is that the ranunculus flower bloom only lasts for a limited time, so unless you are there at the right time, you wont be able to see it. But the Flower Fields were amazing and so colorful! It was totally worth the drive.

We also toured around the Desert X art exhibition in Coachella Valley; did some sightseeing; visited Joshua Tree Park, and hiked at Indian Canyons. All our activities were quite outdoorsy, but we really enjoyed seeing all these places.

WHAT IS PALM SPRINGS?

Palm Springs in California is widely known as a vacation town or a town to retire. It is located in the Sonora Desert, inland about 107 miles from Los Angeles.

The weather there is hot and dry, and many sources say that they have over 350 sunny days a year. We talked to some locals, and they said that during the summer months it can get up to +46 celsius (115F)!

The city is full of golf courses and tennis fields, and also gated communities. About 45,000 people live in Palm Springs year-round, but the number goes up during the winter months when many snow birds escape their homes in colder climes.

They also say that Palm Springs has the most same-sex couples than anywhere else in the U.S.

At some point, Palm Springs became known for the big spring break parties they had. We didn’t see anything like that there. I think the partying has slowly shifted towards families going there for school vacations…just like us!

We have been to Palm Springs and the surrounding many times, and this time we decided to stay in a condo in Indio. But our favorite hotel in the downtown is Alcazar Palm Springs.

Do not disturb hat at pool

ONE WEEK ITINERARY FOR PALM SPRINGS

DAY 1: Downtown tour

After settling in, what would be a better way to start the vacation than getting to know the place? When you arrive in Palm Springs, the first thing you will notice are the hundreds of windmills along the freeway. It is said to be the windiest place in the U.S..

Pictures don’t do justice to the sight there to welcome you. And they are all over the place!

Windmills along the freeway in Palm Springs.

The city of Palm Springs is not huge and you can easily do a tour to see everything downtown in a few hours. It is known for its colorful buildings, art galleries and trendy restaurants.

The most known hotel is The Saguaro Hotel Palm Springs which attracts a lot of influencers and younger people. Before covid, they used to have big pool parties, and their colorful room doors are all over Instagram. We stopped at the Saguaro to get a couple of photos and even then we saw a YouTuber recording his video in front of it.

Location: Saguaro Hotel Palm Springs, 1800 E Palm Canyon Dr.

The Saguaro Hotel Palm Springs in California

Another fun place to check out is the Hotel California. Even though it is not THE Hotel California people immediately think of—I mean the one the Eagles sang about—it still makes great photos.

As far as I know, the hit song was not inspired by any actual hotel, even though it is often referred to be in Todos Santos, Mexico. In the past, the Eagles even sued the “Hotel California” over there for trying to capitalize on their song.

Location: Hotel California, 424 E Palm Canyon Dr.

Hotel California in Palm Springs, California.

Looking for a place to stay? This is our favorite hotel in Palm Springs!

One fun place to see is the Palm Springs City Hall which was designed in the mid century modern style in 1952. It has some very cool details on it and beautiful palm trees growing in front of the door. What could scream more about Palm Springs than that?

The city hall is located right next to Palm Springs Airport so you will be able to spot some planes downtown as well.

Location: Palm Springs City Hall, 3200 East Tahquitz Canyon Way

Me in front of the Palm Springs City Hall in California

End your day at downtown with a nice dinner. There are plenty of great restaurants to choose from, however we were there during the pandemic and ended up mostly cooking or getting take-out.

DAY 2: Midcentury modern houses and the house of tomorrow

Some of the Palm Springs neighborhoods are known for their interesting architecture. These mid-century modern houses were built between 1933 and 1965.

These houses are so fun and retro. They usually have flat roofs, they are asymmetrical, often have glass walls and one colourful spot on them. There are so many colorful doors in the neighborhoods that it has become a thing to spot them. You can google all kinds of guides on how to tour around the colorful doors of Palm Springs.

We did our own tour just driving around and had a great time spotting some funky looking houses. The best neighborhoods for that are Vista Las Palmas, The Wexler Steel Homes and Twin Palms.

Me in front of a midcentury modern house with a pink door in Palm Springs, California.

The House of Tomorrow was designed by its previous owner Robert Alexander. It was built in the 1960’s and is also one the mid-century modern-style houses mentioned above. It became known as Elvis Presleys’ holiday home.

Elvis rented the house in 1966 and he planned to get married there with Priscilla. Unfortunately the press heard about the plan and the couple escaped to Las Vegas for their wedding instead. They did return to Palm Springs for their honeymoon though and many know this house as the Elvis’ Honeymoon Hideaway.

The house is located right by the San Jacinto Mountain which offers beautiful views down to Coachella Valley. It has plenty of room since it was built in three storeys. There are four bedrooms, five bathrooms and many rooms for entertaining. It can accommodate about 180 guests at once.

There used to be a lot of photos and memorabilia inside the house, and the previous owner would do tours inside for Elvis fans. It was also rented out for parties.

However, in 2020 it was sold for $2.6 million dollars and it is unclear if the new owner plans to keep it open to the public. Most likely not, since he is auctioning all the memorabilia and old furniture from the house.

Location: House of Tomorrow, 1350 Ladera Cir, Palm Springs

House of Tomorrow in Palm Springs, California

Elvis was not the only celebrity who spent time in Palm Springs. It was also a vacation spot for Bob Hope, Cary Grant, Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe.

DAY 3: Art Tour

Palm Springs is known for its many art installations and galleries. You can easily spend one or two days touring through them. Art installations are all over, so you are better off just searching online what exhibits they have while you are visiting. If you visit during the spring, Desert X is a must!

Desert X is a contemporary art exhibition which is held every other year in the spring. Art experiences are scattered around the Coachella Valley and Palm Springs area, and the themes vary from global warming to immigration and American Indian culture.

We especially loved a beautiful cactus garden representing “women’s qualities”. That alone could have been a theme for a one day. You can read more about Desert X 21 from my previous post.

Me and an art piece from Desert X Show in Palm Springs, California

DAY 4: Hike at Indian Canyon

Hiking at the Indian Canyon Palm oasis was one the highlights of our trip. We really fell in love with this place even though it was extremely hot to go for a hike.

This place has been home to the Cahuilla Indians for thousands of years, and they now run this amazing recreational area. It is also home to the California Fan Palm which is the only native palm tree growing in California.

There are several trails in Indian Canyons with different levels and lengths, and multiple nice picnic areas. We chose to hike in Andreas Canyon where the trail followed a beautiful creek surrounded by palm trees. The creek even had a few little waterfalls. It was the easiest trail and also perfect for little ones.

After our hike, we sat inside the palm oasis at picnic tables and had some lunch. What a perfect day!

Palm trees surrounding a picnic area at Indian Canyon in Palm Springs, California

Indian Canyon is definitely worth a visit if you are in town. It was such a lush and beautiful place. We hope to return there someday in the future.

If you want to read more about the hike we did there, you can find the post about hiking the Andreas Canyon here.

Location: Indian Canyons, 38520 S. Palm Canyon Dr. Palm Springs

DAY 5: Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park is only about a one hour drive from Palm Springs and is definitely worth a visit! It is the home of the Joshua Tree which only grows in the Mojave Desert in the U.S.

There are several nice hikes at the park or you can just drive through and stop here and there. If you are looking for something to do with kids, the Arch hike is great even with the little ones. They also have a great junior ranger program.

Cholla Cactus Garden is also an interesting stop even though you have to be careful with kids there. Not only do chollas sort of jump on you but there is always a lot of bees around them.

Bring yourself a picnic basket (there are no restaurants in this park), lots of water and sunscreen! And enjoy the nature for a day!

Read more about what do in Joshua Tree National Park from here.

The view at Joshua Tree National Park in California

DAY 6: Salton Sea and Salvation Mountain

On one of the days, we drove down to Salton Sea. It was super interesting, but sad at the same time. Salton Sea is the biggest lake in California, but it has been widely forgotten. In the 1960’s it used to be a popular place to spend time swimming and fishing.

Unfortunately the water was spoiled when a canal was built to bring water from the Colorado River to local farms. Farmers ran the overflow water to Salton Sea and by the time the water reached the lake, it had collected a lot of toxins and salt.

In the 1970’s, dead fish and birds started to appear at the beach, and the harsh reality of the lake was discovered. The salinity today at Salton Sea is greater than in the Pacific Ocean, and the water also contains selenium and fertilizers. Tourism in the area died as quickly as it had started.

Even if you can’t (or you shouldn’t) swim at Salton Sea anymore, it is still an interesting place to visit. You can drive around the town of Bombay Beach which is a community of less than 300 people who remain of the population that used to live there. They hold a biennial art festival and the town is full of old art installations.

Many buildings are painted with graffiti and from time to time it’s difficult to even recognise what is art and what is a residential building.

Kids by an arti installation at Salton Sea in California

Only about 25 minute drive from Bombay Beach is another art installation called Salvation Mountain. Salvation Mountain is actually more than just an art piece, it is a monument created by Leonard Knight and a home of a Christian community. It is a big, painted hillside and definitely an interesting place to see.

Standing in front of Salvation Mountain.

Read more about our visits to Salton Sea and Salvation Mountain.

DAY 7: Gabazon Dinosaurs and Desert Hill Premium Outlets

If you are traveling with kids, don’t forget to stop by the Gabazon Dinosaurs. The whole week we were in Palm Springs, our kids asked to go see them, so finally when we were heading back home we did a quick stop to see the dinos.

They are right along Interstate 10, so it’s easy to get there. In the parking lot, you can see both Dinny the Dinosaur and Mr. Rex. If you want to see more dinos, they also have a dinosaur trail with a playground, but that you will need to purchase a ticket.

Big dinosaurs in the parking lot are often painted in different colors. This time the 65-foot-tall Tyrannosaurus Rex had been decorated for Easter, and the 150-foot-long Brontosaurus was painted pink. Inside Dinny the Dinosaur is a fun little souvenir shop that kids love. It’s all about toys and dinosaurs.

Gabazon Dinosaurs is a great little road side attraction and worth a quick stop. This kind of programmatic architecture buildings were popular in 1920’s in Southern California but are now quite rare. Another one still standing is The Donut Hole in La Puente.

Location: Gabazon Dinosaurs, 50770 Seminole Dr, Cabazon

Cabazon Dinosaurs in Palm Springs, California are huge.

If you didn’t find anything to buy in downtown Palm Springs then you should head out to Desert Hills Premium Outlets. They are right by the Gabazon Dinosaurs.

Desert Hills Premium Outlets has many known everyday brands but it has really become known for its luxury stores. They have outlet stores for example for Gucci, Prada, Burberry and even for Christian Louboutin. Happy shopping!

Location: 48400 Seminole Dr, Cabazon, CA 92230

✻✻✻

There is so much to do in Palms Springs, in and around it. Close by is Joshua Tree National Park and the Salton Sea too. And of course, don’t forget about all the hot springs that are in the area! If you happen to be there during the winter months, soaking in a hot spring is amazing.

More ideas and ready tours can be found from here:

We absolutely loved our vacation in Palm Springs and we will for sure be back to enjoy the sun at the pool! We have been to Palm Springs for so many times and it never disappoints!

OUR USA TRAVEL RESOURCES
🗝 We use this site to book hotel rooms when ever we travel.
🚗 We use DiscoverCars for car rentals everywhere in the world.
🗺 When looking for tours we use either Viator or GetYourGuide. They are both great.
✈️ With Priority Pass membership you can access over 1300 airport lounges all over the world.
📞 If you need a data package to navigate or make calls, Airalo works well for that.

Similar Posts

9 Comments

  1. This is a great itinerary. Palm Springs, CA is one of my favorite places as there is really so much to see and do. My favorite is the Palm Oasis Picnic Area. Though it’s a bit hot. It’s just fascinating. We have never been to Joshua Tree but will make sure to visit next time.

  2. We live very close to Palm Springs, so we visited it several times over the years. We particularly like the Joshua Tree National Park, especially in spring, when the desert is in bloom. We’ve never been at Salton Sea, so the next time we visit Palm Springs I’ll make sure to visit that too.

    1. Spring time is definitely the best at Joshua Tree Park. Make sure to check out my post of Salton Sea before going. It is not a beautiful resort destination but still interesting to see.

  3. How fun to visit the iconic hotels like the Hotel California and The Saguaro and imagine the fun times that were had there. We missed seeing the mid-century architecture when we visited. But they do look like funky houses. The one thing we really regretted missing was the Joshua Tree Park. Next visit for sure.

  4. I’ve enjoyed visiting Palm Springs as well with my husband and even with my children. You’re right –there are a lot of good things to do there, even an aviation museum at the airport that the kids enjoyed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *