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Things To Do In Palm Desert

Nestled in the Coachella Valley just east of Palm Springs is the beautiful desert oasis of Palm Desert, California. Home to several art museums, breathtaking hiking spots, tasty restaurants, plus more, this vibrant community is the perfect weekend destination. And with an average of 350 days of sunshine a year, you’ll have ample chances to get out and explore the surrounding desert area. Or you can simply lounge poolside with a drink in hand, your choice. Keep reading for a detailed guide of Palm Deserts’ most popular attractions and things to do while visiting.

Surrounded by miles of scenic desert, Palm Desert is a playground for numerous leisure activities such as hiking, picnicking, and strolling through art museums. Only a two-hour drive from Los Angeles, it’s easy to escape here for a long weekend. Discover the city for yourself with these top things to see and do.

The best things to do near Palm Desert include:

  • View Native American, Western American, and contemporary art at the Palm Springs Art Museum
  • Check out The San Andreas Fault, one of the most famous fault lines in the world
  • Hike, picnic, view wildlife, with over 20,000 acres of desert wilderness at The Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve
  • Visit the Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor Center
  • Peruse the art at the CODA Gallery

A trip to Palm Desert can be affordable with careful planning. Do what you can to ensure friends, family, or whoever you’re traveling with enjoys a trip without thinking about their bank account.

Cheap things to do near Palm Desert include:

  • Wander the blue “water” path through the Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden
  • Spend your day at Fix on El Paseo, a rustic but chic coffeehouse with a full bar
  • Enjoy a speciality burger from Grill-A-Burger
  • Explore the beautiful gardens at the Sunnylands Center and Garden
  • Simply drive around the desert, everywhere you go has a spectacular view

From beautiful hiking trails to interesting museums, Palm Desert is a hotspot for self-guided exploration and education. These are the best-of-the-best tourist attractions to see while you’re there.

Popular attractions near Palm Desert include:

  • Check out one of the nation’s largest collections of operable WWII aircrafts at the Palm Springs Air Museum
  • See the desert from new heights on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
  • Learn about the renewable energy industry on the Palm Springs Windmill Tour
  • Hike the Bump-n-Grind Trail, the most popular in Coachella Valley
  • Tour Cabot’s Pueblo Museum in a historical house museum, featuring a Hop-style pueblo home

There are plenty of daily activities to experience in Palm Desert right now, even if you’ve had the main attractions covered. Whether it’s brunch in the desert or dinner on the green, visitors should use the below vacation ideas as a springboard for their itinerary.

Exciting activities near Palm Desert include:

  • Enjoy a modern take on classic breakfast and brunch foods at Wilma & Frieda
  • Hit the green at the Desert Willow Golf Resort, one of the best golf courses in the Coachella Valley
  • Enjoy dinner and a show at AJ’s on the Green
  • Shop diverse wares from over 300 vendors at the College of the Desert Street Fair
  • Explore The Art Place, the home to nearly a dozen fine art galleries and interior design boutiques

Palm Desert lights up at night. With restaurants, happy hours, plus plenty of venues to experience a live show or music, the fun only begins by discovering the best things to do at night.

Nighttime activities near Palm Desert include:

  • Try your luck at Agua Caliente Casino Resort
  • Enjoy live entertainment at the McCallum Theater for the Performing Arts
  • See at movie at Tristone Cinemas
  • Sip on wine during happy hour at Le Fe Wine Bar
  • Enjoy dinner and live music at The Nest

Palm Desert’s event calendar evolves every weekend. From local breweries and distilleries to wildlife adventures, you’ll be having a blast from Friday to Sunday.

Weekend activities near Palm Desert include:

  • Stop at Shields Date Garden to tour its 17-acre farm and learn how dates grow
  • Hike through Tahquitz Canyon and discover native artifacts along the trails
  • Take a guided tour through the Greater Palm Springs Area with Tallgrass Hiking and Tours
  • Check out the brewing process and equipment with a tour of The Coachella Valley Brewing Company
  • Tour Desert Distilling and learn how they make their small batch spirits

Family vacationing is the perfect way to make new memories with the family. Check out the options below to give the kids a reason to get excited to travel.

Family-Friendly things to do near Palm Desert include:

  • Enjoy three pools, two 100-foot slides, a lazy river, plus more at Splashtopia
  • “Wow” your kids with the menu at Fisherman’s Market & Grill
  • Get up-close to some dinos at Cabazon Dinosaurs
  • With over 80-hands on activities, keep your kids entertained at the Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert
  • See bighorn sheep, mountain lions, and more at The Living Desert

Date night is important to keep the spark alive. Check out all of the romantic things Palm Desert has to offer, from intimate hikes to casual meet-up spots.

Date night ideas near Palm Desert include:

  • Stop in for a burger and shake at the classic soda fountain, Keedy’s
  • Plan a picnic and head out on the Cassidy Trail for incredible desert views
  • Drive into the sunset on Highway 74 to Vista Point
  • Reserve the Sanctuary Suite at The Spa at Desert Springs–it comes with champagne, chocolate, and butler service
  • For a more upscale dinner, make a reservation at La Spiga Ristorante Italiano

Traveling together creates lots of opportunities to make new memories. Palm Desert has plenty of group activities to experience — whether you just want to hang out by a pool or try something totally adventurous, your friends will enjoy trying something new while on vacation.  

Things to do with your friends near Palm Desert include:

  • Lounge poolside at the Palm Desert Aquatic Center
  • Learn how to hit, pitch, catch, and base run with Palm Springs Power Baseball
  • Chose from miniature golf, go-karts, bumper boats, a 32-foot climbing wall, plus more at Boomers
  • Go ice skating in the middle of the desert at Desert Ice Castle
  • Get jumping at Get Air Trampoline Park, an indoor park with wall-to-wall trampolines, foam pits, plus more

Though Palm Desert is known for its various outdoor activities, there are also plenty of relaxing indoor things to do after earning that tan. Dodge the desert sun with a few ideas below.

Palm Desert things to do indoors include:

  • Go bouldering or take a rock climbing class at Desert Rocks, an indoor climbing gym
  • Find your inner zen at Go With The Flow Yoga
  • Bring out your artistic side at Paint Sip & Inspire
  • Discover the true meaning of relaxation at Bliss Chakra Spa
  • Sip on tea and snack on treats at Amanda’s Tea Room

Nature lovers will love all the adventurous outdoor activities in Palm Desert to experience, such as hiking, horseback riding, archery, plus so much more.

Active things to see in Palm Desert include:

  • Hike through Indian Canyons and explore jagged cliffs, waterfalls, and mountain springs
  • Ride horses on a guided trail through a canyon with Smoke Tree Stables
  • Take an off-the-beaten-path tour in a Jeep with Desert Adventures
  • Hit a bullseye with private or group archery classes at Robin Hood Archery
  • Go skating at the Palm Springs Skate Park, boasting 30,000 square feet of concrete (for all levels)

The main attractions in Palm Desert draw the crowds away from some of best local favorites. If you want to find a restaurant or view that flies under the radar, look below. These are the best activities in town and nearby that only the locals know about.

Must-see places near Palm Desert include:

  • See the biggest collection of Washingtonia filifera palm trees in the world along the Palm Canyon Trail
  • Drive The Palms to Pines Scenic Byway for a scenic drive along Highways 74 and 243
  • Check out Smiler’s Point, a curve in California’s State Route 74 made famous by the 1963 hit movie “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World”
  • Take a hot air balloon tour over Napa Valley with Balloons Above
  • Head north to Joshua Tree National Park to see the world-famous spindly trees