Palm Springs Tram (Aerial Tramway)
One of the most popular things to do in Palm Springs ever since it opened, the tram provides a natural “high,” speeding visitors to the top of Mount San Jacinto in just a few minutes.
Once you’re up there, you can go hiking, have a meal and spend most of the day. It’s a great escape from the summer heat but may be snow-covered in winter, even when it’s hot enough to put down the convertible top in downtown.
Find all the details about the Palm Springs Tramway here.
It’s Your Fault: Go See It
If you take the San Andreas Fault Adventure tour with Desert Adventures, you can do something very few people have: stand right in the middle of the San Andreas Fault.
You’ll also visit a real desert oasis (created by the fault) and get a chance to find out all kind of fun things about Mother Nature’s escapades in the Colorado Desert.
The Palm Springs tourism bureau says that “nothing” is the thing most often cited by visitors as one of the top items on their list of things to do in Palm Springs.
In truth, nothing probably means “not much” and might include sunbathing, hanging out with friends or a round of golf. We think it’s a great idea in concept, and many of the local resorts are set up to encourage you to do as little as possible. If you want to visit a spa, you’ll find several hot springs spas in the town of Desert Hot Springs.
Palm Springs Windmill Tours
You can’t miss the “windmills” – giant wind-powered, electricity-generating turbines – that line I-10 on the way into Palm Springs.
This interesting and informative tour will help you discover what they’re all about, how they work and why they’re there. It’s fun for the technically inclined, but equally interesting if you don’t know a watt from a volt.
Palm Canyon Drive and VillageFest
Palm Canyon Drive is Palm Springs’ main street. It’s a good place for a stroll, a little shopping or a bite to eat.
Palm Springs has been Hollywood’s playground off and on for many years, and it has its own Walk of Stars to honor residents who worked in the entertainment industry. You’ll find familiar names like Gene Autry, Lucille Ball, Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra – but you may also find their plastic surgeon or the guy who ran the camera.
If you’re in Palm Springs on a Thursday evening, don’t miss Villagefest. It feels like everyone in town is out, checking out the food vendors, artwork, handmade crafts and street performers. The festival is a good time to stroll downtown, people watch or enjoy a night out on the town without breaking your pocketbook. Look for shops with a BOLT sign – that means they’re open late Thursday.
Elvis’ Honeymoon Hideaway
Elvis Presley leased a Palm Springs house for a year in 1966-67 and spent his honeymoon with Priscilla there. And now, you can tour it.
The tour is both architecturally and historically fascinating. All of the cabinets, tile and even some of the furniture are original or restored, so you get a feel of being in the “King’s” footsteps.
You can take photographs inside and out, and you can sit on some of the furniture.
To make things more fun, tour guides dress up as Elvis or Priscilla – or you may get a guide who specializes in history but not in dressing up.
A visit can be fun for people who are Elvis Presley fans, but it’s also interesting if you like mid-century architecture. You can get all the details at their website.
Palm Springs Air Museum
The Palm Springs Air Museum is one of the world’s largest collections of flyable WWII aircraft. And it’s not a fussy, hands-off museum: You can touch the planes, take pictures and even go inside them.
Many of the expert volunteers served in WWII, Korea or Vietnam and they can give you a history lesson, show you how the planes worked or what they went through during the war. Other exhibits include a Pearl Harbor diorama, Weapons Display, and Women at War Display.
If you like airplanes, but your traveling companion doesn’t, they also have displays from local artists.
A Few More Ideas
In case you’re the type who want to skip the “Doing Nothing” idea and stay busy, these are a few more places you might enjoy:
Palm Springs Art Museum: This museum has an excellent array of contemporary and modern art, architecture and design, photography, glass and Native American and Western art. Their outdoor sculpture garden is peaceful. and the contemporary glass exhibit is outstanding.
Mid-Century Modern Architecture: Take a self-guided tour of the city’s stunning collection of mid-century homes and buildings, that will take you back in time.
Frank Sinatra’s Grave: Old Blue Eyes is buried at the Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City in Plot: B-8, #151.
Artist Kenny Irwin Jr Outdoor Gallery: If funky is your thing, check out this artist’s studio. Not only can you enjoy his work from the street, but he also offers tours of his property, where you can get up close to see his creations and discover more of this mastermind’s work.
Hiking: Even though it can get hot in the middle of a summer day, hiking is still a popular thing to do in Palm Springs. The website Hiking in Palm Springs has lots of ideas.
Casinos: You’ll find several Indian-owned casinos in the Palm Spring area, including one that’s right in the middle of town. Some of them host big-name performers if you’re looking for something to do at night.
And just in case you didn’t know it, Palm Springs has more than 100 golf courses.