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What does it take to have a perfect Palm Springs getaway? A few things: a great place to stay, fun and relaxing, somebody wonderful to escape with (even if it’s just yourself}!

GETTING TO PALM SPRINGS Palm Springs is one of my favorite SoCal day or more trip recommendations. You can drive there from Los Angeles and the OC on a whim, or if you’re in Las Vegas or Phoenix, you would want to plan your drive a little more. Either way, desert driving is easy and beautiful, so no worries.

You can fly there from nearly every west coast airport. It’s a breeze.  Flying into Palm Springs (PSP) is not cheap most of the time, but if you pay close attention to promotional emails, particularly from Alaska Airlines, you can find some good deals. West coast flights to PSP are pretty short, which makes a Palm Springs weekend getaway totally doable with limited time.

Tip:  They just added Southwest Airlines to PSP. If you search for flights into Ontario (ONT) you’ll find even better deals than Palm Springs. Yes, it’s an hour’s drive from ONT into Palm Springs, but you can save $200-$300 per ticket by doing the drive. Also, rental cars are less expensive out of ONT.

FUN IN NATURE AROUND PALM SPRINGS We’re starting here because this is why we love the Palm Springs area. Despite the city itself being a fun destination full of restaurants, art, and culture, the nature that surrounds Palm Springs is really incredible and makes for a perfect nature escape. DAY TRIP TO JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK Just north of Palm Springs in Joshua Tree National Park. It’s a really unusual place and not at all like any other National Park we’ve visited. Whether you’re a rock climber, bird watcher, hiker, or nature lover in general, Joshua Tree offers all kinds of experiences. Without giving up all the details of our favorite spots, let’s just say that packing in a picnic and lots of water is the best way to explore and enjoy the park. We recommend visiting in spring for the best temperatures and abundance of flowers. Coming soon:  Joshua Tree National Park day trips HIKING AT PALM SPRINGS INDIAN CANYONS We are big fans of hiking at the Indian Canyons just outside of downtown Palm Springs. It’s the reason Palm Springs has its name. Truly, the palm oases surrounding the city are out of this world and magical. Picture it: desert all around you and then in the canyon below there are streams and waterfalls and palm jungles. Until you visit, it’s difficult to understand how special this place it.

The rugged terrain is very unusual and one of the most unique hiking experiences in California. It’s one of the must-do activities on any Palm Springs weekend getaway.

Tip: Make sure to bring plenty of water, as it gets hot above the canyon rim and you don’t want to dehydrate.  For more information about hours and trail conditions at the palm canyons, visit the website for the canyons.

If you’re looking to experience the canyons and desert with a guide for both education and safety purposes (or if you don’t have a car), you can book a tour to the Indian Canyons. It will be more expensive than exploring on your own, but also will be a much different experience. HORSEBACK RIDING IN THE MORONGO VALLEY One of the best experiences is at the Crazy Horse Ranch in the Morongo Valley, just north of Palm Springs. One of the guides, owner Jacklyn, is the most gentle and intuitive horsewoman. Working the horses only with reigns, no bits, or hackamores, you will get fresh, new, extremely respectful training on horsemanship.

The scenery is gorgeous, particularly if you visit during the super bloom. Birds, jackrabbits, and more desert flowers than you can imagine making for a beautiful morning riding.

Tip:  If you’re able to book a morning horseback ride, we recommend that. The sun will still be low making it not too hot and ideal for photography. THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE DESERT HORSEBACK RIDING Like with any experience out in the desert or and environment, you want to be appropriately prepared.  Even though horseback riding is much less exhausting than hiking in the heat, you’ll still want to bring your own refillable water bottle. You don’t want your Palm Springs weekend getaway to be ruined by ending up with heat exhaustion or in the hospital. So here are tips for a great day of riding in the desert:

  • Drink lots of water and bring it with you on the trail

  • Wear close-toed shoes

  • Wear long pants even though it’s hot out (save your legs)

  • Only bring a small camera unless you’re a skilled rider/good listener

It’s important that you pay attention to the terrain and riding your horse than taking photos. If you need to stop for pictures, communicate that with your trail guide. Safety first. EXPLORING THE COACHELLA VALLEY PRESERVE Another incredible palm oasis just outside of Palm Springs, the Coachella Valley Preserve is a very special place. Imagine a spring in the desert where an intense, interwoven grove of palms has sprouted up, fill it with wildlife and you have the Coachella Valley Preserve. We’re suckers for unique natural wonders, so a weekend in Palm Springs is like a treasure hunt for us, and this oasis was just that.

The stroll into the oasis is easy and perfect to get an understanding of why the Coachella Valley Preserve is so special. The visitor center is full of specimen drawers and historical photos. It’s built of palm logs and is unlike any other cabin in a palm forest.

Beyond exploring the dense palms, a short half-mile hike on the McCallum Trail to the McCallum Pond will give you another great experience. The reflections were remarkable, but the wildlife was really amazing. From bunnies to desert iguanas, fish to birds, it was constant. The highlight though was encountering a family of owls in the palms. Wow! Really amazing and unforgettable. Who knew that a weekend getaway to Palm Springs would be so full of nature?!

Tip: Visit the Coachella Valley Preserve early in the day as they lock the gates for the main parking area at 5 pm year-round. Make sure you can hike, and make sure your car isn’t locked within the gates. FUN IN DOWNTOWN PALM SPRINGS Besides all of the wonderful nature all around Palm Springs, the other side of the fun lies in exploring the actual city. Palm Springs is more than golf courses and hotels. It’s got its own scene, nightlife and events, and lots to do within walking distance of the downtown city area.

MOORTEN BOTANICAL GARDEN Not only is it an interesting botanical garden full of every type of cactus you can imagine, but it’s home to the original cactarium: a conservatory full of the only cactus from around the world, some are so strange there is a docent on hand to explain what you’re looking at.

It’s also a really amazing plant shop! While you cannot purchase every type of cactus you see, they do provide all sorts of pre-potted plants ready for you to start your own collection. PALM SPRINGS ART MUSEUM AND VINTAGE PS The Palm Springs Art Museum brings in all sorts of exhibitions. Photography, sculpture, the desert: all are frequent features at the art museum. And then there are the independent galleries sprinkled along Palm Canyon Drive. There are lots of opportunities to check out (and maybe purchase) lots of great California artists’ work. A surefire place to find art, both ready for purchase and happening all around you is at the Thursday evening street fair, Village Fest, that goes all year. Really fun and always busy!

Basically, a Palm Springs getaway is going to have some sort of art working its way in. And let’s put Vintage Palm Springs on the table as part of that. Even if you’re not in the market, there are lots of shops for you to spy the golden era of PS. Vintage cars, antique shops, and galleries are perfect for getting you that vintage weekend.

Tip:  If your Palm Springs weekend getaway is the first weekend of the month, the Palm Springs Vintage Market happens on the first Sunday. This is the perfect spot to see what sort of treasures are hiding out in the desert.

Something else you can do for exploring vintage Palm Springs is a mid-century and movie star tour. Since the 1940s the city has been an escape for Hollywood with many famous actors having homes and estates around PS. Book a tour of the best vintage homes to see what Palm Springs was linked in its golden years. DINING AROUND PALM SPRINGS We didn’t include dining around Palm Springs as a great way to get the vintage vibe from Palm Springs because it’s its own topic; restaurants should be their own article. To say that there is some good food in this city would be a gross understatement. 

There are many other awesome things to do and see and here are a few more gems for you to check out:

  1. Quadding Rentals off of Highway 111

  2. Taking a selfie in the middle of the new art installation downtown "PS LOVE LETTERS" where you pose as the "I".

  3. The Visitors Information Center

  4. And last but certainly not least...The Aerial Tramway (dress warmly, currently, you must pre-purchase tickets online).


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