Palm Springs Visitors Center

17 Unique Things To Do in Palm Springs

Wondering what unique things Palm Springs has to offer? You’ve come to the right place. 

Palm Springs is known for its lovely weather, celebrity homes, and iconic date shakes. I have been to Palm Springs over 5 times now, on road trips from CA to AZ.

During each visit, I’ve discovered many hidden gems that make this city more and more charming! 

To help you plan a fun and memorable trip, here’s my list of 17 unique things to do in Palm Springs

17 Unique Things to Do in Palm Springs

1. Ride the Aerial Tramway

San Jacinto Mountains Palm Springs
San Jacinto Mountains Palm Springs

Riding the Palm Springs Aerial tramway is a must for anyone visiting the Coachella Valley. It’s the world’s largest rotating tramcar, reaching an elevation of nearly 6,000 feet!

As you ride the tramway, you’ll have incredible views of Chino Canyon and Mt. San Jacinto.

The station at the top has a gift shop, and restaurant. For the best views, ride the tramway during sunrise or sunset. 

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway Brochure
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway Brochure

1 Tramway Rd, Palm Springs, CA. Open weekdays 10am to 8pm, weekends 8am to 8pm. Tickets cost $30.95 for adults, $17.95 for children. 

2. Take a Trip To Pioneertown

Pioneertown, CA
Pioneertown, CA (Photo by: Karly Jones)

Just a 40 minute drive from Palm Springs, Pioneertown is a charming 1880’s themed town used to film Western movies.

This 3 block town has small shops, historic buildings, a film museum, and Pappy’s and Harriet’s barbecue restaurant.

If you plan on visiting, it’s best to visit on the weekend when most of the shops are open.

Pappy’s and Harriet’s is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesday’s, along with most of the shops. 

To get there, take the I-10 West for 6 miles, head North onto Highway 62 to Twentynine Palms for 20 miles, turn left into Pioneertown Road, and head straight for 5 miles until you see Pioneertown on the right. Most shops open from 10am to 6pm on weekends. 

3. Explore Cabot’s Pueblo Museum

Cabot's Pueblo Museum
Photo courtesy by Cabot’s Pueblo Museum

Cabot’s Pueblo Museum is one of the coolest hidden gem museums in the Coachella Valley.

This unique house was built by Cabot Yerxa out of abandoned houses, old telephone poles, and other reclaimed materials – over 100 years ago! 

You can go on a tour or self-guided audio tour through the museum to learn the interesting history behind its creation.

To go on an audio tour, you’ll purchase tickets online and play the audio through your phone. 

It’s located in Desert Hot Springs, just a 20 minute drive from Palm Springs. 

The admission fee is $5 to visit the grounds, and two rooms (water and exhibition gallery). Self guided tours are $13 for adults, $11 for children. Guided tours are $16 for adults, $14 for children. View the Cabot Museum Tour Schedule for hours of availability. Open 9am-4pm weekdays, 10am-4pm Saturday, 12-4pm Sunday. Closed Mondays. 

4. Take A Tour Of The Palm Springs Windmills

Palm Springs Windmills
Palm Springs Windmills

The Palm Springs Windmills is a wind farm built in the 1980’s with over 2,000 large windmills.

You can spot these iconic windmills from the freeway, or tour through the farm to take photos up close.

There are self-guided driving and golf tours available where you’ll get to learn about wind energy. 

Palm Springs Windmill Tours
Palm Springs Windmill Tours

The windmills are just off the I-10 freeway, 10 minutes from downtown Palm Springs. 

62950 20th Ave, Palm Springs, CA. Self guided driving tours are $59 per 2 adults, and $10 for additional adults. Children under 12 are free. Guided golf cart tours are $55. Open 9am to 2pm daily. 

5. Try A Date Shake From Shields Date Garden & Cafe

Shields Date Garden
Shields Date Garden, Indio

Head to Shields Date Garden in Indio to try an iconic Palm Springs date shake.

This is a date farm with a garden, cafe, and gift shop. They’ve been open since 1924, and is said to have the best date shake around the Coachella Valley.

In fact, Floyd Shields was one of the original inventors of the iconic Palm Springs date shake!

Shields Date Garden
Shields Date Garden

You can try out a date shake, stroll around the garden, and purchase different date varieties to bring home. 

Their shop sells everything from date rolls to dried fruit, and they have a great variety of assortment boxes to give as gifts.

Keep in mind that they’re located in Indio, which is 30 minutes outside of Palm Springs.

80-225 CA-111, Indio, CA 92201. Open 9am to 5pm. Garden hours 9am to 4pm. 

6. Go Museum-Hopping

Downtown Palm Springs
Downtown Palm Springs

Palm Springs has two incredible museums – the Palm Springs Art Museum and Palm Springs Air Museum.

The Palm Springs Art Museum is a 150,000 square foot museum with sculptures, art galleries, and impressive collections from Picasso and other world-renowned artists.

Admission is free for children under 18, and $14 for adults.

The Air Museum is an aviation museum right near the airport with a fascinating collection of vintage aircrafts from WWII. Admission is $20 for adults, $18 for children (12+).

Palm Springs Air Museum
Palm Springs Air Museum (Photo by: Bob Oasis on Unsplash)

If you’re visiting Palm Desert, The Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden is a hidden gem.

This is a 4 acre garden with sculptures, water fountains, and beautiful desert plants.  It’s completely free to enter, and is open from dusk to dawn. 

Palm Springs Art Museum: 101 N Museum Dr, Palm Springs, CA. Open Fri.-Mon. from 10am to 5pm, closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 12pm to 8pm Thursdays (free from 5pm to 8pm). 

Palm Springs Air Museum: 745 N Gene Autry Trail, Palm Springs, CA 92262. Open 10am to 5pm. 

The Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden: Located in Palm Desert, right off Hwy 111 near the Shops At Palm Desert. 

7. Relax At Sunnyland Center and Gardens

Sunnylands Center And Gardens
Sunnyland Center And Gardens (Photo by: Don Stouder on Pixabay)

The Sunnyland Center and Gardens is a beautiful center with a garden, house, gift shop, and cafe.

It’s home to the Annenberg Estate, a private retreat center where high-level world leaders including Ronald Reagan, Obama, and Queen Elizabeth II have all visited!

You can stroll around the gardens and estate for free, or go on a guided tour to learn more about the history. 

It’s located in Rancho Mirage, just a 25 minute drive from Palm Springs. 

37977 Bob Hope Dr, Rancho Mirage, CA. Open Wed.-Sun. from 8:30am to 4pm. Free to visit Center & Gardens. Guided 90 minute house tours cost $55, shuttle tours cost $28 per person, walking tours cost $26 per person. 

8. Go On A Day Trip To Joshua Tree

Joshua National Park At Night
Joshua National Park At Night (Photo by: Daniel Gregorie on Unsplash)

Just around 40 miles north of Palm Springs, The Joshua Tree National Park is an 800,000 acre with some of the most beautiful desert scenery.

It has excellent hiking trails, picnic areas, gardens, and dark skies perfect for stargazing.

Take a day trip from Palm Springs to explore the park for the day, or go on a stargazing tour at night!

On a stargazing tour, you’ll get to use night vision binoculars and lasers to spot stars and planets in place. 

Downtown Twentynine Palms at 6533 Freedom Way. Open 24hrs a day. Visitor center open daily from 8:30am to 4pm. Cost $30 per car for a 7 day pass, and $55 per person for an annual pass.  

9. Go On A Jeep Tour To San Andreas Fault

The San Andreas Fault is one of the coolest natural attractions to visit near Palm Springs.

The San Andreas fault runs over 800 miles throughout California, with Desert Hot Springs resting on the line.

Visit the Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve to stand directly over the fault, or go on a jeep tour to view hidden oases, taste palm fruit, and learn all about the desert’s geology! 

29200 Thousand Palms Canyon Rd, Thousand Palms, CA. 

10. Have Brunch At The Farm

The Farm Restaurant
The Farm Restaurant (Photo courtesy of OpenTable)

Just down the street from the Walk of Stars, The Farm is one of the most popular restaurants in Palm Springs.

They serve fresh French food, and have outdoor patio garden seating with live music.

From chicken and waffles to baked brie, you won’t want to miss trying out this place for brunch.

6 La Plaza, Palm Springs CA. Walk-in only for breakfast and lunch. Reservations available for dinner. Breakfast and lunch daily from 8am to 2pm. Dinner Fri.-Tues. from 5:30pm to 9:30pm. 

11. Bike Or Hike Indian Canyons

With over 60 miles of hiking trails, Indian Canyon is a must visit for those looking to explore nature.

Indian Canyons has palm trees, meadows, rivers, and picturesque vistas throughout.

You can visit the park, or go on a guided bike tour from downtown Palm Springs. It’s only a 10 minute drive from downtown Palm Springs, and is open from 8am to 5pm daily. 

There are restrooms, a gift shop, and a park ranger on site for information during regular hours. 

38520 S Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA. Open 8am to 5pm. 

12. Stop By The Cabazon Dinosaurs Museum For Pictures

Cabazon Dinosaurs
Cabazon Dinosaurs (Photo by: Kadyn Pierce)

The Cabazon Dinosaurs Museum is a famous roadside attraction with two gigantic dinosaurs, made out of steel and concrete.

This iconic roadside attraction has been featured in movies dating back to 1985, and is a great place to stop by for photos.

It has a museum with over 100 dinosaur exhibits, and a gift shop that’s free to enter. It’s a 20 minute drive from Palm Springs, right off the side of the I-10 freeway. 

50770 Seminole Dr, Cabazon, CA. Open daily 9am to 9pm. Admission costs $15 for adults and $13 for children. Gift shop is free to enter. 

13. Stroll Around The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens

The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens
The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens, Palm Desert (Photo by: James Lee on Unsplash)

The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens is a botanical garden and zoo with over 40 species of animals.

You’ll get to explore cactus gardens, feed giraffes, and see many interesting animals up close. The zoo also has train exhibits, and a merry-go-round so it’s a great place to take kids. 

It’s located in Palm Desert, just a 30 minute drive from Palm Springs. 

47900 Portola Ave, Palm Desert, CA. Open daily from 8am to 5pm. Last admission at 4pm. Admission is $39.95 for adults, $29.95 for children (3+). 

14. Shop For Gifts in Downtown Palm Springs

Downtown Palm Springs
Palm Canyon Drive

Downtown Palm Springs has many cool art galleries, crystal shops, antique stores, and gift shops to shop around.

Stop by the Antique Galleries of Palm Springs to shop for vintage items and cool collectibles. This 12,000 square foot store has an amazing selection of clothing, furniture, jewelry, and more.

Head to Earth’s Elements or Crystal Fantasy to shop for crystals, rings, incense, jewelry, and more.

For kitschy art and unique gifts, make sure to check out Just Fabulous or Destination PSP

15. Try Dole Whip From Lappert’s Ice Cream Shop

Head to Lappert’s Ice Cream Shop after dinner to try their unique ice cream flavors.

This popular ice cream shop serves everything from date shakes, to frozen chocolate bananas, and dole whip soft serve.

They have over 125 rotating ice cream flavors, with gluten-free and vegan options. They’re located in downtown Palm Springs near the Walk of Stars, and have another shop in Palm Desert. 

130 N Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA. Open Thurs.-Sat. 11am to 10:30pm, Sun.-Wed. 11am to 9:30pm. 

16. Watch A Magic Show At Marvyn’s Theater

Marvyn’s Magic Theater is a hidden gem theater that features comedy, and interactive magic shows.

The theater has a bar, comfortable seating, and pre-show entertainment so it’s a fun place to visit on a night out. View their upcoming shows for dates and booking information. 

The theater’s located in La Quina, just 30 minutes from Palm Springs. 

Must be 21 to enter. 46630 Washington St, La Quinta, CA. Marvyn’s Magic Theater. 

17. Try NYC Style Deli Foods From Sherman’s Bakery 

Sherman’s Bakery is a must visit NYC-style deli restaurant in the heart of downtown Palm Springs.

They serve everything from pastrami sandwiches to matzo ball soup, and delicious pastries. If you’re looking for a hearty meal with huge portions, this is the place to go. 

401 E Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs, CA. Open 8am to 9pm. 


Whether you want to shop at artsy stores downtown or visit interesting museums, Palm Springs has lots of unique places to visit.

For a list of the best night time activities, see our list of 14 fun things to do in Palm Springs at night!