The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
47-900 Portola Ave.
Palm Desert, CA 92260
The Living Desert is a zoo and botanical garden in the nearby town of Palm Desert. A vast model railway gives way to open enclosures for cheetahs, zebras, yellow-tailed storks and dik-diks (small antelope). An inner loop trail runs through the park and longer trails are available for more serious hikers. Kids can play in the Gecko Gulch desert-themed playground.
Moorten’s Botanical Garden
1701 S. Palm Canyon Dr.
Experience the desert without leaving the flatlands. Moorten’s Botanical Garden has been in operation since 1938, offering several acres of cactus thickets, supple succulents and flowers you might not have imagined a desert could produce—about 3,000 varieties in all.
Joshua Tree National Park
74485 National Park Drive
Joshua Tree National Park occupies over a million acres and straddles two deserts (the Colorado and the Mojave, where the famed Joshua tree has its home)—each with strikingly different flora. It's a great place for hiking, rock climbing and camping.
500 West Mesquite
There's good hiking in the tribal lands of Tahquitz Canyon, operated by the Agua Caliente band of Cahuilla Indians. Canyon admission is $12.50. Once inside, you can enjoy a ranger-led tour. Make sure to watch the film about Tahquitz, a Cahuilla shaman who is known for stealing the souls of the unsuspecting.
Palm Springs Art Museum
Palm Springs Air Museum
101 Museum Dr.
Formerly the Palm Springs Desert Museum, the permanent collection showcases Mesoamerican antiquities and works by artists of world renown—Dale Chihuly, Ed Ruscha, Sam Francis,
and many more. The museum, with cutting-edge exhibitions and elegantly employed space, superbly demonstrates how good a small museum can be. It's located in downtown Palms Springs on Museum Drive behind the Palm Springs Fashion Mall.
745 North Gene Autry Trail
Not just one of the nation's largest collections of WWII flying aircraft, this museum also houses a library of 8,500 volumes and the Buddy Rodgers Theater which shows daily documentaries.
Palm Springs Air Museum photo gallery
Non-outdoorsy types might just stop for shopping or dining on Palm Desert’s El Paseo. Big-name department stores sit alongside tiny boutiques and plastic surgery centers.
4751 E. Palm Canyon Dr.
A narrated ride past the one-time homes of Hollywood royalty. You’ll see the former lavish spreads of Dinah Shore, Richard Nixon, Alan Ladd, Nelson Rockefeller, Barry Manilow and Mary Martin—and that’s just on one block. If these names were part of your adulthood, you’ll have plenty of company on the tour.
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
One Tramway Rd.
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway will whisk you away for a 2.5-mile gondola ride up Mount San Jacinto to a lofty 8,500 feet above sea level. The gondola rotates ever so subtly en route, so if you don’t have the view you want, just wait a moment. Once you arrive, dozens of hiking trails wind through the towering peaks, deep valleys, forests of lodgepole pine and white fir, campsites and, during snow season, places to snowshoe and cross-country ski.
PS Modern Tours
Young and art-minded visitors might prefer a private tour of Mid-century modern architecture such as those offered by PS Modern Tours, which sweeps inquisitive crowds away for a 2½-hour-long encyclopedic whirl through the town’s architecture.
The Best of the Best Tours
490 S. Indian Canyon Dr.
An assortment of tours includes a trip round the San Gorgonio Wind Park, the forest of energy producing windmills that guard the main route into Palm Springs.
Palm Springs Official Visitors Center
2901 N. Palm Canyon Dr. (Former Tramway Gas Station)
Palm Springs, CA 92262
For more information, visit the Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism website.