As a California native who has spent most of her life in southern California, Palm Springs has been my constant go-to weekend getaway destination. I grew up visiting with my family, and it continues to be one of my favorite spots to escape to and explore.
Palm Springs truly has something for everyone. You can hike and enjoy the beautiful desert landscape, relax by the pool, shop at local boutiques and cool vintage shops, check out the iconic mid-century modern architecture, and drink and dine at some fantastic restaurants and bars. What’s especially amazing is that you can fit all of this in with just a couple of days!
If you’re thinking of visiting, I’m here to help you plan the perfect weekend in Palm Springs. Below, you’ll find a complete itinerary, as well as helpful information to make the most of your weekend getaway.
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How Much Time Do You Need in Palm Springs?
I think that two days is the perfect amount of time to spend in Palm Springs.
You can do the most iconic Palm Springs activities (including taking the aerial tram, checking out some of the famous architecture, and exploring downtown), fit in some hiking, and still have time to lay out by the pool and relax – which is an absolute must when you’re vacationing in the desert!
If you have more than two days in the area, there’s still plenty to do. There are a variety of great trails if you want to get in more hiking, and even some cool museums worth checking out. You’ll find recommendations on additional things to do in Palm Springs after the weekend itinerary.
Where to Stay in Palm Springs
Palm Springs has an overwhelming number of top-tier hotels, so I’ll help you narrow it down a bit.
I recommend staying in or around the Downtown Palm Springs area, as this is where you’ll find some of the best restaurants, bars, and shops in the area.
It’s also very central, so it’s easy to get to the must-see destinations on the outer edges of the city.
All of the hotels mentioned below are either steps away from the main street downtown, or are less than a 5-minute drive away.
Here are a few excellent hotels in Palm Springs to consider for your stay:
- Korakia Pensione: An amazing downtown option is this upscale Mediterranean and Moroccan-inspired resort, which dates back to 1924. Korakia Pensione has two salt water pools on the property. There are also multiple wellness services, and bikes available for guests to use during their stay. This luxury resort has a variety of rooms and suites available, each of which have their own unique amenities and styles.
- Ace Hotel and Swim Club: Head a bit south of downtown and you’ll find this trendy mid-century modern style hotel. Ace Hotel has two pools on-site, as well as a spa, fitness center, bar, and restaurant. They have both rooms and suites available, some of which come with a record player, fireplace, and/or patio.
- Caliente Tropics Resort: Caliente Tropics is located right by Ace Hotel, and is one of the best resorts in the area for anyone looking for a more budget-friendly option. This tiki-inspired resort has a pool, fitness center, restaurant, and bar on-site. There are both rooms and suites available.
How to Spend a Weekend in Palm Springs: A Complete Itinerary
Let’s get down to the perfect itinerary for a weekend in Palm Springs!
After enjoying some dinner and drinks on arrival night, you’ll spend your first day hiking, checking out some iconic Palm Springs houses, and exploring the downtown area.
On day two, you’ll take the aerial tramway up to Mount San Jacinto and hike up top before heading back down for a relaxing afternoon at the pool.
Friday Night: Get Dinner and Drinks
Grab some dinner and drinks to kick off your weekend trip to Palm Springs! Here are three excellent restaurants and bars, which each have drinks that are just as good as the food.
These spots are all within walking distance of each other. You can choose to grab dinner at one and drinks at another, or just make one your home base for the evening!
- Boozehounds: Palm Springs is known for its colorful, stylish restaurants, and Boozehounds does it best. The seasonally inspired menu features excellent cocktails and a wide range of dishes, including fish crudo, chicken adobo, and a vegan hotdog. It’s also very dog-friendly – so much so that the restaurant has a dog food menu.
- 1501 Uptown Gastropub: This stylish gastropub has a varied menu of delicious comfort food dishes, including shepherd’s pie, lobster and crab mac and cheese, fish and chips, vegan “crab cakes”, and much more. Be sure to also get a sourdough pretzel to share! The bar also offers beer, wine, and cocktails, including an excellent selection of gin cocktails.
- Sandfish Sushi and Whiskey: As the name suggests, Sandfish is the place to be if you’re a fan of sushi and whiskey! The menu has a great range of high-quality traditional and creative sushi dishes, and the bar offers a ton of incredible whiskey cocktails, as well as wine, beer, and sake.
Have a post-dinner sweet tooth? Walk on over to Shop(pe) Ice Cream to get a scoop of one of their unique ice cream flavors, which include ube, black sesame, Mexican chocolate, and sweet corn.
Saturday: Hike and Explore Town
On the first full day in your Palm Springs itinerary, you’ll grab breakfast before going on an easy (but iconic) hike. Be sure to have extra water on hand (play it safe and bring more than you think you need!).
You’ll also have a chance to check out some of the most famous Palm Springs houses before strolling down Palm Canyon Drive and getting dinner in the area.
First stop: breakfast! Here are two restaurants that offer some of the best breakfast in Palm Springs:
- Cheeky’s: This breakfast joint has a varied selection of dishes, with options including sourdough French toast, chilaquiles, and a breakfast quesadilla. They also have excellent pastries that are made in-house (get the cinnamon roll!), as well as the famous bacon flight. It’s one of the most popular breakfast spots in the area, so I recommend getting there on the early side to snag a table!
- Wilma & Frieda: Another excellent breakfast spot worth checking out is Wilma & Frieda, which has a large menu with dishes like churro waffles, scrambles, benedicts, and much more. Pro tip: head to Yelp to get on their waitlist before you even arrive at the restaurant.
Hike Through Palm Canyon
After breakfast, drive about 20 minutes south to Palm Canyon, which is home to the world’s largest California Fan Palm oasis.
This is one area of the larger Indian Canyons region, which is the ancestral home of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. As you drive through the Indian Canyon Entrance Gate, you’ll need to pay a day use fee (currently $12 for adults).
Once you pay the fee, you’ll continue all the way to the end of South Palm Canyon Drive, where you’ll park at the lot and begin your hike.
The Palm Canyon Trail is an out-and-back trail that is exactly two miles long. As you hike on this easy trail, you’ll walk through a mile of dense palm trees and along a creek. There are also some really cool rock formations as you get further in the hike.
If you’re lucky, you might even see some bighorn sheep!
If you’d like to do a bit more hiking, you can opt to do the Victor Loop, which follows the Palm Canyon Trail at first, before veering off to a trail that leads you above the canyon, offering beautiful views of the surrounding area. This moderately-rated loop trail is 2.7-miles long in total, and has an elevation gain of 383 feet.
Big caveat: Please only add on this extra hike if the weather is milder and you have plenty of water on hand. Once you’re out of the palm tree oasis, you’ll be in a completely unshaded area. If you’re unsure, play it safe and stick to the Palm Canyon Trail (which is, in my opinion, the most scenic part of the hike anyway). The desert heat is no joke – this isn’t the time to push your limits!
Head Back into Town for Lunch
After your hike, it’s time to drive back into town for lunch. Here are a few great spots to check out:
- Grand Central Palm Springs: In the heart of Downtown Palm Springs, you’ll find Grand Central, a brunch and lunch spot serving California-inspired fare. Menu items include sandwiches, burgers, salads, a poke bowl, and all-day brunch dishes.
- Gabino’s Creperie: This popular food stand offers delicious savory crepes, including chicken pesto, veggie, BBQ chicken, and cheesesteak. This spot is tucked away in the alley next to Kreem Ice Cream, and can be easy to miss – keep your eyes peeled! There’s no indoor space and there’s not a ton of seating, but they do have a few tables outside.
- Aspen Mills Bread Bakery and Cafe: This local bakery and cafe serves great sandwiches on freshly baked bread, as well as salads. They also have amazing muffins, cookies, banana bread, and other baked goods.
Enjoy a Date Shake
You can’t visit Palm Springs without getting a date shake! The Coachella Valley is home to many date farms, and the date shake has become an icon of the area. The exact origins of the date shake is a little unclear, but it is believed to have been created at one of the farms around the 1930s.
There are two excellent date shake spots in the Downtown Palm Springs area that I recommend that are within walking distance of Grand Central (the lunch spot recommended above).
The first is Lappert’s which, in addition to serving date shakes, offers ice cream in incredible flavors, including Kona mocha chip, lychee, Hawaiian sea salt caramel, and more.
If you’re vegan or dairy-free, head over to Fruit Wonders, a juice and smoothie bar that makes an insanely delicious date shake with almond milk. This is my go-to spot when I’m in the area!
Check Out the Iconic Palm Springs Homes
Beginning in the 1930s, Palm Springs became a popular getaway for movie stars, musicians, and the Hollywood elite.
During this time, industry-leading architects – including Richard Neutra, Donald Wexler, and Albert Frey – came to the area to build what is now referred to as mid-century modern homes and buildings. Palm Springs now has a huge concentration of mid-century modern architecture from the 30s through the 60s.
Many of these homes are located in and around the Old Las Palmas neighborhood, which is north of downtown. You have two options for exploring this area: by car or by bike. If you choose to bike, you can rent from Bike Palm Springs, which is located downtown. Electric bikes are available for $60 for four hours, and standard pedal bikes are available for $25 for four hours.
You’ll see plenty of great examples of desert-influenced mid-century modern homes as you make your way through the neighborhood (as well as plenty of other interesting houses built in different styles). However, here are a few of the key spots that you won’t want to miss:
Marilyn Monroe House (1326 N Rose Ave): While this Spanish bungalow isn’t in the iconic mid-century modern architecture, it’s still worth a visit! The exterior still looks the same as it did when Marilyn Monroe lived there in the early 1960s.
Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway (1350 Ladera Cir): Just around the block is the House of Tomorrow, which was at one point one of Elvis’ Palm Springs homes. This innovative and futuristic home was designed by William Krisel of Alexander Construction in 1960.
Liberace House (1441 N Kaweah Rd): This opulent music-inspired property was once one of the homes to world-famous pianist Liberace. Keep an eye out for the piano shaped mailbox!
Kaufmann House (470 W Vista Chino): This iconic 1946 Neutra-designed home is considered to be one of the pieces of architecture that defined the modernist style in the region. It is a Palm Springs Historic Site.
Elvis Presley Estate (845 W Chino Canyon Rd): The second Elvis house in the area is this Albert Frey-designed home, which differs from the mid-century modern homes in the area. It’s believed that Elvis recorded nine songs in this Spanish Colonial-style home.
Dr. Alexander Residence (1011 W Cielo Dr): This 1955 mid-century modern home was designed by the architect Walter S. White, and is another Palm Springs Historic Site.
Stroll Down Palm Canyon Drive in Downtown Palm Springs
Next, you’ll want to head back downtown to explore North Palm Canyon Drive. This street (and the streets around it) is home to many of the city’s best clothing stores, galleries, vintage shops, restaurants, bars, hotels, and more. As you stroll, you’ll also come across the Walk of the Stars, which is the Palm Springs answer to the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The street continues for miles, but you’ll find most of the must-see spots in the blocks between Alejo Road to the north and Ramon Road to the south. I suggest just strolling down the street and popping into whatever stores look interesting to you, but I do have a few recommendations.
For vintage clothes, head over to The Frippery, which has tons of fun and colorful retro styles. If you’re looking to score some unique vintage home decor during your Palm Springs getaway, stop by Bon Vivant, which has a huge collection of mid-century glassware and pottery.
Another cool space to check out is The Shops at Thirteen Forty Five. At this collection of galleries and shops, you’ll find art, pottery, clothing, plants, home decor, and so much more. If you’re an art fan, a few places I recommend checking out include The Shag Store, The Art of Nat Reed Gallery, and Michael Weems Collection.
Grab Dinner and Drinks Downtown
Next up: dinner! There are a ton of excellent restaurants in the area, but here are a few of my favorites that I recommend checking out:
- Tac/Quila: This modern and eclectic Mexican restaurant offers a ton of delicious dishes, including beer battered avocado bites, ceviche, enchiladas, and a ton of different tacos. They also have an excellent drink menu – I recommend ordering the margarita flight!
- Farm: This warm and inviting restaurant specializes in traditional French dishes. For dinner, they do a prix fixe menu, which changes weekly. This includes appetizers, an entree, and dessert. Check the website for the current menu and price.
- Rooster and the Pig: Rooster and the Pig is a Vietnamese-American spot that serves incredible dishes that are meant to be shared. On the menu, you’ll find dishes like crispy rolls, coconut black mussels, sesame ginger tofu, pork belly fried rice, and more.
If you’re interested in some post-dinner drinks, here are a few spots to consider:
- Window Bar: This chic and modern bar (which is located in the Kimpton Rowan Hotel), has a small but mighty selection of cocktails.
- Tonga Hut: If you’re looking for a fun and festive spot, make your way to this tiki bar. You can order classic tiki drinks, as well as some unique creations.
- Las Palmas Brewing: Las Palmas is a family owned and operated brewery and natural wine bar, and is one of my favorite spots downtown. In addition to natural wines and the beer that they brew in-house, Las Palmas offers kombucha, hard cider, seltzer, and more.
Sunday: Take the Tramway and Enjoy the Pool
On the second day of your weekend getaway to Palm Springs, you’ll spend the first half of the day riding the famous aerial tramway and hiking on top of Mount San Jacinto.
After you make your way back down the mountain and eat lunch, you’ll soak up the sun and relax at the pool!
If you’ll be staying in town for the evening and need a dinner spot, be sure to check out my additional restaurant recommendations at the end of this guide.
Super important note: The weather on top of Mount San Jacinto is drastically different from Palm Springs. In the middle of the summer, average temperatures in the day are only around the mid to high 60s. In the winter, daytime temperatures typically are in the high 30s to low 40s. Plan accordingly and bring layers!
Get a Quick Breakfast
Before heading out to the tramway, be sure to pick up a quick bite to eat. Here are two coffee shops that serve food to stop by on your way to the tram station:
- Ernest Coffee (Old Las Palmas): Trendy coffee shop Ernest Coffee serves Portland-based Stumptown Coffee and other top-quality drinks. The pistachio rose latte is a must! Food-wise, they have a variety of baked goods, including muffins, scones, croissants, and more.
- Koffi (Three Palm Springs Locations): This local coffee chain offers classic coffee and tea drinks, including lattes, cold brews, iced teas, and more. All three Palm Springs locations serve food, including breakfast sandwiches, parfaits, and baked goods.
Ride the Aerial Tramway
Next up is a ride on the iconic Palm Springs Aerial Tramway – AKA the largest rotating aerial tramway in the world! The station is just a 15-minute drive from Downtown Palm Springs.
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway first opened in 1963. As you make your way up to San Jacinto Peak (which has an elevation of 8,156 feet), you’ll enjoy incredible views of the Coachella Valley and Chino Canyon. The ride takes about ten minutes, and travels over two and a half miles.
Tickets can be purchased in advance online. I recommend buying yours as soon as possible, as they do book up.
If you’re unable to book a ticket online for your preferred time, they do still reserve some tickets that are available to purchase in-person – but try to get them online first! Round-trip tickets currently cost $28.95 for adults, and on the weekends, there are trams going up every hour from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm.
Hike at Mount San Jacinto
Once you’ve made your way to the top, take in the view of the valley from the upper station before heading on a hike! I have two trail recommendations: an easy shorter hike and a longer (and slightly more challenging) hike.
The first option is the Desert View Trail, an easy 1.5-mile loop trail with an elevation gain of 311 feet. You’ll walk through beautiful forested areas, and will also get great views of the Coachella Valley below.
The second option is the Willow Creek Trail, a moderately-rated 5-mile loop with an elevation gain of 971 feet. You’ll have similar views as the Desert View Trail, but you’ll also make your way to a small lake called Hidden Lake. Once you get to the lake, be sure to continue past it to enjoy a great view of the valley before turning back around.
Ride Back Down to the Valley and Grab Lunch
Enjoy the ride back down the mountain, and then head back into town for lunch. Many of the restaurants mentioned earlier in this itinerary are open for lunch, so I’d recommend checking out whatever you may have missed. Boozehounds (which serves its brunch menu until 2:00 pm on the weekends), Tac/Quila, Cheeky’s, or any of the lunch spots from yesterday are worth checking out!
Another restaurant I recommend is Peruvian Fuego. It’s away from the busy downtown area and located in an unassuming shopping center, but it’s absolutely worth a visit. This casual spot serves delicious traditional Peruvian dishes, including lomo saltado, ceviche, sweet plantains, yuca fries, and more.
Spend the Afternoon By the Pool
A weekend in Palm Springs really isn’t complete without a bit of pool time – and you deserve it after this morning’s hike! All of the hotels recommended above have at least one pool on the property, so if you’ve booked your stay, you’re good to go!
However, if you find yourself staying at a place without a pool, I highly recommend getting a day pass through ResortPass.
ResortPass allows you to book a day pass to get access to resort pools and amenities. These passes typically range from $20 to $50 per day, although many places also allow you to pay more to rent cabanas or other private poolside spaces. Two great hotel pool options available on the platform are The Saguaro Palm Springs and Avalon Hotels and Bungalows.
What to Do with More Time in Palm Springs
If you’re planning on a longer trip to Palm Springs, there are still plenty of fun ways to fill your time. Here are some of the things I’d recommended doing if you have some extra time to spare.
Visit the Local Museums
There are some really amazing museums around the Palm Springs area. One of the most popular museums is the Palm Springs Air Museum, which is located right by the airport.
This museum – which is considered to be one of the best air museums in the world – has one of the largest collections of flyable WWII aircrafts. It’s also home to a variety of aircraft from Korea and Vietnam. Adult tickets currently cost $20, and can be purchased online.
The Palm Springs Art Museum is also worth checking out. There are two locations in the Downtown Palm Springs area: the main art museum, and then the Architecture and Design Center, which is a few blocks down the street.
The main Palm Springs Art Museum showcases both modern and contemporary art in a variety of mediums. Admission for adults is $14. The Architecture and Design Center features drawings, models, photography, and other significant relics. It’s also home to many of the archives of iconic architects who worked in Palm Springs, including Albert Frey and E. Stewart Williams. Admission is $5.
Hike at Tahquitz Canyon
If you want to fit in another hike during your visit, I’d recommend heading over to Tahquitz Canyon, another beautiful area on the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indian Reservation.
The Tahquitz Canyon Loop Trail is 1.9-miles long, and has an elevation gain of 328 feet. This easy hike offers gorgeous canyon views, and leads you to a 60-foot waterfall at the end.
Definitely make sure to check the most recent AllTrails reviews before you go – there isn’t always water!
There is a $15 fee per person, which you’ll pay at the Visitor Center at the entrance to the canyon.
Explore The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
If you have additional time, I’d highly recommend driving down to Palm Desert and checking out The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, which is about a 30-minute drive from Downtown Palm Springs. This unique botanical garden and zoo is home to over 500 animals, and specializes in educating about the deserts around the world, with gardens representing the ecosystems of Madagascar, the Vizcaino Desert, and beyond. As far as animals go, as you explore, you’ll see everything from leopards to bighorn sheep to giraffes.
Take a Day Trip to Joshua Tree
If you’re up for a bit more of a trek, it’s absolutely worth making the drive over to Joshua Tree National Park. The west entrance station (which is the one I recommend driving to) is about an hour away from Downtown Palm Springs.
The entrance fee for each vehicle is currently $30. I’d highly recommend purchasing your park pass online, as you may be able to bypass the entrance line. If you’ll be visiting in the peak season (which is in the late winter and early spring), this is an absolute must!
While you can’t explore absolutely everything the park has to offer in one day, you can still fit in a lot during a day trip, as many of the main sights in Joshua Tree are fairly close together (at least by national park standards – you’ll still be doing quite a bit of driving!).
There are three easy hikes in Joshua Tree National Park that I love that are excellent for getting the full Joshua Tree experience: Hidden Valley Nature Trail (1 mile), Split Rock Loop Trail (2.5 miles), and Arch Rock Nature Trail (1.4 miles). When you’re near Split Rock, you can also make a stop by Skull Rock, a famous rock right off the main road that (you guessed it) looks like a skull.
If you’re staying for sunset, one of my favorite places to hang out is Cholla Cactus Garden. This area has a dense concentration of cholla cactuses, which glow beautifully in the golden hour light.
Since you’ll be doing a fair amount of driving during your day trip – and since there aren’t any gas stations in the park – be sure to fill up in Yucca Valley (where there are more stations) or the town of Joshua Tree (where there are a handful of stations). Prices may be slightly cheaper in Yucca Valley, but I haven’t noticed drastic differences when I’ve visited.
If you’re craving another date shake, I’d also suggest you stop by Windmill Market on your drive over to Joshua Tree for a road trip snack. You’ll find more information in the eating and drinking section below!
What to Do with Less Time in Palm Springs
If you don’t have a full weekend to spare, you can still have a great Palm Springs experience.
I suggest starting your day by taking the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway up to Mount San Jacinto, and doing one of the hikes I mentioned in the Sunday itinerary above.
After that, head back to the Downtown Palm Springs area for lunch, and pick up a date shake at Fruit Wonders or Lappert’s for a midday treat.
Next, rent a bike or just drive through the Old Las Palmas neighborhood, checking out the amazing architecture and notable homes listed above.
If you started your day early enough (and are up for another easy hike), make your way to Palm Canyon to do the Palm Canyon Trail.
After that, spend some time strolling down North Palm Canyon Drive to check out the shops and galleries before grabbing some dinner and drinks in the area.
Eating and Drinking in Palm Springs
You’ll find quite a few recommendations for places to eat and drink in the itinerary above, but I have a few more suggestions! Here are some spots worth stopping by in the greater Palm Springs area.
Where to Eat in Palm Springs
The Tropicale: This downtown restaurant (which is open for lunch and dinner, as well as brunch on Friday and Saturday) has a fun yet sophisticated retro tropical vibe. The Tropicale serves a range of entree dishes, including a miso-glazed salmon and rice bowl, a southern fried chicken, a brisket burger, and more. They also have a variety of smaller plates, as well as cocktails and wine.
Trio: Another great downtown spot is Trio, which is open for dinner, as well as weekend brunch. The menu offers a range of dishes, including pizzas, rigatoni, Chilean sea bass, and more. Trio also has a variety of classic and signature cocktails, as well as a great beer and wine list.
The Pink Cabana: If you find yourself down in Palm Desert, you absolutely have to stop by this colorful and beautifully designed restaurant for breakfast, lunch, dinner, or weekend brunch. The Pink Cabana serves Mediterranean and Moroccan-influenced dishes, including mezze plates, a variety of tagines, a wild mushroom pappardelle, and much more.
Windmill Market: This grocery store and deli is considered by many to be the best place to get a date shake! You can also get sandwiches at the deli counter, as well as snacks. Windmill Market is about a 10-minute drive north of Downtown Palm Springs, and as mentioned, is a great stop on the way to Joshua Tree.
Where to Drink in Palm Springs
Bluebird Days: This downtown coffee spot is one of my favorites in town. They offer super delicious creative drinks (the lavender white mocha is great!), as well as more classic coffee and tea options. There’s no indoor space (they just have a window where you can order), but they do have a nice patio.
gré Coffeehouse & Art Gallery: Another cool coffee shop worth checking out downtown is gré, which offers classic coffee and tea drinks. Hanging out in the eclectic space is an activity in itself, and it’s also a great place to buy vinyl and check out some art!
Wine and Beer
Dead or Alive Bar: This bar (which has a really nice outdoor space, as well as a trendy interior) serves wine, beer, cider, and other drinks from around the world. They specialize in small-production beverages that are natural and organic. Dead or Alive Bar also doubles as a store, where you can purchase bottles of wine and beer, as well as other goods.
Jalama Wines: This should be your go-to spot if you’re looking for a downtown wine bar. Jalama offers limited production wines from the Central Coast, and has an emphasis on both light and bold dry reds.
Bar Cecil: The artsy interior alone is enough of a reason to visit Bar Cecil, but thankfully, the drinks are also fantastic. They have excellent cocktails (Cactus Slim is great if you like mezcal), as well as wine and spirits.
Seymour’s: Another excellent bar worth visiting is Seymour’s, an intimate bar with a vintage flair. They have a small but great selection of high-quality craft cocktails, as well as beer and wine.
What is the Best Time to Visit Palm Springs?
Let’s talk about what to expect with each season in Palm Springs, and when you should plan on visiting for the best experience.
The early spring is, in my opinion, the absolute best time to visit Palm Springs.
In March and April, average temperatures tend to range from the low to high 80s, which is great for being out and exploring. Nighttime temperatures do stay a bit cooler though, typically ranging from the low to high 50s.
It will start warming up in May and early June, with temperatures hitting the mid 90s to low 100s, so it does start to get uncomfortably warm (depending on your tolerance for heat!).
One thing to keep in mind is the Coachella music festival, which is typically held over two weekends in mid/late April. The festival location is down in Indio, which is about a 40-minute drive from Palm Springs.
This is far enough away that Palm Springs doesn’t get overly crowded with festival-goers during those weekends. However, the festival does usually impact house rental and hotel prices, and if you’re driving in, there’s a good chance you’ll hit some traffic.
With all of that in mind, it’s probably best to avoid visiting during those weekends if you can.
I’d highly recommend steering clear of Palm Springs in the summer – especially if you’re trying to follow the itinerary above. The average weather during the daytime tends to hover around 105 to 110 degrees.
With that weather, you can’t do much else besides hang out at the pool and in air-conditioned indoor spaces. I’d really caution against trying to hike or spend a ton of time outside if you’re not used to that kind of heat.
The one benefit is that the summer nights in Palm Springs are lovely, with temperatures typically being in the 70s. That said, it’s still (in my opinion) too hot during the day to really make the most of your visit.
It does start to cool down in the fall, but it’s still very hot early in the season, with daytime temperatures typically in the 90s and low 100s.
If you’re trying to visit during the fall, I’d wait until late October or November, when the average weather is around 80 degrees. While still hot, it’s much more comfortable than in the summer and early fall.
The winter is a great time to visit Palm Springs, especially if you live in a colder climate and need to warm up! The weather is super comfortable, with temperatures averaging at the low 70s to low 80s. This is great for exploring the outdoors without getting uncomfortably hot. Plus, it’s still warm enough to enjoy the pool.
The only downside of visiting in the winter is that the temperatures at night do get pretty chilly. Expect the temperatures to drop to the mid 40s to low 50s.
How to Get to Palm Springs
You have a few options for getting to Palm Springs. One thing to keep in mind is that you’ll absolutely need to take a car to get around Palm Springs. If you don’t drive yourself, consider either renting a car or using a rideshare app (Lyft and Uber are both available in the area).
From Los Angeles
There are two primary ways of getting to Palm Springs from Los Angeles: by car and by train and bus.
If you can, I highly recommend you drive to Palm Springs, since having a car with you on the weekend will make traveling from spot to spot much more seamless. From Downtown Los Angeles, you can take Highway 10 east past Cabazon, and then connect to Highway 111, taking it south into Downtown Palm Springs. This journey will take around two hours and fifteen minutes.
If you’re coming in from the San Diego area: Make your way to Highway 15 north, and then connect to Highway 215 north in the Temecula area. From there you’ll take Highway 60 east and Highway 10 east, and then connect to Highway 111, taking it into Palm Springs.
By Amtrak Train and Bus
Another option for getting to Palm Springs from Los Angeles is taking the Amtrak train and/or bus, although this admittedly isn’t the most convenient or flexible way to go.
The direct train doesn’t depart from LAX until 10:00 pm on Friday nights, and gets into the Palm Springs station (PSN) at 12:36 am. From there, you’d have to take a rideshare to your hotel. On Sunday, there isn’t a direct train route available, so you’d have to take a bus and then transfer to the train in Fullerton (more on that below).
A slightly more flexible (although longer) option is to head to Union Station and then take the Pacific Surfliner train to Fullerton (FUL), which will take a half hour.
From there, you’ll catch the Amtrak Thruway Connecting Service bus to the Palm Springs bus stop (PSS), which is conveniently located downtown. This leg of the trip will take 2 hours. This whole journey will cost between $23 to $33, depending on which type of ticket you purchase.
The kicker, however, is that you’ll need to wait at the Fullerton station to catch your bus. Currently, you’ll only need to wait about 20 minutes if you take the morning train that departs Union Station at 10:10 am. However, if you take the 3:10 pm train, you’ll be waiting in Fullerton for a little over an hour.
This same route heading back to Los Angeles on Sunday also isn’t great with the transfer time, but still doable if you have the patience! Currently, the best route is to take the 2:10 pm bus to Fullerton, and wait to transfer to the train back to Union Station for just under an hour. This will cost between $19 to $29.
Keep in mind that schedules and prices do change from time to time, so be sure to use the schedule tool on the Amtrak website to get the most accurate information.
If you’re coming in from somewhere else, the best option is likely flying in, but you may be able to find a train or bus that works for you.
For many people coming from further away, flying into Palm Springs International Airport (which is just a 5-minute drive from downtown) will be the best option.
Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) certainly isn’t the largest, but it does have non-stop flights from over 30 airports in the US and Canada, including Phoenix, Las Vegas, Dallas, Atlanta, Vancouver, and more.
If you’re unable to find a flight into PSP, you could opt to fly to Ontario International Airport (ONT), Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), or San Diego International Airport (SAN) – but this will add a considerable amount of time to your journey.
From there, you can rent a car and drive, or find an Amtrak train and/or bus that works for you.
By Amtrak Train and Bus
It’s also worth checking out the Amtrak website to see if there is a train and/or bus you can take into Palm Springs. The PSS bus station is a bit more convenient, as it’s right in the middle of Downtown Palm Springs. That said, the PSN train station is only about a 10-minute drive north of downtown.
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