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Day Trip to Palm Springs

tram mountain station

Sun-kissed Escapades: A Whirlwind Adventure in Palm Springs.

Welcome to Palm Springs, where the sun-splashed desert oasis meets adrenaline-pumping excitement! If you’re searching for an unforgettable Palm Springs day trip that will leave you breathless with adventure, look no further. With its stunning landscapes, vibrant culture, and an array of thrilling activities, Palm Springs is a whirlwind adventure waiting to be discovered.

Prepare to venture into the heart of the desert, where towering palm trees sway in the warm breeze and majestic mountains rise in the distance. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker, nature enthusiast, or history buff, Palm Springs has something for everyone.

palm springs sign

Getting Around

Getting around in Palm Springs is a breeze. Whether you’re a visitor exploring the area or a local resident commuting within the city, you’ll find it stress free.

The city is broken up into three main zones.

North Palm Springs which includes the Uptown Design District, the Palm Springs Visitor Center and the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.

Downtown Palm Springs includes the highest concentration of retail, hotels, and restaurants. It also includes the Palm Springs Art Museum, the Palm Springs Historical Society, and the new Downtown Park. This is very walkable and encouraged.

South Palm Springs is more residential, but also offers a number of hotels and restaurants. This also includes the Indian Canyons Golf Resort and leads to the entry of Indian Canyons.

While not known by a formal neighborhood name, to the east of downtown is the Palm Springs International Airport and the Palm Springs Air Museum.

Palm Springs Day Trip – Morning

If you haven’t already had breakfast, start your day by charging up and what better place than to grab a custom-brewed latte at the original Koffi, Palm Springs’ hometown coffee go-to on North Palm Canyon Drive. There is a lovely outdoor park in back.

outdoor seating corridor


Palm Springs offers a variety of fantastic breakfast spots to kick-start your day. Here are a few popular options:

In the Uptown Design District, Cheeky’s is known for their creative menu and locally sourced ingredients. They offer delicious breakfast dishes like bacon flight, chilaquiles, and lemon ricotta pancakes. However, they don’t take reservations, so get there early.

cheeky's bacon flight

In South Palm Springs is Elmer’s Restaurant. A beloved Palm Springs institution since 1960, Elmer’s is known for its hearty breakfast offerings, including German pancakes, omelettes, and classic bacon and eggs.

Wilma & Frieda is a popular breakfast spot located in downtown. Menu features a variety of delicious breakfast options made with locally sourced ingredients. From classic favorites like fluffy pancakes and eggs benedict to more unique creations such as their decadent stuffed French toast. They are famous for their house-made pop tarts.

homemade pop tarts

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

If you have not been on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, we highly recommend you find time in the day to experience this #1 attraction. Ascend 8,516 feet aboard the world’s largest rotating tramcar. Enjoy breathtaking views as you glide up to the Mount San Jacinto State Park. Once at the top, take a short hike along one of the park’s many scenic trails, snap some Instagram-worthy photos, or savor a scenic picnic surrounded by nature’s beauty. This once-in-a-lifetime experience promises to leave you awe-inspired and create memories that last a lifetime.

Tip: Stop by the Palm Springs Visitor Center at the base of Tram Road prior to your visit.


palm springs tramway

Palm Springs Historical Society

Delve into the city’s history at the Palm Springs Historical Society. Located in the heart of downtown, the society’s museum offers fascinating exhibits that showcase the rich heritage and cultural significance of Palm Springs. Learn about the Hollywood stars who once called this place home and discover the city’s iconic midcentury modern architecture. It’s a great way to get foundational information about Palm Springs and its past.

Palm Springs Historical Society

Palm Springs Day Trip – Midday

The midday sun casts an enchanting glow over this desert oasis. As the vibrant city awakens from its leisurely morning, the air is filled with an electric energy. The palm-lined streets offer respite from the heat for locals and visitors alike. Whether you’re strolling along the vibrant downtown, exploring a museum, or indulging in a meal at one of the many exquisite eateries, Palm Springs captivates with its unique blend of relaxation and excitement. Soak up the warmth of the afternoon sun and let the charm of this desert paradise whisk you away into a blissful midday reverie.

Pose with Marilyn

Not far from the Palm Springs Historical Society is the Instagram Queen of the desert. Standing 26 feet high on Museum Way in the heart of downtown, “Forever Marilyn” recreates Marilyn Monroe’s most famous image taken from Billy Wilder’s 1955 film The Seven Year Itch. She’s not alone.

Marilyn Monroe

Explore the Downtown Park

Step into the heart of Palm Springs and discover the city’s newest gem – the downtown park.  The park’s design seamlessly blends modern aesthetics with the city’s rich history, featuring art installations and commemorative plaques that pay homage to Palm Springs’ iconic past. Take a leisurely stroll along the winding pathways, or find a cozy spot under the shade of a palm tree. With ample seating areas and a spacious areas for picnics, the downtown park is the perfect place to unwind, connect with nature, and soak in the vibrant atmosphere of Palm Springs.

downtown park


Stroll through the historic Palm Springs Village: Take a leisurely walk along Palm Canyon Drive, the city’s main street, and explore the charming boutiques, galleries, and specialty shops. Discover unique treasures, from vintage clothing to local crafts, and take home a piece of Palm Springs. There are lots of fun retail stores downtown to window shop and explore.

Mitchells for designer vintage from Pucci to Dior and more.

Johnny Was for flirty trend-defying womenswear.

Destination PSP, the ultimate in unique Palm Springs-themed gifts, apparel and houseware – think midcentury house-shaped tissue boxes, ‘50s style swimwear.

Destination PSP

Just Fabulous: A popular bookstore and gift shop, Just Fabulous features a wide selection of books, stationery, unique gifts, and local artisan goods. It’s a must-visit destination for book lovers and those seeking one-of-a-kind finds.

Crystal Fantasy: This metaphysical and new-age shop offers a mesmerizing selection of crystals, gemstones, spiritual artifacts, and holistic products. Explore the mystical world of Crystal Fantasy and discover items that promote well-being and positive energy.

These are just a few examples of the exceptional retail stores Palm Springs has to offer. Whether you’re seeking fashion, home décor, books, or unique treasures, the city’s eclectic mix of shops will undoubtedly provide an enjoyable and satisfying shopping experience.

Palm Springs Art Museum

Immerse yourself in the vibrant art scene of Palm Springs by visiting the renowned Palm Springs Art Museum. It has 28 galleries, two sculpture gardens, four classrooms, resource centers, five storage vaults, an 85-seat lecture hall, a 433-seat theater, a 1,000-square-foot museum store. The museum hosts rotating exhibitions and special events, so check their schedule for any ongoing shows.

Looking at art in the museum

The Walk of Stars

Look Down. South Palm Canyon Drive doubles as “The Walk of Stars” (like Hollywood Boulevard). You might be walking on Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra or Elizabeth Taylor.

star on walk of stars

Treat Yourself to Lunch

Treat yourself to a delicious lunch at a local hotspot. Palm Springs boasts a wide range of dining options to suit every palate. Indulge in California cuisine, Mexican flavors, or international fare at one of the many acclaimed restaurants in the city center. Don’t forget to try a refreshing date shake, a local specialty.

Soak up the street life at a sidewalk café. See-and-be-seen hot spots include Lulu California Bistro, serving California casual fare. Try the “Tower of Avocado & Ahi Tuna Tartare.”

At the Tommy Bahama Marlin Bar, try the Nashville Hot Chicken Sliders and a Paloma cocktail. Or lunch from on high.

Watch the action from a second story perch at Bongo Johnny’s Patio Bar & Grill. They specialize in gourmet burgers.

lulu patio

Palm Springs Day Trip – Afternoon

Now that you have renewed energy after lunch, its time to embark on an unforgettable journey through an afternoon on your Palm Springs Day Trip.

Palm Springs Air Museum

For those craving a taste of history and culture, a visit to the Palm Springs Air Museum will transport you back in time. Explore a collection of vintage aircraft and learn about pivotal moments in aviation history. Immerse yourself in the stories of brave pilots who took to the skies and relive the magic of flight firsthand.

Palm Springs Air Museum

Uptown Design District

The Uptown Design District in Palm Springs is a vibrant and eclectic neighborhood that has become a haven for art, design, and creativity. Located along North Palm Canyon Drive, this district spans several blocks and is home to a wide array of shops, galleries, restaurants, and design studios.

The area’s unique charm stems from its midcentury modern architecture, which perfectly complements the retro-inspired vibe that permeates the district. Many of the buildings feature bold colors, clean lines, and sleek designs, paying homage to the city’s rich architectural history.

As you stroll through the Uptown Design District, you’ll discover an impressive selection of boutiques specializing in home décor, furniture, fashion, and accessories. These carefully curated stores offer a mix of vintage finds, contemporary pieces, and cutting-edge designs, making it a paradise for design enthusiasts.

The Shag Store and art gallery for one-and-only Palm Springsesque midcentury artwork and gifts by artist Shag, a.k.a. Josh Agle.

angle as shag

Designer Trina Turk’s flagship boutique, Trina Turk/Mr. Turk, for hip men’s and womenswear, home accessories.

trina turk

A La Mod: If you’re a fan of vintage and retro finds, A La Mod is the place to be. This store carries an impressive collection of mid-century modern furniture, lighting, and décor items, providing a treasure trove for vintage enthusiasts.

In addition to shopping and dining, the Uptown Design District is known for its sense of community. The friendly and welcoming atmosphere fosters a sense of creativity and collaboration among business owners, designers, and locals alike.

Admire The Architecture

Palm Springs is the center of Modernism, boasting more midcentury modern buildings than anywhere in the world!  Book a guided tour with Palm Springs Mod Squad expert and cool guy Kurt Cyr.  Or buy a Modern Tours Palm Springs self-guided tour for your smartphone, with audio descriptions, interactive mapping, directions and photos. We also have a free self-guided tour on our website: Midcentury Architecture Self-Guided Tour.

midcentury architecture

Palm Springs Day Drip – Evening

Indulge in a memorable dinner experience: Palm Springs boasts a vibrant culinary scene, with numerous award-winning restaurants to choose from. With options ranging from fine dining to casual eateries, you’ll find something to satisfy your taste buds. Sit back, relax, and savor a delicious meal while enjoying the city’s lively ambiance.

Happy Hour

It’s Palm Springs way of life. For a local vibe, sit at the bar or a high-top table and enjoy drinks, and maybe nibbles.

At The Tropicale, try the “Lemon Drop Martini,” and “Firecracker Shrimp.”

Eight4Nine Restaurant & Lounge. Try “The Eight4Nine,” with vodka, prosecco, limoncello; and Charcuterie & Cheese Plate.

Doggie-friendly-chic Boozehounds. Try the “Jungle Bird,” with rum compare, agave, pineapple and lime; and Parmesan Truffle Fries.


The Tonga Hut for Mai Tais and the Pu Pu Platter. Las Casuelas Terraza, a favorite since 1958. For Margaritas, of course, “Nachos Rancheros” and “Ceviche De La Casa,” with shrimp, avocado, scallions, tomatoes, onion and Tajin.

Palm Springs Happy Hour Guide


As the day progresses, indulge in the vibrant dining scene that Palm Springs offers. Treat your taste buds to exquisite cuisine at one of the city’s renowned restaurants and experience the lively atmosphere of the downtown. From Mexican tacos to gourmet vegan delights, Palm Springs caters to every culinary preference. Celebrate the best Palm Springs Day Trip ever, with the best dinner ever.

At one of Palm Springs’ fine dining legends: Copley’s on Palm Canyon. It’s in the former rustic-chic guesthouse of actor Cary Grant, serving elevated American cuisine. Try the “Bone-in Chicken Breast & Lobster Tail.”

The 2022 Michelin-recommended Bar Cecil. It’s hard to get into but so worth it. Order “The $50 Martini,” as the menu says “why not?” And “Smoked Bone-in Duroc Pork Chop.”

Bar Cecil
Credit: Bar Cecil

Johannes for Austrian-Asian fare. Have the ‘Wiener Schnitzel,” and ‘Kobe Beef Jager Style.”

Trio Palm Springs: Known for its contemporary American cuisine, Trio offers a diverse menu featuring steaks, seafood, and innovative comfort food dishes. The cozy ambiance and excellent service make it a popular choice.

 Workshop Kitchen + Bar: Housed in a beautifully renovated former movie theater, Workshop Kitchen + Bar offers a modern and upscale dining experience. Their menu focuses on seasonal and locally sourced ingredients, resulting in delicious farm-to-table dishes.

indoor seating workshop bar

Mr. Lyon’s Steakhouse: Located in the historic Hotel California, Mr. Lyon’s is a chic restaurant specializing in Mediterranean and California-inspired cuisine. Their menu highlights fresh, locally sourced ingredients, and the stylish atmosphere creates a memorable dining experience.

mr lyons dining room

Spencer’s Restaurant: Nestled in the heart of Palm Springs’ tennis neighborhood, Spencer’s offers a beautiful outdoor patio surrounded by lush gardens. Known for its top-notch dinner menu, this restaurant serves a variety of dishes, including prime steaks, fresh seafood, and vegetarian options.

spencer's patio


Palm Springs offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, cultural attractions, and relaxation opportunities. By following this Palm Springs day trip guide, you’ll be able to make the most of your visit and create lasting memories in this desert paradise. Embrace the laid-back vibe, soak up the sun, and let Palm Springs captivate you with its unique charm.

By Barbara Beckley and Randy Garner

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