Downtown Palm Springs, California, has remained a magnet for artists, creatives, and Hollywood stars since the 1930s. Some even refer to it as the Rodeo Drive of Coachella Valley, with the San Jacinto Mountains in the distance. The resort town's year-round sunny weather, natural beauty, and vibrant culture continue to draw tourists from around the globe.
In this visitor's guide, we'll highlight the best places, things to do, and where to stay in the downtown Palm Springs area for your Greater Palm Springs getaway. Plus, we'll offer helpful tips for a truly memorable visit.
Best Time To Visit
The best time to visit Palm Springs is the winter months, late December to April. During the winter months, Palm Springs offers the perfect warm sunny weather. During the fall season, the temperature can be nice, but it can still be hot. Summertime at Palm Springs is very hot, and you will see triple digits regularly.
Palm Springs Art Museum
The Palm Springs Art Museum offers an ever-changing array of 19th, 20th, and 21st-century works, with a focus on contemporary art by Californian artists. Located in the heart of the downtown area, its 28 art galleries and two sculpture gardens are a must-visit for anyone traveling to the area. During the VillageFest street fair on Thursday evenings, visitors can enjoy free admission and appearances by local artists.
Moorten Botanical Garden
Located at the southern end of Palm Canyon Drive, the Moorten Botanical Garden, and Cactarium is a popular Palm Springs attraction for tourists and locals alike. In 1938, Patricia and Chester "Cactus Slim" Moorten opened the arboretum at their Palm Springs residence to the public. Today, it's home to over 3000 varieties of desert trees, plants, and cacti from all around the world.
Palm Springs Walk of Stars
Palm Springs has its own walk of fame for celebrities who have spent time in the city. The Palm Spring Walk of Stars is a famed stretch along South Palm Canyon Drive. Like the Hollywood Walk of Fame, its "Golden Palm Stars" honor over 400 celebrities and local personalities. Notable stars include Elizabeth Taylor, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, and more.
O'Donnell Golf Club
O'Donnell Golf Club is the oldest golf club in Palm Springs and a bucket list course for players of every skill level. Situated in the heart of downtown Palm Springs, it's the perfect half-day activity to soak up the desert sun. After mastering the nine-hole course, head to the Club House for cocktails on the patio.
Statue of Lucille Ball
This statue of Lucille Ball commemorates her days as a Palm Springs resident and frequenter. You can find it at the corner of Tahquitz Canyon Drive and Palm Canyon Drive. Located outside of a coffee shop, this status is the perfect place to come for those who love Lucy.
Forever Marilyn Monroe
Visit the 26 feet tall giant Marilyn Monroe designed by Seward Johnson. You will find Monroe in the famous scene in the Seven Year Itch when her dress blows up as she steps on a grate, and it is a true Hollywood icon of hers.
Things To Do
Take The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
Take a ride on the largest rotating aerial tramway in the world. Opened in 1963, you can get a view of the beautiful cliffs of Chino Canyon. The 10-minute journey begins at Valley Station and ends in Mountain Station. You will enjoy a breathtaking view of the valley below at the peak.
Hike the Cactus to Clouds Trail
Soak in the beauty of the surrounding desert with a hike along the Cactus to Clouds Trail. It begins in downtown Palm Springs and ends at San Jacinto Peak, allowing for hikes of all lengths. But be warned, the 20-mile trek to the top is considered one of the hardest day hikes in the world due to its 10,000-foot elevation increase.
Address: Skyline Trail, Palm Springs, CA 92262
Visit Ruth Hardy Park
Ruth Hardy Park is a downtown park with 22 acres of park space. Perfect for children and adults, the park offers a playground, basketball and tennis court, sandy volleyball court, and picnic areas.
Stop by the Palm Springs VillageFest
Downtown Palm Springs transforms into Palm Springs VillageFest, also known as Palm Springs Street Fair. It occurs every Thursday night. At the fair, you will find an array of artists, artisans, assorted fruits, vegetables, fresh flowers, and more.
Palm Canyon Drive
Palm Canyon Drive is a window shopper's dream. The palm tree-lined street is home to numerous shops, galleries, eateries, and the Palm Springs Walk of Stars. It's the perfect place for a leisurely stroll on a sunny afternoon.
Every Thursday night, the street is closed to traffic for the VillageFest street fair. Expect booths from local artists, craftspeople, and food vendors, as well as live music and entertainment.
Visit La Plaza
La Plaza is an open-air shopping area that's remained a cornerstone of downtown Palm Springs for over 80 years. The downtown plaza has quiet courtyards and rooftop vistas that bring a quaint charm to the historic area. After you've worked up an appetite wandering through its unique shops and specialty boutiques, head to a number of fantastic restaurants nearby for cocktails and appetizers al fresco.
Where To Stay
There is an array of hotel selections available in Downtown Palm Springs. There are options for everyone, from cozy boutique hotels to adorable bed and breakfasts to five-star villas.
A downtown hotel promises a memorable stay, as this is where all the actions are at. However, it also comes with a high price tag. The cost of staying in Downtown Palm Springs is higher than in the average city. If you are on a budget, you should explore the greater Palm Springs area instead.
Where Is Palm Springs?
Palm Springs is on the west edge of Coachella Valley. It is 107 miles from Los Angeles and 37 miles east of San Bernardino.
How To Get To Palm Springs?
You can fly directly into Palm Springs via Palm Springs International Airport (PSP), or you can fly into Ontario International Airport (ONT), which is one hour away. You can also fly into Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and drive to Palm Springs, which is about a two-hour drive. Buses from Los Angeles are available at an affordable price.
Downtown Palm Springs is walkable so bring your most comfortable shoes. Many boutique hotels and bed and breakfasts offer free bike rental. If you are up for a bike ride instead, you may have that option with your hotel.
Tips for Visiting Downtown Palm Springs
Visiting downtown Palm Springs for the first time? Here are a few practical tips for a more enjoyable holiday:
Wear Comfortable Shoes
Downtown Palm Springs is best experienced on foot, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes for a long day of walking.
Popular restaurants fill up quickly during peak dining hours (especially during the Thursday night VillageFest), so be sure to book a table in advance.
Downtown Palm Springs isn't the only neighborhood in town worth spending time in. Venture uptown or to Palm Desert to continue the fun.
Ask a Local
Don't be afraid to ask your barista, bartender, or server about their favorite local hangouts and happenings. You never know what hidden gems they'll uncover!
Visit Joshua Tree
Palm Springs is about an hour's drive to Joshua Tree, making it a perfect spot for a half-day or full-day trip.
Plenty of Street Parking
It's easy to drive around Palm Springs, and the majority of street parking is free. You will be fine finding free parking spots.