One of the most beautiful destinations in California, Palm Springs is a mecca for art, food, and fun in the sun. It’s an ideal weekend getaway whether you’re looking to spend the weekend relaxing or playing. And it’s the perfect destination if you’re traveling solo, looking for a romantic trip with your partner, or getting away with your girlfriends. Here’s my guide to how to spend a weekend in Palm Springs, California.
How to Spend a Weekend in Palm Springs
Where to Stay in Palm Springs
There are so many incredible hotels and Airbnb properties in Palm Springs. A few of my favorite hotels in the area include the Ace Hotel & Swim Club, Parker Palm Springs, and La Serena Villas. If you’re coming with a group of people or want a kitchen to cook in then perhaps an Airbnb would better suit you. I recommend staying as close to downtown Palm Springs as possible.
When to Visit Palm Springs
Palm Springs is in the heart of the desert so the climate is dry and temperatures can vary greatly depending on whether or not the sun is out. When the weather is more tolerable, November-May, travel also peaks meaning that you should expect crowds. In the summer (June-September) when temperatures can rise over 100 degrees most residents and tourists stay away. I visited Palm Springs in March and again in April and found both times to be nice. The temperatures in March were warm and tolerable, but nights were chilly. Temperatures in April were much hotter but nothing you couldn’t tolerate with a pool nearby.
When choosing when to visit Palm Springs you should also keep Coachella in mind. Coachella is a music and art festival held in the desert each April. Although it’s in Indio, Palm Springs can book up and be pretty expensive at that time. If you aren’t going to Coachella you might want to skip Palm Springs for the duration of the festival.
Palm Springs Itinerary – Day 1
After checking into your hotel, hit the town by walking down North Palm Canyon Drive. This is the main street downtown where you’ll find cute bars and restaurants, boutique shops, and art galleries. A few of my favorite places to stop on North Palm Canyon Drive are the Palm Springs Art Museum, home decor stores like West Elm, and clothing stores like Free People and Trina Turk.
RESTAURANTS/BARS TO VISIT IN PALM SPRINGS
If you’re looking for lunch spots I highly recommend the famous Cheeky’s for a fun lunch/brunch experience. And if you want something lighter and more low key then head to La Serena Villas to eat at their beautiful restaurant Azucar Restaurant and Bar.
For before (or after) dinner cocktails make sure to visit Truss & Twine for a more fancy/intimate experience. And if you’re looking for a fun and more lively spot then Bootlegger Tiki for tiki drinks.
There are tons of great dinner options in Palm Springs. I personally love Jake’s, an American restaurant in the heart of downtown Palm Springs. Or if you like sushi then you absolutely can’t miss Sandfish Sushi & Whiskey.
For all lunch, dinner, and cocktail bars I highly recommend making reservations well in advance.
Palm Springs Itinerary – Day 2
One of my favorite things to do in Palm Springs is to rent bikes and check out the incredible houses in the desert (just make sure to start early to beat the heat). Before renting, check with your hotel/Airbnb to see if bikes are included with your stay. If not, a good place to rent from is Bike Palm Springs. They have both electric bikes – $50 for a half-day and $75 for a full day, and pedal bikes – $25 for a half-day and $35 for a full day.
Start in the Little Tuscany neighborhood and branch out from there. There are so many unique and beautiful homes tucked away in Palm Springs.
After spending the morning exploring the area, hop in your car and head further into the desert towards Pioneertown and Joshua Tree, both approximately 30-miles north of Palm Springs. I recommend first stopping in Pioneertown to eat lunch at Pappy & Harriet’s or the Red Dog Saloon. From Pioneertown drive into Joshua Tree to shop in the vintage and antique stores and head into Joshua Tree National Park to see an epic sunset from Cap Rock.
For more information on visiting Joshua Tree make sure to read How to Have the Best Day Trip to Joshua Tree
Trip Additions – Day Trips from Palm Springs
If you have a bit more time to spend in Palm Springs or are doing a long weekend trip then there are many other great places in the area to visit as well.
IF YOU LIKE WINE
One of my favorite day trips from Palm Springs is to head west 80-miles to Temecula.
Temecula is a well-known wine region throughout California. Although it’s smaller in size, the wine that comes out of the area is exceptional. My favorite places to taste are Callaway, Ponte, and in the Europa Village.
IF YOU LIKE TO HIKE
Another option for a day trip from Palm Springs is to head 50-miles southeast to Ladder Canyon and Painted Canyon Trail. This 4.4-mile loop trail is located outside of Indio, California. AllTrails marks this as a moderate hike.
IF YOU LIKE ART
80-miles south of Palm Springs will put you in the heart of the desert where you’ll find Salvation Mountain. Salvation Mountain is a hillside visionary environment created by Leonard Knight. The man-made mountain took 28 years to create and is covered in half a million gallons of latix paint.
Palm Springs is a vibrant and fun, laid-back destination. It’s well worth it to visit California for a weekend in Palm Springs to reset and recharge. I hope this Palm Springs weekend getaway inspired you to book sooner rather than later!