Monday, 17 July 2017

Back in the day, Palm Springs served as wintertime playground for the Rat Pack, Lucille Ball, Bob Hope, and other Hollywood luminaries.

Today, it has a wonderfully preserved retro vibe and is still home to high-season desert hijinks. With year-round amenities and welcoming residents, Palm Springs has also become a favorite destination off-season tourists as well as LGBT travelers

Here are 25 budget-friendly things to do and places to go in and around Palm Springs. 

1. Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

Immerse yourself in the secret world of desert wildlife at this zoo and nature museum. If you're  a member of a zoo in your area, check to see if there's a reciprocal admission deal. $19.95 general admission, $17.95 seniors (62+), $9.95 children (3 –12), and free for children under three.

2. Shields Date Garden

How about a date? Or a date shake? There are a lot of date-based delights at this farm which harkens back to the 1920s. Free.

3. Cabazon Dinosaurs

A classic roadside attraction offering the chance to climb inside multistory dinos for prehistoric photo ops. And of course there are kiddie rides, too. $10 adults, $9 children, $7 military with ID and seniors citizens, free for children two and under. Extra rides $2. 

4. Children's Discovery Museum of the Desert

Hands-on science activities for the little ones plus seasonal events make this a cool educational respite from the Palm Beach sun. $9.95 ages one and up, $7.95 with active military card (up to four). 

5. The Palm Springs Air Museum

Aviation buffs can get their fix in three hangars: The Pacific (Navy) Hangar, The European (Army) Hangar, and one housing a B-17 Flying Fortress and other memorabilia. $16.50 adults (18-65) years, $14.50 seniors (65+) and retired military with ID, $14.50 youth (13-17), $9.50 (6-12), free for children five and younger and active duty military with ID (including immediate family). 

6. Palm Springs Art Museum

Browse works by Henry Moore, Sam Francis, Robert Motherwell, and Helen Frankenthaler as well as a selection of Native American and Mesoamerican artifacts at this desert epicenter of modern art. $12.50 adults, $10.50 seniors (62+), $5 students, free admission for youth under 12 and active military (including immediate family).

7. Camelot Theatres

Take in a current art flick or catch a classic Hollywood film on Wednesday nights. Tickets are $6.50, and don't forget to visit the cafe for a $15 three-course meal and happy hour specials.

8. Revivals

You never know what you'll find thrift shopping in a retirement community. Sales benefit the Desert AIDS Project and there are several locations around the region. Prices vary. 

9. Desert hiking

The area features numerous desert destinations for trekkers of all levels. Try the Palm Springs Indian Canyons trails for breathtaking views, or the moderately difficult Rancho Mirage “Bump-n-Grind" trail said to be built by General Patton's troops. Free-$9.

10. VillageFest

This fun market is open every Thursday night in downtown Palm Springs (on Palm Canyon Drive between Amado and Baristo Roads) and has plenty to browse including art, crafts, food, entertainment, and more. Free admission. 


11. Agua Caliente Cultural Museum

Contrary to popular belief, the Rat Pack did not discover Palm Springs. The Agua Caliente band of Cahuilla Indians did. You'll find their story, as well as those of other Native Americans, in this fascinating museum. Free.

12. Palm Springs Walk of Stars

In Palm Springs, you can see stars when you look up and down. The Walk of Stars on Palm Canyon Drive, Tahquitz Canyon Way, and Museum Drive honors entertainers, writers, humanitarians, and other cultural figures with ties to the area. 

13. Self-Guided Modern Architecture Tour

Palm Springs boasts some of the most stunning examples of modern architecture in the country. Grab a free map at the Palm Springs Visitors Center for a DIY tour. Free. 

14. Coachella Valley Preserve

This desert oasis offers the opportunity to get up close and personal with the San Andreas Fault. Take a picnic or go for a hike (guided hikes available) in this amazing natural spot. Free, but donations happily accepted.

15. Palm Desert Aquatic Center

You'll quickly understand why locals really appreciate this YMCA-operated refuge from the desert's hot, dry heat. The center features three pools and two big water slides. $6 adult (13-59), $4.50 youth/seniors (6-12 & 60+), $3.75 junior (2-5). 

16. The Lights at Indio Golf Course

This municipal golf course offers year-round, daytime and nighttime play for all ages. $5-$22. (From December 26 through April 30 adults pay $27 for peak daytime play). 

17.  The Wheelhouse Roller Skating

Family-friendly roller rink featuring weekly discounts as well as teen nights & private parties.

18. Lappert's Ice Cream

Try fancifully flavored ice creams with a tropical bent, such as Hawaii Pink Sea Salt Caramel, organic Acai Sorbet Swirl, and the coveted Dole Whip creamy pineapple treat. Locations in Palm Springs and Palm Desert. $10 or less. 

19. Tyler's Burgers

A classic desert eatery, Tyler's started as a gas station in the 1930s, evolved to a bus station, and now rides high on its reputation for burgers and cole slaw. Most items under $12. 

20. El Jefe at The Saguaro Palm Springs

The tequila selection here is legend, as is the happy hour weekdays from 3-6 p.m. Drinks run $4-$5. On Taco Tuesdays from 6-9 p.m. there are tacos for $2-$3, beer for $4, and margaritas for $5. 

21. The pool at the Arrive Hotel

Lounge by the pool in this hip new hotel celebrating Palm Springs life and design. On Sundays, it's all vinyl and cocktails. Free. 

22. Ruddy's General Store Museum

When online shopping is more normal than not, step back in time and explore a general store which thrived in 1930s. Free admission. 

23. Cheeky's

Experience the most decadent breakfast imaginable with a bacon flight, legendary cinnamon rolls, and breakfast cocktails. $15 and under. 

24. Sunny Dunes Antique District

This is the natural habitat of the great vintage hunters with a stretch of stores celebrating things of yore. Located south of Downtown Palm Springs. Free to browse. 

25. General George Patton Memorial Museum

At the dawn of World War II, Gen. Patton built a famous Desert Training Center in Palm Springs. Explore the history of one of the nation's most famous generals as well as tanks and other memorabilia. $6 adults, $1.50 children (7-12). Active military, American Legion, and VFW members are free (membership card required). 

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