Saturday, 8 June 2019
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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).
Ice skating in the desert? Why not? $7 admission, $30 skate rental. (Must be three years old to skate).
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.
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.
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.
Lounge by the pool in this hip new hotel celebrating Palm Springs life and design. On Sundays, it's all vinyl and cocktails. Free.
When online shopping is more normal than not, step back in time and explore a general store which thrived in 1930s. Free admission.
Experience the most decadent breakfast imaginable with a bacon flight, legendary cinnamon rolls, and breakfast cocktails. $15 and under.
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.
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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