27 Best Things To Do In Palm Desert, California

things to do in palm desert california
Antonia
Antonia 
Updated

Located in the famous and fashionable Coachella Valley, Palm Desert is an upmarket city in California that makes a perfect getaway for visitors who enjoy the finer things in life. The stylish boutiques, luxurious country clubs, and upscale art galleries of the city ensure that tourists will never be without exciting ways to spend their days and nights, and a wealth of different accommodation options mean you will start and end your days in great comfort within easy travelling distance of the main attractions. Below, you can find our list of the best things to do in Palm Desert, California and ensure that your stay is one of the most thrilling experiences of your life.

1. Get in a few rounds at Classic Club


If you’re a fan of golf, then you simply can’t go wrong with a visit to Palm Desert in California. Paying a visit will give you the opportunity to tee-off on a nationally recognised championship course so you’ll have the chance to feel like a real pro. The rest of the facility is just as impressive, with beautiful grounds - complete with waterfalls and lakes - and a stunning 63,000 square foot (5,853 square metres) clubhouse to enjoy.

Classic Club

Address: 75200 Classic Club Blvd, Palm Desert, CA 92211

Website: Classic Club

Opening hours: 6am - 5pm (daily tee times)

Price: Prices vary, call to confirm

2. See the wonderful animals at Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

Living desert
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Dsyrengelas used under CC BY-SA 3.0

A visit to Living Desert Zoo and Gardens will never disappoint, thanks to the wide range of things to see and do in the area. You can explore the specialist gardens, such as the Agave Gardens or the Aviary Oasis, or visit any of the zoo’s many animals - which includes giraffes, zebras, mountain lions and many more besides. In addition, your trip can also have an educational element thanks to the incredible Discovery Center, and you can then relax and reflect on your stay in one of the lovely on-site cafes.

Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

Address: 47900 Portola Ave, Palm Desert, CA 92260

Website: Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

Opening hours: 8am - 1:30pm (daily)

Price: 24.95 USD for adults, 14.95 USD for children

3. Get a full treatment at All About Massage

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Located in the Coachella Valley, All About Massage is a stunning spa that is the perfect choice if you’re in need of a little R&R. From traditional Thai massage to hot stone massage therapy, the range of treatments available is impressive, and a range of specials that run throughout the year can help to keep the price reasonable. Given that All About Massage has been in operation for 19 years, you can visit in complete confidence, and look forward to a professional, highly-relaxing experience whichever treatment you select.

All About Massage

Address: 4121, 74125 CA-111, Palm Desert, CA 92260

Website: All About Massage

Opening hours: Wed - Sun: 10am - 6pm (closed on Mon & Tue)

Price: from 65 USD

4. Enjoy spectacular views on the Hopalong Cassidy Trail


The Hopalong Cassidy Trail in Palm Desert is well worthy of exploration if you’re in the area. You’ll be able to explore the stunning beauty of the area and enjoy views of the valley, with the wildflowers dotted along the 7.4-mile (11.9 kilometres) trail a particular highlight. The trail is not suitable for dog owners but if you’re a fan of mountain biking, then the Hopalong Cassidy Trail should be right at the top of your “to visit” list.

Hopalong Cassidy Trail

Address: 72440 Painters Path, Palm Desert, CA 92260

Website: Hopalong Cassidy Trail

5. Make a splash at Aquatic Center


The Palm Desert Aquatic Centre is the kind of establishment that is genuinely capable of providing something for everyone. You can go for a leisurely swim in the recreational pool, try one of the slides for more high-octane fun, or even take one of the classes - such as restorative yoga - that the centre provides. In addition, the facility also offers a number of “special events”, with the semi-regular “Dive In Movies” events - where visitors are able to see a movie along with select pool access and the ability to patronise concession stands - particularly well-regarded.

Aquatic Center

Address: 73751 Magnesia Falls Dr, Palm Desert, CA 92260

Website: Aquatic Center

Opening hours: 11am - 7pm (daily)

Price: From 6 USD for adults, 4.50 USD for kids

6. Shop till you drop at the chic El Paseo

El Paseo (Palm Desert) 05
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Visitor7 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

El Paseo is Palm Desert’s answer to Rodeo Drive, and offers everything you would expect from a modern shopping-centric location. The shops themselves are incredibly impressive with a huge variety of different high-end options to choose from. When you’ve shopped up a storm, you’ll have the chance to visit one of the cafes or restaurants for a pick-me-up, and again, the options - which include the impressive Pacific Seafood Restaurant - are extensive. To fully complete your visit, do try to find the time to visit one of the amazing art galleries the area has become famous for.

El Paseo

Address: 73472 El Paseo, Palm Desert, Greater Palm Springs, CA 92260-4268

Website: El Paseo

Opening hours: Mon - Thu: 10am - 6pm; Fri - Sat: 10am - 7pm; Sun: 11am - 7pm

7. Enjoy a show at McCallum Theatre for the Performing Arts


When ranked on ticket sales, McCallum Theatre for the Performing Arts is one of the top 50 best performing in the entire world - and if you decide to visit, you’ll quickly understand why this is the case. The theatre, which is located in Palm Desert, has seen performances from superstars such as Lucille Ball and Sarah Brightman, and remains a highlight for those seeking a cultural experience in a beautiful location.

McCallum Theatre

Address: 73000 Fred Waring Dr, Palm Desert, CA 92260

Website: McCallum Theatre

Opening hours: Depends on schedule

Price: as per ticket

8. See fine art pieces at Palm Springs Art Museum

Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture & Design Centerr-Edwards Harris Pavilion 01
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Farragutful used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Palm Springs Art Museum is home to a wide range of artwork, with both permanent and temporary exhibitions available to view. From the “Brave New Worlds: Explorations of Space” exhibition to the Art of the West in the Americas permanent collection, there is plenty to see and appreciate when visiting the museum. Furthermore, the museum also hosts a number of special events - such as lectures and activities - so keep these possibilities in mind when planning your trip.

Palm Springs Art Museum

Address: 72567 CA-111, Palm Desert, CA 92260

Website: Palm Springs Art Museum

Opening hours: Fri - Sun: 10am - 5pm (closed from Mon - Thu)

Price: Depends on time visited; second Sundays are free

9. Check out the Messenger of the Puul statue at Palm Desert Civic Centre


This stunning Curt Mattson statue, which is located at Palm Desert Civic Center in Palm Desert, was completed in 1991. It depicts a Cahuilla Shaman named Puul receiving a message from a guardian spirit, which is represented by an owl. The statue is 9.5 feet (2.89 metres) in height and is made of bronze, though sits atop a concrete base. A truly magnificent piece of artwork that is well worth visiting in-person if you happen to be in the area.

Palm Desert Civic Centre

Address: 43900 San Pablo Ave, Palm Desert, CA 92260

Website: Palm Desert Civic Centre

Opening hours: 5am - 11pm (daily)

10. Enjoy an equine experience at Pegasus Therapeutic Riding


Designed for children and adults with disabilities, Pegasus Therapeutic Riding offers horseback riding experiences that can provide numerous benefits for personal well-being. According to the facility, riding helps to increase mental and emotional health, while also assisting with muscle development. Pegasus Therapeutic Riding has proven extremely popular over the years, and now assists over 200 riders per week and owns more than 10 therapy horses, with riding opportunities available throughout the year as well as occasional special events.

Pegasus Therapeutic Riding

Address: 35-450 B Pegasus Ct, Palm Desert, CA 92211

Website: Pegasus Therapeutic Riding

11. Take to the hiking trails at Cahuilla Hills Park


Located on a mountainside, Cahuilla Hills Park offers incredible breathtaking views over the surrounding landscape. The park is spread over 27.5 acres (11.12 hectares), and features beautiful undeveloped open spaces, picnic pavilions, and even tennis courts - so you’ll never be short of something to do during your visit. In addition, the park also serves as the trail head for the Cahuilla Hills Trails System so if you’re looking to explore the wider area then this park is a perfect place to begin.

Cahuilla Hills Park

Address: 45825 Edgehill Drive, Palm Desert, CA 92260

Website: Cahuilla Hills Park

12. Work on your swing at Palm Desert Golf Academy


If you have always wanted to improve your golf game, then Palm Desert Golf Academy, Desert Willow Resort is the perfect place to start. The Academy provides golf lessons, as well as a number of associated services - such as golf club repair - that will be beneficial to any golfing fan. Impressively, the Academy has sought to provide an expansive approach to improving golf performance, blending expert tuition, video computer swing analysis, and much more.

Palm Desert Golf Academy at Desert Willow Golf Resort

Address: 38500 Portola Ave, Palm Desert, CA 92260

Website: Palm Desert Golf Academy

Opening hours: 6am - 5pm (daily)

13. Enjoy a few cocktails at Desert Fox Bar


Desert Fox Bar is a relaxed, charming bar in Palm Desert that offers a particular emphasis on their range of cocktails. The bar describes its vibe as “retro” so if you’re looking for the perfect blend of the old world with all the modern conveniences of the new, then this could well be the perfect choice. As well as the venue itself, and its great drinks menu, you can also enjoy live music on weekends, or you can enjoy the weather along with your drink by choosing to sit in one of the establishment’s two outdoor patio seating areas.

Desert Fox Bar

Address: 44750 San Pablo Ave, Palm Desert, CA 92260

Website: Desert Fox Bar

Opening hours: 4pm - 2am (daily)

14. Take a tasting tour at Desert Distilling


Desert Distilling is a company that focuses on a simple ethos: creating incredible alcoholic beverages with high-quality, local ingredients. While the company’s wares can be found in a variety of different establishments, its worth visiting the distillery itself thanks to the presence of the popular “tasting room”. Visiting this area gives you the chance to tour the facility and also sample the vodka, American gin, and white gin that has earned the company their stellar reputation.

Desert Distilling

Address:34300 Gateway Dr #100, Palm Desert, CA 92211, USA

Website: Desert Distilling

Opening hours: Fri: 4pm - 8pm; Sat: 2pm - 8pm (closed from Sun - Thu)

15. Step back in time at Historical Society of Palm Desert


The Historical Society of Palm Desert have focused on providing a comprehensive history of the area to its visitors. The story of Palm Desert’s settlement and subsequent history is told through a collection of newspaper cuttings, photographs, magazine archives, and even oral history, all of which provide an impressive and enthralling window into the past. While the entire museum is well worth the visit, the exhibits dedicated to aerial photography of the Coachella Valley is a real highlight that you will undoubtedly wish to study in depth.

Historical Society of Palm Desert

Address: 72861 El Paseo, Palm Desert, CA 92260

Website: Historical Society of Palm Desert

Opening hours: Fri - Mon: 10am - 3pm (closed on Tue - Thu; closed from June - Sept.)

Price: Free

16. Get some fresh air at Civic Center Park

Ducks and heron, Palm Desert civic center park,
Source: Photo by Flickr user Raymond Shobe used under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Civic Center Park in Palm Desert is home to a wide variety of celebrations and festivities, such as the annual Fourth of July and Veteran’s Day celebrations. However, even outside of the big-date events, the Park still has plenty to offer any visitor. The list of amenities available is particularly noteworthy; from baseball fields to picnic pavilions to the skate park, there are countless activities to try for yourself during your visit. Alternatively, for a more relaxing visit, you could simply explore the area on foot, taking in the beautiful rose garden as you do so.

Civic Center Park

Address: 43900 San Pablo Ave, Palm Desert, CA 92260

Website: Civic Center Park

Opening hours: 5am - 11pm (daily)

17. See the latest releases at Palm Desert 10 Cinemas


The Palm Desert 10 Cinemas has garnered a strong reputation for its commitment to providing a range of different movies that are suitable for all tastes. Independent and internationally produced movies are common and sit neatly alongside the latest blockbusters that everyone wants to see. The facility itself is well-designed, and has been particularly praised for its excellent accessibility, and you can make an evening of your visit with food - such as pizza - and beverages available on site.

Palm Desert 10 Cinemas

Address: 72840 CA-111, Palm Desert, CA 92260

Website: Palm Desert 10 Cinemas

Opening hours: Depends on screening times

Price: 11 USD for adults, 7.50 USD for kids and seniors

18. Dine in style at Cork Tree


Cork Tree restaurant in Palm Desert leans in to its locale like few other restaurants. The emphasis on the wonders of California is clear to see throughout, with the menu focusing on meals prepared with local ingredients, and the restaurant’s layout highlighting the fantastic views over the surrounding natural landscape. The bar and lounge areas provide the chance to try excellent dishes such as mini duck confit tacos and parmesan truffle fries or, if you would prefer, an excellent a la carte menu is also available.

Cork Tree

Address: 74950 Country Club Dr, Palm Desert, CA 92260

Website: Cork Tree

Opening hours: Sun - Thu: 4pm - 9pm; Fri - Sat: 4am - 10pm

19. Hit the floor at Copa Nightclub


Copa Nightclub has quickly gained a reputation as the place to be if you’re looking to celebrate a particular event, or simply want to be sure of an incredible evening and fantastic ambience. The nightclub offers everything you would expect from such an establishment; live music, a full bar, and a dance floor that will allow you to let your hair down and enjoy the fantastic vibe. VIP tables are also available, and are well worth considering if you’re looking to add a little something special to your evening.

Copa Nightclub

Address: 244 E Amado Rd, Palm Springs, CA 92262

Website: Copa Nightclub

Opening hours: Wed, Sat: 9pm - 2am; Thu: 5:30pm - 2am; Fri: 8pm - 2am (closed on Thu, Sun & Mon)

20. Have some fun at Get Air Palm Desert Trampoline Park


GetAir Palm Desert is an indoor trampoline park, making it the perfect choice if you’re looking to spend a day bouncing around and having the time of your life. However, GetAir has gone above and beyond the standard trampoline park offerings and provided a range of different options to sample during your visit. For example, you could relax in one of the on-site massage chairs, experience the slackline, or even try out the ninja activities - so there’s truly something for all, making this a family-friendly place to visit that will delight kids both big and small.

Get Air Palm Desert Trampoline Park

Address: 34450 Gateway Dr, Palm Desert, CA 92211

Opening hours: Mon - Thu: 10am - 10pm; Fri - Sat: 10am - 12am; Sun: 10am - 8pm

21. See paintings, sculptures, and photography at Coda Gallery


The Coda Gallery is regularly named as one of the USA’s 25 best galleries and museums, and is thus a worthwhile inclusion on any Palm Desert itinerary. Home to works produced by artists such as Mark Bowles, Ed Branson, David Adams, and Laddie John Dill, the gallery offers an immersive artistic space that is wonderful to explore. What’s more, the gallery can also assist with custom commissions that could be the perfect choice for those wishing to experience a touch of the Coda Gallery in their own homes.

Coda Gallery

Address: 73400 El Paseo Suite B-1, Palm Desert, CA 92260

Website: Coda Gallery

Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 10am - 5pm (closed on Sun)

Price: Varies depending on exhibit

22. Enjoy sweet cold treats at Lappert’s Premium Gourmet Ice Cream & Dole Whip


Since 1981, those visiting Palm Desert have been able to enjoy the delights and delicacies on offer at Lappert’s Premium Gourmet Ice Cream & Dole Whip. While the award-winning ice cream is enough to tempt anyone with a sweet tooth to visit, it’s also possible to try a number of different sweet treats, including date shakes, smoothies, sundaes, soda floats, and many more. The menu combines perfectly with the Palm Desert weather, allowing you to cool down, excite your taste buds, and savour the variety of tastes that are available.

Lappert’s Premium Gourmet Ice Cream & Dole Whip

Address: 130 N Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262

Website: Lappert’s Premium Gourmet Ice Cream & Dole Whip

Opening hours: Thu - Sat: 11am - 10:30pm; Sun - Wed: 11am - 9:30pm

23. Hike the Art Smith Trail


The Art Smith Trail provides the perfect opportunity to explore a mountain landscape. The trail is rated as “difficult” so you may need to take your time - but there’s no denying that the trail will reward you for your efforts. You’ll be amazed at the stunning scenery and views, and will also be able to admire a number of different animals - such as big horn sheep and lizards - as well as an array of mountain flora.

Art Smith Trail

Address: Roy Wilson Memorial Hwy, Palm Desert, CA 92260

Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)

24. Enjoy San Andreas Fault Sunset Jeep Tour


The San Andreas Fault has always flourished in the public consciousness, thanks to a wide variety of movies and TV shows that have featured the fault as a central plot line. This incredible San Andreas Fault Sunset Jeep Tour allows you to see one of the most well-known areas of the USA yourself, which will also treat you to incredible skies and a stunning in-depth exploration of the entire area. The tour takes around three hours in total and is conducted by naturalist guides who provide information about the fault itself, the local flora and fauna, and the history of the Cahuilla Native Americans in the area.

San Andreas Fault Sunset Jeep Tour

Address: Desert Adventures, 74-794 Lennon Place, Suite B, Palm Desert, CA 92260

Website: San Andreas Fault Sunset Jeep Tour

Opening hours: Tours depart approximately 3 hours before sunset

Price: 139 USD for adults, 124 USD for seniors, 114 USD for children

25. Give your dog a real treat at Adams Park


Adams Park is known as one of the most canine-friendly spaces in Palm Desert so you can be certain that you and your four-legged friend will have an incredible time exploring the area. The park covers 27 acres (11 hectares) of land in total, including a number of trails that you’ll definitely want to explore, and the surroundings are absolutely stunning for their natural beauty. If you do venture onto the trails, then your dog will need to be on a leash, but if you’d prefer a little more freedom for your furry friend, then a visit to the Off-Leash Dog Park area should be more than suitable.

Adams Park

Address: 72500 Thrush Rd, Palm Desert, CA 92260

Website: Adams Park

26. Pay homage at the Desert Holocaust Memorial


The Desert Holocaust Memorial in Palm Desert was created by Dee Clements, and features a number of bronze statues as well as information regarding the Holocaust. The entire area has been designed to echo the stories of those affected by the Holocaust, including replica camp-lights of those used at Auschwitz. The atmosphere, as one would expect, is respectful and sombre, and provides the opportunity to learn the human stories behind the worst atrocity in human history.

Desert Holocaust Memorial

Address: Fred Waring St., Palm Desert, CA 92260, United States

27. Get a cup of joe at Wilma & Frieda


Wilma & Frieda is a great place to visit if you’re in the Palm Desert area and looking for a charming place to enjoy breakfast, brunch, and lunch. Focusing primarily on “comfort food”, Wilma & Frieda offers “build your own” omelettes - where you can choose the ingredients to suit your preferences, - pancakes, Belgian waffles, and many similar items, all of which have proven very popular with visitors in the past. As well as the everyday offering, Wilma & Frieda also host occasional special events in the evenings so keep an eye out for these to see if you can plan your trip to coincide.

Wilma & Frieda

Address: 73575 El Paseo #2310, Palm Desert, CA 92260

Website: Wilma & Frieda

Opening hours: 8am - 2pm (daily)

Palm Desert is the perfect break you'll always remember

El Paseo (Palm Desert) 01
Source: Photo by user Visitor7 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

From quiet, contemplative museums to jeep tours with the wind in your hair, every moment you spend in Palm Desert will be more than worth it. Taking the time to experience the varied thrills of this enchanting city, you’ll guarantee yourself a holiday that you’re sure to want to repeat time and again.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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Antonia Kelly is a freelance writer based in Leicester, UK and she enjoys European travel as well as road trips closer to home. Her favourite domestic destinations include Snowdonia and the Brecon...Read more

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