Palm Springs Weekend Getaway: How to Plan an Epic Trip

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Relax in a desert oasis on a Palm Springs weekend getaway! Palm Springs, California, is an incredible location to escape from the city and retreat to this little slice of luxury in the Sonoran Desert.

A visit to Palm Springs has something to do for just about everybody. You can book a day at the spa, shop downtown, explore local hikes, relax at the pool, dine at outstanding restaurants, and it is only an hour away from Joshua Tree National Park.

If Palm Springs sounds like the place for you, continue reading. I am spilling the tea on just about everything you need to know about Palm Springs and what unique activities you can add to your itinerary.

Plan the Ultimate Palm Springs Weekend Getaway

Since there are so many amazing things to do in Palm Springs, it’s difficult to give a general itinerary. You can either plan a relaxing Palm Springs weekend getaway or an active one doing hikes or nearby day trips. Or, what we like, is to do a little bit of both.

Either way, I am here to help with the planning by providing tips on all of the must things to do, top places to eat, and where to stay, so you can choose what is best for you and your crew for your trip to in Palm Springs.

Things to Do in Palm Springs

Palm Springs windmills

Shop ‘Til You Drop in Downtown Palm Springs 

Palm Canyon Drive is the “main street” in downtown Palm Springs. A weekend in Palm Springs is not complete without a walk along Palm Canyon Drive.

It’s a lively street where you can find many restaurants, boutique shops, souvenirs, and town events. It’s the perfect spot to spend some time shopping and afterward grab lunch at one of the many restaurants located downtown. 

shopping on Palm Canyon Drive

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Soar over the cliffs of Chino Canyon in the largest rotating aerial tramway in the world! Experience 360 degrees views as you ascend to the top of San Jacinto Mountian.

At the top, you will find two restaurants, a gift shop, nature exhibits, educational documentary theaters, and over 50 miles of hiking trails. Visit the lookout deck and then climb the stairs to Grubbs View Point, where the views are stunning.

It’s about 30 to 40 degrees cooler at the top of the mountain, so it’s a great activity to escape the desert heat during the day.

Moorten Botanical Gardens

Enjoy the magical desert gardens at Moorten’s. It’s family-owned and 1 acre of botanical gardens. They specialize in a variety of cacti and other desert plants. It’s a $5 entrance fee and is located on Palm Canyon Drive. The gardens are also dog-friendly! 

Botanical gardens on palm canyon drive
visit the botanical gardens on palm springs weekend getaway

Museums in Palm Springs

Located in downtown Palm Springs, the Palm Springs Art Museum, has a nice permanent collection of national and international artists. You can also walk and explore their four-acre sculpture garden which features 14 outdoor sculptures and over 60 desert plants.

The Palm Springs Air Museum is a popular and frequently visited museum located at the international airport. The Museum educates and exhibits aircrafts from World War II, Korea, and the Vietnam Wars.  

Things to Do Near Palm Springs

Salvation Mountain

An hour and a half drive from Palm Springs is Salvation Mountain, in the lower desert of Southern California in Imperial County. Salvation Mountain was created by the artist Leonard Knight as a tribute to God.

visit salvation mountain during your palm springs weekend getaway

The colorful and vibrant exhibit is an artificial mountain, that was built entirely from recycled materials, hay, and adobe. Salvation Mountain is free to visit and open daily from 8 am to 5:30 pm.

Jeep Tour to San Andreas Fault

Go on a desert adventure and explore the geology around the legendary San Andreas fault that extends over 700 miles through California.

The San Andreas Fault is where the North American and Pacific tectonic plates touch. The fault has developed underground fissures. These fissures cause water to rise to the surface, which over time have created the many desert oases that are found along Coachella Valley.

jeep tour to san andreas fault

This unique Jeep adventure to the San Andreas fault will drive you in an open jeep through Coachella Valley while you learn more about California’s earthquakes, San Andreas Fault, and the Native American Cahuilla tribe.

Once you reach the San Andreas fault, your knowledgeable guide will direct you into the deep canyons and green oases along the fault. You will get an up-close look at where the Pacific and North American geological plates intersect. The Jeep Tour is a highly rated and popular activity to do when visiting Palm Springs.

To book your Jeep adventure to the San Andreas fault you can visit here.

Play A Round of Golf 

 Palm Springs is known as the golf capital of the world. There are over 100 golf courses in Palm Springs. Some of the highly rated and popular golf courses to practice your swing include: 

  • La Quinta Resort & Club at PGA West: 5 courses
  • Indian Canyons Golf Resort: 2 courses
  • Indian Wells Golf Resort: 2 courses
sunset over golf course in palm springs

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

 A small zoo in Palm Springs that is home to over 500 animals and beautiful botanical gardens.  

Cabazon Dinosaurs

Swing by the popular roadside attraction that features two enormous dinosaurs. One of the coolest things they do is paint the dinosaurs in outfits based on the time of year.

The Cabazon Dinosaurs are about a 20-minute drive from Downtown Palm Springs. They also have a gift shop on-site if you need to update your dinosaur swag. 

cabazon dinosaurs palm springs

Day Trips from Palm Springs

Joshua Tree National Park

Right off the bat, I have to talk about Joshua Tree and why you should make time for it on your Palm Springs weekend getaway. The national park is an hour’s drive from Palm Springs and is definitely worth the trip, especially if you have never been there before.

weekend trip to Joshua Tree national park
Joshua Tree and boulders at Joshua tree national park

Quick Tips on Joshua Tree National Park

  • Address: 74485 National Park Drive Twentynine Palm, CA 92277
  • Hours: The park is open year-round, 24 hours a day
  • Admission: $30 for a 7-day vehicle permit
  • Be prepared there is no cell service throughout the park
  • Bring plenty of water, fill up on gas, pack sunscreen, and bring a hat to protect yourself from the sun

Joshua Tree National Park is famously known for its unique rock formations and the iconic Joshua Tree, which you can find all across the national park. The long trunk and spiky leaves of the Joshua Tree are so unique. They look like they came straight out of a Dr. Suess book.

The outdoor activities at Joshua Tree are endless. You can plan a day of hiking, horseback riding, biking, rock climbing, exploring by car, or even staying the night for some camping.

However, one of our favorite things that we have done at Joshua Tree is to go stargazing at night. Joshua Tree has some of the darkest nights in southern California, making for a great location to view the night sky. On a clear and moonless night, you can easily catch a glimpse of some shooting stars, the big dipper, and if you plan accordingly, possibly the milky way.

stargazing at Joshua Tree National Park

Local Hikes Near Palm Springs

On our last weekend trip to Palm Springs, we wanted to mix things up and explore local hikes in the area that may not be as well known as Coachella Valley Preserve or Indian Canyons.

Mission Creek Preserve and White Water Preserve are both dog friendly, which was a huge perk for us since we had brought our dog along with us. You can pair the two of these hikes together for a great day trip outside of downtown Palm Springs.

Mission Creek Preserve

  • Address: 60550 Mission Creek Road, Desert Hot Springs, CA, US, 92240  
  • Admission: Free 
  • Hours: Dawn to dusk
  • Level of Difficulty: Easy 
  • Total Distance & Hike Time: 3.4 miles and 1-2 hours to complete 
  • Dog Friendly
Hike at Mission Creek Preserve

Mission Creek Preserve is ideal for beginners, families, or a warm-up to start your day of hiking. It pairs well with White Water Preserve, which is another hike that is a 25-minute drive away.

Once you pull off Rt-62, it is a 2.5-mile drive down a sandy, unpaved road to the trailhead. You can only drive 20 mph, so be prepared to budget some extra time getting to the preserve. 

The scenery here is beautiful, with multi-hued mountains, snow-capped mountains in the distance, and a crystal clear stream flowing along the trail. There are some stone buildings that you will see at the beginning of the hike. They are old remnants from a Dude ranch.

Towards the end of the hiking trail, you will come across the Mission Creek Stonehouse. It is a historic structure that you can explore. The stone house exhibits informational displays, picnic tables, and a restroom. 

White Water Preserve Canyon Loop Trail

  • Address: 9160 Whitewater Canyon Road, Whitewater, CA 92282 
  • Admission: Free
  • Hours: 8 am to 5 pm
  • Level of Difficulty: Moderate 
  • Total Distance & Hike Time: 4 miles and 2-3 hours
  • Dog Friendly 
White water preserve hike

The White Water Preserve was one of our favorite hikes that we did in Palm Springs. There are many trails to choose from, but we decided to hike the Canyon Loop. You begin the hiking trail by walking along the White Water River. The river runs between the beautiful San Bernardino and San Jacinto mountains. 

White Water river

As you continue your hike, you climb a mountain of switchbacks until you eventually reach the top for some epic view that overlooks the river wash, Coachella Valley, and the peaks of the San Jacinto Mountains. At the end of the hike, you arrive back at the White Water River, which allowed our pup to cool off and play in the water.

beautiful views at white water river canyon

Where to Eat & Drink During Your Palm Springs Weekend Getaway

Best Place for Coffee: Koffi Coffee

Koffi Coffee is a favorite of ours when visiting Palm Springs. Besides serving up delicious brewed coffee, Koffi Coffee has an incredible outdoor oasis. The courtyard is covered in lush green grass and surrounded by views of the mountains and their gardens. The outdoor area is also dog friendly.

They don’t just have coffee on the menu they also have a selection of pastries, a breakfast sandwich, and an option of a salad or wrap.

Must Go to Brunch Spots


In my opinion, Cheeky’s is the go-to brunch spot in Palm Springs! I was sold on Cheeky’s after finding out they had a bacon flight, which we, of course, had to order.

Since I am not the only person to love Cheeky’s, you can imagine it can get pretty busy on a weekend brunch rush. They do not take reservations, so your best bet to get a table is to arrive early. 

cheeky's bacon flight in palm springs

Wilma & Freida

Wilma & Freida is another popular brunch spot in Palm Springs. They serve comfort food with a twist, such as one of their signature dishes, a thick slice of griddle meatloaf topped with eggs. Or craving something sweet? They have blackberry-crusted French toast, which is basically like bread pudding for breakfast. 

Top Restaurants in Palm Springs

It is honestly so difficult to pick a list of top restaurants in Palm Springs because there are so many to choose from! Every time we visit, we are never disappointed with our meals. 

Workshop Kitchen + Bar

What was once a movie theater almost a century ago, is now a hip and chic restaurant located in the heart of Palm Springs. Workshop Kitchen + Bar serves American cuisine, with dishes made from fresh and local ingredients. 

Rooster and the Pig

Vietnamese American fare, this restaurant always has a line out the door. The Rooster and the Pig do not take reservations, so arrive early or be prepared to wait for a table.


Azucar is a little off the beaten path of Palm Canyon Drive. However, this gem serves up modern contemporary cuisine paired with delicious cocktails. After dinner, head up to Sugar High, their rooftop bar, for more drinks and snacks and enjoy views of the San Jacinto mountains.

Where to Get Dessert in the Desert

If you have a sweet tooth like me, you are always scoping out the best bakery or ice cream shop when visiting a new town. Palm Springs will certainly not leave you disappointed. 

Lappert’s Icecream

If you only have room for one stop for dessert in Palm Springs, make it Lappert’s Icecream. I’m telling you, it is DELICIOUS. We have a Lappert’s near us in Sausalito. Every time we visit, I can’t leave without getting a scoop.

Lappert's Ice Cream

They have so many different and unique flavors to choose from. The Cookie Monster, which is bright blue ice cream with chunks of cookie dough and oreo pieces, is one that I will be ordering again. The Palm Springs location doesn’t just serve ice cream. They also serve smoothies, dole soft serve, and date milkshakes. 

The Date Shake

The Date Shake is the unofficial drink of Palm Springs. It was created in the 1920s and has been a staple of Palm Springs ever since. You will see it on many menus, and each location has its own little twist on how to make the best Date Shake.

The number one spot to get a Date Shake would be Shields Date Garden. However, Shields is about a 30-minute drive from downtown. So another option would be Great Shakes. All of their shakes come with a signature mini donut around the straw. And what is better than an ice-cold shake in the desert heat? 

Where to Stay in Palm Springs

There are numerous incredible options of accommodations for you to stay in during your Palm Springs weekend getaway.

Where to stay in Palm Springs, California

Luxury Hotels in Palm Springs:

Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs

Why Stay Here: If you have stayed in any Kimpton hotel before, then you know that they know how to provide a luxurious experience.

Located in the heart of Palm Springs, the Kimpton Rowan offers many lavish amenities such as in-room spa appointments, a fitness center, multiple restaurants and cafes, bikes for riding around town. And most importantly, a rooftop pool with private cabanas, a rooftop bar, and gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains. They are also dog-friendly.

Book the Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs here

Parker Palm Springs

Why Stay Here: If you are looking for a 5-star experience for your stay in Palm Springs, look no further than Parker Palm Springs.

About a 10-minute drive to Downtown, Parker offers just about anything you can think of in their secluded oasis. Amenities include multiple pools, tennis, croquet, fitness center, yoga, bicycles to explore the area, and multiple top-notch restaurants. 

The Ace Hotel

Why Stay Here: The perfect hotel for a group or bachelor/bachelorette party! The Ace Hotel is a hip and trendy hotel with desert modern decor. You have access to a gym, pool, restaurant, spa, bar, and it’s dog friendly (only small dogs).

Relax with a massage during the day or lounge by the pool. On the weekends the Ace Hotel really turns up. On Sundays there is a DJ at the pool and the Amigo Bar at night has live music, karaoke, bingo, and other special events.

✅ Book the The Ace Hotel Palm Springs here

Budget Friendly Hotels in Palm Springs

Hilton Palm Springs

Why Stay Here: The Hilton Palm Springs offers just about everything you could possibly need for a pretty decent price. You will be centrally located downtown at the foot of the San Jacinto Mountains. The Hilton Palm Springs has a spa, outdoor pool, fitness center, dog friendly, and offers a free shuttle to and from the airport.

Book The Hilton Palm Springs here

Palm Canyon Resort

Why Stay Here: A great budget-friendly option when staying in Palm Springs, especially for families.

Palm Canyon Resort is about a 10-minute drive to downtown Palm Springs. They offer larger rooms with 2 to 3 bedrooms at a reasonable rate. The amenities include spa treatments, a fitness center, an outdoor pool with water slides, and a hot tub.

Book The Palm Canyon Resort here

Intimate Stay at a Small Boutique Hotel in Palm Springs

Talavera Palm Springs

Why Stay Here: I feel like this place doesn’t get as much attention and credit as it should. Talavera Palm Springs is a small boutique hotel in downtown Palm Springs. We stayed here in the past and really enjoyed our time.

Talavera Palm Springs, hotel in Palm Springs

The hotel is small with only 11 rooms. However, that is what makes this place so charming and unique. This bohemian paradise is secluded and each suite has its own private patio with an outdoor jacuzzi.

It’s very romantic and great for couples spending a weekend in Palm Springs! Other amenities include two full swimming pools, tropical gardens, and they are dog-friendly.

Book Talavera Palm Springs here

Airbnb in Palm Springs

Airbnb is also an option when booking accommodations in Palm Springs. I would suggest booking a shared home for a large group or bachelorette party, and selecting one with a pool is a must! Trust me. You will not be disappointed to relax by the pool after a long day of hiking or shopping downtown.

If you are visiting during peak season and having trouble finding an Airbnb available near downtown, another option is to stay in one of the nearby cities. Indio and Cathedral City are close by and have great options for cheaper accommodations.

Additional Activities To Add: Palm Springs Weekend Getaway

  • Coachella valley preserve 
  • Palm Canyon
  • Tahquitz Canyon Waterfall Hike

Where is Palm Springs

Palm Springs is a desert city situated in Riverside County, California, within Coachella Valley.

How to Get to Palm Springs, California

Palm Springs can be planned as a road trip from Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Phoenix. We have made the road trip from San Francisco twice now, and there are plenty of amazing stops along the way.

There’s a purple sand beach, Pfeiffer Beach, in Big Sur. Or wine tasting along California’s central coast in Paso Robles are both great destinations!

Driving Distance to Palm Springs from Closeby Major Cities

  • Los Angeles to Palm Springs is a 2-hour drive
  • San Diego to Palm Springs is a 2.5 to 3-hour drive
  • Las Vegas to Palm Springs is a 4 to 4.5-hour drive
  • Phoenix to Palm Springs is a 4-hour drive
  • San Francisco to Palm Springs is a 7.5 to 8-hour drive

You can also fly to Palm Springs. The Palm Springs airport (PSP) is a small international airport. Depending on where you are coming from, there may be a layover. If flights to Palm Springs International Airport are expensive, you could always opt to fly into LAX and rent a car from there.

Your other options of transportation are to take a train or bus to Palm Springs. Bus routes are offered to Palm Springs from Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Phoenix by either Greyhound or Flixbus. To get to Palm Springs by train there is an Amtrak train station that is a 10-minute drive from downtown. 

Do You Need a Car to Visit Palm Springs?

Downtown Palm Springs is about a 6-minute drive from the airport and is very walkable. There is plenty to do downtown to keep you occupied for a weekend getaway in Palm Springs.

Getting around without a car in Palm Springs can be difficult if you are planning on exploring anything outside of downtown, such as visiting Joshua Tree National Park. If that is the case, I highly suggest renting a car for the weekend.

✅ Check rates & availability for a rental car here

What is the Best Time of Year to Visit Palm Springs

The most popular time to visit Palm Springs is between January to April. During the wintertime, the weather is very pleasant. Most days are in the ’70s to low ’80s, perfect for enjoying a day outdoors.

Summer in Palm Springs starts in May, and it is exactly how you would expect summertime in a desert to be. Very hot! Yes, we’re talking triple digits hot. However, it is a dry heat. There is no humidity, which does make it a lot more tolerable.

My recommendation for the best time to visit Palm Springs would be in the fall, between October and December.

You will still have pleasant weather however, the tourist season has not started yet. There will also be more options for you for booking accommodations at cheaper prices and fewer crowds in downtown Palm Springs.

Bring Your Pup For the Weekend Getaway in Palm Springs 

Palm Springs is very dog-friendly! Every time we visit Palm Springs, we bring along with us our dog Cash who is an English Golden Retriever. He is welcomed with open arms at most of the establishments and gets lots of attention from other visitors and locals.

Most of the things on this list you can do, except the tramway, with your four-legged friend. There are so many dog-friendly hotels in Palm Springs as well. You should have no problem booking your Palm Springs weekend getaway with your dog. 

bringing your dog to joshua tree national park

Do you also like traveling with your pup? Discover more dog friendly itineraries in California. Such as visiting Death Valley, Half Moon Bay, or Stinson Beach.

Pros and Cons of Planning a Palm Springs Weekend Getaway

Pros of Visting Palm Springs

  • A visit to this desert oasis always leaves us feeling rejuvenated and relaxed.
  • 300 days of sunshine
  • Lots of outdoor activities to partake in.
  • A very dog friendly town.
  • Reasonable prices for accommodation
  • Perfect location for getting some needed sunshine in the winter months.

Cons of Visiting Palm Springs

  • Hot summers with temperatures in the triple digits
  • Not the best option for public transportation. You either need to rent a car or plan on staying in downtown Palm Springs

Where to Next in California

Looking for inspiration for your next road trip or long weekend vacation in California? Check out these California hidden gems:

How to Get to Death Valley: A Must Read Guide
Pfeiffer Beach is More Than Just the Purple Sand Beach
The Best Day Trip to Half Moon Bay, California
18 Awesome Things to do in Pescadero, California

In Conclusion: Palm Springs Weekend Getaway

There you have it, everything you need to know to plan the perfect Palm Springs weekend getaway! Palm Springs offers a little bit of everything, which is why it’s one of our favorite places to escape to during the fall and winter months.