See what makes Palm Springs, California a bucket list destination for those who love the outdoors, mid-century design, endless sunshine, or a day spent by a resort pool. Are you looking to explore the amazing vacation spot of Palm Springs but have only 4 days in Palm Springs and are wondering where to go first? I have you covered! Even if you only have a few days to visit, you can still explore the must-see spots of this desert oasis.
Because there is so much to see and do, you may need a bit of guidance on what exactly you can fit into your Palm Springs trip. Read on for my itinerary for the perfect 4 days in Palm Springs.
4 Days in Palm Springs Itinerary
Day 1 | Explore the Neighborhood on Bikes and Take the Aerial Tram
Stop 1: Rent Bikes from your Hotel
The best way to see Palm Springs is on a bike! It’s very common for hotels and AirBnb’s in Palm Springs to have complimentary bike rentals for their guests. Definitely take advantage of this perk!
Start your morning cruising downtown on your bike to the best local coffee shop in town – Koffi. Pick up your favorite caffeinated drink and get ready to explore Palm Springs.
The city is very bike friendly. You can see the full map of bike routes here. I recommend the Downtown Tour for a quick and scenic ride!
I had the pleasure of staying at the beautiful Kimpton Rowan in downtown Palm Springs! The Rowan had a set of stylish complimentary beach cruisers for guests to borrow. Their location was very bike friendly. I’ll be sharing more details on this fabulous Kimpton property later on in this guide.
Stop 2: See the Colorful Doors of Palm Springs
Did you know that Palm Springs is famous for its doors? Yes, you read that right – doors! You can find bright cheery doors in every color of the rainbow in Palm Springs.
Palm Springs is THE place to visit for lovers of mid-century architecture and modern design. Even if mid-century architecture isn’t your style, trust me when I say these homes are still a must see in Palm Springs.
You’ll want to explore the Indian Canyon neighborhood for the best colorful doors. Indian Canyon is a 10 – 15 minutes bike ride from downtown. If you’re going by bike, or by car, go in the morning, or an hour before sunset. The afternoon brings harsh lighting and higher temperatures!
All of the addresses for my favorite doors in Palm Springs are pinned at the end of this guide. Please keep in mind that these are people’s homes and do not trespass on their property. Stick to the sidewalk!
Stop 3: Vintage Shopping
Thanks to Palm Springs’ reputation as a Hollywood retreat for celebrities and mecca for mid-century modern design, you’ll find the best vintage shopping in the US here! Even the local thrift shops are top notch – compared to what you might find back home.
North Canyon Drive has an impressive selection of vintage shopping including The Frippery (clothing) and a La MOD (furniture). For thrifting the best spot is Antiques Galleries of Palm Springs. This two-story store has one-of-a-kind pieces of clothing, furniture, decor, and jewelry – just waiting for you to discover!
For a full list of unique vintage shopping you can visit this link here.
Stop 4: Take the Aerial Tram
Looking for a fun way to cool down that isn’t a pool? Hop aboard the Palm Springs Aerial Tram for a 30-40 degree temperature drop and the spectacular views of the Coachella Valley.
Taking the Aerial Tram is one of the most popular things to do in Palm Springs! I was a bit skeptical at first, but after my visit, I can agree it’s absolutely worth carving time out in your day to enjoy. Below are helpful tips for the Palm Springs Aerial Tram.
Aerial Tram Tips
- Bring layers! You’ll experience a 30-40 degree temperature swing from the base to the mountain top. From December – March it’s even normal to have snow at the top!
- To see the weather at the Mountain Top in advance you can go to this link here.
- You can bring strollers, backpacks, or food on the tram. At the top, they have plenty of picnic benches with gorgeous views and dining options. You can view all their dining options here.
- Don’t stress about getting the best viewing spot on the tram. The tram car floor slowly rotates to give everyone a 360 view of the surroundings!
- Parking is $12 and Tram Tickets can be purchased on site, or online in advance here.
Stop 5: See an Iconic Visitor Center
Even if you don’t need any information, the Palm Springs Visitor Center is worth a stop to admire its one-of-a-kind retro facade! This mid-century modern building was previously a gas station from 1965. Fortunately, the building was saved from demolition and repurposed as the Palm Springs Visitor Center.
The Visitor Center is located near the Aerial Tram right as you enter Palm Spring. I couldn’t think of a more perfect mid-century modern building to welcome you as you enter the city of Palm Springs!
Open seven days a week, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas).
Day 2 | Hop on an Unforgettable Jeep Tour and Discover the Art Scene
Stop 1: Explore the California Desert on a San Andreas Fault Jeep Tour
See why this jeep tour is rated the top outdoor activity in Palm Springs! A Desert Adventures Red Jeep Tour was the perfect mix of adventure, history, and geology. If you only do one thing from this guide, make it a Red Jeep Tour.
A naturalist guide will be your driver in your open – air jeep as you explore the beauty of the desert landscape. We booked the 3-hour San Andreas Fault Bones of the Earth 4×4 Jeep Tour and loved our guide Bill.
What’s so special about the San Andreas Fault?! The San Andreas Fault is the place where two tectonic plates touch, the North American and Pacific Plates. It’s the most famous fault in the world – thanks to the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. Your guide will share more interesting facts about the area ….and who knows you might feel a shake or two!
The San Andreas Fault Bones of the Earth tour takes you to a gorgeous natural Palm Oasis and villages of the Cahuilla people. The tour can be modified if your group prefers more/less hiking. Water and cold towels are also provided.
Stop 2: Happy Hour at a Local Hot Spot
Ever wonder where the locals go for a drink in a place as popular as Palm Springs? Just ask any Palm Springs local, and they’ll tell you the best happy hour is at Blue Coyote – and they are so right!
Monday – Thursday you can pull up a chair at the bar from 3:00-5:00 for half – off margaritas, beer, wine, and bar food. Don’t miss their famous Wild Coyote Margaritas.
Stop 3: Discover the Palm Springs Art Museum
To fully appreciate the art and culture scene of Palm Springs, a visit to the Palm Springs Art Museum is a must do! Their museum has three floors of modern and contemporary art. It’s the largest cultural institution in the Coachella valley with over 12,000 pieces!
We covered the museum’s three floors of painting, photography, and sculpture in under an hour. Depending on your interests, you might want to allocate more time.
The museum is in the heart of downtown Palm Springs. General Admission is $14, but I recommend coming on Thursday’s evenings when the museum is free. No reservations are required for the free entrance on Thursday between 5:00-7:00.
You can view their opening hours and upcoming evenings online here.
Stop 4: Checkout Village Fest (Thursday’s Only!)
In Palm Springs, Thursday is the new Friday! Make sure one of your 4 days in Palm Springs is on a Thursday! Every Thursday the streets of downtown Palm Springs are closed for vehicles and transformed into VillageFest. Over 200 local vendors’ stalls line the streets selling handmade jewelry, pottery, painting, fresh produce, sweets, and so much more!
VillageFest has been a Palm Springs tradition for over 30 years! This market draws a mix of visitors and locals who are looking for a fun evening out. We loved walking around the different stalls, enjoying the live music, and all the people watching!
From October through May, Palm Springs VillageFest is held every Thursday night from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. In the summer months, between June and September, VillageFest starts at 7 p.m and ends at 10 p.m.
Day 3 | See the Windmill Up Close and Watch Sunset at an Magical Location
Stop 1: Drive your Car through a Working Wind Farm
The wind turbines are one of the first landmarks that welcome you to the Coachella Valley! Palm Springs Windmill Tours is the only tour company that allows you unique access to these windmills that you won’t find anywhere else!
The most popular tour at Palm Springs Windmill Tours is the self-driving tour you take from the comfort of your own car. We loved how easy it was to navigate the tour in our car. While you’re on the tour, you can always hop out to take pictures of the windmills.
The tour is guided via an app that you download on your phone. You’ll stop along 10 different areas to learn interesting facts about wind energy and the evolution of wind turbines. It takes around 1 hour to complete.
The self-driving tour is $49 per car. Reservations can be made on their website here.
Stop 2: Sip on a Date Shake!
Known as the “Date Capital of the World,” the Coachella Valley supplies about 95 percent of the country’s dates. When dates were first introduced to the Coachella Valley, everyone was a bit skeptical. To help market dates to the American audience, they added them to milk shakes!
The title of the “Best Date Shake in Palm Springs” is always up for debate. However, if you take the Palm Springs Windmill Tour, pop into the Windmill Market to try their date shake. Made with in-house pureed dates and real ice cream, during one of your 4 days in Palm Springs make sure you try a date shake!
Stop 3: Celebrity Mid-Century Homes
Palm Springs has been a retreat for Hollywood celebrities dating back to the 1920’s! Even modern day celebrities like the Kardashians and Leonardo DiCaprio have homes in Palm Springs.
Below are a few of the celebrity homes we stumbled across in Palm Springs. All of these are located close to downtown. It’s fun to drive by these homes to imagine their original owners like Frank Sinatra, or Ronald Reagan pulling into their driveway.
All locations with addresses are linked in the map at the bottom of the guide!
Stop 4: Visit Joshua Tree for Sunset
Known for its boulders and whimsical trees, Joshua Tree is the most popular National Park in Southern California! It’s under an hour drive from Palm Springs, and worth the trip to see this one-of-a-kind desert landscape.
All locations in Joshua Tree are pinned at the bottom of this post. Once you’re in Joshua Tree National Park there is no cell service. Plan your hikes and where you want to see in advance!
The best sunset in Joshua Tree is at Keys View. At the top of Keys View you’ll have a panoramic lookout of Joshua Tree and the Coachella Valley. Parking is available at the viewpoint, and you’re a short walk to a paved path leading up to the viewpoint.
Best Joshua Tree Hikes for First Time Visitors
Cholla Cactus Gardens
The Cholla Cactus Gardens (pronounced choy-uh) is one of the most unique desert plants in Joshua Tree. The trail is a simple loop around the cholla cactus. As beautiful as these cacti look, do not approach them! They’re nicknamed “jumping cactus” because if you get too close, a segment will break off and latch onto your body!
Danger aside, the Cholla Cactus gardens is a beautiful place to visit during sunset. During sunset, the lighting will create a stunning golden color around the cacti that will make your photos pop.
Tucked away in a large boulder field is Arch Rock! It’s an easy .05 loop, but be sure to start the loop counter clockwise.
From the trail you won’t be able to see the arch, but scramble over a few boulders, and you won’t miss it! If you want to climb to the base of the arch – the views are gorgeous!
This one-mile loop is perfect for highlighting all of the natural features that Joshua Tree National Park is known for, like Joshua Trees, boulders, and yucca. This is a great hike if you want to see hundreds of Joshua Trees and massive boulders! The trail is ideal for a beginner hiker and clearly labeled.
Unlike most Joshua Tree trails, Hidden Valley has some shade to protect you from the sun! A great option especially if you’re visiting during summer as we did.
Day 4 | Hike in an Desert Oasis and Pool Time
Stop 1: See the Untouched Beauty of Indian Canyons
See firsthand how “Palm Springs” got its name! At Indian Canyons you can visit the streams that feed into a gorgeous palm oasis. Most people don’t actually realize how lush and beautiful Palm Springs is before seeing Indian Canyons!
Indian Canyons is a short 15 minute drive from downtown Palm Springs. General admission is $12 for adults. Hours vary depending on the season and can be found here. Two hikes I recommend are the Andreas Canyon Trail and Palm Canyon Trail.
Andreas Canyon Trail
The Andreas Canyon Trail is a beautiful hike where you’ll wander through groves of California fan palms. You’ll feel like you’re in a jungle instead of a desert!
You’ll get the best views of the palm oasis first when you head down into the valley. The second half will be less shade, but all downhill. On your way down, you’ll be walking towards the palm oasis for better views compared to the oasis being behind you if you start around the canyon rim. The loop is just under two miles.
Palm Canyon Trail
After entering the Indian Canyons, continue on the main road for about 2.5 miles to the Trading Post. Park in the spaces provided and follow the signs down the canyon to the trailhead.
Make your way down the trail to find groves of beautiful palm trees!
Stop 2: Explore a Gorgeous Botanical Garden
Visit the arboretum where the founders designed landscape for the stars! The Moorten Botanical Gardens is a 1-acre arboretum that has over 3,000 different varieties of desert plants! The founders of Moorten Botanical Gardens provided landscaping for stars like Walt Disney and Frank Sinatra at their desert homes!
Don’t miss the Cactarium! A Cactarium is a word that was coined by that founders, that’s a greenhouse filled with rare cacti and succulents. The Cactarium is one of the most popular photo spots in Palm Springs that captures the desert aesthetics of Palm Springs perfectly.
The Moorten Botanical Garden is $5 to enter. They’re closed during July and August. You can view the current hours on their website here.
Stop 3: Have a Pool Day
After 4 days in Palm Springs, spend an afternoon unwinding by the pool. With an average of 350 days of sunshine a year, Palm Springs is a year round pool destination!
The Kimpton Rowan is the only rooftop pool in Palm Springs. The San Jacinto mountain views and desert landscape from this rooftop pool are stunning. Retreat to their trendy rooftop terrace and sip on a cold cocktail poolside or snack on the ceviche of the day from the High Bar.
More information on day passes and cabana rentals at The Kimpton Rowan can be found here.
The Perfect Hotel in Palm Springs
For a luxury experience with unparalleled hospitality, the Kimpton Rowan is the perfect place to call home for 4 days in Palm Springs. With a location in the heart of downtown, luxury amenities, and gorgeous rooms it’s no surprise that The Rowan is one of Palm Springs best hotels.
Sleeping at The Rowan
The rooms are chic and spacious in a palate of white and blue, with nods to Palm Springs’ mid-century design. The luxurious marble bathroom is a showstopper with a spa-style shower, complete with Atelier Bloem bath products.
The balcony views from your room of the San Jacinto mountain range look straight out of a postcard. Order a bottle of champagne and watch the sun dip below the mountains casting a golden glow on the city.
No detail is left behind at The Kimpton Rowan. All rooms include a bathrobe, slippers, and yoga mat. You’ll love the convenient USB plugs and outlets at each of the bedside tables.
Take a look in your closet for something fun! It’s called a “closet smile item”. All Kimpton properties incorporate a quirky local touch into its closets that will make guests smile when they see it. The green camel at the Rowan is a tribute to an old city law that prohibited anyone to ride a camel down Palm Canyon Drive between the hours of 4:00pm and 6:00pm. Needless to say, it made me smile – but sadly no camels were spotted on the roads this trip!
Amenities at The Rowan
An evening social hour with complimentary wine and local beer is held in the lobby everyday from 4-5 p.m. Complimentary coffee is also served in the mornings. As a side note, the lobby at The Rowan is gorgeous! It has high ceilings and plenty of locally inspired decor. The perfect place to sit down and enjoy a glass of California wine.
Complimentary beach cruises are available for guests. Bikes are the most popular in the morning. They’re available on a first come first serve basis from sunrise to sunset.
Did you leave something at home? A toothbrush or makeup remover? The Kimpton has you covered with their convenient and complementary essential travel items they keep on hand for guests.
Pool at The Rowan
The pool at The Rowan was the first rooftop pool in Palm Springs. You’ll enjoy the best 360 degree views of Palm Springs at their gorgeous and photogenic pool.
What’s pool time without a cocktail? The High Bar has an impressive list of craft cocktails and small bites to enjoy.
Guests are able to rent poolside cabanas which range in price and depends on the day and the season you’re visiting. More information about their cabana rentals can be found here.
Dining at the Rowan
Gorgeous rooftop restaurant. The dishes are created to be shared at your table, with a menu taking inspiration from countries all around the Mediterranean from Europe to Western Asia to North Africa. 4 Saints is open for dinner only.
Serving Mediterranean-inspired snacks, sandwiches, and salads using organic and local ingredients. Juniper Table is open for breakfast, lunch, and early dinner (the restaurant closes at 9 p.m.).
Great Places to Eat with 4 Days in Palm Springs
Where to Brunch
A chic dog friendly restaurant with a spacious patio. Their brunch menu has your favorite brunch staples with a unique twist. Order the churro french toast or the poke avocado toast. For our four-legged friends, Boozehounds has a dog friendly menu with snacks, treats, and bowls.
Grandma’s cooking with a sophisticated twist. Wilma and Frieda’s is a family-run restaurant that’s a local Palm Springs favorite. Wilma and Frieda’s is open everyday from 8a-2p, and they do not take reservations. A must try are their homemade pop tarts filled with real fruit and drizzled with frosting and sprinkles.
Two words… Bacon Flight. Cheeky’s brunch is beloved for their signature bacon flight. The smoked applewood bacon was my favorite, but you can try flavors as unique as eggnog (seasonal!), or coffee! It’s common to see a line at Cheeky’s at all times of the day. Don’t let the line scare you away – I promise it moves fast!
Where to Lunch
My favorite Palm Springs restaurant! Step through the fence gate and transport yourself to southern France with an authentic Provençal-inspired menu in a picturesque location. Everything at The Farm is made fresh. Order their watermelon lemonade and sweet or savory crêpes. Reservations are available for lunch, or dinner!
An authentic New York Deli in the heart of the desert. Famous for their fresh bagels, pastrami sandwiches, and homemade desserts. Looking for something unique? Try their Beef n’ Latkes – pastrami made into a sandwich in between their famous homemade potato latkes in place of bread.
Two of Palm Springs most popular chefs, Willie Rhine and Chad Gardner, teamed up and opened this fabulous restaurant. There’s something for everyone on the menu at 1501 Uptown Gastropub! Don’t miss their mesquite tri tip sandwiched between two pieces of homemade focaccia.
Great ambiance with an incredible menu! Everything we tried at Tac/Quila was fantastic. A must try is their margarita flight with flavors like mint, guava, prickly pear, and avocado. Order the nachos topped with steak to share and choose a few of their flavorful street tacos. Save room for their churro ice cream sandwich.
If you have a floral print, or brightly colored outfit, the Tropicale is the place to wear it! The Tropicale is reminiscent of a Miami supper club that will make you feel as if you’ve been transported to Havana.
The menu has influences from all over the world. The cocktails here are large and strong, with happy hour all day Wednesday. Order the Thai grilled chicken satay, crispy chicken shrimp, or the Mediterranean hummus with tabbouleh and warm pita.
We missed trying Birba this trip, but it’s at the top of my list for the next time we visit. The majority of their restaurant has patio seating shaded by trees and twinkling white lights. Come here for their homemade pasta and wood-fired pizza. Reservations are highly recommended!
Helpful Tips for Planning your 4 Days in Palm Springs
How to get to Palm Springs
Palm Springs has a gorgeous newly renovated airport Palm Springs International Airport (PSP). More airlines are expanding routes here by offering nonstop service directly into PSP from major airports across the U.S. The Palm Springs Airport is a favorite amongst travelers who want to get in and out in a quick stress-free experience.
If you want time in the Los Angeles area before your trip to Palm Springs, it’s an easy drive from the LA area. Palm Springs is located just about 2 hours from everywhere in LA. Hop on the I-10 East, and even with an essential In-N-Out Burger stop, you’ll be there in 2 hours.
How to get around Palm Springs
You’ll need a car for Palm Springs. Most of the hotels have a required “resort fee” that includes parking. Unlike LA, you won’t need to pay extra to park your car at your hotel. The Kimpton has complimentary valet parking included as part of their resort fee, which is a perk we loved! Once you’re in Palm Springs, parking is free downtown and at most restaurants.
What’s the weather like in Palm Springs?
Endless sunshine! The sun shines in Palm Springs over 350 days a year. I can almost guarantee you during one of your 4 days in Palm Springs, the sun will be shining. It’s a year round outdoor destination for hiking, golfing, and pool weather! The low desert humidity means you’ll experience cooler temperatures in the morning and evening.
Peak season is from late December to April, when the snowbirds arrive from Canada and the colder parts of the US. The shoulder season is from Memorial Day to Labor Day as the temperatures start to climb upwards of 105°F (40°C) during the day. During, December – March the temperature hovers around a comfortable 70°F – 80°F (21°C – 26°C).
We visited in early June, and despite the increase in temperature, we loved visiting during this time of year . It was definitely warm during, but the secret is to plan your hikes and any outdoor activity during the morning. During the summer, the weekdays are quiet with minimal tourists, and it’s much easier to make restaurant reservations.
Map to Plan your 4 Days in Palm Springs
Below you can find a customized map with pinned locations of everything you need to visit in Palm Springs.
If you open up this post on your phone and click on the bracket in the upper right corner, it will open in the Google Maps app. This convenient map will save you so much time and help you efficiently plan your 4 days in Palm Springs.
4 Days in Palm Spring Wrap Up
Your itinerary is set for your 4 perfect days in Palm Springs! You can alter these recommendations for how many days you’re in Palm Springs. One thing is for sure, you’ll always leave wanting to come back! Palm Springs is growing now more than ever, and there is no better time to start planning your vacation.
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