As California mitigates health risks during the COVID-19 pandemic, some travel restrictions may remain in certain communities. Call the local and regional tourism offices to learn more about the restrictions in your intended destination. Thank you for reading, and stay safe.
Lured by a burning desire to escape reality and head to the desert for a camping getaway, play a round (or two) of golf, or unwind at an enviably luxurious vacation home? If so, then Palm Springs is calling (y)our name. So, it's time to pack your bags, fasten your seatbelt, blast those road trip tunes, and hit the road. When you arrive, there are the most unique things to do in Palm Springs.
1. The Palm Springs Art Museum
Founded in 1938, the Palm Springs Art Museum boasts impressive artistic and architectural collections. See gorgeous and renowned artworks by Andy Warhol and Marc Chagall, architectural wonders by Albert Frey and E. Stewart Williams, and rotating exhibits and displays. As you explore the museum, take note of the unique architectural drawings, paintings, photographs, historical objects, and ephemera.
2. Moorten Botanical Garden
The Moorten Botanical Garden may be smaller than other gardens in the region, but what it lacks in size it makes for with its wide variety of prickly cacti and other plants native to the region—it's one of the best California desert attractions for a reason. Founded in the 1930s, the family-owned and -operated garden is brimming with more than 3,000 species of desert plants from all over the world. Explore the one-acre garden showcasing over a dozen arid biomes, brightly colored rocks, sparkling crystals, ancient fossils, and gold mining relics. Make sure to stop by the Moorten family home, labeled as Cactus Castle, and admire thousands of plant species.
3. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is the largest rotating tramway in the world, making it a must-do activity when visiting the region. Go for a ride through the alpine forest at an elevation of over 8,5000 feet to take in optimal aerial views of the Coachella Valley. You'll face a significant temperature drop as you ascend, so be sure to bring a jacket with you.
4. The Living Desert Zoo And Gardens
Feed the giraffes, ride the camels, pet the goats, and get an up-close view of all the animals you could ever imagine at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. This destination is home to more than 1,400 species of plants—including cacti, pears, and agave—as well as hyenas, cheetahs, leopards, pythons, zebras, meerkats, warthogs, and the famous desert bighorn sheep. While you're there, pet kraal, feed a giraffe, observe butterflies and hummingbirds, and learn more about the gardens' conservation efforts and how you can become a part of the movement to save endangered species.
5. The Palm Springs Air Museum
This living history museum is dedicated to educating the public on the important role aircraft had when it came to protecting American liberties and way of life during wars. The Palm Springs Air Museum showcases more than 40 combat aircraft that'll be sure to catch the eye of any history buff. See flight birds from World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War—plus fighter jets such as the B-17 and F-4—during your tour.
6. Ruddy’s General Store Museum
Ruddy’s General Store Museum is a nostalgic tribute to the 1930s era when the sparsely populated Palm Springs and remaining parts of the Coachella Valley were in dire need of general stores. The small, single-room general store was perfectly recreated and is now decorated with original fixtures, signs, and products. Prepare to be amazed by the 6,000-plus items—which include groceries, tobacco, hardware, clothing, medicine, and soaps—that take you back in time.
7. Palm Springs Windmills
Thousands of windmills greet you at the San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm—the windiest part of California. Join Palm Springs Windmill Tours for an interactive, engaging tour of the first commercial wind farm in the U.S. The tour also continues through a solar farm and ends with a stop at an old gas plant. The wind turbines produce massive electric power to the Coachella Valley. During the trip, snap photos and get a close-up look at the windmills to study their mechanisms.
8. Palm Springs Celebrity Tours
Palm Springs was once known as "Hollywood's Playground." Book an excursion with Palm Springs Celebrity Tours to experience life through the rose-colored glasses of Hollywood's starlets. Discover famous neighborhoods, secret spots, and the wondrous homes claimed by legendary stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Nat King Cole, and Elvis Presley. You'll also have a chance to visit the burial sites of Sinatra and Sonny Bono while on the tour.
9. Cabazon Dinosaurs
If you're looking for weird things to do in Palm Springs, the Cabazon Dinosaurs have you covered. The 100-ton Brontosaurus and T.Rex sculptures were first displayed in an attempt to attract customers to the Wheel Inn Restaurant in 1958. They certainly caught people's attention, and now, the quirky desert art attraction is a can't-miss site. (Most of you may recognize these giants from their famous appearance in the comedy Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.)
The creatures that once roamed the earth now guard the entrance to the dino museum. Pose for a quick photo op outside or enter the "belly of the beast" to pick up your favorite souvenirs. California is home to many weird attractions, but this Palm Springs destination is bound to exceed your expectations in every way possible.
This large, peculiar yard featuring outdoor sculptures is without a doubt one of the most unusual things to do in Palm Springs. The towering robots scattered around the landscape were all created from discarded electronics, making you feel as though you're in an alternate universe—some might even compare the experience to spotting UFOs or alien-like figures. Although Robolights was originally meant to open only in the winter (hence the Christmas-themed installations), visitors can now take a tour of the yard year-round. Complete with contemporary art displays and twinkly lights, Robolights is definitely one of the weird things to do in Palm Springs that you won't want to miss.
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