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How To Spend a Perfect Weekend in Palm Springs [2023]

Planning an unforgettable weekend in Palm Springs? Then you can’t miss this ultimate itinerary for the perfect Palm Springs weekend getaway. Let’s get to it!

Palm Springs is a destination like no other, especially if you’re planning a quick escape and looking to relax in the desert for the weekend. It’s also a fantastic stop on a road trip from Los Angeles! While it’s mostly known because of its natural hot springs, there is so much more to do in the area.

From nature hikes to adventure-packed day trips, architecture hunting, and indulging in delicious food and drinks, you’ll definitely get to experience the most memorable weekend in Palm Springs ever. Let’s get the planning started!   

How To Get to Palm Springs

Palm Springs is located in Southern California, around 135 miles from San Diego and 107 miles from Los Angeles. While these two cities are the closest major ones to Palm Springs, you can also get there in a less-than-2-hour flight from San Francisco, Las Vegas, or Phoenix. 

But now to the details, how do you actually get to Palm Springs? 

▶️ If you’re traveling from San Diego, the drive takes around 2 hours and 20 minutes via I-15. In case you’d rather use public transportation, the bus ride takes around 5 hours and costs $50 (there’s no direct bus, so you’ll have a transfer mid-journey).

▶️ You can otherwise take the night Amtrak train, although the journey is quite longer (over 8 hours) and it also includes a transfer. The one-way ticket starts at $58. 

▶️ Coming from Los Angeles instead? Take the I-10 E and you’ll be in Palm Springs in a little less than 2 hours. 

▶️ The Amtrak train takes 2 hours and 40 minutes, price starting at $22, while the bus journey can take from 2 to 3.5 hours and cost between $20 and $50, depending on the schedule and departure point. You can check your options here

The distance from San Francisco to Palm Springs is 486 miles (7.5-hour drive); from Las Vegas it’s 232 miles (4-hour drive), and from Phoenix it’s 269 miles (4-hour drive).

If you’re starting your Palm Springs weekend trip from any other city, and the driving distance is too long for you, you can fly into Palm Springs International Airport, situated 2 miles from downtown. 

Where To Stay in Palm Springs 

LUXURY HOTEL: You can’t miss the Parker Palm Springs if you’re looking for a luxury experience. This hotel has exquisite interiors and top-notch facilities, and it boasts stand-alone villas, pool-side rooms with crisp décor, and secluded bright suites. You’ll want to stay in all of them!

BOUTIQUE HOTEL: Saguaro Palm Springs is a boutique hotel that combines young, stylish, and colorful rooms with a private balcony and great facilities including a pool and a gym. Some rooms even have a garden!

MID-RANGE HOTEL: Ace Hotel is another great mid-range boutique hotel. Not only is it pet-friendly, but you’ll find cozy Western décor, a spa with organic treatments, and a large outdoor pool. 

ON A BUDGET: For budget accommodation, check out Riviera Palm Springs, where you’ll find comfort with a cool retro design and mid-century flair, and a spa where to escape the local heat. 

Best Things To Do in Palm Springs

Admire the Palm Springs Architecture

Palm Springs has stunning architecture, and the contrast of modern buildings with the desert in the background is just surreal. You can’t skip going architecture-hunting during your weekend getaway in Palm Springs!

One of the places you have to check out is the Pink Door! It’s quite popular, so you can expect to find people posing in front of it. Bear in mind that it’s a private home, though, so be respectful!

➤ You can also join a Modern Bike Tour which will take you to the most important and impressive architectural landmarks on a morning bike ride, accompanied by a guide who will tell you the history of the area. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

Tour the Windmills of Coachella Valley

San Gorgonio Mountain Pass, located right at the entrance of Coachella Valley, makes for a great visit. Make sure you take your hat off, though, because it’s very (very!) windy. 

The Windmills of Coachella Valley cover over 5 thousand acres, and are constantly generating power, providing electricity to the entire Coachella Valley, as well as Palm Springs. 

➤ While you can drive by the thousands of windmills, you can also step behind the fence and get up close these wind-making machines on a Palm Springs Windmill Tour. This self-driving tour takes you to to a wind farm to learn about the evolution of wind turbines and walk around the site. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

Take a Day Trip to Joshua Tree National Park

Image of a dirt road with joshua trees on both sides and a mountain in the background, inserted in a post about spending a weekend in Palm Springs

The famous Joshua Tree National Park is only 34 miles from Palm Springs, so it makes for a great day trip. In fact, it’s one of the best day trips from Palm Springs (I personally think it’s THE best one).

This vas protected area (more than 3 thousand square kilometers!) features spectacular desert landscapes and fantastic outdoor activities which include hiking, rock climbing, and horseback riding. If you’re up to it, you can even camp under the stars!   

➤ The Joshua Tree National Park Offroad Tour is a great way to visit the park, especially for the adventurous ones, as you’ll be riding a 4×4 on rugged trails from where you’ll marvel at the Mojave Desert and its unique scenery. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

TIP: If you’d like to spend longer in the national park, check out my post about the ideal Joshua Tree itinerary!

Take a Ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

One of the most beautiful activities to enjoy during your weekend getaway in Palm Springs is riding the Aerial Tramway, which takes you up 8,500 feet as you enjoy incredible panoramic views of the mountains. 

Once you reach the Mountain Station you’ll have the chance to hit some of the hiking trails that depart from there, sit for lunch at one of the panoramic restaurants or get a zillion photos from the observation deck. There are also videos and displays to learn about the construction of the tram, if you’re interested. 

It’s also a great way to escape the heat, as at the top of the mountain you’ll enjoy refreshing cool air so you’re comfortable spending hours gazing at the desert views. 

Opening Hours: Monday to Friday from 10 AM to 8 PM (last tram down at 9.30 PM). Saturday & Sunday from 8 AM to 8 PM (last tram down at 9.30 PM)

Visit the Famous San Andreas Fault

San Andreas Fault hardly needs an introduction. Running 1,200 kilometers through California, this major fructure goes 10 miles into the earth, and you can actually visit the site (one of the sites, actually. Remember it’s very loooong!) while on Palm Springs. 

In fact, San Andreas Fault runs across Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley, so it’s a short drive from downtown to get to this incredible phenomenon. 

➤ You can do so safely and well-informed with the San Andreas Fault Jeep Tour, in which a guide will tell you all about the fault and the region’s geology, as you marvel at the canyons, rock mountains, underground creek, and, of course, the famous fault. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

Stroll Through the Moorten Botanical Garden

The Moorten Botanical Garden and Cactarium is a sample of the desert in just one acre of land. You’ll find spectacular outdoor displays of all sorts of desert plants and trees, as well as cacti, succulents, and 3 thousand other specimens of desert vegetation from all over the world, organized by region.   

You can stroll around the garden, marveling at the amount and beauty of the plants as you learn more about the incredible desert flora. 

Opening Hours: Thursday to Tuesday from 10 AM to 4 PM

Check Out the Palm Springs Art Museum

The Palm Springs Art Museum is a very interesting place to visit, especially if you’re into art but not exclusively! Here you’ll find incredible art exhibitions with over 12 thousand pieces and objects, with works from the current and past two centuries, showcasing not only local art but Native American, Mexican, European, and Mesoamerican masterpieces, as well as photo exhibits. 

The Art Museum, which is the largest cultural place in the entire Coachella Valley, also features two sculpture gardens, a cafe, a theater and a store where you can get your souvenirs. The building itself is architecturally spectacular, and it makes for a really nice afternoon visit on those romantic getaways to Palm Springs. 

Opening Hours: Thursday from 10 AM to 7 PM, Friday to Sunday closes at 5 PM.  
Entrance Fee: $14. Children under 18 enter for free. 

Go on a Hike in Palm Springs

Palm Springs is surrounded by miles and miles of glorious trails you’ll have the opportunity to hike; a paradise for nature lovers! 

From hikes up mountains to desert trails and palm-surrounded ones, some of the best hikes to check out on your Palm Springs couples getaway (what helps bonding more than outdoor adventures?!) are the Araby Trail, the Palm Springs Museum Trail for great views of the city, Andreas Canyon, and the Palm Canyon Trail.  

You can also join a hiking tour to have transportation from and to Palm Springs covered, and enjoy the experience with other travelers. 

➤ The Guided Loop Hike is a 3-hour adventure in which your guide will lead the way on a loop offering astounding views of the desert and canyons. You’ll get snacks and water, and enjoy the leisure hike with stops to appreciate the scenery. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

➤ Why not take hiking to another level with an Indian Canyons Bike and Hike experience? You’ll depart from Palm Springs riding your bike toward Indian Canyons, where you’ll enjoy a fantastic hike before riding back to town. Snacks and water are also included. ➥ BOOK IT HERE

The Perfect Itinerary for a Weekend Getaway to Palm Springs

Let’s check out the perfect itinerary for your family, couple, or girls weekend in Palm Springs. 

Friday Night

Unless you arrive very late at night, you should make the most of the first night in Palm Springs and go out to enjoy its cuisine and some drinks. I highly recommend The Rooster and the Pig, a Vietnamese/American restaurant that serves great veggie egg rolls (among plenty other things!)

Otherwise, you can check out Tac/Quila for Mexican tacos and other goodies. After dinner, enjoy the area’s nightlife by having a cocktail at Toucans, a lounge and cabaret with weekly theme nights, and great entertainment (and a long list of drink options, of course).    


On your first full day in Palm Springs, you’ll start by heading to the awe-striking windmills at the San Gorgonio Pass. These windmills have really become a landmark in the area, and there’s plenty of interesting info to learn when you visit them. 

You should refuel with a good brunch before your next adventures, and I recommend heading back to Palm Springs and into Cheeky’s, where you’ll find American comfort food and fresh juices to keep you running for the rest of the day. 

For the afternoon, you have two options. The first one is to ride the Aerial Tramway all the way up to the Mountain Station, where you’ll have astounding panoramic views of the desert and over 50 miles of trails to hike on. Otherwise, you can visit the Palm Springs Art Museum. Here you’ll find unique architecture and art pieces, varied collections, and native art. 

Of course, you can try to squeeze in both activities in your afternoon if you feel like it, unless you’re on a romantic getaway in Palm Springs and would rather take things slow. 

For dinner you have two equally great choices: if you’re 8,500 feet above Palm Springs (aka you took the tramway), you can dine at one of the two restaurants you’ll find up there, The Pines Café and Peaks Restaurant

If you’re in Palm Springs, you can have mouthwatering pizza at Bill’s Pizza.

After dinner, get dressed up and head to Truss & Twine, a bar with a great atmosphere where you’ll enjoy a fun night out having drinks and enjoying the ambiance. TIP: Get the Fallen Angel or the gin-based Hanky Panky! 


On your last day in Palm Springs, you’ll get to explore its downtown, either on foot, by car, or by bike (most hotels have complimentary bikes for their guests). Be sure to tour around looking for celebrities’ homes, make a photo stop in front of the famous Pink Door, and go wow at all the neighboring houses; they’re incredible!

Then, head to the Moorten Botanical Garden, located only a couple of minutes away from the Pink Door, and stroll around the cacti, succulents, and astounding desert plants. The rest of the day you can just relax by the hotel’s pool or go for a walk around its nearby streets until it’s time to go. 

Alternatively, you can go on a day trip to the gorgeous Joshua Tree National Park, where you’ll have more hiking trails than you could possibly wish for, and the opportunity to go birdwatching and discover the fantastic desert scenery, wildlife, and vegetation. 

Best Restaurants in Palm Springs

Check out the best eateries in Palm Springs to make sure your lunch and dinner are as splendid as the things you’ll do! Don’t forget to note the ones mentioned in the article, they are really good. But for the sake of variety, here are some other amazing places.  

▶️ EIGHT4NINE: This elegant restaurant and lounge features a wide outdoor seating area, as well as a bar and indoor space, and serves a combination of local and international cuisine, with veggie and healthy options. Be sure to check their Crab & Clam Chowder, the Mushroom Risotto, or, if you’re really hungry, their 3-course dinner.    

Location: 849 N Palm Canyon Drive

▶️ Palm Springs Koffi North/South: This cafe has two branches, on the north and south end of Palm Springs, and is very popular for its pastries and delicious baked goods, paired with great organic coffee. You can also get quick bites and a light lunch, or smoothies to go. 

Location (North): 515 N Palm Canyon Drive
Location (South): 1700 S Camino Real

▶️ Miro’s Restaurant: This is a great choice for dining alfresco on their cute patio and enjoying Mediterranean and European cuisine. Here you’ll find seafood, pasta, and vegan/vegetarian dishes, but also traditional meals from several countries, and a large wine menu. 

Location: 1555 S Palm Canyon Drive

▶️ Seymour’s: This cocktail bar is situated within Mr. Lyons Stakehouse, and it serves delicious craft cocktails that go from the all-time classics to wonderful original creations. Don’t miss the mezcal-based Oaxacan Hemingway for a flavor trip to Mexico, or the Dim Mak for a mix of bourbon and scotch with a twist. A wine and beer menu is also available. 

Location: 233 E Palm Canyon Drive  

▶️ Elmer’s Restaurant: This is your spot for mouthwatering brunches, from the classic pancakes with fruit to crepes, hash browns, omelets, and pastries. But Elmer’s Restaurant is also incredibly popular for its large servings and delicious meals, which include burgers, fish & chips, various salads, and skillets. 

Location: 1030 E Palm Canyon Drive 

Best Time to Visit Palm Springs

The best time to visit Palm Springs is during the winter months, from November to April approximately. That’s when the weather will be the nicest, as during the summer the heat can be…well, really hot. If you plan to do outdoor activities or go on day trips, visiting after May can be very uncomfortable. 

On the other hand, January is the wettest month, so if you want days in the sunshine you should plan for any of the other months; Palm Springs boasts over 300 sunny days a year after all. 

Weekend in Palm Springs FAQ

How many days should I spend in Palm Springs? 

2 to 3 days is the ideal amount of time, that’s why it’s a perfect destination for a weekend getaway!

Why is Palm Springs so popular?

Palm Springs is incredibly popular, first and foremost, for its natural hot springs. It was a favorite destination among the Hollywood elite back in the day!  

  • Virginia Bello

    Virginia is a writer originally from Montevideo, Uruguay. She left her career as a TV Producer to gain more freedom and never looked back. She's been traveling the world full-time ever since! Virginia has traveled extensively through Latin America, Europe and Asia. You can currently find her gallivanting through Southeast Asia.

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