Last Updated on August 11, 2023

Located in the heart of the Coachella Valley, Palm Desert is one of California’s hidden gems.

With its warm weather, stunning natural beauty, and a plethora of things to do and see, it’s no wonder that it has become a top destination for tourists.

If you’re looking for a place to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse yourself in a tranquil desert environment, Palm Desert is the perfect place for you.

Below, some of the top tourist attractions and things to do in Palm Desert.

Palm Desert, California
Palm Desert, California

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

The Living Desert Zoo | Gardens – Palm Desert, California. MUST SEE destination in Coachella Valley. iSTANDFORD.

The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is a unique and must-see attraction for those visiting Palm Desert.

The expansive park spans over 1,200 acres and is home to over 450 different species of animals and 1,500 different species of plants.

The zoo is the perfect place for those who want to get up close and personal with desert wildlife and vegetation.

Visitors can explore the park’s natural terrain on foot or take a guided tour on the park’s shuttle. You’ll see everything from mountain lions and cheetahs to meerkats and camels.

One of the most popular exhibits at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is the African Village, which showcases animals such as zebras, giraffes, and warthogs in a natural setting.

Visitors can also see desert bighorn sheep, Mexican gray wolves, and a variety of bird species.

The park is dedicated to conservation and education, and visitors can learn about the different species of animals and plants that call the desert home.

The park offers a variety of amenities, including food and drink options, restrooms, and shaded areas to rest.

Palm Desert Civic Center Park

Another popular attraction in Palm Desert is the Civic Center Park. This beautiful park is located in the heart of Palm Desert and offers a wide range of amenities for visitors to enjoy.

The park has basketball courts, walking paths, and picnic areas, making it a great place to spend an afternoon with family and friends.

The park also hosts occasional musical performances, providing visitors with the opportunity to relax and enjoy live music in a beautiful setting.

With its lush greenery and stunning mountain views, the Civic Center Park is a tranquil oasis in the middle of the desert.

El Paseo Shopping District

EL PASEO SHOPPING DISTRICT | Things to do in Palm Desert. Desert Brett.

For those who enjoy shopping, the El Paseo Shopping District is a must-visit destination. This stretch of road is lined with fine boutiques, galleries, restaurants, and shops, offering visitors a unique shopping experience.

Visitors can browse through the latest fashion trends, purchase unique souvenirs, or enjoy a delicious meal at one of the many restaurants in the area.

The El Paseo Shopping District is known for its luxury shopping options, but there are also more affordable options available. The free Courtesy Carts make it easy to navigate the area without having to worry about parking.

Visitors can take a leisurely stroll down the street and enjoy the beautiful surroundings while they shop.

McCallum Theatre

Surrounded by palm trees, the McCallum Theatre is one of the premier performing arts venues in the region.

This 1,127-seat theater hosts a wide range of shows and performances throughout the year, including Broadway musicals, comedy acts, classical concerts, and more.

With its state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems, the theater ensures that every performance is an unforgettable experience.

The theater also hosts a variety of educational programs, including workshops and master classes, making it a great place to learn about the performing arts.

Hot Air Balloon Rides

For a truly unique and unforgettable experience in Palm Desert, consider taking a hot air balloon ride. There are several different balloon ride companies in the area, each offering a unique and exciting experience.

As you soar high above the desert floor, you’ll get a bird’s-eye view of the stunning natural beauty of the area, including the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa mountains.

Balloon rides typically last around an hour, and many companies offer champagne toasts and breakfast after the ride. It’s an experience that’s sure to be one of the highlights of your trip to Palm Desert.

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park, Mojave Desert
Joshua Tree National Park, a 45-minute drive from Palm Desert

Just a short drive north of Palm Desert, Joshua Tree National Park is a must-see destination for anyone visiting the area.

The park covers more than 1,200 square miles and is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including desert bighorn sheep, coyotes, and rattlesnakes.

The park is also famous for its stunning geological formations, including granite monoliths and giant boulder piles.

Visitors can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities in the park, including hiking, camping, and rock climbing.

The park’s unique blend of natural beauty and outdoor activities makes it the perfect destination for anyone looking to experience the best of the California desert.

Cabazon Outlets

Located just a short drive from Palm Desert, the Cabazon Outlets is a shopping destination that should be on every shopaholic’s list.

This expansive outdoor shopping center boasts a wide range of stores, including high-end luxury brands such as Prada, Gucci, and Saint Laurent, as well as more affordable options like Nike, Levi’s, and Gap.

With over 180 stores to choose from, you’ll find everything from clothing and accessories to home goods and electronics.

When you need a break from shopping, there are plenty of dining options to choose from at the Cabazon Outlets.

Whether you’re in the mood for a quick bite or a sit-down meal, you’ll find plenty of options to suit your taste buds.

There’s even an on-site food court that features a variety of fast-food options, as well as a Starbucks for your caffeine fix.

Palm Springs Art Museum

If you’re looking for a dose of culture during your trip to Palm Desert, the Palm Springs Art Museum is a must-visit destination.

This impressive museum features an extensive collection of art from around the world, including contemporary art, Native American art, and photography.

The museum’s architecture is also worth admiring, with its modernist design and stunning mountain views.

One of the highlights of the Palm Springs Art Museum is its extensive collection of works by contemporary artists.

The museum features rotating exhibits that showcase the works of both emerging and established artists from around the world.

There are also several permanent collections, including a collection of Native American art and artifacts, as well as a collection of works by renowned artist Henry Moore.

The museum’s stunning architecture is another reason to visit. The building was designed by renowned architect E. Stewart Williams and features a modernist design that complements the surrounding desert landscape.

The museum also features a sculpture garden that is home to several impressive pieces of art.

Indian Wells Golf Resort

If you’re a golf enthusiast, the Indian Wells Golf Resort is a must-visit destination.

This world-class golf resort features two championship courses, the Celebrity Course and the Players Course, as well as a driving range and putting green.

With beautiful views of the Santa Rosa Mountains and lush green fairways, it’s no wonder that it has been rated as one of the top golf resorts in the country.

The Celebrity Course is the crown jewel of the Indian Wells Golf Resort. This 7,000-yard course was designed by renowned golf course architect Clive Clark and features stunning water features, elevated tees, and wide fairways.

The Players Course, on the other hand, is a more challenging course that features tight fairways and strategically placed bunkers.

When you’re not on the course, there are plenty of amenities to enjoy at the Indian Wells Golf Resort.

The resort features a clubhouse with a full-service restaurant and bar, as well as a pro shop where you can stock up on all the latest golf gear.

The driving range and putting green are also great places to practice your swing before hitting the course.

Palm Desert Travel FAQs

When is the best time to visit Palm Desert?

The best time to visit Palm Desert is during the shoulder seasons, which are spring (March-May) and fall (October-November).

During these times, the weather is mild and there are fewer crowds. The summer months (June-August) can be very hot, with average temperatures in the high 90s and low 100s.

The winter months (December-February) can be pleasant, with average temperatures in the mid to high 70s.

What are the most popular activities in Palm Desert?

Some of the most popular activities in Palm Desert include:

  • Golf: Palm Desert is home to a number of championship golf courses, including the PGA West Stadium Course and the La Quinta Resort & Club.
  • Hiking and biking: There are a number of hiking and biking trails in the area, including the Mount San Jacinto State Park Wilderness Area and the Indian Canyons. Opens in a new windowPeakVisorchevron_rightMount San Jacinto State Park Wilderness Area in Palm Desert
  • Tennis: The Palm Springs Tennis Garden is home to the BNP Paribas Open, a major professional tennis tournament.
  • Shopping: El Paseo is a luxury outdoor mall with over 200 stores and restaurants.
  • Art and culture: Palm Desert is home to a number of art museums and cultural attractions, including the Palm Springs Art Museum and the Palm Springs International Film Festival.

What are some tips for planning a trip to Palm Desert?

Here are some tips for planning a trip to Palm Desert:

  • Book your accommodations early: Palm Desert is a popular tourist destination, so it is important to book your accommodations early, especially if you are traveling during peak season.
  • Pack for the weather: The weather in Palm Desert can vary depending on the time of year. In the summer, it can be very hot, so be sure to pack light clothing and sunscreen. In the winter, it can be cooler, so be sure to pack layers.
  • Dress comfortably: Palm Desert is a casual town, so there is no need to pack fancy clothes. Comfortable shoes are a must, as you will be doing a lot of walking.
  • Bring a hat and sunglasses: The sun can be very strong in Palm Desert, so be sure to bring a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself.
  • Stay hydrated: It is important to stay hydrated in the desert heat. Drink plenty of water throughout the day.
  • Take breaks: If you are feeling tired or overwhelmed, take a break from sightseeing and relax in your hotel or at one of the many pools or spas in the area.
  • Explore the surrounding area: Palm Desert is located in the Coachella Valley, which is home to a number of other popular tourist destinations, such as Palm Springs, Indio, and Rancho Mirage. Be sure to explore the surrounding area while you are in Palm Desert.

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