Palm Springs, California is a sun-drenched desert oasis. Drawn by its temperatures, attractions, dining, relaxed pace, wellness, natural wonders, and plenty of houses for rent in Palm Springs, we visit the area regularly. Nestled at the base of the majestic San Jacinto Mountains, the backdrop is picturesque and located approximately 110 miles southeast of Los Angeles and 140 miles northeast of San Diego, it’s an easy two hour drive by freeway. There are plenty of bucket list options in Palm Springs, but these top our Palm Springs bucket list.
Palm Springs Bucket List
Where to Stay
The options for accommodations in Palm Springs are diverse, but if you’re looking to fulfill your Palm Springs bucket list, private luxury retreats are the way to go. Nothing says luxury like your own private heated pool, outdoor fireplace, and chef services. You could spend your entire vacation at your luxury Palm Springs hideaway and I’m sure you’d still cross off more than a handful of bucket list items. This is, after all, where stars like Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe retreated to escape their hectic schedules.
If you’re looking for other amazing boutique hotels in Palm Springs, our friends over at San Diego Explorer have a list of the 10 Best Boutique Hotels in Palm Springs.
Where to Play
The Living Desert
The Living Desert is a remarkable zoo and botanical garden representing the desert environments of North America and Africa. With over 1200 protected acres, 450 wild animals, kids’ play park, tranquil gardens, model train exhibit, hiking trails, tram rides and more, visitors experience an oasis of desert fun. There’s a large butterfly exhibit, camel rides, giraffe feeding, live animal shows, nature walks, and dinosaur shows. Top off the excitement with a ride on the carousel and you have a full day of fun for the whole family.
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
Palm Springs Aerial Tram offers a breathtaking journey aboard the world’s largest rotating tram. Traveling up the sheer cliffs of Chino Canyon, a 10-minute ride from the Valley Station brings you to the Mountain Station. Here, you’ll marvel at the spectacular views while visiting the gift shops, a natural history museum, and Mt. San Jacinto State Park. There are 54 miles of hiking trails located within the park and all trails are accessed by exiting the Tram’s Mountain Station and descending a concrete pathway approximately .3 miles to Long Valley. In Long Valley, there are picnic tables, water, a Ranger Station, flush toilets, and some easy trails. Whether you’re an avid hiker or a beginner, there are trail options for you at Mt. San Jacinto State Park.
Cabazon Dinosaurs, also referred to as Claude Bell’s Dinosaurs, are enormous, sculptured roadside attractions located in Cabazon, California just outside of Palm Springs. Mr. Rex is a towering three story concrete beast that is open all the way up inside to the top for a perfect picture opportunity. You can also climb up Dinny – a 150 foot long Apato. Walking among massive dinosaurs in the desert brings a new level of enjoyment to your Palm Springs trip.
Hot Air Ballooning
While floating effortlessly in a colorful hot air balloon over Palm Springs, you will view breathtaking vistas of some of the most picturesque landscapes in California. A sunrise flight will light up your day as the sun touches the valley with its glorious rays.
Spas & Wellness
When it comes time to trade the hustle and bustle of daily life for a weekend of rest and relaxation, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more calming location than Palm Springs. From natural hot water spas and luxury resort spas to meditation, sound bathes, and yoga, Palm Springs is a spa and wellness paradise. If you’re looking to unwind in the desert, a spa retreat is the way to go.
Where to Dine
The River at Rancho Mirage
The River is Rancho Mirage’s premier shopping, dining, and entertainment destination located in the heart of the Palm Springs Valley. It offers an extraordinary lineup of boutiques and award-winning restaurants. My favorite dining suggestions include Gioia Italian Bistro, Yard House, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse, bb’s At The River, The Cheesecake Factory, and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. Gioia offers a selection of rotating daily specials and signature dishes including the Margherita Pizze and Polpette e Salsicca. At the Yard House, you can find American favorites, crafted cocktails and an endless fleet of tap handles featuring the best American and import beers. Fleming’s of Rancho Mirage offers a wide selection of premium steaks and more than 100 wines by the glass. At bb’s At The River, you can dine under the desert stars on the large outdoor patio, unwind at the bar, or enjoy an amazing time with friends and family in the comfort of the beautiful dining room. If you have a sweet tooth, The Cheesecake Factory and Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory are excellent options with choices for days. At The River, you’ll be treated to the ultimate dining experience for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.
Peaks Restaurant and Pines Cafe
Spectacular views combined with delectable food provide the perfect dining experience at 8,500 ft. There are two dining options at the top of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Peaks, a fine dining experience with a breathtaking view of the Coachella Valley and Pines Café, a cafeteria-style restaurant. Both restaurants are open for lunch and dinner.
Why Make a Palm Springs Bucket List?
Palm Springs isn’t just for Hollywood’s elite. It’s filled with activities and attractions and surrounded by natural beauty and scrumptious treats. Coming in under a two hour drive from Orange County and LA, it’s a weekend getaway that you won’t want to miss. Whether your Palm Springs bucket list is family-focused, solo-focused, couple-focused, or all out party-focused, these suggestions should hit the spot.