To see the best (and worst) times to visit, please read our reviews of our recommended places to stay
Because Palm Spring is such an easy drive from L.A. (two to three hours trip, depending on traffic) and San Diego (three to four hours), California's "car culture" rules here, too. There are local buses and plenty of area architecture and celebrity home tours, but having a car is still the most convenient and efficient way to explore if you plan to venture beyond your hotel. See our car rental recommendations. Note: You may need a four-wheel drive vehicle for off-road explorations of Joshua Tree National Park.
The staff at the Palm Springs Official Visitors Center, on the corner of North Palm Canyon Drive and Tramway Road, has a wealth of information on local tours, restaurants, shopping, museums, attractions and events.
On a Bike
The clean, dry desert air is ideal for pedaling around town or into the desert. You can borrow bikes are some downtown hotels and there are several bike shops that rent cruisers and mountain bikes in town.
If shopping and dining are your highest priorities, book a hotel near the pedestrian-friendly main drag (North Palm Canyon Drive) where you can spend hours browsing in art galleries, antiques shops and Mid-Century boutiques.
The most popular spot for hiking is the nearby Indian Canyons, at the end of South Palm Canyon Drive, where you can see centuries old remains of the Agua Caliente Indian culture seen among the streams, waterfalls, and palm groves in Andreas, Murray, and Palm canyons. The canyons are closed in summer (late June to early September). Guided hiking tours and ranger lectures are available.
Scenic Tahquitz Canyon is home to the waterfall in the film, Lost Horizon.,also offers 2 1/2-hour ranger-led hikes. If you are heading up to Joshua Tree National Park, consider stopping at the Big Morongo Canyon Preserve, a magnet for birds and other wildlife; the lush springs and streams are an unexpected desert treat.