Palm Desert is a thriving city set in a desert mountain landscape filled with art, culture, and plenty of things to do.
The best way to get a taste of the area’s beauty is to explore it on foot, bike, or jeep. The Bump and Grind Trail is a popular hike that provides stunning views of the desert landscape.
Palm Springs Art Museum
The Palm Springs Art Museum is a treasure trove of world-class contemporary art that also reflects the desert’s native past. It is located in a mid-century modern building that embodies the essence of this glamorous resort destination.
The art museum consists of 28 galleries, two sculpture gardens, an 85-seat lecture hall, a 428-seat Annenberg Theater, and a large gift store. It also hosts special events, art classes, lectures, films and more.
A visit to the museum is a great way to escape the heat. The museum features a variety of rotating exhibits that are sure to inspire. You can also take a stroll through the sculpture garden to see works by local and regional artists.
Cabot’s Pueblo Museum
Built in 1941, Cabot’s Pueblo Museum is a one-of-a-kind Hopi-style home museum that’s full of fascinating Native American art and history. The four-story home is a stunning example of the Pueblo revival style, constructed using sun-dried bricks and reclaimed wood found throughout the desert.
This unique desert attraction was created by Cabot Yerxa, an adventurer who came to the Coachella Valley to homestead 160 acres in what is now known as Desert Hot Springs. During his time here, he dug wells to get water and discovered two aquifers — one hot and one cold – that changed the desert for good.
Take a guided tour of the quirky, historical house museum and learn about Yerxa’s incredible story. Plus, you’ll get to see the iconic Waokiye sculpture, which was carved from a single sequoia redwood.
Living Desert Zoo & Gardens
With a mission of desert conservation, The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens is an excellent place to learn about the animals and plants that call the desert home. Its 80-acre grounds are fully accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, so you can rest assured that your visit will be a fun and educational one.
You’ll find a wide range of enclosures that offer plenty of space and mimic the habitats of desert animals. Plus, you can get up close and personal with a variety of wildlife, from cheetahs to giraffes.
Another popular attraction is the Rhino Savanna, where you can meet one of Africa’s most famous creatures. You can brush or feed these majestic beasts and learn about their unique biology, diet and lifestyle.
Red Jeep Tours
One of the most popular outdoor activities in Palm Desert is Red Jeep Tours, an off-road adventure company that gives you a peek into the region’s history and culture on four wheels. Choose from a variety of narrated tours lasting 3-4 hours aboard red, seven-passenger jeeps.
The San Andreas Fault Zone Jeep Tour explores the landscape of California’s famous fault line, taking you past a natural palm oasis, slot canyons, and a recreated Cahuilla Indian Village. You’ll also visit a fossil bed and learn about the plants, animals, and geology of this rugged area.
For those looking for a more adventurous experience, try the Metate Ranch Jeep Tour. On this tour, you’ll drive deep into the heart of the San Andreas Fault Zone on a classic open-air jeep. Then you’ll get to view a private natural palm oasis, beautiful steep-walled canyons, and incredible panoramic vistas.
Palm Desert Visitor Center
The Palm Desert Visitor Center is a great place to start a trip to the region. It’s open daily and features an extensive collection of maps, visitor guides, and brochures.
- There are also helpful staff members who can answer questions, help you plan your vacation, and provide you with fun Palm Desert souvenirs to take home!
- Located at City Hall in Civic Center Park, the center is open to the public and staffed Monday through Friday.
- One of the most popular attractions is the Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve. This nature preserve features more than 20,000 acres of desert wilderness and hiking trails.
- Free guided hikes are offered several times a week. Typical hikes focus on wildlife, geology, or both.