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Itching to get out of your home for a mini break? Palm Springs is the ideal destination for dipping your toes back into travel. A trip to the desert is only about a two-hour car ride from Los Angeles (you’ll know you’ve arrived once you pass the somewhat creepy yet mesmerizing windmills), and once you feel that warm sun on your face (average temperatures range between the 80s and 90s in the spring), you’ll feel like you’re officially OOTO. The high desert is not only full of natural beauty, but also ultra-cool art installations, delicious cuisine and totally unique architecture. Here are the best things to do in Palm Springs right now.

Editor’s note: Please remember to mask up and follow social distancing protocols while traveling and be sure to check up on the state’s health and safety guidelines before you go.

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Hadley Fruit Orchards things to do in Palm Springs
Hadley Fruit Orchards

1. Have a Date Shake at Hadley Fruit Orchards

We know you’re eager to reach your destination, but Hadley Fruit Orchards is one road stop you must make on your drive to Palm Springs. A Palm Springs institution, this roadside stop sells dates, all sorts of nuts and downright delicious date shakes. These are the types of dates that always leave you satisfied—go for the Medjools—and their date shakes are the treat you know you deserve. And happily, now vegans and lactose-intolerants alike can rejoice: Hadley’s recently added vegan date shakes made with non-dairy milk to their menu. Yum.

47993 Morongo Trail, Cabazon, CA 92230

2. Tour the Grounds of the Historic Sunnylands Estate

The impressive Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage is an incredible 200-acre estate, once home to media magnate Walter Annenberg and his wife, Leonore. They welcomed leaders from all industries to their modernist winter home, including Queen Elizabeth, Frank Sinatra and President Obama. While the interiors are still closed due to COVID-19, you can explore the lush grounds (including 12 man-made lakes and a nine-hole golf course) on three available tours: a guided 45-minute landscape tour by shuttle, a 90-minute guided estate bird walk or a 60-minute guided historic walk.

37977 Bob Hope Dr. Rancho Mirage, CA 9227

3. Explore Unique Art Installations at Desert X

This past year was certainly one that required some introspection (maybe too much if you’ve been cooped up alone) so why not turn your thoughts to examining the desert, as both a place and as an idea. Desert X is a completely free exhibit featuring incredible contemporary art installations all throughout the desert cities. The exhibition runs through May 16, but different exhibits are open at varying times, so be sure to check the calendar to know what is open during your Palm Spring visit.

44-985 Province Way, Indian Wells, CA 92210

4. Spa in Style at the Newly-Renovated Sands Hotel

If you’re feeling a sense of wanderlust, the recently renovated spa at the Sands Hotel will give you all the vibes of a Moroccan escape. Indulge in restorative treatments like the Sands Body Scrub or a much-needed Royal Deep Tissue Massage. The spa combines traditional Western techniques with detoxifying minerals and botanicals from all over the world. After a day of seeing the sights, you deserve a little pampering, no?

5. Dine at the Former Cary Grant Estate

Copley’s is the quintessential Palm Springs restaurant bringing together gorgeous mountain views with Hollywood nostalgia. Located in the beautiful courtyard of the former Cary Grant estate, enjoy award-winning chef Andrew Copley’s elevated American cuisine featuring local ingredients and tropical flavors. An evening spent in this casual yet sophisticated spot where service is consistently top-notch is the perfect way to unwind after a long day.

621 N Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262

tramway things to do in Palm Springs
Carolyn Hebbard/Getty Images

6. Check out the views aboard the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Sure, Palm Springs looks cool from the ground but what about from up above? The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway happens to be the world’s largest rotating tram car and takes passengers on a dizzying two-and-a-half mile journey along the cliffs of Chino Canyon to Mt. San Jacinto State Park. The whole trip only takes about 10 minutes but once you’ve reached your destination, it’ll feel like a totally different world as you take in Coachella Valley down below. Here you can choose to just hang out at the top or hike deeper into the San Jacinto Mountains. Tip: Bring a sweater, temperatures drop on top.

1 Tram Way, Palm Springs, CA 92262

Things to do in Palm Springs Indian Canyons
Cheri Alguire/Getty Images

7. Grab Lots of Water and Go for a Hike at Indian Canyons

Who knew there was more to hiking than Runyon Canyon? Start your day off by exploring the many beautiful hiking trails that make up Indian Canyons. Our favorite one is Tahquitz Canyon, which features a 60-foot waterfall you can cool off in. Admission is required and take note, Indian Canyons will be closed April 25 to May 2.

38520 S Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92264

Things to do in Palm Springs We Care Spa
We Care Spa

8. Escape to the Ultimate Celeb-Favored Wellness Getaway at We Care Spa

If you’re in need of a detox, this is the place for you. We Care Spa has been getting celebrities ready for red carpet events since 1986. They offered colonics way before colonics were cool (OK, maybe not “cool” but you know what we mean) and juice fasts before Pressed Juicery was even a nugget of an idea. During your retreat, you’ll be guided through a liquid nutrition and detoxification program. If that sounds hard, know that you’ll have options like their floating bed—which simulates the feelings of being in the womb—to lie on, as well as a ton of relaxing spa offerings.

18000 Long Canyon Rd, Desert Hot Springs, CA 92241

9. Splurge at the Shops at Thirteen Forty Five

Palm Springs is teeming with retro mid-century vibes you’ll want to bring home with you once your trip is over. Head to The Shops at Thirteen Forty Five to shop the 15 boutiques tucked inside the iconic 1955 building designed by E. Stewart Williams. From designer home furnishings to one-of-a-kind hats, it’s like a museum of luxury items you’ll wish you could display at home (even if they’re slightly out of your price range).

1345 N Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262

10. Treat Yourself to a Decadent Dinner at Bar Cecil with the Beaton Experience

A new restaurant on the Palm Spring’s scene, Bar Cecil pays homage to its namesake, Cecil Beaton, a British photographer and designer, who “lived between classical charm and new world rebellion.” An iconic bon vivant, the Beaton Experience is a nod to the man who enjoyed the finer things in life. The dining event includes a menu of six wine-paired pre-fixed courses for $350 per person (available for you and up to seven of your nearest and dearest). The menu is an assortment of the chef’s select dishes, and includes their $50 martini. Over the top? Yes. Worth it? Also, yes.

1555 S Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92264

Things to do in Palm Springs La Quinta
Dayna Goldman

11. Have a Fitcation at the Beautiful la Quinta Resort

If you’re in Palm Springs you’ll likely already be sweating but get the maximum benefit by taking advantage of one of the many outdoor workout classes available at La Quinta Resort and Club. Their fitness center offers all the hits: spin, Pilates, strength training, yoga classes, you name it. Sign up in advance here.

49-499 Eisenhower Dr, La Quinta, CA 92253

Things to do in Palm Springs Architecture Tour
Visit Palm Springs

12. Hop on a Bike for a Self-Guided Architecture Tour

Palm Springs is full of mid-century modern architecture that is unlike anywhere else in the world. Several hotels, like the Ingleside Inn, are located near these homes and offer complimentary bikes with your stay. The Visit Palm Springs website offers a great self-guided tour which begins at the Palm Springs Visitor Center and takes you through some of the town’s coolest-looking homes, including Swiss Miss Houses featuring the A-frame entry, a home owned by Leonardo DiCaprio, tiki architecture and Desert Modernism.

13. Have Breakfast Anytime at Norma’s at the Parker Palm Springs Hotel

The Parker is worth a visit alone, just to admire the Jonathan Adler decorated hotel, which amongst tons of eye candy features a prominently hung “Drugs” sign over in the lobby. Head to their on-site restaurant, Norma’s, which is famed on both coasts (the original is in NYC). Its open-air terrace is brightly colored and allows you to admire the grounds of the hotel, while tucking into extravagant dishes like their Chocolate Decadence French Toast or their Seared Maine Lobster and Asparagus Omelet. Reservations are recommended and can be made on OpenTable.

4200 E Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92264

Things to do in Palm Springs dinosaurs
Kevitivity - Kevin Stanchfield/Getty Images

14. See Some Dinosaurs on Your Way Out

If you noticed a dinosaur off the side of the road on your drive into Palm Springs, you’re not hallucinating. Cabazon Dinosaurs is the closest thing you can get to Jurassic Park and we’re totally cool with that. Admission is $13 and if you visit soon, some of the dinosaurs may still be in their holiday decor—Easter and Valentine’s Day, to be specific.

50770 Seminole Dr, Cabazon, CA 92230

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