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Palm Springs is a quick trip from both Los Angles and San Diego, so it’s an easy getaway destination for a weekend trip or longer for you and your besties. Book a stay at one of the boutique properties in town. Plan fun activities like an off-road Jeep tour and a day trip to Joshua Tree. Then relax over dinner and drinks. Palm Springs is an ideal location for your next girlfriend trip.
Girls’ Weekend Fun Things To Do
I recently spent five days in Palm Springs, California, with my three young adult daughters – and my husband, his brother and his husband. The girls and I carved out some quality time in town, checking out all the fun things to do during a getaway. Here are the top picks for you to consider if you’re planning a mother/daughter trip, bachelorette or weekend spree with your best friends. Also included are recommendations for places to stay and dining musts.
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is a 10 minute ride to the peak of San Jacinto mountains. We went during the day, just after two feet of snow fell. Families take sleds or rent snowshoes or cross country skis. In summer, you can hike around, and visit the small natural history museum.
There is also a bar where you can have drinks and take in the views, as well as a café.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Dress appropriately for the dramatic change in climate. Even in summer, the temperature drops up to 40 degrees at the top of the mountain.
You can walk into a desert oasis at Indian Canyons. Indian Canyons was the ancestral home of the Agua Caliente band of Cahuilla Indians. Free ranger tours are offered daily (you have to pay to enter Indian Canyons) but you can also hike on your own to see the palm trees and streams.
We learned about the desert flora, which goes way beyond cacti. There are abundant native California Fan Palm trees, Brittle bush, desert lavender.
Indian Canyons includes Palm Canyon, Andreas Canyon and Murray Canyon. with hiking and biking trails and horseback riding. If you go on a more rigorous hike here, not that you need plenty of water, sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses.
Note: Tahquitz Canyon is a separate part of the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation where you can hike and see a waterfall. If you don’t want to hike as much, it’s a great place to see cacti, wildlife and palm trees.
Desert Adventures Eco-Tours
We had a ball on the Red Jeep Tour of the San Andreas Fault. This three hour tour includes bouncing around in an open air Jeep and getting out of the vehicle to explore. Since this is on private land, the Jeep Tour is the only way to see this unique area.
Our loquacious and excellent tour guide handled the rough terrain with ease, backing out of tight spots and conducting a little photo shoot as we clamored through boulders. If we’d thought ahead, we could have planned this for our family holiday card. A group of women on a girls’ trip would also enjoy this pictorial keepsake.
Downtown Palm Springs
The walkable downtown Palm Springs has everything from boutique hotels with rooftop pools to trendy restaurants and necessary shops like Sephora and Kiehls, where my daughters and I spent time trying makeup and dry skin and hair remedies.
But unlike the omnipresent – and pricey – valet parking in Hollywood, you can easily find free parking.
While you are walking around the heart of downtown Palm Springs, you can see public art like the Forever Marilyn, a giant Marilyn Monroe Statue; Love Letters (PS I Love You); and the kind of creepy Babies, with bar code faces.
A driving public art tour around Greater Palm Springs should include the free Melissa Morgan Sculpture Garden in Palm Desert, sculptures along El Paseo and the Roadrunner from the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival.
Hiking near Downtown Palm Springs
You can park near Forever Marilyn and hike the Lykken Trail along the lower part of the San Jacinto Mountain. Or it you are staying at one of the downtown Palm Springs boutique hotels, you can walk to the trailhead.
What’s great about this hike is you don’t’ have to go far to see wildlife (we saw bighorn sheep) and the scenic overlook of Palm Springs. But there are no services: bring your own water, carry out your trash.
Day Trip to Joshua Tree National Park
Hiking in Joshua Tree National Park commands a full day of your Southern California getaway. From the heart of downtown Palm Springs, you have to drive at least an hour to get to Joshua Tree. And unless you are aging bachelorettes or brought along your moms or grandmothers, you have to pay $30 per vehicle to enter the park.
SheBuysTravel Tip: It can be windy here in winter months, making it much cooler than downtown Palm Springs. Bring a windbreaker and fleece so you don’t have to buy warmer clothes at the visitor’s center.
Where to Stay: Boutique Hotels in Palm Springs
Kimpton is one of my favorite boutique hotel brands, and the Rowan, in the heart of downtown Palm Springs, offers both a rooftop pool, with a bar, and a more earthbound bar, with intriguing craft cocktails and a DJ.
Parker Palm Springs has three pools including the indoor Palm Springs Yacht Club, where you can indulge in massages and book private cabanas for you and your besties. There are also cabanas at the outdoor pool. And of course there’s a bar for poolside margaritas.
Villa Royale, a mid-century modern boutique hotel, has poolside cabanas that at night become private dining rooms for the tapas restaurant Del Rey. Villa Royale provides free bicycle rentals and beer or a cocktail at check-in, setting the stage for a girls trip. The adults-only oasis means no kids interrupting your Rosé all day vibes.
The Saguaro Palm Springs provides welcome margaritas, and the Ace Hotel & Swim Club has the trendy Amigo Room with a daily happy hour.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Think you don’t need an indoor pool? Early morning and evening temperatures December – March hover around 40 degrees.
Palm Springs Nightlife
Palm Springs nightlife tends to skew early, since so many retirees have claimed the greater Palm Springs area as their own.
My favorite nighttime activity is the ‘dark sky’ in Palm Springs, City ordinances keep outdoor lights to a minimum, so you can really see the stars here (not Hollywood stars, celestial ones). We drove to a trailhead at night, turned off the lights and feasted on the constellations.
If you are looking for more energetic pursuits, we loved the PS Air speakeasy, with an airplane setting and aviation themed cocktails. The Sunday drag brunch is a popular bachelorette excursion.
When we were eating in an outdoor patio, we saw – and heard – a bachelorette party biking by on Social Cycle. You can book a tour for 6-16.
More Fun Things to Do in and around Palm Springs
Palm Springs Air Museum
The Palm Springs Air Museum, next to the Palm Springs airport, has an extensive collection of vintage aviation. You can book a scenic flight on one of these, or you can just explore the grounded aircraft. Unlike many other aviation museums, you can actually board many of the planes.
Sunnylands Center & Gardens
The midcentury modern Sunnylands offers tours of its historic estate (minimum age 10). You can tour the extensive gardens for free, watch a film about Sunnylands and see the rotating art exhibit.
For early risers, there are free birding tours on Fridays at 8:45 am. On Fridays at 10am, there is a fantastic free yoga class. On the day we went, over 300 people took the class. Bringing the kids instead of your besties to Palm Springs? On Sundays from November through April, Sunnylands welcomes children for toys and games on the lawn.
Coachella Valley History Museum
The Coachella Valley History Museum includes a restored 1909 schoolhouse, gardens and a museum focusing on date palms.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Bring a picnic lunch and eat at the park across the street.
What to Eat
Great food is easy to find in Great Palm Springs. Don’t miss Shields Date Garden, where you can get a date shake or buy gifts for people back home. We bought a ton of dates, along with date paste for trying to make our own date shakes.
Of course, we had to have ice cream, the dessert in the desert. Kreem, an artisanal ice cream and coffeeshop near the heart of downtown Palm Springs, makes all its ice cream in house. And there are unusual flavors, including several vegan options. I had the vegan Turmeric Ginger and one of my daughters had the vegan Ube.
Driving Around Palm Springs
We drove from Los Angeles in a Lexus LX F SPORT. The 7-seater luxury SUV was a good fit for my family of five, plus my brothers-in-law. We all drove to Indio to see the Coachella Valley History Museum before taking a Red Jeep tour with Desert Adventures Eco-Tour. We had a picnic lunch with us and kept our sandwiches cold in the built-in cooler.
Note: Visit Greater Palm Springs has getaway guides for all types of travelers.
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