Whether you’re looking for a picture-perfect place to escape the snow and cold when winter rolls around, or you’re in the mood for a getaway with a focus on sunshine and fun in abundance another time of year, Palm Desert is waiting to be enjoyed. This gem of a California vacation destination is one that’s loved by travelers from across the map with good reason. Situated in the scenic heart of the Coachella Valley, Palm Desert provides its locals and visitors with easy access to amazing dining options, world-class shopping stops, and elegant golf courses where you can perfect your short or long game alike in style. When you’re not indulging in a sensational spa treatment or taking a custom tour, Palm Desert is a place where you can enjoy the fresh air out on the hiking and biking trails.

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Whether you’re heading this way with every intention of making it a relaxing and leisurely escape, or you can’t wait to add as many adrenaline-pumping adventures to your itinerary as possible, Palm Desert is a destination where you’re free to enjoy the very best of it all. If you’re lucky enough to have three days to spare in the name of vacation fun, the following insider’s Palm Desert travel guide is a good place to start when maximizing the experience is a priority.

Getting To and Around Palm Desert

Whether you choose to fly or drive into Palm Desert for a well-deserved vacation, it’s bound to be an unforgettable trip that might just bring you back in this direction year after year. For those who prefer to fly, the nearest airport to Palm Desert is the Indio/Palm Springs Airport (PSP), which is only a little over 10 miles from the center of the city. If you’re looking to infuse a bit more of a road trip into your getaway, you can always choose to fly into the San Bernardino Airport, which is 75 miles away, or the San Diego Airport, which sits around 84 miles from Palm Desert. Santa Ana is another inviting place to land at just 86 miles from Palm Desert.

No matter where you choose to fly into, you’re going to want to have a rental car available to get around at your own preferred pace. While Palm Desert is certainly a place you can leave the car behind and walk or bike, if you have outdoor adventures on your itinerary, having easy travel accommodations makes the experience that much more convenient. Those who rent their car in Palm Springs will find that it only takes around 21 minutes to cover the distance between the two destinations. When you’re looking to expand your Palm Desert fun, knowing Palm Springs is just as easy to access makes tailoring your stay a breeze.

Palm Desert Trip

Day 1

After you enjoy a delicious breakfast in your luxurious Palm Desert rental on day one of your California getaway, you’ll head over to the Historical Society of Palm Desert to get a better idea of what the area you’ve come to explore is all about. Located at 72861 El Paseo, the Historical Society of Palm Desert is a fascinating place to browse a variety of exhibits and artifacts detailing the local traditions, desert landscape, art, fashion, and lifestyle. Making this stop even more historic and meaningful is the fact that it’s located in what was the city’s very first fire station. The Historical Society of Palm Desert is open October through May from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm Friday through Monday.

Once you’ve had your fill of Palm Desert’s stories and rich past, it’s time to take your adventures out and about in pursuit of Palm Desert’s Art in Public Places program. This inspiring initiative is colorful and creative, giving Palm Desert visitors and locals alike access to larger-than-life art and sculptures scattered throughout the city. From murals and bronze statues to abstract art and towering masterpieces, the designs are vast and varied, and using the online self-guided map is a great way to get familiar with Palm Desert’s layout quickly. You can also consider renting a bike from local stops like Tri-A-Bike to get around faster when you want to see all of the public art there is to enjoy.

After a day of adventuring on two wheels, it’s time to enjoy a show in good company. Palm Desert’s McCallum Theater is a top-rated performance venue in town for everything from Broadway shows and concerts to comedy and dance. You’ll want to make sure you check the event calendar before you come to town so that you have tickets in hand and ready to go upon arrival. After your show, enjoy a delicious dinner in good company at Casuelas Café. Located at 73703 CA-111, Casuelas Café is open until 9:00 pm each evening and is a great place to indulge in authentic Mexican fare while sipping handcrafted cocktails or a margarita and enjoying live musical entertainment. When the breeze is just right, be sure to request a place on the open-air patio.

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Day 2

The second day of your Palm Desert stay is all about enjoying the greens and soaking up sensational California landscapes at the same time. You’ll achieve this after breakfast by heading over to Desert Willow Golf Resort to make your tee time. This is a gorgeous and award-winning golf course in town that you won’t want to miss whether you’re new to golf, or an experienced golfer looking to check the best courses off the list no matter where you roam. There are two courses to choose from when you arrive, but both provide sweeping views out over the Santa Rosa Mountains. The Firecliff Course is more challenging and asks golfers to conquer an array of water features, more than 100 bunkers, and natural barriers alike. Over at The Mountain View Course, you’ll find eight tee selections paired up with desert landscape, fewer water features, and rolling fairways that are undeniably picturesque.

After lunch, it’s time to enjoy an afternoon at The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. This is a must-visit on the second day of your stay if you’re in town with the entire family in tow, but it’s just as suitable for travelers of all ages with a passion for wildlife! The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is a great place to enjoy an immersive experience thanks to the more than 1,400 animal and plant species showcased on-site. Whether you’re strolling through the African savannah-style area encountering giraffes, or exploring the Rhino Savanna exhibit instead, this is a destination that demonstrates the beauty and power of nature as well as the importance of caring for the wildlife and world around us.

Next up is a trip to The Fine Art of Design on El Paseo. While Palm Desert is packed with big-name stores to explore, The Fine Art of Design is a vintage clothing shop where you can enjoy some time treasure-hunting for the very best finds! The inventory here is constantly changing whether you’re looking for apparel, accessories, or something in between. Once you’re satisfied with your shopping efforts, head over to the Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden for some artistic inspiration that might just bring you back a time or two. This evening, reward your sightseeing efforts with a delicious dinner at Armando’s Dakota Bar & Grill. Located at 73260 El Paseo, this eatery serves up savory and authentic Mexican fare as well as amazing house margaritas. The colorful ambiance and friendly service make this a destination where it’s easy to linger longer than you originally planned.

Palm Desert Hiking Day

Day 3

The last day of your Palm Desert adventure takes you out to the hiking trails and requires you to lace up your boots in the name of outdoor fun. A trip to Palm Desert wouldn’t feel complete without some time trekking through the gorgeous local landscapes and when you head this way, you never have to venture far to find them. While Palm Desert is packed with routes that are suitable for hikers of all skill levels, you can infuse amazing views into the experience when you set your sights on The Cross Loop. This is a 2.7-mile round-trip adventure that’s particularly popular in the early morning hours when sunset can be enjoyed at the summit cross. If you’re traveling with a dog in tow, they’re more than welcome to accompany you on this trail as long as they remain leashed at all times. If you want to extend your outing, the popular Bump and Grind Trail offers up 3 miles of terrain to trek with great views and wildlife-watching opportunities included along the way.

After a restorative lunch, it’s time to take your exploration indoors once more at the CODA Gallery in town. Located at 73400 El Paseo, the CODA Gallery is a great fine art gallery to enjoy when you’re in the mood to browse unique paintings, sculptures, photographs, glasswork, and more. The spacious showrooms here are endlessly inviting and a testament to the wonderful work being done by an array of modern artists. The CODA Gallery is open daily from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm, making it an easy place to fit onto your itinerary and a welcome destination to enjoy for as long as you’d like once you arrive.

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Follow up your art gallery experience with an afternoon visit to Palm Desert’s Civic Center Park. Situated at 43900 San Pablo Avenue, Civic Center Park is a sprawling locale that’s loved by locals and visitors alike. Here, you’ll have seamless access to inviting green spaces for resting, relaxing, or playing with the little ones in your traveling crew. The park also hosts tennis courts, picnic areas, public art, and sports fields to enjoy. There’s also a dog park on-site if your furry friend could use some time to run and burn off extra energy. Depending on what time of year you arrive, you might be in time to catch a public concert hosted at Civic Center Park as well.

This evening, end your Palm Desert adventure with a well-earned and elegant meal at Mastro’s Steakhouse. Make your way to 73405 El Paseo to enjoy this delicious eatery within The Gardens on El Paseo. Dinner is served between 5:00 pm and 10:00 pm each night and whether you pick indoor or outdoor seating, you’ll be treated to live music while you dine. Appetizers here include chilled Bearing Sea King crab legs and shrimp cocktail as well as oysters Rockefeller, caviar, sauteed shrimp, and lobster cocktail. There’s a wide variety of sushi on the menu as well as petit filet, bone-in Kansas City Strip, double cut pork chops, rack of lamb, and herb-roasted chicken. Don’t forget to inquire about their impressive global wine list that ensures every dish on the menu comes with just the right red, white, or sparkling pairing!

Palm Desert Art

Book Your Palm Desert Adventure Today

No matter when you make your way to Palm Desert, booking your vacation rental through the property professionals at TRAVLR is a sure way to take your trip to the next level of excellence with every reservation. Our inviting and exciting property options throughout Palm Desert provide our guests with stunning accommodations to enjoy that are not only close to the places they can’t wait to explore and experience for themselves, but adorned with world-class amenities and features too.

At TRAVLR, we know that the details make all the difference in the guest experience and our rentals are always a testament to impeccable standards of luxury and style. We pair our gorgeous vacation homes with award-winning customer care to ensure all of our guests know how valuable they are upon arrival. Whether you’re booking a stay for a few days or you’re looking forward to an extended adventure in California, our team is here to handle the details while you focus on the well-deserved fun ahead. Reach out today to learn more about our incredible property options available and how we can help you make more of every single moment. We can’t wait to welcome you to sunny Palm Desert soon!