Palm Springs Itinerary

Planning a vacation or long weekend getaway to Palm Springs and trying to figure out what to do? 

Check out this Palm Springs itinerary to assist you with your travel plans. 

This Palm Springs itinerary can be used as a guide for your family vacation and can easily be tweaked to meet your own family’s needs and desires. 

Humongous palm trees towering over a small bridge


Day 1: Arrival and Check In

On day 1, you will likely spend part of the day getting from the airport to your hotel or vacation rental accommodation and then getting settled in.

The kids will surely want to check out the pool today especially after spending part of the day traveling. 

I suggest finding an easy lunch option that is either on-site at your resort or nearby. 

We were lucky enough to have a restaurant right at the pool area of the Marriott’s Desert Springs Villas where we stayed. 

After swimming and getting unpacked, this first day is a great time to drive to downtown Palm Springs to see what it has to offer.

I suggest heading downtown Palm Springs a little bit before dinner time and doing some exploring. Parking is free which is also a plus!

There are so many unique sculptures and photo opportunities downtown including Forever Marilyn, the Chevy Malibu, PS Love You, and so many more.

Also, check out the Palm Springs Walk of Stars.

Even more, downtown Palm Springs also has many great shops and restaurants. 

Finally, have some dinner at Stout Burger or El Patron

Day 2: Day Trip to Joshua Tree National Park

If you are traveling to Palm Springs from a different time zone, you will likely still be waking up pretty early on your first FULL day on West Coast time. 

This is why we chose to drive to Joshua Tree National Park on our first full day in California. 

Read my post on Joshua Tree National Park for information on what hikes to do with your family as well as which entrance might be best to use to enter the park.

If you are planning to be in Joshua Tree past lunchtime, I would make sure you pack a picnic lunch as there are not any options for food inside of the park.

We had gotten there early enough and had a plan that enabled us to complete our visit to Joshua Tree National Park by about 1pm. 

As a result, we were able to stop and get lunch in Joshua Tree before heading back to Palm Springs.

For the rest of the day, the kids wanted some pool time. 

Then we ordered carryout pizza to have on our villa’s balcony and enjoyed our golf course and mountain views. 

Day 3: Lower Palm Canyon Trail & Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

On our third day in the Palm Springs area, we hiked on the Lower Palm Canyon Trail. 

I would put this hike on your MUST DO list for your Palm Springs vacation or getaway. 

You will be blown away by this stunning hike, and the kids will have a great time doing it too!

The great thing about this hike is that you can hike as far or as short of a distance as you want. 

Luckily, right at the beginning of the hike, you will see the beauty of this palm tree oasis so if you don’t want to hike very far, you can simply enjoy playing in the creek or picnicking under these amazing palm trees. 

Note: To enter this area, you will have to pay a per person fee and then drive towards the Trading Post to begin the hike. 

The Trading Post is a great place to use the restroom and have a snack either before or after your hike. 

After hiking Lower Palm Canyon Trail, we went back to our hotel for some downtime.

Later in the day we headed to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. This is another MUST DO for your Palm Springs visit.

Check out my post on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to get all of your questions answered about this attraction.

My most important piece of advice here is to check the weather at Mount San Jacinto ahead of time to make sure you are dressed appropriately.

You will be blown away by the views in the rotating tramcar. Also, plan to enjoy dinner or a snack at Mountain Station. 

Day 4: Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

On day 4 of our trip to Palm Springs, we decided to visit the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens.

This attraction will take you about a half of a day. 

The kids loved the G-scale model train, and I personally relished in all of the plants in the garden areas. 

We also enjoyed visiting the wallabies and seeing the majestic giraffes.

After visiting the zoo, we headed back to our hotel for pool time.

Finally, we went out to dinner at Stuft Pizza Bar and Grill located at the Shops at Palm Desert. 

Day 5: Palm Springs Air Museum and Departure

On our last day, we headed back downtown Palm Springs to visit some souvenir shops. 

We also had lunch at Tyler’s Hamburgers which was phenomenal. It was a small restaurant though so it could be hard to find a table when it’s busy especially if you have a larger group like our family.

Additionally, most of the seating is outside where there is no air conditioning. This is something to consider in the heat of the summer. 

Finally, there are not any restrooms actually at the restaurant. You have to walk across the street to the restroom. These are just a couple of things to know if you are planning to eat at Tyler’s Hamburgers. 

After spending some time downtown Palm Springs, we then headed to the Palm Springs Air Museum

This is a great activity on your day of departure if you are looking for something to do. It is located super close to the airport. 

We loved the Palm Springs Air Museum. They even have a delightful little snack shop if you are looking for a snack or beverage. 

The kids enjoyed seeing all of the cool military aircraft.

Another great thing about this museum is that the kids ages 12 and under are free with a paying adult. 

If you have less than 5 days in Palm Springs, see some suggested itineraries below.

4 Day Palm Springs Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival and downtown Palm Springs (or do the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway)

Day 2: Joshua Tree National Park and/or Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Day 3: Lower Palm Canyon Trail hike and Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

Day 4: Downtown Palm Springs or the Palm Springs Air Museum

For the 4 day itinerary, you could include the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway in the late afternoon or evening of any day.

For the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, if you want to spend more time at Mountain Station and do a little bit more hiking at Mount San Jacinto, I would give yourself more time. If your goal is simply to ride the tramcar, experience the views, and have dinner, you only need an hour or two. 

3 Day Palm Springs Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival and Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Day 2: Choose either Joshua Tree National Park, Lower Palm Canyon Trail, or the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens plus downtown Palm Springs in the evening

Day 3: Depending on departure time- Lower Palm Canyon Trail, Living Desert Zoo and Gardens or Palm Springs Air Museum  

Top Vacation Tip

My top tip when vacationing is to make sure you include a mix of sightseeing and downtime each day. 

However many days you are spending in Palm Springs, you should heed this advice as well!

Try to pick one attraction that is most important to you to do each day. 

In Palm Springs, my top two recommended attractions are the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway and Lower Palm Canyon Trail. 

I hope this helps you with your vacation planning. If you are wanting a little more detailed information on some of these attractions, check out my post Palm Springs Attractions for Families.

SAVE and PIN this post for your Palm Springs vacation planning purposes. SHARE it with a friend or family heading to Palm Springs too!

May you love your adventure! KW

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