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How to Spend 3 Days in Palm Springs

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How to Spend 3 Days in Palm Springs
Located about a 2-hour drive from Los Angeles, Palm Springs serves as a popular weekend getaway for Southern Californians, as well as a relaxing destination for tourists looking for vintage vibes and desert adventures. With three days, you can explore the full range of attractions and activities this sunny locale has to offer. Here’s how to make the most of your time.

Day 1: Explore the City
Take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway high up into the San Jacinto Mountains inside a revolving gondola. The temperature in the mountains can be up to 40℉ (4℃) cooler, making this a great escape from the desert heat. Up top you can hike, picnic, or just enjoy the views of Mount San Jacinto State Park and the surrounding wilderness. Winter activities include tobogganing, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. In the afternoon, take a guided tour of Palm Springs’ celebrity homes, including the former residences of Marilyn Monroe, Nat King Cole, and Elvis Presley, and learn about the area’s history along the way. Alternately, ride the aerial tram in the evening hours, followed by dinner at the restaurant located at the top.

Day 2: Head Into the Desert
Now that you’ve seen those endless skies and the ever-changing rugged landscape from the tram, head farther afield to Joshua Tree National Park in the Mojave Desert. (Get an early start in the summer to beat the heat.) Alternatively, stay closer to town and hike into the scenic Indian Canyons, ancestral home of the Cahuilla tribes; bring your swimsuit in case the streams are running. Those interested in geology can venture to the San Andreas Fault, and adventurous travelers can bike along the faultline on a guided cycling tour. In the evening, take advantage of the lack of city lights to view stars in the dark desert sky. With the help of a telescope and your guide, you’ll learn how to spot celestial objects like a pro.

Day 3: Day-Tripping
On your final day, head about 1.5 hours out of town to Temecula, taking in views of the Syrah- and Tempranillo-vine-covered countryside along the way. Once there, visit a series of wineries, sampling some of Southern California’s best wines, including the popular almond-infused sparkling wine. Book a guided tour with round-trip transportation for added convenience. Another easily accessible day trip option, the Salton Sea (which is twice as salty as the Pacific) is a little more than an hour away from Palm Springs. Outdoor activities like boating (boats float better here because of the salt content) and fishing are the main attractions, as well as bird-watching, and the colorful outdoor art installation Salvation Mountain is located nearby.
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Palm Springs Tours & Activities (15)
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Palm Springs Aerial Tramway Admission TicketAttraction Tickets

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway Admission Ticket

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Soar over Palm Springs on the Aerial Tramway for spectacular views of the desert. Ascending to 5,783 feet (1,790 meters), the tram transports you to the cool air in the San Jacinto Mountains. View unspoiled wilderness, including mountain spires and Ponderosa pine trees, during your ascent. Disembark and explore the area around Mountain Station, which includes a cocktail lounge, restaurant and observation deck. Hike, snowshoe or cross-country ski on the trails in the Mt. San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness Area around Mountain Station.
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  • 1 to 2 hours
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US$25.95 
From  
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  • 1 to 2 hours
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  • Free Cancellation

Palm Springs Celebrity 2.5-Hour Grand TourMovie & TV Tours

Palm Springs Celebrity 2.5-Hour Grand Tour

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Discover Palm Springs on a bus tour of the place that was once known as 'Hollywood's Playground.' Your guide provides commentary on stars that have lived in this exclusive California destination; including luminaries like Marilyn Monroe, Nat King Cole, and Elvis Presley. You'll also learn about the desert, the architecture and history of the region, and the Native American heritage. Top it off with a stop for a date milkshake at the popular Windmill Market.
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  • 2 hours 30 minutes
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US$58.85 
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  • 2 hours 30 minutes
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  • Free Cancellation

San Andreas Fault Jeep Tour from Palm DesertNature & Wildlife

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San Andreas Fault Jeep Tour from Palm Desert

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Explore the geology around California’s legendary San Andreas fault during a Jeep tour from Palm Desert. See a desert oasis fed by an underground spring as your naturalist guide describes how the Native American Cahuilla tribe used the desert's plants for food, medicine, and shelter. Marvel at steep-walled canyons and tall twisted rock mountains, and learn about the plant and animal life of the area. Choose from a morning or afternoon tour that includes light snacks, bottled water, and round-trip transport from Palm Desert hotels.
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  • 3 hours
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US$140.00 
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  • 3 hours

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Joshua Tree National Park Driving TourNature & Wildlife

Joshua Tree National Park Driving Tour

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Explore the uncanny landscape of Joshua Tree National Park with a 4.5-hour van tour from Palm Desert, near Palm Springs. Enjoy the comfort of an air-conditioned van or SUV as you navigate soaring granite formations and groves of the park’s famously spiky trees, and capture unforgettable images of terrain that spans the Colorado and Mojave deserts. Trace a gentle trail into the rocks at Hidden Valley and Keys View, watch for the park’s reclusive wildlife, and experience the unique beauty of one America’s most remarkable national parks.
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  • 4 hours 30 minutes
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US$169.00 
From  
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  • 4 hours 30 minutes
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  • Free Cancellation

Palm Springs Windmill Tours is the only behind the fence historical eco bus tourAttraction Tickets

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Palm Springs Windmill Tours is the only behind the fence historical eco bus tour

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Opt for this Palm Springs windmill tour, and try something a little different from your typical celebrity homes or San Andreas Fault tours you’d usually do in Palm Springs. This windmill tour of the Coachella Valley takes you by eco bus to the windmills and gives you access behind the fence to stand near these massive renewable energy fans, while learning about the industry from a guide.
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  • 2 hours
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US$52.00 
From  
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  • 2 hours
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  • Free Cancellation

Indian Canyons by Jeep plus Hiking Tour from Palm SpringsNature & Wildlife

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Indian Canyons by Jeep plus Hiking Tour from Palm Springs

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Go deep into Palm Springs’ Indian Canyons on a 3-hour, small group Jeep and hiking tour to the ancestral home of the Cahuilla tribes. Take in views of the rugged desert landscape as you ride into the rocky canyons, and learn the rich history of the Cahuilla; take a 1-mile (1.6-km) walk along a palm-lined stream to see the traces of historic Native American settlements. Visit a shady desert oasis, walk to a seasonal spring and browse a tribal trading post, then finish the tour at your Palm Springs hotel.
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  • 3 hours
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US$140.00 
From  
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  • 3 hours

Joshua Tree Backroads Enclosed Hummer TourDay Trips

Joshua Tree Backroads Enclosed Hummer Tour

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Venture far off the tourist trail onto the backroads in Joshua Tree National Park. This small group tour in a luxury Hummer H2 takes you from your Palms Springs hotel to the park, through the West Entrance, to the Inselberg rock formations, and past the distinctive trees for which the park is named and into the heart of the San Andreas Fault.
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  • 5 hours 30 minutes
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US$249.00 
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  • 5 hours 30 minutes
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  • Free Cancellation

Joshua Tree National Park Jeep TourNature & Wildlife

Joshua Tree National Park Jeep Tour

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The lush resorts of Palm Springs will feel a million miles away when you get out in the wilds of Joshua Tree National Park on this small group Jeep tour. Leave the city behind as you head off-road and over a rocky landscape some people say feels like being on another planet. See plants and rock formations that are unique to the desert, and learn what makes Joshua Tree so special.
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  • 4 hours
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US$169.00 
From  
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  • 4 hours
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  • Free Cancellation

Earthquake Canyon Express Downhill Bike AdventureBike & Mountain Bike Tours

Earthquake Canyon Express Downhill Bike Adventure

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Take a leisurely bike ride in the desert. This guided mountain bike tour will take you down a gentle grade along the San Andreas Fault where the Mojave Desert transitions into the Colorado Desert. Enjoy beautiful views of the desert landscape as you pedal along the paved path. The tour concludes with a rest stop at a date farm where you can try a date shake.
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  • 4 hours
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From  
US$105.00 
From  
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  • 4 hours
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Half-Day Rock Climbing Adventure in Joshua Tree National ParkClimbing

Half-Day Rock Climbing Adventure in Joshua Tree National Park

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Go rock climbing in Joshua Tree National Park on a 4-hour climbing tour. Your guide provides instruction and all necessary gear for this lesson, which is suitable for beginning level climbers. No prior experience needed for this small-group tour.
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  • 4 hours
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US$149.00 
Price varies by group size
From  
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  • 4 hours
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  • Free Cancellation

San Andreas Fault Sunset Jeep Tour from Palm DesertNature & Wildlife

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San Andreas Fault Sunset Jeep Tour from Palm Desert

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Adventure through the desert to the San Andres Fault on this sunset tour by Jeep. Ride from Palm Desert to the fault in an open-air Jeep as you take in beautiful views of the desert at sunset and then under the starry night sky. Along the way, hear stories about the people who previously inhabited or settled in the area. Plus, enjoy personal attention from your guide on this small-group tour, limited to seven people.
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  • 3 hours
From  
US$140.00 
From  
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  • 3 hours

San Andreas Fault Sunset & Stargazing Jeep Tour from Palm DesertNature & Wildlife

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San Andreas Fault Sunset & Stargazing Jeep Tour from Palm Desert

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Enjoy an evening of stargazing in the California desert on this guided small-group tour from Palm Desert. Explore a private, 800-acre preserve on the San Andreas Fault and learn about the desert’s plants, animals, history, geology and earthquakes in an open-air Jeep. Then examine the dark, starry sky with a hand-held tracking device. Granola snacks, bottled water, and a pickup and drop-off from select Palm Desert hotels are included.
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  • 3 hours
From  
US$160.00 
From  
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  • 3 hours

Private Temecula Wine Tasting by H2 Air-Conditioned Hummer from Palm SpringsDay Trips

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Private Temecula Wine Tasting by H2 Air-Conditioned Hummer from Palm Springs

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Taste Temecula’s most celebrated wines on a private full-day tour from Palm Springs, and explore the valley’s dramatic terrain in a powerful H1 Hummer. Pass undulating lines of Syrah and Tempranillo vines as your knowledgeable guide drives you to a series of three wineries, and discover Temecula’s unpretentious approach to fine wines. Sample up to 18 wines that range from classic red and whites to an almond-infused bubbly, pause for a relaxed vineyard lunch, and enjoy the sun-drenched scenery of the Temecula Valley.
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  • 7 hours
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  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$450.00 
Price varies by group size
From  
US$450.00 
Price varies by group size
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  • 7 hours
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  • Free Cancellation

Beginner's Rock Climbing Class in Joshua Tree National ParkClimbing

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Beginner's Rock Climbing Class in Joshua Tree National Park

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The rock climbing in Joshua Tree National Park is billed as “world class.” This course will teach you the basics of the sport in one of the best spots in the world to do it. Your instructor will take the time to make sure you feel comfortable with rock climbing fundamentals like knot tying, belaying, proper communication and vocabulary.  
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  • 4 hours
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  • Free Cancellation
From  
US$149.00 
Price varies by group size
From  
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Price varies by group size
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  • 4 hours
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  • Free Cancellation

Joshua Tree National Park SUV or Van TourDay Trips

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Joshua Tree National Park SUV or Van Tour

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Explore the desert landscape of Joshua Tree National Park by SUV or van on a tour from Palm Springs. Drive over the San Andreas Fault and up steep canyons to scenic viewpoints, and take a guided hike to Hidden Valley. You'll learn from your guide about the history and wildlife of the high and low desert, and get great photo-ops of the sculpture-like rock formations and the famous Dr. Suess-like Joshua trees.
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  • 5 hours 30 minutes
From  
US$250.00 
Price varies by group size
From  
US$250.00 
Price varies by group size
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  • 5 hours 30 minutes


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