7 Top Things to Do in Palm Springs in Summer

The swimming pool at Arrive Hotel in Palm Springs. [Image courtesy of Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels]

The swimming pool at Arrive Hotel in Palm Springs. [Image courtesy of Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels]

These top Palm Springs summer activities are perfect for staying cool and entertained in the desert. 

Some like it hot! Palm Springs, California, can frequently reach over 100 degrees in the summer, but nice swimming pools, fabulous hotels and cool activities make it a fun place to get away for a weekend or even spend a week unwinding. From museums to botanical gardens, homemade gourmet ice cream to mile-high fun, Palm Springs is the perfect luxury getaway in summer. These 7 activities in Palm Springs will help you get the most out of your relaxing desert escape.

View of the swimming pool at Alcazar in Palm Springs. [Image courtesy of Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels]

View of the swimming pool at Alcazar in Palm Springs. [Image courtesy of Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels]

1. Legendary Swimming Pools. In Palm Springs, the pools are legendary. Imagine an oasis with hundreds of sparkling pools, each one with its own personality. Alcazar's saltwater purified pool is surrounded by misters and shaded by palms, while The Santiago's huge swimming pool (it's 20 feet by 50 feet) is the largest hotel pool in the city.

Once a month, Arrive, in association with the Palm Springs Film Society, presents a Dive-In Movie, with flicks starting at dusk. Open to the public (21+), there are seats available poolside, and if you get there early enough, you can grab a float and watch the movie from the pool. There is a fee for drinks, but the movie and popcorn are free.

Arrive will also be featuring DJ’s by the pool every Saturday and Sunday for Spin N Splash. To relax and recharge, join Symara Stone for New Moon Yoga, monthly yoga classes by the pool. For more details, follow Arrive on Facebook and Instagram.

The Moorten Botanical Garden.

The Moorten Botanical Garden.

2. Desert Plant Life. The Moorten Botanical Garden is home to more than 3,000 types of cacti and desert plants grouped by geographic locations. To keep guests cool, it's only open in the summer from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. "The Moorten Botanical Garden is so cute," says Kathy Friedle, owner of The Monkey Tree Hotel. "If you're not from this area and haven't seen cactus life, go there."

To see the best hotel deals in Palm Springs, click here.

The swimming pool at La Maison. [Image courtesy of Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels]

The swimming pool at La Maison. [Image courtesy of Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels]

3. Beautiful Views. In just 10 minutes, the rotating Palm Springs Aerial Tramway lifts visitors up to the top of Mt. San Jacinto State Park, where the temperatures are always lower and the views are unparalleled. Grab dinner at the Peaks Restaurant or Pines Café, and stop for a drink at the Lookout Lounge. The Tramway recently kicked off their "Summer Pass" program offering unlimited rides for $80. (Offer runs now through August 31) and several Palm Springs boutique hotels, including Los Arboles and La Maison, offer tram packages to eliminate having to wait in line to purchase tickets.

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway [Image courtesy of Visit Palm Springs]

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway [Image courtesy of Visit Palm Springs]

Mt. San Jacinto Natural History Association is offering free classes and field education for the 2019 Summer Season in partnership with Mt. San Jacinto State Park & Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Classes run June 16 – October 19, 2019 and include activities such as hikes, talks and workshops. Reservations are required three days prior to the event.

Love a beautiful sunset? Take a red-jeep tour with Desert Adventures where you can enjoy the magical colors of the desert on a Sunset Tour. If you love star gazing, take a closer look at the stars through a state-of-the-art telescope on the Sky Watcher Star Tour. Experienced guides weave together the myths and legends behind each constellation, combining breathtaking views and awe-inspiring astronomy with the heroes, lovers, and tragic figures from cultures around the world.

Go exploring on one of La Maison's cruiser bicycles. La Maison also offers packages for Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. [Image courtesy of Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels]

Go exploring on one of La Maison's cruiser bicycles. La Maison also offers packages for Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. [Image courtesy of Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels]

4. Cool Museums. Felipe Castañeda, owner of Los Arboles Hotel, recommends visiting the Palm Springs Air Museum, which boasts 59 flyable and static planes located inside four air-conditioned hangars. "You can look at the planes, and if you're lucky, some of the servicemen who flew them hang out there and when they see you are interested, start telling stories," he says.

The Monkey Tree Hotel. [Image courtesy of Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels]

The Monkey Tree Hotel. [Image courtesy of Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels]

Another suggestion: Check with the hotel host for summer recommendations. Boutique hoteliers often distinguish themselves by offering an insider's perspective to Palm Springs' hidden summer treasures.

Trio Restaurant in Palm Springs.

Trio Restaurant in Palm Springs.

5. The Restaurant Scene. Palm Springs is home to a vibrant restaurant scene with hip new eateries as well as classic restaurants that will bring you back to the days of Old Hollywood and the Rat Pack era. Melyvn’s Restaurant will transport you to the days of Hollywood glamour complete with nightly entertainment. Or grab a drink at Tonga Hut, a retro tiki bar with island-inspired drinks. The Rat Pack era comes alive at The Purple Room, a sophisticated supper club with world class cuisine, classic cocktails and live entertainment.

For something new, visit the recently opened  Tac/Quila with flavors of the heart and soul of Mexico.  Or try one of our favorite local spots for Mexican cuisine, family owned La Perlita, a low key hidden gem off the beaten path. Downtown you’ll find Tropicale Restaurant with Executive Chef Tony Di Lembo, once the personal chef of Barbara Streisand.  LuLu California Bistro has tons of menu items to choose from and an eclectic collection of art. We’re told, you can't miss the classic Italian cuisine at Johnny Costa's. From the chic and swanky atmosphere to the creative menu, Eight4Nine is the perfect spot for a date night or group get together.

Enjoy 16 different gourmet ice cream flavors every day at Arrive's ice cream shop!

Enjoy 16 different gourmet ice cream flavors every day at Arrive's ice cream shop!

If you have a sweet tooth, cool down with a gourmet shake or malt. Try the delicious delights at Great ShakesKreemLappert's Ice Cream, or Gelato Granucci. To satisfy a late night craving for cold, Arrive's Ice Cream & Shop(pe) stays open until 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and midnight on Friday and Saturday.

Edris House, a mid-century modern home in Palm Springs.

Edris House, a mid-century modern home in Palm Springs.

6. Mid-Century Modern Style. We love the mid-century architecture, furniture, and art that is everywhere in Palm Springs. Stop by the Palm Springs Visitor’s Center to grab a map and take a self-guided tour of some of the most famous mid-century locations, including The Wexler Steel Houses, The Kaufmann House and Elvis’ Honeymoon Hideaway

Iconic Atomic courtesy [Image courtesy of Visit Palm Springs]

Iconic Atomic courtesy [Image courtesy of Visit Palm Springs]

For some fun vintage shopping filled with colorful Palm Springs style check out Iconic Atomic and The Frippery.

Palm Springs Yacht Club at The Parker in Palm Springs. [Image courtesy of Palm Springs Yacht Club]

Palm Springs Yacht Club at The Parker in Palm Springs. [Image courtesy of Palm Springs Yacht Club]

7. Top Spas. With so many fabulous spas to choose from, a relaxing weekend of pampering and lounging by the pool will have you feeling incredibly refreshed. Some stellar options include Estrella Spa at the Avalon Palm Springs, Palm Springs Yacht Club at The Parker, The Ritz-Carlton Spa and The Spa at Desert Springs, to name a few. La Maison has partnered with Studio M Salon and Spa to provide guests with a selection of in-room services. Relax in nature and enjoy the world-famous mineral hot springs at Two Bunch Palms, where you can try treatments including Craniosacral Therapy, Chakra Balance Massage, Desert Detox Clay Wraps and Water Shiatsu.

See our guide to the top Palm Springs spas!

Thank you to Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels and Visit Palm Springs for the Palm Springs tips!

[Updated: 6/10/19]

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Lizzy Sherman is an award-winning digital content writer/editor. She has been a featured guest speaker at Cal State University Northridge, Digital LA and The National Association of Audience Marketing Professionals. When she's not writing, Lizzy enjoys yoga and playing guitar. Follow her on Instagram: @zillizy