Palm Springs is a desert wonderland of breathtaking architecture, idyllic weather, and boundless entertainment. Once a stomping ground for legends like Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe, it’s now one of California’s best spots for seeing the sights and experiencing new adventures. There are plenty of awesome things to do in Palm Springs, but don't be trapped into doing the same touristy things everybody else does (looking at you, Aerial Tramway!). There are things to do here that are far more unique and fun than most travelers know.
Whether you are visiting for Coachella or just looking to relax in one of those snazzy Palm Springs villas, the following activities are lesser known but also more awesome than most of the stuff you've read about.
1. Fly In A World War II Airplane
Even if you don’t consider yourself a huge history buff, the Palm Springs Air Museum is a stunning sight to behold. This place is home to one of the world’s foremost collections of World War II aircraft, including a real Boeing B-17 and a rare P-63 Kingcobra. All planes are meticulously restored so you can see them as they looked when they took to the skies more than 75 years ago, and you can even schedule rides in these incredible vintage planes. If you're feeling extra adventurous, you can even book a ticket to fly in one of the warplanes. This is not just one of the most fun things to do in Palm Springs - it's one of the coolest things you can do anywhere in the world.
Admission is just $16.50 for adults and $9.50 for kids, and discounts are available for seniors and members of the military. The museum is located at 45 N Gene Autry Trail in Palm Springs.
2. Play 1,100 Rare Pinball Machines
Located about 20 miles east of Palm Springs in the city of Banning, the Museum of Pinball is well worth the trek. Imagine losing yourself in a brightly colored playground of 1,100 vintage and contemporary pinball machines and arcade machines. The museum is the largest of its kind, and it includes a number of unique and rarely seen machines including one built in the 1840s that uses real pins. They even throw events such as the INDISC Pinball Festival and the Arcade Expo, where all machines are on FREEPLAY (no quarters needed!). We're pretty sure infinite plays on over one thousand pinball machines is one of the most fun things you can do in Palm Springs today.
The museum is housed in a 40,000 sq. ft. manufacturing warehouse located at 700 South Hathaway, and a $25 admission fee gets you access to unlimited plays.
3. Learn To Drive Like A Pro At The BMW Performance School
If you relish the idea of burning rubber on a real race track in a powerful BMW, head east on the i-10 from Palm Springs to the small community of Thermal, located about 30 miles away. There, you’ll find the BMW & Mini Performance Driving School. You’ll spend the day learning a range of advanced defensive driving maneuvers like high-speed panic braking and emergency lane changes, all of which you’ll get to practice behind the wheel of a real luxury vehicle like a BMW 540i, X3, or X5. To finish out the day, you’ll run laps on a real race track, putting your new skills to good use while living out your Formula 1 fantasies. Make sure to add this to your itinerary as one of the awesome things to do in Palm Springs this weekend (or make it a birthday gift!).
The school is located at 61980 Tyler St. The standard rate is $849 for the one-day course and $1,699 for the two-day course, but Groupon often offers 2-hour sessions for as low as $185 and 4-hour sessions for as low as $349.
4. Experience Cabot’s Pueblo Museum
Venture a few miles north of Palm Springs and you’ll find yourself in Desert Hot Springs, home to Cabot’s Pueblo Museum. The museum is a handmade, Southwestern-style pueblo built from scrap materials in the 1940s, and the stunning structure contains 35 rooms filled with thousands of American Indian and Alaska Native artifacts and art pieces. One of the museum’s most popular fixtures is the Waokiye, a giant wooden sculpture that stands over 40 feet high and weighs more than 20 tons. The American Indian statue is made from a 750-year-old Sequoia redwood log and is the handiwork of artist Peter "Wolf" Toth.
The museum is located at 67616 Desert View Ave., and admission is $13 for adults and $11 for seniors, kids, and members of the military. Guided tours are available.
5. Western Role Playing At Pioneertown
Pioneertown is an authentic Old West movie set complete with a frontier-inspired jail, bank, motel, and bathhouse. It’s a bit of a detour, but it’s worth it to take a selfie at the most photographed post office in America. The weathered-wood post office looks like it was ripped straight from a John Wayne movie, and it’s still fully operational. Take a photo right in front of the facade, and use Instagram’s Earlybird filter to create an authentic Western look, complete with sepia tint and gold tones.
The Pioneertown Post Office is located at 53441 Mane St. Pioneertown, CA 92268
BONUS PALM SPRINGS ACTIVITY:
Take Selfies With The Robolights
We know this post is titled Top 5 Things To Do In Palm Springs but there's one more awesome thing to add to your list of best Palm Springs activities.
Sculpture parks have become popular throughout the world, but the Robolights are unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. Originally erected in 1986, these colorful robots make the perfect excursion for anyone visiting during the holiday season. One of the robots stands a full 50 feet tall. Though the fixtures are located outside of a residential home, the full display is open to the public during the holiday season, and it only costs $5 to enter the property. Dozens of larger-than-life robots combined with millions of multicolored Christmas lights make for quite the spectacle. Think of all the awesome Instagram and SnapChat story opportunities!
You’ll find the Robolights at 1077 E Granvia Valmonte, Palm Springs, CA 92262