Hike Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument
Many of Greater Palm Springs’ free hiking trails are located at higher elevations, where summer temperatures can be up to 30 degrees cooler. The Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument is a great place to start. Be sure to visit the Monument Visitor Center on Highway 74 in Palm Desert, offering trail maps, a bookstore and gift shop. Keep your cameras handy - you may spot a rare peninsular bighorn sheep bounding across the trail!
Our valley’s parks and outdoor centers are perfect for enjoying free movies, concerts, 4th of July Celebrations and more all summer long! Treat yourself to free evening movies at Coachella’s Dateland Park or Rancho Mirage’s Whitewater Park; free concerts at Palm Desert Civic Center Park; and a free Father’s Day Celebration and 4th of July Fireworks at La Quinta’s Fritz Burns Park. Pack up the family, bring a picnic lunch or dinner and our parks will take care of the rest!
Chill on Palm Canyon Drive
Walking downtown Palm Springs is a main attraction in itself (and free!). Palm Canyon Drive is downtown’s main artery, where you’ll find the Palm Springs Walk of the Stars – a tribute to more than 250 celebrities, movers and shakers who made our oasis what it is today. Bring your camera and get your photo with life-size statues of former Palm Springs Mayor Sonny Bono (across from historic La Plaza) and comedienne Lucille Ball (east corner of Tahquitz). Don’t forget to use the free parking structure at Palm Canyon Drive & Baristo Road.
Shop Local Crafts at VillageFest
And while you’re on Palm Canyon Drive … every Thursday night from 7-10 p.m., Palm Springs’ main drag pulsates to a carnival-like beat during VillageFest. Don’t miss this awesome free and outdoor street festival with arts and crafts vendors, musicians, food booths, and a Farmers Market featuring the freshest fruits, veggies and more. The hip sidewalk cafes that line Palm Canyon Drive offer choice vantage points for some of the best people-watching in town.
Cruise College of the Desert Street Fair
For early risers, start summer weekend mornings with more than 300 vendors who set up shop at this free and popular open-air bazaar, held at College of the Desert every Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to noon (summer hours). Bring your own favorite coffee beverage and pick up a breakfast burrito or yummy doughnut in the food court. The COD Street Fair aisles are filled with all kinds of unique merchandise ideal for affordable gift-giving.
Find Culture at Palm Springs Art Museum
With two locations to choose from (Palm Springs and Palm Desert), both Palm Springs Art Museum locations are open to the public. Palm Springs has free admission every Thursday evening and Palm Desert has free admission every Friday evening from 4-8 p.m. The Palm Springs facility offers free admission and programming the second Sunday of each month, and free films each Thursday evening at 6 p.m. Both museums showcase the finest displays of contemporary art in Southern California and feature rotating exhibits.
Tour Midcentury Modern Architecture
Palm Springs is home to one of the largest concentrations of mid-century modern architecture and historic and celebrity homes, most which can be seen for free via a self-guided tour from the comfort of your own car. Just off Palm Canyon Drive, the neighborhoods of Twin Palms and Racquet Club are brimming with iconic mid-century modern architecture, while Las Palmas and The Mesa are great neighborhoods for celebrity homes past and present.
Visit a Real Palm Oasis
Get your day going with a sunrise hike through Coachella Valley Preserve, located 10 miles east of Palm Springs near Thousand Palms. You’ll find free parking and free admission at this home to several magnificent palm oases, plus massive sand dunes and the rare Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard. This 20,000 acre natural wonderland, situated atop the world famous San Andreas Fault, is plentiful with black-tailed jackrabbits, bobcats, sidewinders and more than 183 bird species.
Greater Palm Springs is unsurpassed for awesome twilight dawns and warm summer nights that invite a completely free view of billions of stars above. Minimal street lighting means less light pollution at night, which makes our after-hours sky a brilliant canvas of stars and planets. You can stargaze from just about anywhere in Greater Palm Springs, even with just the naked eye! Bring your telescope for an exceptional look at the constellations. No charge!
Soak Up the Sun
Go ahead. Get yourself a healthy Palm Springs glow (and a super dose of Vitamin D) – all in moderation, of course. Our legendary sunshine, dry desert heat and great outdoors have made us a year-round health and wellness destination for visitors from around the world -- and we want you to enjoy it, too. (But bring along the sun block, and be sure to stay hydrated with plenty of fresh water!)