Greater Palm Springs is packed with free fun, no matter what you enjoy. From hiking trails to art museums to street fairs and retro classic car cruise nights, locals and visitors of all ages find a variety of things to do that don’t cost a cent. Together with chill summer deals, vacationing in the oasis is priceless.
1. Palm Springs Art Museum
The nationally noted Palm Springs Art Museum offers “free 2nd Sundays” with children’s activities, performances, exhibitions and films. Admission is also free every Thursday night from 4-8 p.m.
2. Palm Springs VillageFest
Every Thursday night, historic Palm Canyon Drive (between Baristo and Amado) is the place to be. This giant “block party,” a Palm Springs tradition, offers music, food and entertainment. Locals shop the Farmer’s Market. Find unique jewelry, clothing, art and other perfect gifts for those back home.
3. Free Hiking
Explore the natural beauty of the oasis while hiking along mountainsides and palm trees. Hardcore hikers and outdoor-loving families alike find plenty of free trails to explore in Greater Palm Springs. Be sure to go early in the morning and bring lots of water. You can find your perfect trail at www.hikingingps.com.
4. Historical Society and Museum of Palm Desert
The Historical Society and Museum of Palm Desert showcases the rich history of Palm Desert and the celebrities who called it home. Kids love the old fire truck.
5. Cabazon Cultural Museum
Stop by the museum in Indio to learn about the history of the Cabazon Band of Misison Indians in the desert.
6. Night Adventures in the Monument
Discover an array of night creatures with Friends of the Desert Mountains. Family-friendly hikes are scheduled on select days through September.
7. Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert (The Galen)
“Free First Friday Nights” of Music and Art at the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert (The Galen) and its Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden are always fun. Admission to the Galen is free.
8. Fritz Burns Park
Families and dogs enjoy one of La Quinta’s premier parks. Besides the dog park, there are picnic tables, a playground, public art, skate park, swimming pool, tennis courts and a water feature. Located at Avenue 52 and Avenue Bermudas.
9. Shields Date Garden
Opened in 1924, Sheilds Date Garden is worth a visit. Explore the Garden, a 17-acre landscaped date farm and have a date shake or lunch on the patio overlooking the gardens. Don’t miss the free movie, “The Romance and Sex Life of the Date.”
10. Backstreet Art District Art Walk
Tucked along Highway 111 just 10 minutes from downtown Palm Springs is the Backstreet Art District, an enclave of studios and galleries featuring everything from paintings to sculptures to jewelry. Join the free monthly art walk on the first Wednesday of the month from 6-9 p.m.
11. Vista Point
Sweeping views of the Oasis can be found for free with a short drive up Highway 74 to Vista Point. Here, at the edge of the San Bernardino National Forest, you’ll discover a new perspective on the Coachella Valley.
12. Palms to Pines Highway
Turn your trip to Vista Point into a scenic drive along Highway 74, also known as the Palms to Pines Highway. As you climb this winding mountain road, you’ll enjoy desert- and forest-inspired sights before reaching the charming mountain town of Idyllwild.
13. Agua Caliente Cultural Museum
The desert’s past comes to life at the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum, where visitors can learn about the native Cahuilla tribe that originally lived in the Coachella Valley. Learn about basket-weaving techniques, see historic photographs and check out rotating exhibits. Admission is free.
14. Star Parties
The clear skies of Greater Palm Springs are lit up with a dazzling array of stars each night, making stargazing a popular pastime in the Oasis. If you forgot your telescope, the Astronomical Society of the Desert has you covered with their ongoing free Star Parties at Sawmill Trail and the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto National Monument Visitors Center in Palm Desert.
15. Self-Guided Architecture Tour
Greater Palm Springs is home to an incredible collection of midcentury modern architecture designed by greats like Donald Wexler, Albert Frey and E. Stewart Williams—and you can see many of these buildings on a self-guided tour. This itinerary will get you started!
16. Palm Springs Walk of Stars
Did you know Palm Springs has its very own Walk of Stars? Throughout the downtown area, look down and you’ll see a variety of stars dedicated to celebrities, philanthropists and locals who left their mark on the Oasis.
17. Rock Yard Concerts
Rock out at Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, where their Rock Yard concert series features tribute bands for all of your favorite bands and performers of yesteryear. Concerts are free.
18. C.O.D. Street Fair
Saturday and Sunday mornings are abuzz at the College of the Desert campus as dozens of vendors set up shop at this sprawling open-air market. Everything from art to clothing to household items is on sale, plus a food court and farmer’s market are on-site, too.
19. Downtown Palm Springs
Downtown Palm Springs is teeming with storefronts, architecture and history waiting to be discovered. From museums and art galleries to midcentury modern architecture and furnishings, downtown’s Palm Canyon Drive is a must-walk.
Looking for a free souvenir? Why not snap a few unforgettable photos in front of the iconic windmills that stand in front of the San Jacinto Mountains? Photographers love the vantage point off Indian Canyon Drive, where you can get the perfect shot to remember your trip to the Oasis.
21. Play Tennis
The weather in Greater Palm Springs is perfect for outdoor activities, and with plenty of free tennis courts, why wouldn’t you grab a racquet and play a few rounds? You’ll find courts at DeMuth Park and Ruth Hardy Park in Palm Springs.
22. Vintage Shops
Take a stroll down memory lane at one of Greater Palm Springs’ many vintage shops. From home décor to clothing, these shops offer a fun look at midcentury style. Start your exploration on Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs and on Perez Road in Cathedral City.
23. The BUZZ
Colorful trolleys make their way through Palm Springs each day – and they’re free to ride! Hop on the BUZZ and sit back as you soak up the sights of Palm Springs before heading off to your next destination.
24. Full Moon Party at The Ace Hotel Palm Springs
Every full moon brings an evening celebration to The Ace Hotel in Palm Springs. Celebrate the full moon with dancers, a drum circle and card readers, an experience not to be missed.
25. Coachella Walls
In the east valley city of Coachella is ‘Coachella Walls,’ launched in April 2014. The first mural was completed by acclaimed LA artist El Mac and is a moving portrait of a farmworker that you'll view on the side of a downtown Pueblo Viejo building. Check out the multiple murals opposite Dateland Park.
26. Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden
Surround yourself with lush desert landscaping and incredible artwork at the Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden at the Palm Springs Art Museum’s Palm Desert location. The garden is open year-round.
27. Sunday Polo
Experience the thrills of this historic game at Empire Polo Club and Eldorado Polo Club, two beautiful grounds in Indio that host polo matches from January through April. Spectating is free, so pack a polo picnic and make it an afternoon to remember.
29. Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center
Take a deeper look at the midcentury modern design of Greater Palm Springs with exhibits and special events at the Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center, where admission is always free to the public.
30. Chill Deals
Combine your free fun with some great deals on everything, from resorts and meals to attraction by visiting www.chillpass.com – it’s FREE!