Greater Palm Springs is a region full of endless possibilities, including the opportunity to see and enjoy some of the most beautiful desert landscapes around. It’s no wonder the oasis is filled with amazing scenic panoramas and charming garden views that make for stunning picnic adventures and moments.
For a roundup of some of the best places to picnic in the oasis, read ahead. A list of great places to purchase delicious picnic meals in the desert can also be found below, for all you picnic foodies out there!
Places to Picnic in the Oasis
Moorten Botanical Garden in downtown Palm Springs is a historic landmark location that can best be described as a cactus lover’s delight. The family-owned and operated botanical garden features over 3,000 varieties of desert plants, birds, crystals and relics, as well as a nursery and stunning cactarium.
Visitors of all ages are welcome to tour the property and picnic on site. Guests are invited to bring lunch with them and may occupy the seating area set up for them to sit back, relax and enjoy the surroundings. Price of admission is $5 for adults and seniors, $2 for children 15 and under and children under the age of five are free.
Moorten Botanical Garden is open year round, with hours varying each season. The garden is closed on Wednesday, but is open from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. during the winter, spring and fall, and from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. during the summer. It is located at 1701 S Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs.
Experience the allure, history and artistry that Sunnylands Center & Gardens has to offer by planning a day trip and picnicking at the renowned site in Rancho Mirage. Sunnylands Center & Gardens is a part of the estate and retreat center built by the late Ambassadors Walter and Leonore Annenberg, offering visitors information about the history and cultural significance of the notable home and property. The center provides an enchanting space for the public to learn from educational exhibits, take in exquisite art from the Sunnylands Collection and enjoy the sights from the nine-acre aesthetic gardens.
Guests interested in picnicking at the Center & Gardens may bring food onto the garden grounds, utilizing the benches and Great Lawn for picnics. Bags and coolers smaller than 12x14 inches are welcome on the property as well. Admission to the Center & Gardens is free and no reservations are needed.
Sunnylands Center & Gardens is open to the public Thursday through Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. It is located at 37977 Bob Hope Dr., Rancho Mirage.
Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians/Kate Anderson
Take a step back in time and explore the ancestral lands of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians in Palm Springs. Upon arriving, choose from Palm Canyon, Andreas Canyon or Murray Canyon for your hiking experience. Special features of the Indian Canyons include rock art, house pits, foundations, irrigation ditches, dams, reservoirs and food preparation areas that are still on display for visitors exploring the area.
Guests are welcome to picnic within the canyons, and are also invited to use the picnic tables along the trails or may picnic near the streams. Price of admission is $9 for adults, $7 for seniors and students, $5 for children (ages six though twelve) and free for military (with ID).
The Indian Canyons are located at 38520 S Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs. From October 1 to July 4, the canyons are open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. From July 5 to September 30, the canyons are open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Tahquitz Canyon offers visitors a two-mile loop trail that leads to an impressive, seasonal 60-foot waterfall, which makes for a spectacular picnic backdrop. Tahquitz Canyon also offers visitors amazing views along the way that includes streams, rock art, native wildlife and plants. Price of admission is $12.50 for adults, $6 for children (ages six though twelve) and free for military (with ID).
Tahquitz Canyon is located at 500 W. Mesquite Ave, Palm Springs. From October 1 to July 4, the canyon is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. From July 5 to September 30, the canyon is open from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
A zoo and botanical garden unlike any other in Southern California, The Living Desert is an ideal location for picnicking in the Palm Desert area. The gardens at The Living Desert add to the wonder of the park and create a natural beauty that is undeniable for attendees. A special feature of the gardens is that they represent different geographical regions around the globe, showcasing the diverse forms adopted by plants found growing within harsh conditions typical of the world’s deserts.
With an abundance of seating areas available throughout The Living Desert, park visitors may picnic at any one of the many benches or tables on property–or better yet, enjoy one of the many off-the-beaten paths for an experience that is truly unique. Admission into the zoo is $19.95 for adults, $17.95 for seniors (62+), $9.95 for children (ages three to twelve) and children under the age of three are free.
The Living Desert is open daily from October 1 to May 31, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Summer hours are from June 1 to September 30, 8:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. It is located at 47900 Portola Ave., Palm Desert.
For many locals and frequent visitors, the Coachella Valley Preserve has been–for the most part–a well-kept secret in Greater Palm Springs. Hikers of all ages and levels of expertise have the chance to explore miles of wildlife and trails, learn about the San Andreas Fault that runs through the oasis and take in beautiful sites and views, all within the hills of the Thousand Palms Canyon.
The Preserve is unique to other hiking locations in the desert as it offers approximately 20,000 acres of hiking trails, and is home to the Thousand Palms Oasis. This oasis is fed by water coming from the San Andreas Fault in the form of springs, ponds and creeks throughout the property. These same springs, ponds, and creeks are also the main water source for the California Fan Palms, otherwise known as Washingtonia filifera, that are also found all throughout the Preserve. Because of this and the natural beauty the Preserve exudes, picnicking there makes for a truly relaxing experience.
Visitors are welcome to picnic at the tables under the palms, the Tamarisk Grove along the McCallum and Moon Country Trail, the benches up at McCallum Grove and the picnic table at Pushwalla Palms. Visiting the Preserve is free, but donations are accepted and greatly appreciated.
Hours of operation are 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. for the months of October through April, and 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. for the months of May through September. The Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve is located at 29200 Thousand Palms Canyon Road, Thousand Palms.
Plan a picnic from 8,516 feet above the desert floor at the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway! The tram provides adventurers the opportunity to experience the world’s largest rotating tramcar, offering 360-degree views of the Greater Palm Springs area as you go up to Mountain Station in Mount San Jacinto State Park. Once at the top, take in breathtaking views, go on a nature hike or enjoy a meal in the great outdoors.
You may choose to sit at the designated picnic area at the station, or you can find your own special area along the trails. Price of admission is $25.95 for adults, $23.95 for seniors (65+) and $16.95 for children (ages three to ten).
Hours of operation for the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway vary and can be found here. It is located at 1 Tram Way, Palm Springs.
Located about a half-hour away from downtown Palm Springs off Interstate 10, Whitewater Preserve provides a cool place to hang out, as well as outdoor fun for everyone. If offers approximately 2,851 acres of land to explore, hike, camp and of course picnic at. In addition, visitors may also fish on the property, take part in free activities for children, participate in volunteer projects and go for a dip in the Preserve’s refreshing swimming hole.
Guests visiting the park can choose from several areas within Whitewater to eat their picnic spread, including the Whitewater River, which flows year-round. Admission and access into the Preserve is free, but registration with the ranger is mandatory if planning on hiking or camping within the park.
Whitewater Preserve is open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It is located at 9160 Whitewater Canyon Rd, Whitewater.
A true treat in the Indio area, Shields Date Garden is a historic date orchard and tourist attraction that is an ideal spot for garden roaming, exploring and dining. The property includes a storefront full of enjoyable items like dates grown on site, dried nuts and fruits, fresh citrus, candies and many other novelties. The attraction also boasts a popular café serving breakfast and lunch, as well as a garden path that winds through a 17-acre date farm.
Visitors are invited to explore the garden center and take a self-guided tour. For guests wishing to picnic on the property, snacks and date shakes are available for purchase from the on-site store, as outside food is not allowed.
Shields Date Garden is open daily, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It is located at 80225 CA-111, Indio.
As the only park in the Coachella Valley offering equestrian riding, individual and group campsites, hiking, fishing, and a swimming pool, Lake Cahuilla in La Quinta provides a much-needed nature getaway for all. Visitors may escape for there for a day or stay overnight to experience family outdoor fun in a picturesque setting.
The area is perfect for picnics and barbeques, with picnic tables for guests on the open grass throughout the park. The Santa Rosa Mountains that surround the park also create striking vistas, making Lake Cahuilla a stand-out location in the region. Price of admission to the recreational area ranges with activity, but a breakdown of costs is available for viewing online.
Hours of operation for Lake Cahuilla vary and can be found on the park’s website. It is located at 58075 Jefferson St., La Quinta.
Places to Grab a Picnic From
Known for their exceptional customer service, over-the-top sandwich creations and freshly baked breads and dessert offerings, TKB (The Kid’s Business) Bakery & Deli is a top restaurant choice in the Greater Palm Springs area. The family-owned Indio eatery offers an abundant amount of hot and cold sandwiches that are all equally delicious and will have you coming back for more. A few favorites off the menu include The Trump, the Pesto Chicken Ranch Club and the Mexican Meatloaf, just to name a few.
So before you depart on your next picnic outing in the oasis, be sure to stop by and pick up some of the best-prepared and flavored sandwiches around. One bite of any one of their deli selections and you’ll see why TKB is a local favorite, as well as a Yelp.com top place to eat!
TKB Bakery & Deli is open Monday through Saturday from 7:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and is closed on Sundays. It is located at 44911 Golf Center Pkwy, Indio.
The healthiest foods and meals in town can be found at Nature’s Health Food & Café in Palm Springs. The establishment offers a vegan and vegetarian menu that includes organic produce and gluten-free options, as well as an Organic Juice & Espresso Bar. All together, the café provides over 100 items to choose from, making it a great choice for anyone looking to share a healthy bite during their picnic or outdoor adventure.
Nature’s Health Food & Café is open seven days a week, from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. It is located at 555 S. Sunrise Way #301, Palm Springs.
It doesn’t get much better than The Real Italian Deli when it comes to enjoying great tasting food and savory products! Bringing the flavor and taste of Italy to the desert, the deli has two convenient locations for picnickers to visit–their original deli in Palm Desert and their newly opened store in Palm Springs.
Made-to-order sandwiches and authentic Italian dishes make this place special and a top deli destination in the Coachella Valley. The deli also sells fresh cheeses, artisan-style breads, house-cured deli meats, olive oils, pastas, fine wines and specialty grocery products for those looking for a European-inspired feast!
The Real Italian Deli in Palm Desert is located at 44795 San Pablo Drive–Suite 1. The Real Italian Deli in Palm Springs is located at 100 South Sunrise Way–Suite B. Hours of operation vary for each location.
Sherman’s Deli & Bakery is a food gem in the oasis, serving up kosher-style Jewish dishes and an extensive menu of New York style favorites for breakfast, lunch and dinner. With locations in both Palm Desert and Palm Springs, picnickers are in for a real treat when visiting the famous deli and bakery. Head on over and try one of the many options on Sherman’s Famous Sandwich Board for a delectable to-go lunch, and while you’re there, don’t forget to pick-up one of their must-try desserts!
Sherman’s Deli & Bakery is open from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. daily at both locations. Their Palm Desert restaurant is located at 73-161 Country Club Drive, and their Palm Springs restaurant is located at 401 E Tahquitz Canyon Way.
To learn about more reasons to spend time in the oasis this season, check out our must-read list for visiting Greater Palm Springs in winter.