Free Things to Do in Greater Palm Springs

Whether you’re a history buff hoping to tour homes from yesteryear, an outdoor enthusiast in search of adventure or an art lover looking for creative inspiration, you’ll discover countless things to do in Greater Palm Springs that don’t cost a cent. 

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 deals, vacationing in this Southern California oasis is priceless. 

Prior to visiting, you'll want to call ahead to ensure the businesses you are planning to visit are open with regular hours.

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1. Palm Springs Art Museum

The internationally noted Palm Springs Art Museum offers exhibitions, activities, lectures, and performances. Admission is free with advance registration for Free Thursday Nights from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. as well as on the Family+ series of activities on the third Sunday of every month from 12:00 – 4:00 p.m.

2. 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 mindful of temperatures, go in the early morning and bring plenty of water.

Hiker standing on a mountainside trail near Palm Springs


3. Cabazon Cultural Museum

Stop by the museum in Indio to learn about the history of the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians in the desert.

4. Friends of the Desert Mountain

Discover an array of night creatures with Friends of the Desert Mountains. Embark on an evening desert adventure! Enjoy a stroll along the Art Smith Trail, exploring the fascinating nocturnal animals inhabiting our desert. This event welcomes families, and minors must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Remember to bring water and wear closed-toed shoes for comfort and safety.

5. Cascade Lounge at Agua Caliente Palm Springs

Stop by Cascade Lounge at Agua Caliente Casino Palm Springs for a booming nightlife. This lounge offers free live entertainment four nights of the week including Cascade Nights Dance Party (Friday & Saturday); Mimosas, Martinis & Music (Mondays), and Sunday Latin Nights.

6. Shields Date Garden

Opened in 1924, Shields 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.” 

7. 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 all year long. Join the free monthly art walk on the first Wednesday of the month from 5-7 p.m.

8. Coachella Valley Preserve

Visit one of the many natural highlights of Greater Palm Springs, the Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve at the Coachella Valley Preserve. Make your way through large clusters of desert fan palms, observe flowing streams, wildlife and more.

9. Palms to Pines Highway

Take 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.

roue 74 lookout point web


10. Outdoor Public Art

The oasis has no shortage of wonderful locations for casual visitors and art-connoisseurs alike to enjoy. Visit visionary murals and astounding sculptures, perfect for snapping a quick Instagram photo or learning more about local history and culture.

11. Stargazing

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 stargazing opportunities at Rancho Mirage Library & Observatory as well as at Sawmill Trail and the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto National Monument Visitors Center in Palm Desert. 

12. 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.

13. Sunnylands Center & Gardens

*Closed for the summer from June 3 - September 10, 2024. The 2024-2025 season will begin September 11, 2024.

Explore this historic site with a free visit to the center and gardens. Discover unique sculptures, breathtaking mountain and garden views and a variety of multi-media displays offering information about the history of Sunnylands and its founders, Walter and Leonore Annenberg. 

14. Rock Yard Concerts

The Rock Yard outdoor concert stage is an amphitheater-style area featuring two side-by-side stages holding audiences of passionate music fans. The Rock Yard runs from Spring to Fall and is always live, always free, and always outdoors. New beer and drink specials (often themed to the bands performing on stage) are offered weekly. Guests must be 18 and older to rock. 

15. 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.

Store fronts in Downtown Palm Springs


16. Windmills

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 this Southern California oasis.


17. 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.

18. 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. Must-visits include Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs and Perez Road in Cathedral City.

19. Get Your Instagram On

Looking to up your 'gram game? Greater Palm Springs is bursting with spots to give your followers some serious FOMO. Beyond the classic poolside shots, you'll find murals, modernism and more to make your Instagram swoon-worthy.

20. Take a Trip to the Salton Sea

Take a short drive to a majestic sea in the middle of a sweeping desert. Check out this guide on what to do and see while visiting the Salton Sea, including wildlife, mud volcanoes, Salvation Mountain and more.

Combine your free fun with some great deals on everything from resorts and meals to attractions and things to do. Check out the best deals in Palm Springs and beyond.


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