Home of incredible Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, Palm Springs Air Museum, Palm Springs Art Museum and plenty of things to do in Palm Springs on Memorial Day. We've compiled some of the best activities to do in Palm Springs on this Memorial Day holiday.
Escape the heat of the desert with a quick ride into the mountains on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway during Memorial Day. Standing on the edge of Palm Springs, Mount San Jacinto rises more than 10,000 feet above the desert floor and can be easily accessed with a ride on the scenic tramway.
The tramway, which opened in 1963, has the world's largest rotating aerial tram cars. The cars are suspended from cables, like a ski lift, and the cables are strung atop metal towers installed on the mountainside. From the top, the view out over the desert is fantastic, and on hot days, the cool air (sometimes 30 to 40 degrees lower than that at the desert floor) can be a refreshing treat. During the winter, there is snow at the top.
In less than 10 minutes, the tram will take you up Chino Canyon to an elevation of 8,500 feet. At the top, called the Mountain Station, there are observation decks, two restaurants, historical displays, and videos on the construction of the tram. From here, 50 miles of hiking trails run through the pine forests of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, including a trail to the summit of Mount San Jacinto (11 miles round trip). You can also camp in the park.
It's fun to go swimming in Palm Springs in the heat of the desert, then drive to the tram, take it up the mountain and play in the snow, all within an hour.
The Palm Springs Air Museum has a large collection of military aircraft, many of which still fly. Planes from World War II along with the Korean and Vietnam Wars are represented. It's a fascinating place to visit as most of the docents who provide tours are veterans themselves, with personal connections to the types of aircraft they talk about.
The aircraft are shown in static displays, and you can also get inside and tour some of them, including a massive B-17 bomber. Much of the collection is displayed inside air-conditioned hangars, so it's a great place to visit on Memorial Day if you're looking for an escape from the city's extreme summer heat.
The Palm Springs Air Museum is located at the Palm Springs International Airport, about 10 minutes from downtown Palm Springs. For those wanting to get up into the sky, the air museum offers flights on some of their rare warbirds.
The Indian Canyons, located at the south end of Palm Springs, is a popular protected nature sanctuary comprised of three unique canyon environments. The area is part of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians reservation and is a great place for hiking and exploring some beautiful desert scenery.
Be sure to start with one of the main areas, Palm Canyon on Memorial Day. This 15-mile long canyon, complete with a creek and waterfalls, is lined with large palm trees. In fact, the canyon is home to the world's largest grove of California fan palms. The canyon is home to a range of hiking trails of varying lengths and difficulties. The Indian Canyons park has a trading post selling souvenirs, Indian art, and other tribal-related items.
Andreas Canyon, another canyon area within the Indian Canyons park, is also worth checking out and is known as a good place to see birds. In the same vicinity is Murray Canyon, with a less frequented hiking trail and better opportunities for spotting deer and other wildlife. There are many hiking trails in the park, and many of those trails take you into multiple canyons.
Tahquitz Canyon is another protected canyon area, also tribal land, located near but not within the Indian Canyons space. This canyon has lots of hiking trails and is home to a 60-foot-tall waterfall. There is a visitor's center with artifact displays, hiking information, and a small theater showing a documentary about the canyon.
Palm Springs and nearby cities like La Quinta, Indian Wells, Rancho Mirage, and Palm Desert have over 100 championship-level golf courses. Many of the city's best courses are public and accessible to anyone during Memorial Day (waiting lists are long during popular periods). The city is a very popular golf destination, as the weather is great for golf (an average of over 300 days of sunshine a year), especially during the winter months. Summer temperatures are extreme, making early morning games the only option.
Aside from the well-groomed and challenging courses, you also get the benefit of the beautiful scenery and desert backdrops. As you play, you're treated to a changing desert landscape with the area's different mountain ranges always visible in the distance.
Popular golf courses playable by the public in the area include PGA West (home to the American Express Desert Classic, formerly the Bob Hope Classic), the Indian Wells Golf Resort (home to the Renaissance Indian Wells, the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells, and the Indian Wells Resort Hotel), Marriott's Shadow Ridge, and the Indian Canyons Golf Resort.
The Palm Springs Art Museum features a combination of fine art, natural history, and performing arts. The museum has been in existence since the late 1930s and formerly focused almost exclusively on desert subjects and artists, but over the years, the direction has shifted to a well-curated collection of modern and contemporary art, including Native American art.
In addition to fine art, the museum has a large collection of Native American craftwork and artifacts. There is also a natural science collection of animals and fossils on display, making the museum a great place to visit for kids and families.
Also on site are two outdoor sculpture gardens. The museum's permanent collections include paintings, photography, glass, pottery, and architecture and design with a focus on American Western art and artists. On Memorial Day, there are also touring and changing temporary exhibitions and shows.
Providing a wide selection of year-round programming, the museum's large Annenberg Theater hosts an extensive series of music, dance, and theater productions and performances.
This large, protected outdoor space covers over 13,000 acres of raw desert and mountain landscapes. It's a partnership between federal, state, and private land-owners, allowing management and preservation of the natural environment.
Located east of Palm Springs, the Coachella Valley Preserve is home to a variety of wildlife. It's made up of three different preserve areas. The best one to visit on Memorial Day is the Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve area, near Palm Desert. There are 30 miles of hiking trails along with multiple oases.
Guided hikes led by volunteer docents are a great way to see the preserve and offer an excellent overview of the area.
The Moorten Botanical Gardens and Cactarium is located just past downtown Palm Springs on the south end of Palm Canyon Drive. The unique nature space offers an incredible display of cacti and desert plants that range from full grown trees to plants just taking root. In the spring, when the desert is coming into bloom, and trees are starting to turn green again, the gardens are at their best.
Moorten is open year-round, but during the cooler months, from fall until spring, you can take a guided tour of the facility offered free with admission.
The gardens are also a commercial nursery, so in addition to being a botanical garden, you can purchase some of the plants to take home with you during Memorial Day visit.