With its blend of leisure and adventure, Palm Springs is a premier destination for senior travelers. There's so much to do for the sedate and the sprightly, and many attractions prioritize accessibility, ample shaded seating areas for breaks, and fun for all ages. One of the perks of being a senior is receiving significant discounts on entry fees, so you have that to look forward to as well. We've curated options to fill a 7-day itinerary, and it's worth noting that sipping on a happy-sigh-inducing date shake is possible at more than one of the following locations.
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is the city's most recommended attraction and with good reason. It's the largest of its kind in the world. You'll be treated to rotating views of the Chino Canyon cliffs while you ascend for 10 minutes to Mount San Jacinto. The cable car is safe, and the operators often play music to get the good vibes going, with passengers singing along. Once you reach the top, you can hike amidst pine trees, but it's chillier on the mountain, so carry a sweater. The stations and tram car are wheelchair accessible. You may want to go up when it's light out and descend as the city's lights twinkle for the full experience.
How about some retail therapy? Shopping in Palm Springs is all about luxury and enjoying the finer things in life, but you can still pick up some bargains. El Paseo Shopping District comprises a mile of stylish restaurants to keep those hunger pangs in check in between bouts of browsing upscale stores, and all within a stone's throw of elegant hotels. A courtesy cart makes getting around that much easier. Forty minutes away, you'll find Desert Hills Premium Outlets. This center is a must-visit if you love a good deal. It has high-end brands but with significant discounts in the mix, and gets busy, so you may want to take a mask.
If it's a convivial family atmosphere you're after, it's hard to beat VillageFest on Thursday nights. Palm Canyon Drive closes to vehicles and makes way for a colorful fair. The street thrums with live music, and vendors sell flowers, handmade arts and crafts, and yummy food (including free samples). Comfortable footwear is advisable.
The Coachella Valley Preserve is a 20,000-acre protected area where dunes formed over millennia are home to rare creatures like the fringe-toed lizard, the roundtailed ground squirrel, and the giant red velvet mite. If you're keen on a 2-mile hike, try the McCallum Trail, which cuts through the Thousand Palms Oasis. Hours vary by season.
Whether you're new to golf during retirement or you've had the same set of trusted clubs for years, Palm Springs won't let you down with its perpetually warm and dry conditions. Pack your sunscreen and get ready to tee off from one of the many courses designed by big names. Bighorn (Mountains) has an uber-impressive clubhouse, but it's private. The best golf course with green fee access is the Stadium course at PGA West. When you're ready to unwind, give 'Shots in the Night' at Indian Wells Golf Resort a go. It melds mini golf with glow-in-the-dark targets and lasers.
Beat the heat with an outing to the world-class Palm Springs Art Museum, celebrating the region's artists and culture. The museum was founded in 1938 and has a modern sensibility focusing on design and contemporary visual and performing arts. You can spend at least two hours admiring the pieces within the institute's walls and the marvelous sculpture garden. Thursday nights are free, and the fabulous ambiance is bolstered by tasteful DJing. Collections include Native American works, photography by Andy Warhol and Nan Goldin, and glass art by Dale Chihuly.
What does it take to create electricity out of thin air? Windmill blades that are as long as football fields, for starters. You can learn fun facts like this and more on a Palm Springs Windmill Tour, perfect for spouting to grandkids or your neighbors' children. Explore a real wind turbine farm for about an hour and a half with the help of a nifty app, and learn about sustainable green energy options. You can leave your car to take close-up pictures of the structures.
Sunrise hikes aren't for everyone, but if you like starting your day nice and early and enjoying the relative serenity of dawn, a Palm Springs sunrise hike should be high on your to-do list. Go with a group so you can worry less about navigating and focus instead on savoring the fresh air and Coachella Valley views. This is a great place to do deep breathing exercises or practice mindfulness, so carry something you can sit on comfortably.
Ever heard of a soundbath? It's an immersive aural experience with a meditation component. All you have to do is sit back and listen to the different sound frequencies created by your healing practitioner over a stress-relieving and uplifting 30-plus minutes. Ambient nature-inspired music may also accompany the live gongs and bowls. There's no better place in SoCal to try a sound bath than at the Integratron in Landers, but there are offerings in Palm Springs, too.
Throw it way back and ride on a covered mule-drawn open-air wagon while a naturalist recounts Pioneer history and explains the local ecology and geology (the San Andreas Fault is kind of a big deal) without boring you. Stretch your legs with a guided nature walk, or stay put and be whisked away to a campfire at a ranch. You'll hear folk and country music, participate in lively line dancing, or play cowboy games. The night ends with a barn BBQ and toasted marshmallows.
You only need WhatsApp and a charged phone for this fun Joshua Tree adventure, which is suitable if you're traveling with at least one other person. Work with teammates to engage with the park, solve clues, and generally have a blast in Hidden Valley. Try to start early to stay cool, and your experience will be memorable for all the right reasons.
Why not do a self-driving audio tour for a flexible, independent Joshua Tree National Park exploration? The Action Tour Guide app lets you linger where you want to while expounding upon the features that catch your attention. You'll hear about dramatic criminal exploits and learn about special spots that most people overlook. Download the tour in advance for a seamless offline experience.
If you loved the Joshua Tree self-guided driving tour, you can similarly explore California's highlights with 11 bundled driving tours to enhance six travel days. The tours cover everything from celebrity mansions to Silicon Valley, Lake Tahoe, Big Sur, Death Valley, and Yosemite National Park, and they never expire.
Discover the tranquil beauty of the Moorten Botanical Garden, a hidden gem perfect for a leisurely day. This family-owned garden showcases a stunning variety of desert plants and cacti from around the world, arranged in charming, themed areas. The paths are easy to navigate, offering a peaceful stroll amidst the natural beauty of the desert. This is an ideal outing for seniors looking to enjoy the beauty of Palm Springs at a relaxed pace.
You can see and do a lot during a week in Palm Springs, beginning with a delightful twirl up to Mount San Jacinto on a cable car. From there, it all depends on your interests. You can flash your card at the outlet malls, appreciate the A-plus fairways, eat snacks at a street fair, hike, peruse art, contemplate renewable power solutions, ride an open-air wagon, go on a scavenger hunt or self-guided driving tour, or test the waters of a sound bath. Take it easy and stay hydrated in between activities, and you'll have the best time.