When Blue Diamond Almonds asked me to share my favorite things to see and do in Palm Springs, other than vintage shopping, I knew exactly what I wanted to share: My Favorite Free Things To Do in Palm Springs!
One of Fred Baby and my favorite things to do is to hop in the car and go exploring and we’ve found a few favorite spots along the way. Except that undoubtedly, the same thing always happens…We’re out enjoying the road less taken and then I suddenly become hangry. Yes, angry because I’m hungry. But I never want to stop and do a full lunch because I know once that happens, I’ll just want to go home and nap (man, I really am a Golden Girl!). Do you suffer from the same affliction? Fear not, dear explorers, there’s a solution: a car picnic.
Come along on the ride while I share my Top 5 Free Things To Do in Palm Springs + How to Pack a Car Picnic.
1. Open Houses & Architecture
Palm Springs is famous for mid-century modern architecture, and unlike Star Map tours in LA, most of these modern marvels are not hidden behind high gates, which means we can ogle them any time we like. Fred Baby and I love to hop in the car and drive around neighborhoods like Vista Las Palmas, once enjoyed by Hollywood elite like Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin, to swoon over architectural gems like the Kaufmann House (above) by architect Richard Neutra, which is the location of my favorite Slim Aarons photo, and the Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway (below), where the King honeymooned with his bride Priscilla. Of course, my favorite houses are the Swiss Miss A-frames (aren’t they darling?). We also love going to open houses. Mid-century modern architecture + a peek into how people live = a fab free time in Palm Springs!
2. Palm Springs Art Museum & Villagefest Street Fair
The Palm Springs Art Museum is not only a great place to get out of the sun and to cool off (it’s always kept at a refreshing 75 degrees), it also has really interesting exhibitions going on, from Picasso retrospectives to amazing architecture exhibitions. And it’s free admission on Thursdays from 4-8pm as well as on the second Sunday of each month. We love to pop in on Thursdays and then head on over to another favorite free Palm Springs institution, the Thursday night street fair, Villagefest, which features artists, food booths, entertainment and more in the heart of downtown Palm Springs (on Palm Canyon Drive between Baristo and Amado; Oct-May 6-10pm; June-Sept 7-10pm).
3. Vintage Car Shopping
Not only is Palm Springs is a mecca for mid-century modern architecture, it’s also a mecca for classic cars. We love popping by the vintage car dealerships (at Indian Canyon & Amado) and playing favorites: Which car would you drive home? I’m dying for a vintage white Mercedes from the 50s or 60s. Any year is fine, I’m not picky. 😉
4. Frank Bogert Hiking Trail
Palm Springs is filled with great hiking options, but our favorite spot is the Frank Bogert Hiking Trail. Tucked away behind a residential neighbor hood, it’s an easy hike (which you’ll appreciate in the sweltering sun), the views are incredible, it’s free and it’s never crowded — in fact, we are usually the only people on it. But do proceed with caution, as we have passed a rattle snake more than once…it is the desert after all. (Head south on Palm Canyon Drive towards Indian Canyons; turn left onto Bogert Trail and continue to the end of the street.)
5. Palm Springs Windmills
Perhaps the most iconic, the Palm Springs windmills are probably my absolute favorite free activity in Palm Springs. I love to twirl in the windmills and it’s fun to snap silly photos too — a must if you’re visiting Palm Springs. The easiest and best spot to frolic and snap photos in the windmills is on Indian Canyon Road in North Palm Springs. Happy frolicking!
Those are my favorite free things to do in Palm Springs! Have anything you’d like to add? Let me know in the comments!
How to Pack a Car Picnic
Now here’s how to pack a car picnic to keep your energy up for all of these adventures…
Packing a car picnic is so easy, I’m not sure why we haven’t always done it. Grab your favorite picnic basket (or cooler) and toss in a few satiating items such as blueberries, shaved parmesan or cheddar cubes, and Blue Diamond Almonds (The Blueberry and Salt N Vinegar flavors are my absolute favorites). They’re easily portable, don’t melt or go bad, plus they’re deelish and way healthier — and less messy — than a candy bar or bag of chips. I now keep the to-go bags in my purse and in the glove compartment for hangry emergencies.
Toss in your favorite drink — I’ve been on a sparkling water kick lately…somehow it just feels fancy! — and you’re set on food.
A picnic blanket or beach towel (how cute is this flamingo towel by TIDE & POOL?) and you’ll always have a comfy spot to sit. That’s it! If you feel like getting extra fancy, cute paper plates like these MADHOUSE ones, along with a cutting board (why does everything look better on wood?) and you’re set for a fancy car picnic.
Now I’d love to know: What do you pack for your adventures?
Art direction + styling by Kelly Lee for Kelly Golightly
Photography by Fred Baby
A huge thank you to Blue Diamond Almonds for sponsoring this post and being the glue that holds my marriage together (I jest…kind of).
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