30 Highly Rated Palm Springs Tours & Excursions

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During a visit to Palm Springs, it is easy to get lost in all there is to do and see. Before you go, it’s a good idea to narrow your focus and chose a couple of Palm Springs excursions that fit your vacation style. Planning ahead can help you know what to expect, what to pack, and most of all, what to anticipate!

In addition to gorgeous artwork and incredible culture, this area is known for the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape. Therefore, something to remember about many of the excursions in Palm Springs, California, is that they are outside. Some are more intense than others, but several of the tours in Palm Springs include hiking of some kind, or another outdoor adventure type situation. With that in mind, be sure to read the description carefully before you book!

Not everything is off-roading however – there are plenty of ways to enjoy the great outdoors without getting covered in desert dust. We’ve found all sorts of hidden gems among the Palm Springs tours that will fit every group, every need, and every vacation.

Palm Springs Tours:

Outdoor Adventures

Lovers of nature have come to the right place. There are so many incredible walking, hiking, and biking tours in Palm Springs. Find the one that best fits your pace, as well as several different locations from which to choose.

Indian Canyons Walking Tour

Indian Canyon's tour in small car
Source: Viator

Explore the ancestral home of the Cahuilla tribes in one of the most amazing Palm Springs tours. A combination of hiking and riding, this Jeep-tour takes you through the Andreas and Palm Canyons to explore rich Native American history. You can even get authentic Native American souvenirs from a trading post at the end of your journey.

Throughout the journey, your guide is there to help answer your questions and tell the amazing story of the native desert peoples. They also know quite a bit about the flora and fauna in the area, and are happy to share their knowledge. While your hike is an easy-going pace, still plan to bring water and dress appropriately. There is a spot where you’ll get to see a waterfall and hidden cave waters, so you might also want to pack extra clothes in case you get wet. You’ll meet your guide in Palm Springs before heading out together to the canyons via Jeep.

Distance from Palm Springs: Zero miles! (starting point)

Indian Canyons Bike and Hike Tour

Source: Viator

Beginning in Palm Springs, enjoy a ten-mile bike ride out to Indian Canyons before taking part in your hike. During the bike ride, you’ll have chance to see the unique architecture of the modernist neighborhoods before getting to the park. While the hike is a leisurely pace, you should be ready for some climbing activity! You also will be gone for about half a day, so plan accordingly.

Including in the tour are all your rentals – bike, helmet, and entrance fee into the park. Your guide will even have snacks! The guide is more than just a biking lead, he or she will provide insights into the area and point out interesting wildlife along the way. It’s a great way to see Palm Springs and learn more at the same time.

Distance from Palm Springs: 2 miles (starting point)

Guided Hike in Palm Springs

Source: Viator

Hike the breathtaking Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains with this amazing guided tour. During the three-hour tour, you’ll loop through some of the trails in southern Palm Springs as well as traverse desert terrain in the area. Along the way, enjoy the incredible views of the mountains, windmill farms, and Joshua Tree National Park. You’ll even catch a glimpse of a few celebrity home!

Your guide provides you with a hiking pole, backpack, snacks, and water before setting out, although you can bring your own items if you wish. Communicate with the host ahead of time to set up meeting locations and establish expectations, which will make sure the hike meets the needs of your group. Also, feel free to ask any questions – your host wants to tell you about the area!

Distance from Palm Springs: 5 miles

Half-Day Hike of Murray Hill Summit

Source: Viator

One of the longer hiking tours in Palm Springs, this five-hour tour gives you the chance to see beautiful views of Palm Springs and Coachella Valley. A more challenging hike to the top of Murray Hill, this excursion is definitely for more experienced hikers. However, the hike is worth the effort, with spectacular views awaiting you! There are also plenty of breaks and stops to refresh yourself and take photos, so don’t think you’ll be nonstop hiking for the full five hours.

Your guide provides a snack, a backpack & a hiking pole for each hiker in your group, although you can bring your own items if you would like. Make sure you dress for the hike; we suggest long pants and closed toed shoes at the least. The hike will span over a height of 2,000 feet, so just be aware of any physical limitations you might have.

Distance from Palm Springs: 5 miles

Joshua Tree National Park Driving Tour

Source: Viator

If hiking and off-roading tours are not for you, this is the best way to see Joshua Tree Park. Cruise along at a gentle pace in a van or SUV, enjoying both the scenery and the air conditioning as you go. Between the friendly and knowledgeable tour guides and the incredible scenery, you and your family will have a blast.

Meet your host at a central location before heading up to Joshua Tree for the tour. Throughout the journey there will be places where you can stop and get out, whether it be to do small hikes or snap some photos. This is a completely private tour, so it will only be your group. The guides want you to have a great time, so they can tailor your tour to the places you want to see in the park.

Distance from Palm Springs: 15 miles

Earthquake Canyon Express Downhill Bike Tour

Source: Viator

Riding downhill the whole ways makes this one of the best Palm Springs bike tours. Start at the San Andreas Fault before travelling down the mountain. While you’ll be pedaling along the way, the ride is smooth sailing. The path is also paved, so this isn’t an off-roading adventure. Guests of all ages will be able to keep up and, most importantly, enjoy the ride!

At the end of the ride, you’ll stop at a rest stop on a date farm and try a date shake, which is included in your experience price! The whole experience is about four hours, with about two hours on the bikes. The guide stops from time to time to point out different features of the area, and you also need to factor in travel time and the rest stops. All of your equipment is included in the excursion price. You will also meet at a central location in the city before a driver takes you to the San Andreas Fault.

Distance from Palm Springs: 15 miles

High Desert Hike in Morongo Valley

Source: Viator

Palm Springs is part of the Low Desert area of California, while areas like Morongo Valley are the High Desert. Slightly different in terrain, flora, and fauna, tours of the High Desert give you a different view of the areas around Palm Springs. In this excursion, begin by taking an easy hike over flat trails while still getting a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains. However, you will still use some of the more difficult and higher trails, so just be aware of your physical capabilities.

In addition to helping you through the trails, the guides share their knowledge of the area with guests. Learn more about the plant life in the preserve, identifying the differences between plants and their variety of uses. Many of the guides also know much about the geology and natural history of the valley, so be sure to ask questions!

Distance from Palm Springs: 20 miles

San Andreas Fault Jeep Tour

Source: Viator

Learn the fascinating history of the San Andreas Fault and those who settled there in this open- Jeep tour. During the tour, you’ll have the chance to both ride and walk, seeing the desert and its beauty. See the fault lines and learn about the history of earthquakes in California as well as the plant and animal life in the area. Guests also explore an oasis fed from underground springs, seeing the cool waters that feed the oasis.

To begin the tour, you’ll meet at a pickup point in Palm Desert before enjoying the ride out to the fault. During the ride, your guide provides information about the area, including the geology of the natural features you pass. From there, naturalist guide provides history about the Native American Cahuilla tribe and the way they used the area to make medicines and other items. You’ll then explore the fault before heading back to your original point.

Distance from Palm Springs: 25 miles

Guided Horseback Trail Ride

Desert horseback ride
Source: Viator

There’s nothing quite like Palm Springs horseback tours. Plenty of different trail rides happen every day, including this fabulous private experience. Limited to just two people, this ride is perfect for couples or singles looking for a quiet excursion. Explore the high desert the same way the pioneers and cowboys did decades ago.

Your tour begins with a chance to meet your horse and get comfortable before setting out on the trail ride. During this time, you’ll also go over the essential safety information and sign a liability form. The saddle has a place to put your water bottle and small items like keys. You’ll want to bring water too, as there isn’t much shade where you’re headed!

Distance from Palm Springs: 25 miles

Traditional Tours of Palm Springs

Culture and celebrity are two words synonymous with Palm Springs. Several tours of the area focus on the traditional sights, including historical and celebrated locations. These Palm Springs tours also give you the chance to find out more about the modernist influences in the area that drew the rich and famous to the city from the 1960s to today.

The Legends & Icons Tours of Palm Springs

Group of women on bus
Source: Viator

Lovers of celebrity tours, this guided excursion around Palm Springs was made for you. During your private tour (just your group!), your host weaves a story of the famous individuals who made Palm Springs, as well as the history surrounding the area. Bring all your questions; your guide wants to answer them!

The tour takes guests through the historic districts of the downtown area, including a look at the number-one party spot of the Rat Pack. You’ll also hit the Walk of Stars and some of the most famous landmarks in the area before moving forward to the San Andreas fault and Indian Canyon, bringing a bit of natural history to the mix. We know one thing for sure – you’ll want to take tons of pictures!

Distance from Palm Springs: Zero miles!

Playground of the Stars Palm Springs Tour

Palm Springs statue of Marilyn Monroe
Source: Viator

With the Rat Pack spending plenty of time here in the 1960s, it is common to see celebrity tours in Palm Springs. If you love this era and the people from it, then you might want to consider one of the Palm Springs tours that has a focus on the stars. You’ll see homes of celebrities from the Golden Years of Hollywood as well as current residents, perfect for the movie lovers in your life!

Your tour vehicle comes to your location (or a central location) to pick you up, so there’s no need to travel far. Once you book the excursion, you can set up the pickup procedures with your host.

Distance from Palm Springs: Zero miles!

Modern & More Bike Tours of Palm Springs

Bike tour of a Palm Springs house
Source: Viator

One of the most famous aspects of Palm Springs in the modernist architecture. Playing on the fun and funk of the 50s into the 60s, these buildings are standing works of art. On this tour, your group will take an easy ride on a bike while exploring some of the best modernist neighborhoods in the city.

The ride takes about two hours, led by a guide from Big Wheel Rentals. Your guide will give you the encouragement you need throughout the ride, along with fitting the pace to your group. This guide also serves in the role of history buff, explaining the background of the buildings you see and answering your questions.

This is one of those tours of Palm Springs that brings together outdoor activity and the city’s history…in the best way possible!

Distance from Palm Springs: 2 miles

Off the Beaten Path Tailor-made & Private Tour

Lobby of a Palm Springs California hotel
Source: Viator

Private tours are great, but this personalized tour of Palm Springs gives that unique touch to your vacation. Before you travel out to Palm Springs, your tour guide will help you come up with the best itinerary for your group. Build your Palm Springs journey around what you most want to see – the celebrity locations, history and architecture, or modern hangouts.

Travel with your guide through Palm Springs, stopping along the way for pictures. You’ll meet the guide at a central location, and drive to the different tour locations in a seven-passenger van. This is just your group though, so you don’t need to be concerned about interacting with strangers. Don’t be afraid to ask question, the host is there to tell you all about the area!

Distance from Palm Springs: 2 miles

Extreme Palm Springs Tours

In addition to the basic hiking-type tours, Palm Springs also takes outdoor fun to the extreme. Why just ride a bike when you could ride a high-powered scooter or motorcycle? Why just hike when you could climb? If you relate to those sentiments, you might be interested in tours that take you on the road less traveled.

Dual Sport Motorcycle Rental

Motorcycle in the desert
Source: Viator

While other tours are great, this Coachella tour south of Palm Springs has something the others don’t – motorcycles. For those with a valid motorcycle license, the sky (or terrain) is the limit when it comes to exploring Coachella Valley. Stay on the pavement or go off-road – only you know how far you’ll go!

The price of the experience includes the bike rental, helmet, and gloves. Again, you do need a valid motorcycle license, but that is largely for safety. While you have the chance to go off-road, consider your own experience level when making that decision.

Distance from Palm Springs: 18 miles

Luxury Scooter Rentals

Four people on motorcycles
Source: Viator

These aren’t your grandma’s scooters! Ride around Palm Springs in style, the envy of other tours while you ride these Piaggio MP3 luxury scooters. Similar to a motorcycle, the scooters can reach motorcycle speeds and handle similar to one, with the added stability of two front wheels. This tour has the added benefit of not needed a motorcycle license to drive one of these bikes!

Cruise around Palm Springs, following your guide as he or she shows you the sights of the city. There will be time for stops and pictures, and you’ll definitely want proof of your awesome ride! Guests do need to be at least 24 years old and have a valid driver’s license to operate the scooter.

Distance from Palm Springs: 20 miles

Rappelling Adventure in Joshua Tree National Park

Woman rappelling in Joshua Tree
Source: Viator

The adventure goes beyond the typical rock-climbing tours in the Palm Springs area. Not only will experienced rock-climbers help you traverse the rock faces at Joshua Tree, but you will be able to rappel down them like a pro. You can go straight up the summit to do the rappel, or start with a climb and then rappel down. Your guides will work with you to come up with a plan tailor-made for your group!

Both your guide and the rock-climbing gear are included in the excursion price, although you will have to pay the entrance fee at the park. You might also want to bring along water and snacks for your journey. Appropriate climbing clothes are a must – think long pants and closed toed shoes.

Distance from Palm Springs: 40 miles

Rock Climbing Trips in Joshua Tree National Park

Rock climber in California
Source: Viator

Enjoy a private, half-day trip rock climbing in Joshua Tree Park. With your own certified rock-climbing expert to help you, you’ll get personal instruction to improve your climbing technique and increase your success. No matter your experience, the guide will be sure to meet you at your level and help you along.

Choose between a morning and afternoon time for your climb (although with the heat, we recommend morning). You also can meet the guide in the town of Joshua Tree before heading into the park itself, which prevents you from getting lost. All your rock climbing gear is provided; you just have to bring yourself dressed to climb!

Distance from Palm Springs: 45 miles

28-Mile Jackrabbit Tour for Two

ATV vehicle with two people in it
Source: Viator

Go on an amazing off-roading adventure in this incredible experience! Follow your tour guide along the trails of the Mojave Desert, driving your own off-roading vehicle and having a blast. Choose between a two-seater or four-seater vehicle – the two-seaters tend to be a bit bumpier. You can do this tour during the day or at night, depending on what experience you’re looking to have.

When you arrive, there is a 45-minute safety orientation before you begin the hour and 45-minute drive. That may seem like a long safety briefing, but it is important that you do this process so no one gets hurt during the tour. Throughout the tour, the guide will communicate to you via headset, also giving you the chance to communicate with other drivers. Go as just a pair or book for a whole group, it’s a blast either way!

Distance from Palm Springs: 115 miles

Unique Experiences

So, you want to see the sights, but you’re not interested in the standard Palm Springs tours. If that’s the case, consider something a little less typical, like a race against your friends…or a sinking ship. These excursions blend fun activities with the normal tourist-type outings for a fun, yet different, vacation experience.

Palm Springs Scavenger Hunt Walking Tour

Two people smiling looking at mobile device
Source: Viator

Why just take a tour when you can play a game at the same time? One of the more unique Palm Springs tours, this walking tour gives you the chance to be your own guide through the city. Use the clues and trivia games to check out local monuments and hangouts while learning about the history and culture of Palm Springs along the way.

The tour begins at the Palm Springs Walk of Stars, giving guests a chance to see the celebrities connected to the city. From there, check out the downtown area and the historical communities of the city. While you aren’t required to go into the museums as part of the hunt, you have the flexibility to do so if you wish!

Distance from Palms Springs: Zero miles!

Private French-Inspired Cooking Class

Woman baking apple pie
Source: Viator

A great local excursion, you’ll meet your host Andrea, at her Palm Springs home for a private cooking lesson. A French native, Andrea has years of experience she wants to share with you! She’ll teach you how to make two or three authentic French dishes from her family’s cookbooks, which you’ll get to enjoy afterwards.

Included in the price of the experience is the food, alcohol, and gratuities. Andrea also will work around any dietary restrictions you might have, including providing vegetarian and gluten free options. The experience lasts about two hours, and you will end up working through four courses. Andrea will provide her address in Palm Springs after you book.

Distance from Palm Springs: Zero miles!

Private Photo Session with a Local Photographer

Man kneels to propose in beautiful forest setting
Source: Viator

Whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or want to commemorate a family vacation, doing a session with a photographer is a great option. With so many beautiful locations in the Palm Springs area, your pictures will be fantastic and you won’t have to worry about posing them yourself. Also, let’s face it, Mom always gets left out of the pictures. This way, everyone is included!

Work with your photographer to get just the right shots you want, with a 100% money back guarantee. These sessions are private, so you’ll have the complete attention of the photographer through the whole experience. You’ll determine the location you want to meet the photographer ahead of time, so it can be anywhere you would like in the city. 

Distance from Palm Springs: Zero miles!

Palm Springs Art & Infamy Scavenger Hunt

The Plaza Theatre
Source: Viator

Palm Springs is known for its art and culture, so while you’re here, you don’t want to miss the chance to check out this aspect of the city. However, if traditional art tours aren’t for you, you might want to try this Palm Springs scavenger hunt instead. The goal of this hunt is to see the some of the most famous sights in Palm Springs, while learning about the art history in the area.

An app-lead scavenger hunt, you’ll take photos to track your progress and also answer trivia along the way. You can do the hunt cooperatively, or in teams to compete with one another. You’ll also get to keep the copies of all the photos you send in as part of your package.

Distance from Palm Springs: Zero miles!

Titanic Escape Room Game

Themed escape room
Source: Viator

While there are several different escape rooms in Palm Springs, this one by far is our favorite. Themed with the famous sinking of the Titanic, you’ve heard of a secret lifeboat location somewhere…now it’s up to your group to find where! Between the plot twists and puzzles of the room, this is a different type of activity that can shake up your vacation. You can also add on catering and a party room for an additional cost, great for a special event.

All escape rooms are private to your group, so there’s no need to worry about strangers. You will have a Game Master with you from the facility in case you get stuck or need other assistance. This particular theme is great for families, as it has a sense of thrill but not horror like some of the other options.

Distance from Palm Springs: 2 miles

Palm Springs Windmill Self-Driving Tour

Broken windmill in Palm Springs area
Source: Viator

Not one of the typical Palm Springs tours, you’ll have the chance to tour a private windfarm to learn more about the history of wind energy in the area. See some of the historical windmills of the Coachella area as well as the chance to explore on foot with a guide. Don’t forget to get some amazing pictures with the windmills!

Everything happens from the safety of your car, unless you choose to get out and follow the guide a bit closer. In addition to checking out the windfarm, guests learn more about the history of renewable energy and the measures taken to increase its use. Guides are knowledgeable and friendly, so be sure to ask as many questions as you would like.

Distance from Palm Springs: 7 miles

The Palm Desert Prowl Scavenger Hunt

Group involved in a scavenger hunt
Source: Viator

Explore Palm Desert while challenging your friends to a scavenger hunt race! Begin at a spot favored by locals to get your instructions, review the rules, and do a quick warm-up. Trust us, you’ll be glad you did once you take off! Throughout the hunt, you’ll send photos to your experience host to document your progress and receive encouragement. You may also have a surprise or two thrown in!

These types of tours are a great way to see Palm Springs and the surrounding areas while still having fun. Even those in your group who don’t like typical tours will enjoy this one! Bring the whole family, including the dog, along for the ride. If you would rather do the hunt on foot, you can request a car-less walking route instead.

Distance from Palm Springs: 7 miles

Shop and Play at the Cabazon Outlets

Cabazon outlet mall
Source: Viator

For those planning to visit the Cabazon Outlets, this excursion is a great way to make the most of your shopping trip. With this special package, you can enjoy discounts and benefits that make shopping more enjoyable. The Outlets themselves have a wide variety of stores, from high end to bargain and everything in between, to meet the tastes of any shopper!

The price of your experience gets you the following:

  • Cabazon Outlets Power Bank Charger
  • Cabazon Water Bottle Lanyard
  • Cabazon Outlets VIP Savings Card
  • Free Pretzel from Auntie Anne’s
  • Cabazon Outlet Canvas Tote
  • Under Armour Gift
  • Cabazon Outlets Lip Balm

Distance from Palm Springs: 20 miles

Creative Soul of Joshua Tree Hidden Valley Scavenger Hunt

Desert sky with photographers looking at camera
Source: Viator

This fun scavenger hunt gets you out of the city and into Joshua Tree National Park, exploring the desert wilderness and its natural beauty. During the hunt, you’ll receive photo and video clues from your host, helping you through the detective challenge. At the same time, you’ll be learning about the history and culture of the area, as well as the wildlife and plant life.

You can take as long as you want to do the hunt, just get back to your hunt master before you leave the park. The main trail of the hunt, the Hidden Valley Nature Trail, is a one-mile loop that guests can travel at an easy pace. The guides recommend you do the hunt in the morning, as it is the least hot and most likely to see the most activity within the park.

Distance from Palm Springs: 40 miles

Other Tours to Explore in Palm Springs

With so much to do and see in Palm Springs, you might just want to go explore for yourself. These three local options go on the must-do lists of vacationers to the area, all of which you can peruse at your own speed. Sometimes, the best tours of Palm Springs are the self-guided kind.

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Gondola tram in Palm Springs
Source: Viator

If you visit Palm Springs and don’t do the Tramway, did you really visit Palm Springs? Easily one of the most well-known attractions of the area, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway gives riders a spectacular view of Chino Canyon and Mount San Jacinto State Park. The ten-minute ride covers about two and a half miles, moving at an easy and enjoyable pace.

At the summit, there are plenty of activities and events that happen year-round. Make sure you check their website ahead of time to plan for your visit. You can also just hit one of their trails for a short hike before taking the ride back down..

Distance from Palm Springs: 3 miles

Palm Springs Air Museum

Palm Springs Airplane museum
Source: Viator

If you enjoy Army, Navy, and World War II history then this museum is an ideal stop during your trip to Palm Springs. One of the leading collectors of vintage airplanes worldwide, you’ll see a variety of WWII era aircraft along with plenty of other cool memorabilia. All of the exhibits focus on the Army and Navy, and provide history about the development of these craft.

Certain Saturday’s of the month, you can see a flight demonstration and other reenactment displays. There’s also plenty for kids to do, so this is a great location for families. Flight simulators, games, and more will give you plenty to explore. Find a full range of the air museums activities on their website so you can better prepare for your visit.

Distance from Palm Springs: 5 miles

Oasis Date Gardens

Palm trees
Source: Viator

One of the most popular locations in the area, the Oasis Date Gardens are the location of the famous date-shake. This tasty frozen treat is just part of the appeal of the gardens, with two eating spaces, a date processing plant, and a small theater teaching guests about the date crops. This is a great place for a day trip, especially with families, and you’ll learn something new about this staple California crop!

Open daily from 9:00am to 4:00pm, stop in the morning to beat the heat or come for lunch and enjoy the sights. It’s a great chance to try something different that isn’t necessarily up a mountain or on a trail.

Distance from Palm Springs: 35 miles

Grace Hoyos, Staff Writer

Grace loves to travel, particularly to Florida or anywhere with a beach. Her ideal vacation is a mix of theme parks, historical sights, and local cuisine. That and a Caribbean cruise.