Top free or low-cost things to do in Palm Springs

palm springs villagefest what is villagefest where is village festWhile travel in a post-COVID era may look a bit different, it’s likely that may travelers will still seek out a great bargain. These free or low cost activities will let you save money while getting out and exploring the best Palm Springs has to offer.

Best free & low cost things to do in Palm Springs

Visit Villagefest

A favorite activity of the locals is to visit the Villagefest street fair, held every Thursday evening from 7-10 pm. This blocks-long market is filled with all kinds of things to do, from taking in some musical entertainment, to watching graffiti artists at work on their next masterpiece, to sampling your way through the countless food and snack vendors. If you are looking for a special souvenir, there is an abundance of artisans and crafters to choose from. With the streets shut down to accommodate all the additional vendors, and the shops and stores along Palm Canyon Drive taking part too, sidewalk sale-style, there is so much to enjoy at Villagefest.
Where: Palm Canyon Drive between Amado and Baristo roads.

Take a self-guided tour of fabulous celebrity & mid century modern homes

Palm Springs has long been a celebrity playground. No surprise then that many world renowned musicians, actors, and other stars own or used to own homes in this area. Want to see where Elvis and Priscilla spent their honeymoon?  Maybe you want to cruise some historic hotels, or spy the domed house on the hill where Bob Hope once lived. You can do it easily in a self-guided tour; we love for these; they’re safe, healthy and secure since they’re done in your vehicle with only those you choose, and they’re fun. While this one does have a price tag to it, it’s loads less expensive than other tours in the area; and you can bring as many people in the vehicle as you want.

Not interested in the owners so much as the architecture? There are numerous historic and just plain beautiful mid century modern homes to gawk at by architects like Albert Frey, Donald Weller and William Krisel. Seeing Palm Springs history through its homes and architecture is a great way to get to know the city.

Plan a Palm Springs picnic in the park

Can you think of anything more relaxing than a picnic in the park? While you’re out exploring all that Palm Springs has to offer, why not pack a picnic basket and stop by Ruth Hardy Park (700 Tamarisk Rd) where you can spread out your blanket under a shady tree and enjoy the peaceful sights and sounds of the park. And just a short drive away make sure you take time to explore the Hollywood homes of the Movie Colony neighborhood, definitely something to see.

Visit the Palm Springs Art Museum

If you time your visit perfectly, you can see the museum’s stunning collection for free! Thursday afternoons from 4-8 pm and the second Sunday of each month the museum offers free admission.
Tucked near the foothills of a rugged mountain the spacious and abundantly beautiful building is filled with both constant and dynamic collections of art, sculpture, photography and artifacts.
Where: 101 Museum Dr.

Slip into the Architecture Design Center

Thanks to an extremely generous anonymous donor, admission to this beautiful building that houses an incredible history of architecture and design in the Palm Springs area is always free. Housed in a former bank, the building maintains all its original glory, but has now been refreshed and rejuvenated. Examine original drawings and architectural plans from distinguished mid century modern or desert modern buildings. Be sure to check out the amazing vintage photographs, models, and dioramas too. Conveniently located along the famous Palm Canyon Drive, although the Architecture and Design Center carries a permanent collection, you will also find rolling exhibitions here too.
Where: 300 S. Palm Canyon Dr.

Go window shopping

Feel like perusing some stylish new shops, mid century modern antique stores, or even some art collections? With so many unique areas to explore around Palm Springs, grab a latte or cold drink and start counting those steps!

Get a start at the Uptown Design District

This stretch of Palm Canyon Drive north of Alejo Rd. lets you salivate over fabulous furnishings and home decor items, not to mention some pretty fabulous clothing too. Along the same stretch, you can also get a look at some amazing antique shops. Pop into any one of the stores in this area, and pick up the super helpful Uptown Palm Springs design district guide.
Where: Palm Canyon Drive from Alejo Rd to Vista Chino

If art is more your thing, visit the Backstreet Art district

This district boasts working studios, artist owned galleries, loads of original contemporary art, ceramics, sculptures, jewelry and more. Located slightly off the strip this out-of-the-way artisan area is definitely worth the trip.
Where: 2600 S. Cherokee Way (behind the Mercedes dealership off Highway 111)

What’s your favorite free or low cost activity in Palm Springs? Tell us about it via Twitter @PalmSpringsYes

Palm Springs Traveller Staff