While there are plenty of magnificent outdoor activities in the greater Palm Springs area, escaping the heat and making great memories indoors is sometimes desirable. Museums and exhibits are a great way to learn new information and see neat things, so let’s take a look at some of the most unique ones in the area.
Unique Museums & Experiences in Greater Palm Springs
International Banana Museum
Regardless if you like the taste of bananas or not, the International Banana Museum is a cannot-miss when you are in the Greater Palm Springs area. The museum features more than 25,000 banana-themes trinkets, statues, toys, and exhibits. You can find everything from antique banana-flavored candy wrappers to portraits of famous people holding bananas. Plus, you can wear one of their banana suits and take some great photos to help you reminisce about your trip.
Of course, the museum would not be complete without some banana-themed desserts at the so-called “banana bar” where you can find treats like banana ice cream, frozen bananas, and banana milkshakes. Admission is just $1 for both adults and children, so this museum is a great attraction that won’t break the bank. You can find it along Highway 111 in Mecca, California.
Museum of Ancient Wonders
The Museum of Ancient Wonders in Cathedral City, California provides visitors with another amazing experience. If you’re interested in old artifacts from ancient civilizations, this is undoubtedly a place you need to visit. Every week, the museum picks a different object to “spotlight,” and it has an amazing paleo exhibit where you can learn all about dinosaurs and see very rare fossils from all around the world.
The most popular exhibit at the Museum of Ancient Wonders is the Tutankhamun (King Tut) collection, which features over 120 of his personal belongings that have been preserved including his exquisite jewelry, thrones, a chariot, and even his bed! Admission costs $15 for adults and $12 for students, seniors, and military personnel.
Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Art Museum
Open “every day from dawn to dusk” at no charge (donations accepted), the Noah Purifoy Outdoor Desert Art Museum is located in the northern part of Joshua Tree and offers a unique experience where visitors can view the works of one of the most prominent artists in the Greater Palm Springs area. While Noah Purifoy is mostly famous for compiling debris from the 1965 riots in California and forming his so-called “66 Signs of Neon,” the Outdoor Desert Art Museum is quite a tribute to the late sculptor and artist.
The museum features interesting art pieces and sculptures made from seemingly random items including wheels, discarded metals, and other things that a lot of us would classify as garbage. Visitors usually note the high usage of old toilets in the art pieces, making a visit here quite a unique experience compared to other museums in the area.
National Museum of Golf Cars
A great place to stop if you are in La Quinta, California is the National Museum of Golf Cars. This museum is located within Cart Mart’s Show Room and teaches visitors things about golf cars that they would have never even thought about. This includes the history of golf cars and how they have evolved into what they are today and how they are used on and off the golf course.
This museum has a large collection of all sorts of golf cars, including mass-marketed ones and custom-built ones dating back to the 1950s. Many of the custom-built ones were made for famous people and, of course, the museum has photos of the cars and tangible examples of the tools used to build them. Visitors also get to see a genuine golf car that Harley Davidson used to manufacture (yes, motorcycle maker Harley Davidson!).
Cabot’s Pueblo Museum
Situated in Desert Hot Springs, California, Cabot’s Pueblo Museum is another notable landmark in the Greater Palm Springs area. Cabot Yerxa (1883-1965) was one of the first builders in the region and began construction of this in 1941. Nine years later, it would be opened to the public and we are still able to enjoy it today ($13 per adult, $11 per seniors/children/military personnel).
The Hopi-inspired museum features 35 rooms and 150 windows along with countless pieces of Native American art and artifacts that Cabot collected himself during his travels throughout his life. Perhaps one of the most intriguing snippets of information regarding the pueblo is that Cabot is rumored to have straightened bent nails from other homes he had purchased with the purpose of using them in this museum. Renowned artist Peter Wolf Toth later added one of his Waokiye sculptures to the site, which is a 43-foot, wooden statue of a Native American man.
Coachella Valley History Museum
The Coachella Valley History Museum is a perfect spot to stop in Indio, California to get educated on all kinds of California history dating back to the early 1900’s. The museum was first built in 1965 and has expanded into a large, accommodating museum for the public to visit. The main exhibits are located in the Smiley-Tyler House that was built in 1926, and you can also visit the 1909 Indio Schoolhouse and the famous Date Museum, where you can learn the history of date palms and how the fruit gained the popularity it has today.
Other indoor attractions include a Blacksmith shop and a Submarine house. There are also several gardens and outdoor attractions, including a Cork Oak tree that is believed to be the oldest in the region, the Jardin de Desierto, and a beautiful Japanese Garden. Admission prices include $8 for adults and $6 for seniors while children under 18 and military personnel get in for free.