What to do in Palm Springs in the rain


They say April showers bring May flowers, but what are you supposed to do in the rain in the desert? Showers, when they come, come fast and hard and the gloomy weather can hang around, or roll in hard and fast and vanish quickly.

Get indoors

Everyone’s first instinct in the rain is to get inside. There are plenty of options for this depending on the weather situation. If you find yourself caught in a passing shower, find a Palm Springs cafe or bar and warm up with a coffee or a cocktail. Palm Canyon Drive is lined with great bars, restaurants and cafes, from well-known chain options to chic independent joints. If it’s going to be a passing shower or short-term storm, pop in and wait out the weather if you can.

If the rain is going to be a day-long affair, the best solution is to plan your day around it. There are several museum options that’ll keep you dry and entertained:

Palm Springs Architecture Design Centre 
Palm Springs Art Museum
Palm Springs Air Museum
Desert Art Centre

Pick your favourite topic and spend a few hours learning (while staying dry).

Get in your car: take a Palm Springs Driving Tour

what to do in palm springs in rain

If you still want to get out and see the Coachella Valley, a rainy day can still be a good time since you’re able to get around and stay dry and warm in the car. Why not take a self-driving tour of some of Palm Springs beautiful Modernist buildings from a company like Modern Tours Palm Springs? The tour offers integrated Google maps which guide you from stop to stop, and each location on a tour has a vivid story told by your audio guide, along with plenty of photos and history.

Go Shopping

Rainy days are also a good time to go shopping. You can head west to the giant Desert Hills Premium Outlet mall just a 20 minute drive from the centre of Palm Springs. It’s loaded with shops from inexpensive to ultra premium luxury brands. While this shopping centre is outdoors, there are overhangs lining the shops so you’ll stay rain-free.

A 20 minute drive in the other direction is The Shops at Palm Desert, an indoor mall. Slip in here if you want to shop in heated (or air conditioned) comfort. Also in Palm Desert, check out The Gardens on El Paseo, a partially covered shopping plaza that boasts higher-end shops and plenty of tasty restaurants, all lines with lovely desert foliage.

Stay Outdoors

What’s a little water, right? If you’re a die-hard outdoors person, you know a little rain isn’t enough to wreck your plans. There are plenty of things to see if you don’t mind getting a bit wet.

Take a Hike

In the rain? Yes! There are some gorgeous natural wonders in Palm Springs that can look completely different on a cloudy, rainy day.

Check out our list of Natural Wonders in Palm Springs here and note that rain in the desert can cause flash flooding, particularly in narrow or slot canyons, so be sure to take precautions, such as asking a local ranger if your route is safe. For some tips on how to hike smart and stay safe, as well as a list of the Top 10 hikes in Palm Springs click here. Some areas like the Thousand Palm Oasis is on a generally flat expanse of desert, and the oasis already has water running through it, so after some rain it can be pretty lush.

Other rainy day ideas? You can also drive to some of the chic hotels and lounge in a lobby with a coffee or a cocktail (check out my picks to live large in a hotel lounge here).

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Palm Springs Traveller Staff

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