Weirdly Wonderful Day Trips From Palm Springs

Paint on a rock and a giant cross on the top of Salvation Mountain
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Spring is in the air, and our indigo-colored cloudless sky is showing off our area at its best. Now is a great time to seek out some of the unique attractions a short drive away from Palm Springs.

Cabot’s Pueblo Museum showcases Coachella Valley’s history 

Buildings at Cabot's Pueblo Museum in Desert Hot Springs

Cabot’s Pueblo Museum. Photo by Kathy Condon

A short 12 miles from downtown Palm Springs is Cabot’s Pueblo Museum, where you can learn about the history of the Coachella Valley. Cabot Yerxa was a homesteader in Desert Hot Springs who called the Agua Caliente tribe his friends. He admired their culture, and when members of the tribe showed him where there were hot springs, he started building a home nearby. 

Yerxa continued adding to the adobe home during his lifetime, and today, you can take a guided or self-guided tour of the property. The house includes wonderful collections of Native American artifacts, and the grounds allow you to get up close to desert fauna.

The house has an admission fee, though you can walk the grounds for free. Plus, they have an outstanding gift shop with art and a collection of history books about the area.

The Integratron in Landers 

The white domed Integratron in Landers, California, with two women in front of it and a palm tree

The Integration in Landers. Photo by Kathy Condon

If you have never had a sound bath, I suggest you make reservations (in advance) at the Integratron in Landers, 50 miles from downtown Palm Springs. Here you will also see Joshua trees and massive boulders and experience the beauty of our mountains.

The parking lot is surrounded by a wall that will immediately catch your attention because it is covered with colorful art. I suggest coming at least an hour before your reservation because the yard surrounding the building is filled with hammocks and art that will make you smile.

The Integratron is considered one of the top acoustically built buildings in the world. Several singing bowls are played for 15 minutes, interspersed with classical music that helps the sound feel like it is reaching the marrow of your bones. After the sound bath, head to one of the hammocks and enjoy the calmness of your body and the surroundings.

Salvation Mountain near the Salton Sea 

Paint on a rock and a giant cross on the top of Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain. Photo by Kathy Condon

East of the Salton Sea and a 90-minute drive from Palm Springs, Salvation Mountain will keep you entertained as you ascend steps and literally head inside this immense attraction. Leonard Knight constructed the monument, a form of “outsider art,” as a tribute to God, but it is not just for religiously inclined visitors. I found it fascinating wandering through the tunnels and viewing the giant painted trees and flowers that grace the walls of the mountain. It is 50 feet high and 150 feet long and was made with adobe clay and donated paint.

The International Banana Museum is a fun stop on the way to Salvation Mountain or back. Be sure to check the hours in advance, because they don’t keep a traditional schedule.

Cabazon Dinosaurs 

The giant pink dinosaur in Cabazon, California, with the T-Rex behind it

The Cabazon Dinosaurs. Photo by Tony Mataras

Many visitors to Palm Springs end up at the Desert Hills Premium Outlets and Cabazon Outlets. Here, you’ll find retail stores from some of the most prominent designers in the world, like Prada and Gucci.

While you’re out that way, stop and meet Dinny and Mr. Rex. They became famous by starring in the movie Pee-wee’s Big AdventureClaude Bel began creating the sculptures in 1965 to attract people to his restaurant, and they were finally finished in 1986, just two years before Bel died. The dinosaurs were sold and today, they are an excellent place for photos, especially if you come for a holiday — they get fresh coats of paint and will soon have on their Easter apparel. If you don’t have time to stop, look for them on your way to the outlets while traveling west on Interstate 10.

Graffiti Park in downtown Palm Springs 

Graffiti on concrete barriers with palm trees in the background at the Graffiti Park in Palm Springs, California

Graffiti Park. Photo by Kathy Condon

These stops don’t involve a long drive — they are right in the heart of Palm Springs. Once you’ve taken photos with the larger-than-life Marilyn statue near the Palm Springs Art Museum, take a stroll through the city’s new park. There is still no official name for the park, but there is a groundswell of support for having it named after Nellie Coffman, who was instrumental in building Palm Springs as a resort town and welcoming Hollywood stars to her Desert Inn.

Across the street is the Graffiti Park, where various forms of the art can be found throughout the sandlot. Wander around and read the words or stop and try to guess what the artists are saying in their original designs. If you have some paint in your bag, you are welcome to add your design.

Graffiti Park is a fun place to visit any time of the day, and is a great spot to take photos since it’s colorful and captures the city’s vibes.

Picking a home base in Palm Springs

If you’re flying into Palm Springs, consider booking a rental car for at least part of your stay so you can visit these unique attractions. If you’re still looking for a boutique hotel, click around the Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels website to find the property that best suits your needs. Book soon — there’s a lot coming up in the next few months, including the BNP Paribas Open and the Coachella and Stagecoach music festivals.