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Palm Springs vs Palm Desert: Which One is the Best Vacation Destination?

The Palm Springs vs Palm Desert debate has been ongoing for a long time, with no clear-cut decision on who the victor is. Palm Springs is located in Riverside County and has unique cultural offerings. I count it as one of the must-go destinations with multiple hot springs and upscale restaurants. Palm Desert is known for its amazing shopping centers and golf courses.

However, which of the two is the best vacation destination? Let’s dive in as I tell you everything you need to know about the two-holiday places!

Palm Springs vs Palm Desert

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Palm Springs vs Palm Desert: Quick Comparison

Palm Springs and Palm Desert are great vacation destinations with almost similar features. I’ll give you a quick comparison of the two.

  • Architectural Design: you can enjoy the mid-century modern architectural designs used in the construction of Palm Springs. On the other hand, Palm Desert is made of a minimal design with more focus on functionality.
  • Type of Landscape: Palm Springs has stunning desert landscapes, beautiful palm trees, mountains, and a warm climate, while Palm Desert has plenty of native desert vegetation like Cacti and desert shrubs in their natural setting.
  • Shopping Destinations: Palm Desert has the El Paseo, a premier shopping and dining destination known as the “Rodeo Drive of the Desert.” Palm Springs is renowned for its downtown shopping, where you can get everything from luxury boutiques to fine dining options.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Keep reading as I tell you more about the two destinations’ upsides and drawbacks, the cost of visiting, nightlife, culture, dining options, and more!

Comparison Chart

Check out the table comparing Palm Springs vs Palm Desert at a glance.




Architecture Style

Mid-Century Modern

Minimalist architectural design

Main Shopping District

Downtown Palm Springs

El Paseo Shopping District

Outdoor Activities

Hiking, Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Golf, Tennis, Outdoor Recreation

Arts and Culture

Galleries, Museums, Film Festivals

Art Galleries, Theater, Live Performances

Desert Landscape

Mountainous, Iconic Palm Trees

Palm Oases, Lush Gardens


Vibrant nightlife scene

Relaxed, upscale dining and bars


Some family attractions, like the Palm Springs museum

Family-oriented, Children's Museum

Overall Vibe

Trendy, Hip, and Artistic

Upscale, Resort-oriented

Note: Both cities offer a range of amenities and are close to each other. You can easily explore them during a visit to the Palm Springs area.

Pros and Cons of Visiting Palm Springs 

Palm Springs is known for its incredible climate with almost all year-round sunshine. However, visiting Palm Springs has disadvantages, such as large crowds during the peak season and limited public transportation.

These are the pros and cons of visiting Palm Springs.

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Upsides of Visiting Palm Springs

Are you planning to visit Palm Springs? Here are some key benefits of visiting:

Upsides of Visiting Palm Springs
  • It has a Beautiful Desert Landscape: If you enjoy great views, the Palm Springs area has a breathtaking desert landscape­. Its natural beauty consists of mountains and swaying palm tre­es. 
  • Warm weather throughout the year: This city boasts abundant sunshine as one of its prominent fe­atures. With over 300 sunny days, Palm Springs becomes the best destination if you’re looking to settle in a warmer climate.
  • Mid-Century Modern Architecture: people who love old architectural designs will appreciate the preserved buildings and homes made using mid-century architecture.
  • It Offers Outdoor Recreation: You get many opportunities for activities such as golfing, swimming, horseback riding, and hiking trails in the stunning desert landscapes.
  • Cultural Attractions: You can visit the Palm Springs Art Museum and art galleries and experience cultural events that showcase a thriving art scene.
  • Offers a high-end shopping scene and Dining: You’ll find a range of shopping centers, from luxury boutiques to outlet malls and restaurants offering worldwide cuisines.

Drawbacks of Visiting Palm Springs

Palm Springs is a fun and luxurious vacation spot. However, there are some disadvantages to visiting the place. You are likely to encounter the following drawbacks:

Drawbacks of Visiting Palm Springs
  • The summers are hot: if you’re not used to extreme temperatures, temperatures during the summer can reach a staggering 38°C, which might be uncomfortable for you.
  • It’s crowded during the High Season: the city can get crowded with tourists, especially during winter when the sun isn’t too hot. You will likely pay higher prices and bump into people due to congestion.
  • It offers limited Public Transportation: Palm Springs has limited options for public transport. It would be best to rent a car as it will help you move around quickly.
  • The Cost of Living is high: While it’s beautiful, Palm Springs can be expensive. This can be in terms of accommodation and dining at upscale restaurants. You will feel the pinch when paying for these services.
  • It has no Beaches: If you enjoy taking long walks on sandy beaches, Palm Springs is a desert city far from the coastline. It does not have the white sandy beaches that some visitors might expect.
  • The Nightlife is boring: If you’re about the life of the party, the Nightlife in Palm Springs is less vibrant than in larger cities like Vegas.

Generally speaking, Palm Springs gives you a unique desert experience with its benefits and drawbacks. Your experience will depend on your interests, desert climate tolerance, and the time of your visit.

Pros and Cons of Visiting Palm Desert

Every time you visit the Coachella Valley of Southern California, there’s something for you. From its world-class golf courses and upscale shopping on El Paseo to the natural beauty of its palm oases. However, there are some of the benefits and drawbacks of visiting Palm Desert.

Pros of Visiting Palm Desert 

Which benefits do you get if you choose Palm Desert as your holiday destination?

Pros of Visiting Palm Desert 
  • It’s a Golf Paradise: Do you enjoy playing golf? Palm Desert is a golfer’s dream. It has multiple golf courses set against the beautiful desert landscape. The favorable weather makes it a golfing haven.
  • Offers Luxurious Shopping: You can do some shopping while on vacation. The city’s renowned El Paseo Shopping District is often compared to Rodeo Drive and has everything you need. It offers boutique shopping opportunities with art galleries and fine dining.
  • Has Beautiful Desert Gardens: Are you a nature lover? You can explore the beautiful gardens, including the Living Desert Zoo and the Moorten Botanical Garden.
  • It’s Family-Friendly: You don’t have to worry about traveling with kids. The city offers attractions such as the Children’s Discovery Museum, which provides learning opportunities for your kids.
  • It Offers multiple Outdoor Activities: Other than golf, you can enjoy other activities like hiking and biking in the nearby San Jacinto Mountains.
  • You can enjoy the Cultural Scene: For those interested in art exhibitions and culture, Palm Desert hosts cultural events, live performances, and art galleries.
  • It’s Located close to Palm Springs: Palm Desert is located near Palm Springs, so you can easily explore both cities during your visit.

Drawbacks of Visiting Palm Desert 

While Palm Desert offers many attractions, knowing the potential disadvantages is important when planning your visit. Here are some Drawbacks of visiting Palm Desert:

Drawbacks of Visiting Palm Desert 
  • Extreme heat during the summer: Like much of the desert region, Palm Desert experiences hot summers, reaching 38°C. This extreme heat can limit activities during the day.
  • It’s crowded during peak season: During the winter, when the weather is more favorable, Palm Desert attracts more tourists than in off-peak seasons.
  • The place is expensive: Palm Desert can be costly, especially regarding accommodations and restaurant dining. It may not be the most affordable destination.
  • There’s high Traffic on Weekends: On weekends, especially during the peak season, traffic congestion can occur as people from nearby cities tour the place. This can lead to delays on the roads.

Despite these drawbacks, Palm Desert’s unique features and natural beauty keep it afloat with countless visitors yearly.

Palm Springs vs Palm Desert Location: How Far Apart Are the Two Destinations?

Palm Springs and Palm Desert are neighboring Coachella Valley, California cities. They almost share a similar location:

  • Palm Springs: It’s Located at the western end of the Coachella Valley.

  • Palm Desert: You can find it east of Palm Springs, within the Coachella Valley.

The two cities are only about 14 miles apart, so it’s easy to travel between them. You should take advantage of this fact and visit them both. 

Palm Springs vs Palm Desert: What’s Unique About Their Vibes

The two cities have a vibrant energy about them. From pool parties to golfing courses, they have everything to offer. However, what’s unique about them, and what sets them apart? I’m going to tell you.

Palm Springs

Palm Springs has its unique vibe. Here is what you’re likely to experience.

  • It is both Trendy and Retro: Palm Springs has a trendy and retro atmosphere. Most of it is caused by the strong mid-century modern influence in architecture and design. You can easily see the creativity in their designs.
Palm Springs atmosphere

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  • It’s more Artistic and Cultural: art and culture thrive. The addition of the Palm Springs Art Museum and Gallery adds to its Cultural scene.
  • The Nightlife is Lively: The city offers a vibrant nightlife with an all-you-can-eat-and-drink buffet in the form of bars, restaurants, and entertainment options.
  • You can experience Outdoor Adventure: It’s a hub for outdoor enthusiasts, with hiking, golfing, and the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.
  •  The place is Energetic: Palm Springs has a youthful, energetic vibe, attracting diverse visitors.

Check out the video below showing the energetic Palm Springs vibe:

Palm Desert

Palm Desert has features that give you a unique vibe. Here is how its vibe compares to Palm Springs.

  • It’s more Upscale and Relaxing: Palm Desert is known for its upscale and serene environment, making it a popular destination for relaxation and wellness.
Palm Desert atmosphere
  • It offers a Golf Paradise: It’s a golfer’s paradise with numerous golf courses amidst beautiful desert landscapes.
  • There is Luxurious Shopping: The city’s El Paseo Shopping District offers high-end boutiques and fine dining, contributing to its upscale feel.
  • It features a Beautiful Oasis: It provides a serene oasis in the desert, perfect for those seeking a peaceful getaway.

Watch a video of a beautiful golf course with a stunning desert background in Palm Desert:

12 Best Things to Do in Palm Springs 

Palm Springs offers a wide range of activities and attractions. Here are some of the best things to do in Palm Springs:

  • Riding the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway: You can ride to the top of the San Jacinto Mountains for beautiful views and hiking opportunities.
  • Take a tour of Modern Architecture: Spare some time and explore the city’s iconic mid-century modern architecture on a guided tour or stroll through neighborhoods.
  • Visit Joshua Tree National Park: Take a day trip to this nearby national park to experience unique desert landscapes, rock formations, and excellent hiking.
Joshua Tree National Park
  • Tour Art Galleries and Museums: Visit the Palm Springs Art Museum and explore various art galleries showcasing contemporary and classic art.
  • Hike at the Indian Canyons: You can hike or horseback through the beautiful Indian Canyons, known for their palm oases and indigenous history.
  • Golfing: You can take your time and play a round of golf at one of the many world-class golf courses in the area, some of them being PGA West or Desert Willow Golf Resort.
Desert Willow Golf Resort
  • Shopping on Palm Canyon Drive: Explore the shops, boutiques, and restaurants along Palm Canyon Drive, the city’s main shopping district.
  • Enjoy the Village Fest: If you’re there during the weekdays, attend the weekly street fair held every Thursday evening in downtown Palm Springs, featuring arts, crafts, and live entertainment.
  • Explore the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens: Discover desert wildlife and plant life in this well-maintained zoo and the Moorten Botanical Garden in Palm Desert.
  • Hot Air Balloon Rides: Experience the desert from above with a hot air balloon ride offering panoramic landscape views.
Hot Air Balloon Rides
  • Go to Spas and Wellness Retreats: Relax and rejuvenate at one of the city’s renowned spas and wellness centers.
  • Attend Palm Springs International Film Festival: If you visit in January, take advantage of this prestigious arts festival showcasing international movies.

6 Best Things to Do in Palm Desert

Palm Desert offers multiple outdoor adventures for you to enjoy. Here are some of the best things to do in Palm Desert:

  • Visit El Paseo, a shopping district with luxury boutiques, hip restaurants, and galleries. The place is famous for its shopping amenities, similar to the rodeo drive.
  • Explore the living Desert Zoo and Gardens: you can visit this zoo to see animals and plants from deserts worldwide. It gives you an educational experience as you learn new things.
 Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
Credit:, @The Living Desert
  • Golfing: Palm Desert is a golfer’s paradise. It has multiple golf courses for you to enjoy. They include the Desert Willow Golf Resort and Shadow Ridge Golf Club.
  • Visit the Coachella Valley Preserve: You can explore the desert oasis and hike through palm groves. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to see some desert wildlife.
Coachella Valley Preserve
  • Ride Bikes: There are multiple bike paths around the area. You can enjoy cycling on the Bump and Grind Trail.
  • Enjoy Food and Dining: you can explore the diverse cuisine offered at various restaurants. Taste mouthwatering dishes found in high-end restaurants and casual cafes.
  • Visit the Joshua Tree National Park: the park is known for its unique landscapes and rock formations. It is located near Palm Desert; a few minute’s drive away.
Joshua Tree National Park

Palm Springs vs Palm Desert: Which Offers a Better Nightlife?

You might be about the life of the party and wondering which destination will best suit your needs. Both destinations have a reputable nightlife, but there is a difference. Palm Springs usually has a more livelier nightlife compared to Palm Desert.

Palm Springs

Despite having an Almost similar nightlife to Palm Desert, here is what its nightlife offers.

  • Downtown Palm Springs: This area has a vibrant nightlife, with Many bars, clubs, and restaurants. It’s a great place to be if you’re about the life of the party and want an active night. You can visit Bootlegger Tiki and enjoy their delicious cocktails or The Amigo room to enjoy beers.
Bootlegger Tiki
Credit:, @Bootlegger Tiki
  • No LGBTQ+ Stigma: Palm Springs is more friendly to the LGBTQ+ community, and people can freely express themselves. It’s a popular destination with no stigma for the LGBTQ+ community with bars like the Toucans Tiki Lounge.
  • Live Entertainment: Some venues, like the Palm Springs Convention Center, host live music and entertainment. This gives you more options for a fun night out, especially during the Coachella Valley music festival.
Palm Springs Cultural Center
  • Art and Culture: Palm Springs hosts cultural events and art walks. They give you a mix of Nightlife and cultural experience.

Palm Desert

Palm desert nightlife is slightly different from that of Palm Springs. Here’s how it differs.

  • Relaxed Atmosphere: Palm Desert has a more relaxed atmosphere. You can stroll around the Civic Center Park for a peaceful evening.
Civic Center Park

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  • Evening Entertainment: You can enjoy more peaceful evenings at luxury resorts. You get to watch the beautiful sunset as you have a quiet dinner. Alternatively, you can play miniature golf at Shadow Mountain Golf Club and call it a night.

Palm Springs and Palm Desert: Available Dining Options

Both Palm Springs and Palm Desert offer various dining options. However, their dining styles are different. Here’s a comparison:

Palm Springs

Let’s Look at what Palm Springs has in terms of dining. 

  • Diverse Cuisine: Palm Springs has a more diverse culinary scene with various international cuisines. They offer Mexican dishes like Chiles Rellenos, Lasagne, an Italian dish, and more.
Chiles Rellenos
  • Casual to Luxury: The place offers everything, from casual diners and cafes to fine dining establishments.
  • Downtown Dining: The downtown area is a dining place. It has many restaurants like the Lulu California Bistro where you can enjoy great meals.
  • Fresh farm Ingredients: There’s an emphasis on using fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Some restaurants, like Palm Greens Cafe, follow this approach and use locally produced ingredients.
Palm Greens Cafe
Credit:, @Palm Greens Cafe
  • Offers Brunch: Palm Springs is famous for its brunch spots like Rick’s Restaurant & Bakery which has brunch options like omelets and pancakes.

Palm Desert

Palm Desert is known for its unique, luxurious dining. Let’s look at what it has to offer.

  • High-end Dining: Palm Desert is renowned for its luxury dining options, often found in resort restaurants. Establishments like LG’s Prime Steakhouse offer luxury dishes and selections of fine wine.
  • Golf Course Dining: You can try your meals within the golf resorts like the Westin Desert Willow Villas and enjoy beautiful views and American dishes like pasta.
Westin Desert Willow Villas
  • Outdoor Patios: You can enjoy outdoor dining on beautiful patios like Kaiser Grille, surrounded by desert landscapes.
  • Excellent Steakhouses: Palm Desert has amazing steakhouses like the Maestro restaurant and seafood restaurants like the Fisherman’s Market & Grill.
Fisherman's Market & Grill
Credit:, @Fisherman’s Market & Grill
  • Wine Bars: The city has wine bars and lounges for wine enthusiasts to enjoy. This includes during the famous wine festival hosted at bars like Vinoteca Wine Bar & Restaurant.

Palm Springs has various cuisines, from casual to upscale dining experiences. At the same time, Palm Desert is known for its exclusive, resort-style dining with a focus on golf course restaurants.

Palm Springs and Palm Desert: Arts and Culture Comparison

Palm Springs and Palm Desert offer art and culture but have distinct differences.

Palm Springs

Palm Springs offers the following in regards to art and culture.

  • Architecture: Palm Springs has a mid-century modern architecture and design. Its design has a strong connection to the 1950s and 1960s.
  • Cultural Events: The city hosts various events during the year. You can enjoy the Palm Springs Art Museum events and experience diverse art and cultural exhibits.
Palm Springs Art Museum
Credit:, @Palm Springs Art Museum

Palm Desert

Palm Desert, on the other hand, has the following to offer regarding art and culture.

  • The McCallum Theatre: This is a prominent performing arts venue that hosts concerts, dance performances, and Broadway shows.
The McCallum Theatre
Credit:, @McCallum Theatre
  • El Paseo: often called the “Rodeo Drive of the Desert,” it offers luxury shopping and painting galleries showcasing contemporary and fine art.
  • Art Galleries: The city’s art scene leans towards modern and contemporary art, with galleries like the CODA Gallery and Heather James Fine Art.
Heather James Fine Art
Credit:, @Heather James Fine Art

Both Palm Springs and Palm Desert Transportation Options

Palm Springs and Palm Desert share most of their accommodation options due to their proximity. Let’s look at the available modes:

  • Palm Springs Airport (PSP): This airport serves the area, making it convenient for travelers. It’s close to downtown Palm Springs and a short drive from Palm Desert.
Palm Springs Airport
  • Rental Cars: Rental car agencies are available at the airport and throughout the city. Having a car makes it easy for visitors to explore the area at their own pace.
  • Rideshares and Taxis: Uber and Lyft operate in Palm Springs and Desert. They offer convenient transportation options to visitors.
  • SunLine Transit Agency: The public transport system offers routes connecting Palm Springs and Desert to the Coachella Valley. It’s an affordable option for getting around.
SunLine Transit Agency
Credit:, @SunLine Transit Agency
  • Cycling and Walking: Downtown Palm and El Paseo are pedestrian-friendly, and many visitors choose to explore the area on foot or by renting bicycles.

Where To Stay According To Your Budget

Where you stay largely depends on your budget. Both Palm Desert and Palm Springs have various competitively priced accommodations. Let’s look at some of them.

Budget Accommodations in Palm Springs & Palm Desert

Palm Springs and Palm Desert have multiple affordable accommodations. You can save on lodging and still enjoy the desert oasis. These reasonably priced accommodations can serve you irrespective of whether you’re staying in Palm Springs or Palm Desert:

  • Motels and Inns: you can choose between the multiple motels and inns that are reasonably priced. Look for options like the Motel 6, Days Inn, Travelodge, Monroe, Super 8, or even smaller, locally-owned motels.
Motel 6
  • Vacation Rentals: Consider renting a budget-friendly vacation home or condo through platforms like Airbnb or Vrbo. This can be especially cost-effective if you’re traveling with a group and can share the cost.
  • Hostels: While rare compared to other destinations, a few in Palm Springs offer affordable dormitory-style accommodation.
  • Discount Hotel Chains: You can get affordable accommodations from the many large hotel chains like Super 8, Best Western, Quality Inn, or Rodeway Inn. They often have competitive prices.
Quality Inn

You can book for accommodation at popular sites like or and you’ll get options to choose from. Check out the video link below for more information on accommodation.

Luxury Accommodations in Palm Springs 

Palm Springs is renowned for its luxurious accommodations. Below are some high-end accommodations in Palm Springs:

  • The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage: you will enjoy stunning views of the Coachella Valley when staying in this resort. The rooms and suites are luxurious, and the spas are world-class.
The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage

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  • Parker Palm Springs: This establishment has a beautiful design with well-landscaped gardens. You also get spa treatments and great dining options.
  • La Quinta Resort & Club: This historic resort boasts various villas, golf courses, and an inviting pool area.
  • The Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs Hotel: This contemporary hotel is in the heart of the downtown area and offers stylish rooms, rooftop dining, and beautiful mountain views.
The Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs Hotel

Luxury Accommodations in Palm Desert

Palm Desert, like Palm Springs, offers a selection of luxurious accommodations for those seeking a unique desert experience. Here are some top luxury accommodations in Palm Desert:

  • The Ritz-Carlton: this luxurious resort is Located in nearby Rancho Mirage. It offers breathtaking views and boasts elegant rooms and suites.
  • JW Marriott Resort & Spa: if you’re a golf lover, JW Marriott Resort is your place. It has lush grounds, golf courses, and fine dining options.
JW Marriott Resort & Spa
  • Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa: This family-friendly luxury resort in Rancho Mirage offers stylish accommodations, a lazy river, and a relaxing spa.
  • The Westin Desert Willow Villas: Perfect for longer stays, this resort features villa-style accommodations with kitchens, a golf course, and pools.

To learn more, click the video below, which shows you the best luxury hotels in Palm Desert.

Palm Springs and Palm Desert: Visiting Cost Comparison 

The cost to visit Palm Springs or Palm Desert can vary depending on your preferences and activities.

  • Palm Springs is more expensive due to its popularity and upscale resorts. 
  • Palm Desert can be slightly more budget-friendly, but it still offers luxurious options. 

Below is a table showing the estimated monthly cost of living per person.




Utilities and Rent












Gym Membership

$20 - $279

$9.99 - $149

Note: Your expenses will depend on accommodation, dining, entertainment, and the time of year you visit.


Is Palm Springs the Same as Palm Desert?

No, Palm Springs and Palm Desert are separate cities in the Coachella Valley in California, each with unique character and attractions.

Is Palm Springs More Expensive Than Palm Desert?

Palm Springs is more expensive than Palm Desert. This is because it’s more popular and offers different luxurious options.

How Close Are Palm Desert and Palm Springs?

Palm Desert and Palm Springs are both located in the Coachella Valley. So, you can visit both destinations interchangeably during your stay.

Is the Weather Better in Palm Springs or Desert Hot Springs?

The weather in Palm Springs is usually warmer and drier than in Desert Hot Springs. This feature makes it a popular destination for those looking for sunny weather.


The Palm Springs vs Palm Desert debate is yet to be settled. Both are great destinations with warm climates, beautiful landscapes, and unique accommodations.

If you want to ride the aerial tramway, enjoy the vibrant downtown scene, and see iconic mid-century architecture, Palm Springs may be the better choice. If you want to go shopping, play golf, and enjoy a relaxing atmosphere, Palm Desert is the place for you.

Did you find this comparison helpful? If so, please share it with friends planning their visit to either Palm Springs or Palm Desert.

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Palm Springs vs Palm Desert