Cool Summer Activities in Palm Springs

Aerial Tram

When temperatures soar in the desert our favorite place to take shelter from the swelter is under the misters on a luxe lounge chair in the Descanso courtyard, preferably sans swimsuit. But if you’re in the mood to explore the world beyond our gardens, here are some of our favorite top summer activities in Palm Springs for the hottest days

Hitch a Ride on the Tram or to Idyllwild

Dramatically cooler temps can be found at higher elevations just outside of town. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway travels 2-1/2 miles along the beautiful cliffs of Chino Canyon from the Valley Station (elevation 2,643 ft) to the Mountain Station (elevation 8,516 ft). Temperatures at the top of the tramway are usually 30-40 degrees cooler than on the desert floor, and the scenery and views are absolutely stunning. Enjoy observation decks, a natural history museum, an upscale cliffside restaurant, a cafeteria, and a lounge, plus over 50 miles of hiking trails in Mt. San Jacinto State Park. Getting there is an easy 15-minute drive from Descanso and the Tram is open every day of the week with extended evening hours in summer.

If you’re up for a little excursion, the scenic 80-minute drive to the charming town of “mile-high” Idyllwild is a favorite day trip for both locals and visitors alike. The drive itself is gorgeous, winding past spectacular vista points as you climb from the desert floor and reach deep into the San Jacinto Mountains. Once you arrive in Idyllwild you’ll find an artsy village with galleries, antique stores, restaurants, and other surprises like wine and coffee tastings. Or bring your hiking shoes and explore the quiet, forested wilderness area high above the Coachella Valley. Temperatures in Idyllwild are usually 10-20 degrees cooler in Palm Springs, so it’s almost always a cool getaway on hot summer days.

Chillax at the Camelot

Head downtown and duck into the a/c at an old-school movie house and catch a film or a world-class film festival. Part of the Palm Springs Cultural Center, Camelot Theatres is a classic 3-screen movie house specializing in first-run art, foreign, and independent films. In June the Camelot hosts the annual Palm Springs International ShortFest, a qualifying event for the Academy Awards with in-person screenings and filmmaker forums. Even if you miss ShortFest, the Camelot is always a great escape on a scorching afternoon.

Make a Splash at a Pool Party

Splash House is Palm Spring’s biggest summer pool party, attracting the Coachella crowd to multiple resorts over three different weekends in June and August. Big-name DJs spin pulsing house and disco from poolside stages from noon until sundown, and the raucous dance party continues into the evening on the tarmac of the Palm Springs Air Museum. Pool passes and After Hours passes are available at June and August

These are some of our favorite summer activities in Palm Springs for when it's scorching hot. Of course, you can always create your own private pool party at Descanso... We won’t tell!