If you’re headed to Palm Springs, California in the wintertime, packing your bags can be a bit of a challenge. With temperatures that range from comfortable during the day to downright chilly at night, it’s important to bring the right mix of clothing and accessories.
It’s this weather that makes a trip to Palm Springs the best time to visit Southern California, but you’re also going to want to know what to pack for your trip so you’re not too hot or too cold.
While I took a direct flight into Los Angeles, Palm Springs does have an international airport, so click here to check out flights if you’re not within driving distance to the desert paradise. If you’re in Florida like me, then you’re going to need to fly into LA if you don’t want to stop for a layover.
From LAX to the Onsen Hotel & Spa where I stayed, it’s less than two hours and 15 minutes without traffic. But do NOT leave on a Friday afternoon between 1 pm – 5 pm. I learned this the hard way. It took us more than five hours to get there!
Read on for some travel essentials and tips on what to pack for your Palm Springs winter getaway. Your Palm Springs style will not disappoint in the California desert! Some of the affiliate links shared below may result in me earning a small commission.
What to Pack for a Trip to Palm Springs
You should bring some layers like t-shirts, sweaters, leggings, and jeans so that you can adjust your outfit as needed throughout the day.
Don’t forget about swimwear! Even though it might not feel like beach weather, Palm Springs is famous for its hot springs and pools—so make sure to bring something you can take a dip in. Plus, if you stay at Onsen, you will need one for the natural hot springs on location, pool deck, and jacuzzi!
One of the most important things you’ll need is something warm enough to wear once the sun goes down. That could mean anything from a light jacket and scarf combo to a full-length coat and beanie set depending on how cold it gets where you’re staying.
Yes… it gets cold in the Palm Springs desert. The cool season lasts for about three months from the end of November to the end of February 28. During the day, the average daily high temperature is about 75°F. The coldest month of the year in Palm Springs is December, with an average low of 46°F and a high of 69°F.
If you plan on visiting the top of a mountain like I did (more on that below), then dress as if you’re going sledding!
Palm Springs is all about outdoor activities, so make sure you bring comfortable shoes to walk around in all day long.
Sandals or slip-on sneakers should do the trick – just make sure they’re thick enough that they won’t let in any chilliness from outside when worn without socks in the evening.
It’s All About Accessories
Accessories are key when packing for a trip to Palm Springs!
A wide-brimmed hat will protect your face from both sunburns and cool breezes. Sunglasses will help shield your eyes from bright desert rays. If you want something extra special that also serves a purpose, why not try out an infinity scarf?
Some good options and outfit ideas with links to Amazon include:
- Long pants (I love these joggers in all colors) with a tank top (this one and this one) get a lot of use) or a crop top
- Polo shirts in bright colors or light colors (if you’re hitting up golf courses)
- Light fabrics and loose clothing for the daytime temperatures
- A straw hat for the strong desert sun (this one is so trendy and comes in a bunch of different colors)
- Fun tops with loud prints like palm trees or vintage Hawaiin shirts
- A colorful swimsuit (this is one of my faves… and this one too!)
- Long dress pants and long-sleeved tops for cooler evenings (if you’re doing something formal)
- A pair of jeans
- A maxi dress and flowy dresses (because they’re just so easy!)
Now, I can’t give you a packing list and get you all dressed up with nowhere to go, so let’s plan some fun things to do in Palm Springs, California.
Things to do in Desert Palm Springs
When my husband and I visited, we stayed at Onsen Hotel and Spa. Onsen is an adult hotel and spa – a perfect desert oasis for us since we were traveling without our kids.
As of January 2023, it’s brand-spankin’ new with a spa and natural hot springs that fills the pool and jacuzzi. It’s in an official spa zone, which is so cool!
Onsen is in Coachella Valley and is:
- 20 minutes to downtown Palm Springs
- 35 minutes to Palm Desert
- 40 minutes to Joshua Tree
- 40 minutes to Coachella
Exploring Downtown Palm Springs
Downtown Palm Springs is a vibrant and historic spot that draws tourists from all over the world. With its unique combination of modern amenities, old-world charm, and stunning desert landscape, it’s no surprise that downtown Palm Springs continues to be a popular destination for visitors.
I loved walking around the shops and hopping in and out of restaurants to eat.
Shop ‘til You Drop
Downtown Palm Springs is home to some of the best shopping experiences in California. On any given day, you can find everything from high-end boutiques to vintage stores and antique shops.
Whether you’re looking for designer clothing or one-of-a-kind souvenirs, downtown Palm Springs has something for everyone.
Plus, there are plenty of amazing restaurants and cafes nearby where you can take a break and refuel with some delicious food.
See the Sights
No trip to downtown Palm Springs would be complete without taking in some of its iconic sights.
One of the most popular attractions is the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway which takes visitors up 8,516 feet into the San Jacinto Mountains for stunning views of the Coachella Valley below. I believe this was mentioned in a great book I read called The Guncle.
I was so scared to do this because I’m afraid of heights, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought. It was pretty cool and still blows my mind how I can hang out in two feet of snow in the desert!
Other must-see spots include Moorten Botanical Garden and Cactarium—which features 3,000 types of cacti—and Old Las Palmas—a historic movie star neighborhood that was home to celebrities such as Greta Garbo and Frank Sinatra.
In addition to its many indoor attractions, downtown Palm Springs also offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and golfing.
There are several nearby trails that make for a great way to explore natural wonders such as Joshua Tree National Park or Indian Canyons which feature miles of winding paths through beautiful canyons.
If you’re looking for something a little more adventurous, make sure to check out Big Bear Lake which offers kayaking, fishing, and other water sports all year round.
Visit Joshua Tree
I’ve heard of Joshua Tree before but didn’t know too much about the National Park before doing some research for you right here. If you’re looking for some outdoor adventure, then you will want to experience this.
Located just two hours east of Los Angeles, this vast national park is full of unique attractions that are sure to create lasting memories.
Joshua Tree National Park is home to hundreds of miles of trails, ranging from easy to strenuous. From exploring the various rock formations and desert landscapes to seeing some of the area’s native wildlife, there’s something for everyone when it comes to hiking here.
Depending on how much time you have, you can opt for shorter day hikes or longer overnight backpacking trips.
Check Out The Night Sky
Joshua Tree is known for its spectacular night sky views – clear skies and minimal light pollution make stargazing a delightfully peaceful experience. If you’re lucky enough, you might even catch a glimpse of the Milky Way.
Visit The Local Attractions
When it comes to unique attractions near Joshua Tree, there’s no shortage. From visiting the local museums and art galleries, such as the Noah Purifoy Desert Art Museum and High Desert Test Sites, to exploring one-of-a-kind natural wonders like Skull Rock and Keys View Point, there’s something for everyone at this national park.
Roam the Palm Springs Art Museum
The Palm Springs Art Museum offers a variety of world-class art exhibitions and educational programs that are sure to captivate the entire family.
Whether you are interested in modern art or traditional pieces from centuries past, there is something here for everyone. From sculptures to photographs to multimedia installations and more, the sheer variety of artwork at the museum is sure to amaze you.
They also have rotating exhibitions that change throughout the year, so no two visits will ever be the same.
The Education Program
In addition to its impressive collection of artwork, the museum also offers educational programs for visitors of all ages. From lectures and symposia to classes and workshops taught by professional artists, there is something here for everyone who wants to learn more about art history and culture.
They even host special events like concerts, movie screenings, and artist talks.
If you want a truly unique experience during your visit to the Palm Springs Art Museum, why not take some time to explore its collections? With over 25 different collections ranging from American art and contemporary photography to ancient artifacts and cultural objects from Asia Pacific countries, it’s easy to get lost in this vast array of artwork from around the world.
Hop to the Air Museum
The Palm Springs Air Museum has an impressive collection of historic aircraft and artifacts, as well as educational exhibits and interactive displays. Whether you’re a history buff, aviation enthusiast, or just looking for something different to do on your next visit to Palm Springs, here are some of the top things to do at the museum.
Explore Historic Aircraft Collection
The Palm Springs Air Museum offers visitors an up close and personal look at some of history’s most iconic aircraft from WWII bombers and fighters to modern jet fighters and helicopters. You can even sit inside a cockpit and experience what it would have been like to fly one of these planes.
Be sure to check out the museum’s collection of vintage engines, rockets, and missiles as well.
Experience Interactive Displays
The museum also features many interactive displays that allow visitors to get hands-on with history. For example, visitors can take part in a simulated mission where they must use their knowledge of flight principles and problem-solving skills in order to complete their mission successfully.
Additionally, there are interactive displays that let you explore the principles of aerodynamics while experiencing virtual flying environments first-hand.
Learn About Aviation History
In addition to being able to see all sorts of fascinating aircraft up close, visitors can also learn about aviation history through various educational exhibits throughout the museum. These exhibits cover everything from early pioneers in flight technology like Orville & Wilbur Wright all the way up to modern advancements in aerospace engineering.
There are even special events held throughout the year where experts share insights on topics such as military aviation and space exploration.
When you visit Palm Springs, let me know how you’re making a fashion statement and what great spots you’re visiting. Find me on Instagram at ChristinaAllDay.