Official Visitor Center for Palm Springs, California

Unveiling the Ultimate Road Trips from Palm Springs: Your Gateway to Adventure



Embark on a captivating journey through the picturesque landscapes of Southern California with these unforgettable road trips from Palm Springs.

From the iconic Joshua Tree National Park to the charming towns and serene lakes, each destination promises a unique experience. Discover the top road trip destinations, complete with essential information. Also, uncover insider tips, driving times, and the best times of the year to embark on each trip. 

Additionally, find out how these remarkable journeys could lead you to your dream property in the desirable enclave of Palm Desert.

1. Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park
A camping tent at the Joshua Tree National Park

Immerse yourself in the otherworldly beauty of Joshua Tree National Park, renowned for its distinctive rock formations and striking desert scenery. Discover captivating hiking trails, breathtaking vistas, and the allure of stargazing in this natural wonderland.

The driving time from Palm Springs is approximately 45 minutes. And the best time to visit is undoubtedly in fall and spring for pleasant temperatures and wildflower blooms.

2. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Uncover the tranquility of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, featuring vast desert landscapes, vibrant wildflowers (in season), and unique wildlife. Explore stunning slot canyons and delve into the rich geological history of the region.

The driving time to this wildlife paradise is approximately 2 hours. The best time to visit this opulence is when its wildflower blooms in spring with comfortable temperatures in fall and winter.

3. Big Bear Lake

Big Bear Lake
Some boats at the lake for adventure and relaxation

Escape to the serene oasis of Big Bear Lake. It offers year-round outdoor activities such as boating, fishing, hiking, and skiing during the winter months. 

Experience the perfect blend of relaxation and adventure in this mountain retreat. With an approximate 2 hours drive, it is best to visit in Spring and summer for outdoor activities and in winter for skiing.

4. Greater Palm Springs Cities

Indulge in the vibrant culture, luxury resorts, and artistic charm of Greater Palm Springs. Explore the diverse cities within the region, each boasting its own unique attractions, events, and culinary delights.

While its driving time varies, it is approximately an average of 30 minutes tops for any journey within the city. The best time to visit is fall, winter, and spring for pleasant weather and various events.

5. The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens

The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens
One of Huntington’s botanical gardens

Immerse yourself in the world of art, literature, and nature at The Huntington. Wander through exquisite gardens, admire captivating art collections, and delve into rare manuscripts in this cultural haven.

With its driving time of roughly 1 hour, the best time to visit is year-round, with mild temperatures in fall and spring.

6. San Diego

San Diego
One of San Diego’s sun-soaked beaches

Embark on a fun and adventure-filled road trip to San Diego where sun-soaked beaches, renowned attractions like the San Diego Zoo, and a bustling downtown scene await. Experience the perfect blend of relaxation and urban exploration.

Its driving time is approximately 2.5 hours. And it is a year-round destination, with pleasant weather and fewer crowds in the fall and spring.

7. Temecula Valley

Temecula Valley
Temecula is renowned for its wine-tasting adventures

Savor the charm of Temecula Valley’s wineries and rolling hills. Embark on a wine-tasting adventure, enjoy scenic hot air balloon rides, and explore the picturesque Old Town Temecula.

At best, it takes 1 hour to get to this destination. And the best time to visit is spring and fall for grape harvest and temperate weather.

8. Amboy Crater + Kelso Dunes

Amboy Crater + Kelso Dunes
Ethereal dunes of Kelso

Unearth the beauty of Amboy Crater’s volcanic landscapes and experience the ethereal dunes of Kelso. Engage in hiking and photography amidst these natural wonders.

Driving time is approximately 2 hours. And its best visitation times are fall, winter, and spring for comfortable temperatures.

9. Julian

Julian Apple Orchard
Apple Orchard

Step into the charming town of Julian, known for its apple orchards, historic buildings, and delectable pies. Immerse yourself in a quaint atmosphere that feels worlds away.

Its driving time is 2 hours at best. And it’s best to visit in the fall for apple picking and pleasant weather.

10. Los Angeles

Embark on a journey to the heart of entertainment — Los Angeles. Discover iconic landmarks, explore diverse neighborhoods, and immerse yourself in the glamor of Hollywood.

Hollywood, Los Angeles
Hollywood, Los Angeles

Its driving time is roughly 2 hours, and it is a year-round destination with mild temperatures in the fall and spring.

11. Mount San Jacinto State Park

Ascend to new heights at Mount San Jacinto State Park, where pristine alpine forests. Stunning vistas and the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway offer an unforgettable mountain experience.

It has approximately 1 hour driving time. And the best time to visit is spring and summer for hiking and winter for snow activities.

12. Pasadena

Botanical Beauty at Pasadena
Botanical Beauty

Explore the cultural hub of Pasadena, home to world-class museums, historic architecture, and the stunning Huntington Library gardens. Immerse yourself in art, history, and botanical beauty.

With approximately 1 hour driving time, the best time to visit is year-round, with mild temperatures in the fall and spring.

13. Castaic Lake State Recreation Area

Engage in outdoor adventures at Castaic Lake State Recreation Area, where boating, fishing, and hiking opportunities await amidst the scenic beauty of the reservoir.

Its driving time is approximately 2 hours, and the best time to visit is spring and fall for comfortable temperatures and water activities.

All Close to Palm Desert

If you’re dreaming of making Southern California your permanent home, Palm Desert awaits. With its scenic landscapes, upscale amenities, and vibrant community, Palm Desert offers the perfect blend of relaxation and sophistication. 

Embarking on these remarkable road trips from Palm Springs allows you to uncover the stunning world around you. And the diverse beauty and attractions that Southern California has to offer. Whether you’re drawn to desert landscapes, mountain retreats, coastal paradises, or cultural hubs, each destination promises an unforgettable experience.

Thankfully, these beautiful places are close to Palm Desert—at most a 3-hour drive. Pack your bags, hit the open road, and consider making Palm Desert your permanent destination where adventure meets home.

Written by Sheila Ese & Collins Omaghe

Homes in PALM DESERT area

Palm Desert offers homes in various architectural styles, custom builds, and even raw land to build your one-of-a-kind dream home. If you want to know more about what’s available to buy in Palm Desert, check out these luxury listings currently on the market with virtual showings.

Homes for sale around the Palm Desert Area

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