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Palm Springs: what to see and do when heading to Coachella

Published December 29th, 2017

For those living under a rock and who maybe don’t know what Coachella is, it is only one of the best music festivals in the US (and the world) where thousands of girls flock in order to be able to run around wearing flower crowns and not a whole lot else in the Coachella Valley desert region near the city of Palm Springs.

Now if you find yourself in the fortunate position of having secured a lucky golden ticket to the festival you will most likely be flying to Los Angeles and hiring a car for a sweet 2-hour desert road trip to Palm Springs. The festival which happens over two weekends in April each year is the perfect excuse to live out all of your USA road trip movie fantasies with some pretty cool stops and side trips along the way.

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What to do on a road trip to Palm Springs:


Joshua Tree National Park

Located one hour north of the Coachella Valley in Twentynine Palms, Joshua Tree National Park covers 794,000 acres of two diverse desert ecosystems: the Colorado and Mojave Deserts. Aka the Instagram influencers cactus laden paradise.



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Noah Purifoy’s Outdoor Desert Art Museum in Joshua Tree

Yes, Greater Palm Springs does have some amazing museums to see, from Palm Springs Art Museum to Palm Springs Air Museum. However, Noah Purifoy’s Desert Art Museum is a particularly unique experience,featuring peculiar and larger-than-life outdoor art installations.



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Cabazon Dinosaurs

This place is just nuts and you must not miss a stop here. The giant 100-tonne dinosaurs which you can see from the side of the 10 freeway are well worth the pitstop and were even featured in the movie, Pee Wee Herman’s Big Adventure. Kooky but awesome.



Salvation Mountain

If you’re keen for a short trip deeper into the desert, Salvation Mountain is an Instagrammer's dream. The magical and colourful shrine to God was created by Leonard Knight and a sight to behold.



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Ruby’s Diner

No road trip would be complete without eating at a diner, granted this one is a little more upmarket than your traditional establishment, but satisfying nonetheless.



Take a photo with the wind turbines

One of the coolest vistas on your trip will be seeing the wind farm lining the San Gorgonio Pass with massive turbines spinning on top of the hills in the distance.



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The Saguaro Palm Springs

The Saguaro hotel in Palm Springs is one of the most photographed hotels in the region, with tons of bright, multi-coloured walls and doors around the property with a central swimming pool.



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The Ace Hotel

Each year during Coachella, Ace Hotel & Swim Club unveils a new artist mural as part of its Desert Gold event, with the most recent mural created by Hopie and Lily Stockman, the sister duo behind Block Shop textiles.



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Sam Aldenton

Sam Aldenton is a travel writer, digital content creator (read: takes photos/videos with her iphone and sometimes a real camera) and former retail and youth trend forecaster. When she's not off discovering the world’s best pizza (an obsession picked up from her 4-years in New York), she makes her home in Brisbane, Australia. Follow her on Twitter or Instagram at @samaaldenton.