Palm Springs is a widely favorable vacation spot that lies on the western edge of Southern California’s Coachella Valley. When visiting downtown Palm Springs, you’ll notice the compelling modern architecture and its cultural art scene – but beyond its urban beauty, Palm Springs is also home to the most beautiful desert landscapes filled with blooming gardens, rare wildlife species, and notable oasis to offer the perfect landscapes for a relaxing picnic experience surrounded by nature.

Here are some of the most stunning picnic spots found in and near Palm Springs, California

Coachella Valley Preserve

Credit: @Andy

Settled in the Indio Hills, the Coachella Valley Preserve offers 30 miles of hiking trails, rare wildlife species, and native vegetation, along with springs, ponds, and creeks filled with the groundwater from the San Andreas Fault.

While exploring the Preserve, you’ll find the perfect spot to set up your picnic – from underneath the shady palms of the grassy areas to the picnic tables set up in the Tamarisk Grove, McCallum Grove, and Pushwalla Palms. Whichever you choose, the Coachella Valley Preserve promises a calming lunch experience in one of the most earthly environments.

The Living Desert

Credit: @The Living Desert

The Living Desert is a botanical garden and zoo that is dedicated to the deserts of the world. The gardens consist of rare plant species adopted from diverse geographical regions from around the world, from the desert willow to the Mexican bird of paradise. It’s also the home to some amazing wildlife, including African wild dogs, ankole longhorn cattle, desert bighorn sheep, cheetahs, giraffes, and many more!

When it’s time for a break from exploring the incredible gardens of The Living Desert, you’ll find plenty of picnic tables set up in shaded regions alongside the paved paths.

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Credit: @South Florida

If you’re visiting Palm Springs, experiencing the aerial tramway is a must. Offering one of the best scenic views of the mountains and Coachella Valley, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is widely known as the world’s largest rotating tramcar. Transporting riders through the Chino Canyons cliffs to the Mt. San Jacinto State Park, the tramway offers the perfect picturesque vista point of the Coachella Valley.

The tramcar lands on what is known as Mountain Station, which is 8,516 feet from the ground and includes an observation deck with picnic tables for visitors to enjoy a meal while getting the best view of Palm Springs. There are also two restaurants, a natural history museum, two documentary theaters, and a gift shop located on Mountain Station, along with over 50 miles of hiking trails offering plenty of spots to set up your own secluded picnic.

Indian and Tahquitz Canyons

Credit: @Dolly

The Indian and Tahquitz Canyons are an historical mark for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. The Indian Canyons were home to the Cahuilla people where their artifacts still exist such as rock art, house pits, ancient irrigation ditches, dams, bedrock mortars and metates used as food preparation areas. Along the Indian Canyons are hiking trails that wind through the canyons with picnic tables to enjoy an outdoor lunch alongside the stream of the Andreas Creek.

Credit: @Fusion Workplaces-Palm Desert

The Tahquitz Canyons offer educational and cultural exhibits that display artifacts, an observation deck, and a viewing on The Legend of Tahquitz Canyon. It is also home to native wildlife and plants, along with a 60-foot waterfall offering the most picturesque spot for a picnic.

Joshua Tree National Park (Hidden Valley, Cap Rock, and Split Rock)

Credit: @Nina Mayer Ritchie

Joshua Tree National Park is an ancient massive desert that spreads across more than 790,000 square acres. It is located in the High Desert of Southern California at approximately 3,000-5,000 feet above sea level, making it one of the best stargazing locations in the country. You’ll also find remarkable picnic spots throughout the park, including Hidden Valley, Cap Rock, and Split Rock.

Credit: @Linda

Hidden Valley is a classic hike with easy-to-navigate trails surrounded by unique formulated boulders and ancient trees. You’ll find plenty of picnic tables available for a distinct lunch experience amidst the beautifully formulated rocks.

Credit: @The Vow Keeper

Cap Rock is another spectacular picnic location, and can be found along the shortest trail of the park at minimal elevation. Featuring the notable rock that appears to defy gravity as it sits on the very tip of a large boulder, hence the name Cap Rock, features picnic tables surrounded by the astonishing flora and fauna of the region, creating an extraordinary picnic adventure.

Credit: @Airports and Sunsets

Another great picnic spot found within the sprawling park is the easily accessible Split Rock. Consisting of striking geological formations along a hiking trail filled with rare vegetation sightings, Split Rock also features several picnic tables set up near the rocks to offer a unique picnic experience.

Don’t Forget Your Picnic Basket

Once you’ve got your spot picked out, be sure to check the website or call ahead to make sure it’s open as some of the sites on this list do close on occasion based on weather conditions. And if you don’t have time to pack your own picnic, then hit up one of these restaurants on your way!

The Sandwich Spot
240 N Palm Canyon Dr.
Palm Springs, CA 92262

(760) 778-7900

This counter service store offers filling specialty sandwiches with unique names to honor local celebrities and events, such as No. 13 The Sunny and Share and No. 11 The Thighmaster in honor of Susanne Somers. You’ll also find fresh salads and baked goods, including cookies, brownies and cupcakes.

The Sandwich Shop is located about:

  • 29 minutes away from Coachella Valley Preserve
  • 37 minutes away from The Living Desert
  • 16 minutes away from Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
  • 17 minutes away from Indian Canyons
  • 6 minutes away from Tahquitz Canyon
  • 55 minutes away from Joshua Tree National Park

Sherman’s Deli & Bakery
73-161 Country Club Drive
Palm Desert, CA 92262

(760) 568-1350

This deli serves up kosher Jewish dishes and New York favorites. Check out Sherman’s Famous Sandwich Board to grab some sandwiches to-go – and don’t forget the dessert!

Sherman’s is located about:

  • 16 minutes away from Coachella Valley Preserve
  • 13 minutes away from The Living Desert
  • 33 minutes away from Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
  • 35 minutes away from Indian Canyons
  • 27 minutes away from Tahquitz Canyon
  • 42 minutes away from Joshua Tree National Park

Sherman’s also has another location at
401 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way
Palm Springs, CA 92262

and is about:

  • 30 minutes away from Coachella Valley Preserve
  • 35 minutes away from The Living Desert
  • 17 minutes away from Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
  • 15 minutes away from Indian Canyons
  • 5 minutes away from Tahquitz Canyon
  • 55 minutes away from Joshua Tree National Park

The Real Italian Deli
100 S Sunrise Way B
Palm Springs, CA 92262

(760) 325-3800

The Real Italian Deli brings a little taste of Italy to the desert with a menu selection of main courses, salads, sandwiches, and dessert, along with a selection of fresh deli items such as imported and house-cured deli meats, fresh cheese, fresh bread, olive oils and vinegars, pasta, and more.

The Real Italian Deli is located about:

  • 28 minutes away from Coachella Valley Preserve
  • 33 minutes away from The Living Desert
  • 19 minutes away from Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
  • 19 minutes away from Indian Canyons
  • 10 minutes away from Tahquitz Canyon
  • 52 minutes away from Joshua Tree National Park

The Real Italian Deli has another location at
44795 San Pablo Avenue, Suite 1,
Palm Desert, CA 92260

and is about:

  • 22 minutes away from Coachella Valley Preserve
  • 7 minutes away from The Living Desert
  • 39 minutes away from Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
  • 38 minutes away from Indian Canyons
  • 30 minutes away from Tahquitz Canyon
  • 46 minutes away from Joshua Tree National Park

Nature’s Health Food & Café
555 S Sunrise Way
Palm Springs, CA 92264

(760) 323-9487

As the name suggests, this café serves up a selection of organic vegan and vegetarian entrees, smoothies, juices, shakes, and more – all made with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients.

Nature’s Health Food & Café is located about:

  • 26 minutes away from Coachella Valley Preserve
  • 31 minutes away from The Living Desert
  • 21 minutes away from Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
  • 14 minutes away from Indian Canyons
  • 5 minutes away from Tahquitz Canyon
  • 52 minutes away from Joshua Tree National Park

On The Mark Palm Springs
777 N Palm Canyon Dr,
Palm Springs, CA 92262

(760) 832-8892

This gourmet market and deli offers a small menu of specialty sandwiches along with a selection of boutique products including craft beer and wine, artisan cheese, nitrate-free meats, and more.

On The Mark Palm Springs is located about:

  • 28 minutes away from Coachella Valley Preserve
  • 38 minutes away from The Living Desert
  • 13 minutes away from Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
  • 17 minutes away from Indian Canyons
  • 7 minutes away from Tahquitz Canyon
  • 54 minutes away from Joshua Tree National Park

Aspen Mills Bread Bakery & Café
555 S Sunrise Way # 101
Palm Springs, CA 92264

(760) 323-3123

With four Coachella Valley locations and voted #1 for Best Bakery and Best Sandwiches in the Valley by Desert Magazine, this bakery and café not only offers fresh baked bread and bakery items, but also serves up gourmet sandwiches and fresh salads.

Aspen Mills Bread Bakery & Café on Sunrise Way is located about:

  • 13 minutes away from Coachella Valley Preserve
  • 18 minutes away from The Living Desert
  • 30 minutes away from Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
  • 33 minutes away from Indian Canyons
  • 25 minutes away from Tahquitz Canyon
  • 39 minutes away from Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree Area Lunch Spots

If you’ve settled on Joshua Tree National Park for your perfect Palm Springs picnic, here are a couple of nearby options:

Joshua Tree Saloon
61835 Twentynine Palms Highway
Joshua Tree, CA 92252

(760) 366-2250

Located just 10 minutes from the West Entrance Station of Joshua Tree National Park and, Joshua Tree Saloon has been serving breakfast, lunch and dinner in the Palm Springs area for more than 30 years with a wide selection of entrees, sandwiches, burgers, salads, sweets, and more.


Natural Sisters Café
61695 Twentynine Palms Highway
Joshua Tree, CA 92252

(760) 366-3600

Also located 10 minutes from the West Entrance Station, Natural Sisters Café aims to serve comfort food with a natural twist, from breakfast, fresh juices and smoothies to vegetarian soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers, sweets and more.

 

If you want to add camping to your picnic adventure, then check out our top picks for “glamping” in Palm Springs!