Last December, we decided to go the less traditional route for the holidays, and instead of our usual rotation between Canada and the Netherlands, we enjoyed our first-ever warm weather-Christmas together with a family member living in Palm Springs. It was an incredible trip and is one I now look back fondly on having lost this person recently. So, in memory of him, this article is all about his favorite place in the whole world, Palm Springs, and the 8 things you can’t leave this magical place without doing.

Take A Photo With The Cabazon Dinosaurs

If there’s one thing that comes to mind when you think of Palm Springs, it has to be the life-sized T-Rex and Brontosaurus statues, pictured above, which weigh a combined 250 tons..woah! Pose for a photo with the iconic Mr. Rex and Dinny (their official names) then head to the gift shop, which is…get this…housed inside Dinny the Brontosaurus’s belly!

Buy Yourself A Designer Souvenir From Dessert Hill Premium Outlets

After you’ve said hello to the dinos, cruise down the street to the nearby upscale outdoor shopping center, Dessert Hill Premium Outlets, set against the stunning mountainous backdrop that Palm Springs is known for. The outlet mall features a long list of high-end designer fashion outlets, which includes Bottega Veneta, Loewe, Gucci, Balenciaga, Prada, Celine, Fendi, Saint Laurent, Christian Louboutin, Burberry, and many more. Bring home a luxurious item (for half the price or less) to remind you of your glorious vacation in the valley.

Hike Through Indian Canyons

Indian Canyons is the ancestral home of the Cahuilla Indians and doesn’t look like a place you’d expect to find in the middle of the dessert, yet here it thrives. Hiking through this lush reservation feels a bit like you’ve travelled back to prehistoric times—I was half-expecting a dinosaur to come trogging through the forest of jagged palm trees. This tranquil oasis is the perfect place to unwind while navigating some pretty spectacular surroundings.

Play A Round Of Bingo With Shirley

Every Monday night the Ace Hotel hosts a bingo night unlike any other inside of King’s Highway (previously an old Denny’s diner which has since gotten a second life). The host of the evening, dubbed Fabulous Bingo, is Shirley Claire, a 92-year-old former Palm Springs Follies dancer. Expect sass, song, and maybe even Shirley’s leg thrust up onto a table at some point. Anything goes at Fabulous Bingo!

Go To Starbucks Reserve And Order From The Reserve-Exclusive Menu

You may be thinking, Starbucks? A must-do? Really? Let me explain! Starbucks Reserves are nothing like your average Starbucks. In fact, there are only 43 of them in the world. They offer a more premium coffee shop experience with special brewing methods that include clover brewed, pour-over, cold brew, nitro cold brew, coffee press, chemex and siphon brewed coffee. There’s even a special Starbucks Reserve menu that is exclusive to these locations. My favorite from the menu has to be the Affogato, made with two shots of Reserve dark chocolate citrus espresso poured over a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream. It is divine.

Do A Day Trip To Joshua Tree National Park

Okay technically you do need to leave Palm Springs to do this one, but I assure you it is well worth the 45 minute drive. Joshua Tree National Park is a vast protected area characterized by rugged rock formations, stark desert landscapes, and countless eerily beautiful Joshua trees, pictured above. You can drive through, hike around, rock climb up, it doesn’t matter how, but experiencing Joshua Tree is a must. Stay for the sunset atop the Key’s View, you won’t be disappointed.

Eat Authentic Mexican Food With Lime Margaritas Under The Stars

It’s no secret that California boasts some of the best Mexican cuisine in America, so when I’m in the sunshine state, getting my Mexican food fix is at the top of my to-do list. After much research, I decided to check out El Mirasol, an authentic no-nonsense Mexican restaurant, and it exceeded all expectations. Sit on the patio for the ultimate under-the-stars experience, and whatever you do, don’t forget to order the De La Casa Margarita, the best lime margarita you’ll ever have, which they make using a special secret recipe they’ve been serving for over 25 years.

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Built in 1963, Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is the largest rotating aerial tramway in the world. That’s right, it rotates! Once atop Mount San Jacinto (8500 feet above ground), you can go for a hike, enjoy a nice meal in one of the two restaurants, or simply stand back and take in the view.

Palm Springs is a little slice of paradise and will forever hold a special place in my heart. Have you ever been? If so, leave a comment and let me know your favorite spots!

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