Deciding the best time to visit Palm Springs is less about the perfect weather and more about pinpointing the kind of desert experience you’re after.
The Coachella Valley – comprising the cities of Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Coachella, Desert Hot Springs, Indian Wells, Indio, La Quinta, Palm Desert and Rancho Mirage – basks under clear Californian skies for 300 days a year. With its distinctive desert landscapes, laid-back lifestyle and history of LGBTIQ+ inclusivity, the region has an enduring, come-as-you-are appeal.
Year-round, you can browse boutiques, dine in glam eateries, stay in boutique hotels, relax at spa resorts and explore the desert, but winter showcases a special side to the city. The valley hovers at around 70ºF – perfect for hiking and downtown strolling – and ski resorts open in the mountains to the north.
Here's our guide to the best time of year to visit Palm Springs.
High Season: Winter/Spring (December–April)
Best for art and design lovers
The months from December to April serve up some of Palm Springs’ best weather, as well as the greatest temperature change from day to night. Expect mild, sunny days reaching 70ºF and cool evenings in the mid-40s; remember to pack layers when traveling during the winter months.
While many come to hike, winter in Palm Springs is also the season for big marquee cultural events, from film and music festivals (including April's Coachella) to golf tournaments and celebrations of art and architecture. Wildflowers begin to bloom as early as January, too. Book early to avoid peak rates that can reach triple the average for the rest of the year.
Shoulder Season: Fall (October–November)
Best for outdoor enthusiasts
The fall season in Palm Springs brings blue skies and summer-like weather, with highs topping 90ºF. Evenings are cooler, but not painfully so, with overnight lows in the 50s and 60s. Although the crowds tend to thin out around this time, weekend hotel deals abound and there's still plenty to do, from the annual Pride celebrations (a 35-year-old tradition as of 2021) to the valley's annual hot air balloon festival. Fall is also an ideal time to be outside, whether that means sitting by a spa pool or hiking in the hills.
Low Season: Summer (May–September)
Best for heat seekers and budget travelers
By May, it’s not unusual for the mercury to hit the high 90s. If you’re an early bird and outdoor enthusiast, Palm Springs’ summer months are ideal for a sunrise hike. Outdoor dining is de rigueur, and the valley's signature misters spray clouds of water vapor to help cool things down.
Most resorts host daytime pool parties complete with live DJs and after-hours events. Lodging, golf course access and tennis court reservations are the most affordable during summer. However, note that many restaurants and attractions have modified hours, closing during the hottest part of the day.
The year opens with mild weather and plenty of events, bringing an influx of visitors from across the US.
Key events: American Express golf tournament, Palm Springs International Film Festival
Considered Palm Springs’ rainiest month, though for this dry region, that’s not saying much! The area averages an inch or so of rainfall in total during this time. Snag tickets for Modernism Week in the fall the year prior to visiting.
Key events: Modernism Week (tours, talks, and parties celebrating midcentury and contemporary living).
Peak wildflower season, and typically the time when nearby Joshua Tree National Park sees the most visitors.
Key events: Fashion Week, last month of equestrian events for the Desert Circuit (begins January)
Music festival season begins. With Coachella and other big hitters on the program, lodging rates skyrocket and restaurants are busier than ever.
Key events: Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, Stagecoach Festival, White Party (shifted from November to April in 2021)
Consider May the beginning of the long summer in the desert, with highs already in the 90s. The biennial Desert X art show features works displayed across the region, exploring topics from climate change to immigration. Palm Springs Air Museum hosts its annual flower drop on Memorial Day Weekend (kiddos aged 12 and under can attend for free).
Key events: Desert X (begins in March), Palm Springs Air Museum flower drop
Triple-digit temperatures mark the region’s low season. Outdoor activities such as tennis and golf are best undertaken well before noon or long after the sun goes down. Restaurant Week features fixed-price lunch and dinner specials at more than 100 participating restaurants.
Key events: Restaurant Week, Shortfest short film festival
Historically the hottest month of the year. Most resorts brim with poolside programs, from live DJ sets during the day to dive-in movies in the evening, and the valley fills with lots of young people.
Key events: Desert Classic Dancesport Championships.
The weather stays hot day and night, and many hotels keep their pools open 24-hours. Splash House takes over three hotels for DJ-hosted pool parties and after-hours events.
Key Events: Splash House
As temperatures start to dip, evenings become more bearable, which means lots of enjoyable al fresco dining beneath the misters.
Key events: Night Sky Festival
Extreme temperatures reduce day and night, creating pleasant conditions for outdoor activities. Expect more conventions and business travelers than usual.
Key events: World Team Tennis
Perfect pool and golf weather continues, and Pride comes to town. This is also a great time to visit Joshua Tree National Park – the smaller crowds and comfortable weather are true gifts.
Key events: Greater Palm Springs Pride, Hot Air Balloon Festival, Indio BBQ State Championship
High season begins, in line with great hiking weather in the canyons of the Sonoran Desert. Consider trips out of town to reserves such as Whitewater Canyon Preserve in the San Gorgonio Wilderness Area.
Key events: Stargazing (the sun sets around 4:30pm), Desert Air Festival
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