We just got back from 7 days in Palm Springs! Palm Springs is a desert oasis in southern California, just a 2 hour drive from Los Angeles.
Adam was visiting for a work conference and golf, so I tagged along. We stayed 5 nights in Palm Desert and 2 nights in downtown Palm Springs.
The stunning mountain views, palm trees and abundant sunshine make it the perfect spot for vacationing or weekend getaways!
Whether you’re planning to lounge by the pool in Palm Springs, golf in Palm Desert, dance at a music festival, hike Joshua Tree National Park, ride the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, or explore Indian Canyons, you want to be ready with a suitcase full of clothes that are perfect for the weather and help you feel like a local.
I’m here to be your packing guide. With advice about travel essentials for a trip in any season!
First, you may be wondering, is Palm Springs dressy or casual?
Is Palm Springs Dressy or Casual?
Since Palm Springs is a retirement town that’s become a tourist destination, it’s a very casual place. The weather will dictate what you wear. On the hot days of summer, for women, swimsuits covered up by shorts and a t-shirt, or a cover up and flip flops are great options. For guys, pack polo shirts or golf shirts and swim trunks and shorts. In winter, you’ll be happy to have jeans, leggings or sweatpants and sweatshirts or sweaters, and sneakers.
Let’s start by talking about one of the trickiest times to pack for Palm Springs. That’s the winter months.
What to Wear in Palm Springs By Season
What to pack for Palm Springs in winter
In December and January, you’ll want warmer clothes with you. And clothes you can layer.
Visiting in December, half of the days were overcast or only partly sunny, making it feel cooler than I expected. And on sunny days, when the sun sets behind the mountains, the days cool off fast.
One day, I left the hotel around noon wearing workout leggings, a short-sleeve shirt, a thin exercise jacket, and tennis shoes. And I was too warm because the sun was shining bright.
But when I came home at 4, the sun was setting behind the mountain. And I was cool in the same outfit.
In December and January, the average morning temperature is 43 degrees. And the average high is 70. But don’t let that last number fool you. You’ll be glad to have sweatpants, jeans and leggings. And a sweatshirt, pullover sweater or cardigan with you. To keep your feet warm, you’ll want sneakers, ankle booties or closed-toe shoes.
I ended up packing too many open-toed shoes. Which left me wearing flip flops when I wanted ankle booties. And had me running out to the local DSW for shoes. Let’s be real though, I’m a fashion blogger, so I’m always more than happy for an excuse to go to the stores.
My daily uniform for exploring, eating out and site seeing ended up being sneakers, leggings, jeans or sweats with a sweater or sweatshirt, over a long or short-sleeve top, depending on what was clean.
Jeans, a sweater and sneakers were perfect for a rooftop drink at dusk in downtown Palm Springs.
I was excited to wear dresses in bright colors with platform sandals out to nice dinners. And I was glad my dresses had long sleeves.
But my feet were cold coming out of the restaurant after dinner. If you want to walk downtown at night, wear ankle boots or closed-toe shoes to keep your feet warm.
On another night, we walked to dinner and strolled downtown Palm Springs. I wore jeans, loafers, a white button-down shirt and long cardigan and was comfortable.
I was also happy to have a good coat with me. My trench coat worked perfectly and I was able to wear it with everything from dresses to jeans and leggings.
Also, we discovered that many restaurants with outdoor seating had outdoor heaters of some sort.
What about hiking?
We explored the Museum Trail behind downtown Palm Springs.
I tried to wear my running shoes and quickly discovered that to keep from slipping on the sandy and rocky trails, I needed shoes with thick treads.
Adam wore his trail running shoes and his footing was much more stable than mine.
How to dress to Christmas shop at the outlet mall
If you’re planning to go Christmas shopping at the Desert Hills Premium Outlet Mall in December, it can be cold and breezy there. The surrounding parking lots are windy.
But inside the strip, the buildings provide protection from the breeze. Dress in sneakers and layers.
I wore flowy long pants and a long-sleeve shirt. To stay warm, I ended up breaking down and incurring an additional cost by buying a sweater from J.Crew Factory.
Will you need your swimsuit in the winter?
I saw a few very committed people hanging by the pool in swimsuits on days when the sun was bright and warm. And even on days when it was overcast.
I couldn’t resist testing out the beautiful cabanas in my flowy pants. But in my opinion, it was too cold to be by the pool most days. And I saw several people trying to stay warm by wrapping up in their towels from head to toe.
Spring time is the best time to visit, especially if you want to hang by the pool.
What to pack for spring in Palm Springs: February, March, April and May
In mid-February, temperatures warm up. Average high temps are upper 70s to mid 80s with abundant sunshine.
Pack your sundresses, shorts and tank tops, flip flops and sandals. And a hat for protection from the sun.
The popular music festivals, Coachella and Stagecoach are in April for a reason. The weather is sublime. Although, if you’re up all night, the California desert temperatures do drop and you’ll be glad to have a jacket to throw over your crop top. Or to have a warm change of clothes.
Once May hits, the weather gets really hot, hitting the mid 90s with a few even warmer days. You want to be prepared for summer weather.
Palm Springs packing list for summer
If you’re gearing up for a summer weekend in Palm Springs, get ready for hot desert temperatures.
June through September, the average high temperature is above 99 degrees.
July gives you your hottest temperatures averaging a high of 106 degrees. Dipping to an average low of 78 degrees.
During the day, one of the best ways to stay cool is to spend your day in the pool. It’s a good idea to pack your favorite summer clothes. And pack your swimsuits and coverups in light colors. And sundresses in cotton or linen light fabrics. Along with tank tops and shorts.
Give your skin protection from the strong desert sun by wearing a breathable long gauzy tunic dress. And a wide brim straw hat to shade you from the sun. Throw a water bottle into your duffel bag to stay hydrated during your outdoor activities.
Bring your flip flops for the pool and your strappy sandals for an evening out. Palm Springs fashion leans more towards Boho and Birkenstocks than glam. So leave your stilettos at home. Opt for platform sandals that are easy to walk in for a night out.
What to wear in Palm Springs in Fall: October + November
October is still hot with an average daily high of 89 degrees. And a low of 64.
There’s a 20 and sometimes 30 degree temperature difference between morning and mid-day.
Prepare for it to be in the 60s in the morning. Pack a light layer like a kimono wrap. And plan to wear it over top of your tank tops and shorts in the morning.
After sunset, the average temperature sticks around the mid to upper 70s. You’ll have warm weather that’s perfect for a sundress.
In November, morning temps average in the 50s.
At that temperature, you’ll be more comfortable wearing closed-toe shoes. Pack a cute pair of sneakers. Slip on shoes like loafers, clogs, mules or ballet flats are also good options.
You’ll be glad to have a pair of leggings, flowy pants or jeans. And long-sleeve tops and a sweatshirt or sweater.
The mid-day temperature average high is 78. During the day, you’ll want to wear short sleeves with shorts, skirts or dresses and easy sandals.
As the sun sets before 5, and the temp hovers around a low of 64, a light jacket or a dress with sleeves is a great way to stay warm.
Outfit ideas and what to pack for Palm Springs
For a winter visit, build your outfit ideas around layering pieces. Pack your favorite casual pants, long-sleeve and short-sleeve shirts, and sweaters. Add a light coat like a trench coat for cool evenings. And bring your favorite sneakers, ankle booties or closed-toe shoes. For the spring season, starting in mid-February, bring your bathing suit and flip flops or shorts and a tank top. It’s warm enough to need a wide brim hat and your sunblock. During the desert hot summers, bring your airy and light summer sundresses to throw over your bathing suit. Or a tank top and shorts. In the fall, in the morning, when the thermometer says 60 degrees, you’ll want a light jacket or kimono wrap to wear over top of your shorts and t-shirts or sundresses. Happy traveling! XO, Marya