Guide: How to have fun in Greater Palm Springs when you are broke

Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley can be a great place to live or visit – provided you have a ton of cash for expensive rounds of golf, pricey El Paseo steak dinners, and let’s not even get started on how much hotel rooms can cost during “The Season”. But, there are ways to have a good time in Palm Springs that do not involve you spending your entire paycheck.

A few of these things are listed below.  Some are more obvious than others and, should you know of any that are not mentioned, please send them our way so we can update the list and we can all live happily ever after (maybe even with some extra cash).


There are always quite a few listings on Groupon for restaurants, breweries, massages, and even golf – hell, even Palm Springs Wet ‘n’ Wild is known to sell discount tickets on Groupon.  Before venturing out, check in here to see what is currently being offered.

Happy Hours

The only thing better than enjoying a great drink and appetizer is to not have to pay full price for it.  A few of the better Happy Hours in the Coachella Valley include: Trio (Palm Springs), Stuft Pizza (La Quinta & Palm Desert), and Fresh Agave (Palm Desert).

I know, I know.  There are others as well, please add your fave in the comments below.

Even upscale places like Morton’s (Palm Desert), Fleming’s (Rancho Mirage), and Sullivan’s (Palm Desert) become much more affordable during Happy Hour.  But, be warned: The Coachella Valley is home to many, many retirees who are known to take up all the seats at Happy Hour very, very early on.

Also, and this is important, any restaurant that says they have an “all-day Happy Hour” is a liar and not to be trusted.


Want to see some truly amazing views of one of the most beautiful places on earth?  Just grab a camelbak, some sunscreen, good hiking shoes, and this incredibly awesome and practical hat and head out on the trails.  There are a couple of hikes in the Palm Springs area that will cost you a modest (and totally worth it) fee (Indian Canyons, Joshua Tree National Park), but everywhere else is free.

You can get some great views of the Coachella Valley on The Art Museum Hike in Palm Springs, The Cross Hike in Palm Desert, and The Bear Canyon Oasis Trail in La Quinta.  Painted Canyon in Mecca and the Coachella Valley Preserve are also really unique and definitely worth your time. A lot of people will tell you the Bump and Grind.  Do not listen to these people, it’s not all that scenic and it is usually full of assholes talking really loud or playing their music for everyone to hear.

For more info, this website seems to have a pretty good write up on each trail in the Coachella Valley.

The key here is to know your ability (and pick an appropriate trail), bring plenty of water, and I can not stress this enough: DO NOT HIKE when the temperature is too hot for it!


The Coachella Valley has plenty of casinos and, let’s face it, they did not build those huge places by giving away a ton of money.  Playing slots and table games can gobble up your money pretty quickly.  But, you can play 2 hours of bingo for ten bucks.  Hell, you might even win something…probably not…but maybe.

Yes, I know you are not 80-years-old (or are you?  If so, what’s up cool 80-year-old Cactus Hugs reader!), but bingo with a friend or two can be a good time – just know that the regulars hate it when you get too loud.  Try grabbing a corner spot.

Sure, you can pay more for extra cards or to get the electronic version that does all of the work for you, but if you are just looking for a good time with some friends – you do not need to spend more than the 10 dollar buy-in.

Fantasy Springs Casino does bingo twice every day.  You can check out the schedule here.  Pro tip: the beers and cocktails are better in the bar in the main casino and you can carry them in with you.


During “The Season” green fees can be insanely high if you go directly through the clubhouse.  But, you can usually find some pretty good deals on courses throughout the Coachella Valley at

If traditional golf is not your thing, you can also play some foot golf – which is far less expensive and does not even require clubs.

The Pool

Hanging out at the pool is essential during the hot summer months – provided you have a pool.  The good news is, if you are cool about it, you can easily sneak your way into many of the pools of the hotels and resorts in the Coachella Valley.

The key here is not to be obvious about it or be that loud group of people everyone wants kicked out of the pool.

Go to the Movies (on the right day of the week)

Taking in a flick can be expensive.  But, not on Tuesday.  Century offers tickets under six bucks for almost every movie all day on Tuesday. The chain has theaters at the River in Rancho Mirage and in La Quinta at Washington and Highway 111 (which is home to some pretty bad ass seats).  Check out showtimes for Rancho Mirage and La Quinta.

What are your tips for saving cash on activities and entertainment in the Desert?  Add them in the comments below.