Cathedral City is a city of about 55,000 people situated in the Coachella Valley area of Riverside County.
Also known as Cat City, this desert retreat area is known for its cultural attractions, posh resorts, and country clubs, as well as its central location just 10 miles from Palm Springs.
Due to Cathedral City’s excellent year-round weather, it’s also a popular destination for snowbirds escaping the cold.
In Cathedral City, there are many restaurants, golf courses, art galleries, and shopping areas such as Cathedral City Marketplace, Canyon Plaza Shopping Center, and Vista Chino Plaza.
Throughout the year, many festivals and events take place in Cathedral City including the Hot Air Balloon Festival, Taste of Jalisco Festival, Fountainworks Festival, the Youth Festival, Oktoberfest, Shorty’s Rib Fest, and Perez Road Fall Festival.
Below are 15 of the best things to do in and around Cathedral City, California.
1. Kick back in Panorama Park
Panorama Park is the perfect place to kick back on a nice afternoon without having to travel too far. As the biggest park in the city, the park features an abundance of open space and many amenities across its seven acres.
Some of the amenities you’ll find on site include a children’s spray pool and play area, a basketball court, two tennis courts, a volleyball court, and a baseball field. There are also shaded picnic areas with BBQ facilities and a walking trail.
2. Spend a Day Golfing at Cimarron Golf Club
The best thing about Cimarron Golf Club is there are two beautiful courses on site and each one is vastly different from the other.
These 18-hole championship courses are suitable for all levels, but they feature more than enough obstacles to keep your game challenging.
Did I mention the courses are surrounded by stunning views of the San Jacinto Mountains? No wonder this golf club has been voted one of the top 25 places to golf in Southern California.
The on-site On the Rocks Restaurant is where you’ll find a delicious meal and refreshing beverages after a long day on the greens.
3. Visit the Museum of Ancient Wonders
The Museum of Ancient Wonders is a fascinating place filled with intriguing artefacts representing ancient civilizations and prehistoric life from around the world.
Some of the items on display are replicas while many are originals. In total, there are 375 artefacts across five exhibits including Enlightening the Coachella Valley, Faces of Africa and Vessels of Gods.
Within the various exhibits that span a timeline of more than 4 billion years, you’ll see Tutankhamen’s treasures, Grecian vessels, African tribal masks and sculptures, fossil casts, and skeletons of ancient creatures.
4. Take a break at the Fountain of Life
Situated in the downtown area of Cathedral City, the Fountain of Life is a beautiful space featuring water fountains and sculptures and it’s a perfect rest stop during your busy day of exploring the city.
The fountains and sculptures were designed and carved by local artists. Birds, fish, shells, and flowers are some of the sculptures that decorate this relaxing space in the middle of urban life.
5. Immerse yourself in the arts at the Palm Springs Art Museum
Showcasing and promoting regional art is the main goal of the Palm Springs Art Museum which is said to be one of the best attractions in nearby Palm Springs.
Housed within this unique 75,000-square-foot building is a vast collection of artworks across many disciplines. As you make your way through the exhibits, you’ll see modern paintings, glassworks, and sculptures.
The performing arts, including dance and music, are showcased in the Annenberg theatre through performances that are held throughout the year.
6. Dine on quality seafood at Oceans Restaurant
If you love seafood, you’ll love the food served at Oceans Restaurant and you’ll also love the relaxed but elegant atmosphere. Fresh Mediterranean and Californian-inspired seafood dishes are served at lunch and dinner.
On the menu, you’ll find a variety of appetizers, salads, pasta dishes, and main courses such as swordfish, lobster ravioli, catfish, prawns, Ahi tuna, and salmon.
If fish isn’t what you’re craving, there are plenty of other dishes on the menu including rack of lamb and steak. There’s also an extensive wine list and outdoor seating is available.
7. Take a journey on the Palm Springs Tramway
There are plenty of wild, natural places around Cathedral City and the Palm Springs Tramway will take you to one of those beautiful wilderness areas.
This tramcar ride, which takes ten minutes and travels 2.5 miles, is the largest rotating tramcar in the world. You’ll climb 8,526 feet before reaching Mountain Station in Mount San Jacinto State Park.
At the top, there are many things to do. In the warmer months, guided nature walks are offered, or you can venture off on your own hiking excursion or camp overnight. Skiing and snowshoeing are popular activities in winter.
The scenery, which includes the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa Mountains, is spectacular any time of year.
If outdoor adventure is not on your radar, you can always stay awhile and enjoy a delicious, locally sourced meal at the Peaks Restaurant. Snacks and lighter meals are served at the Pines Cafe.
8. Pay tribute to an icon at the Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway
Also known as The Alexander Estate and the House of Tomorrow, this iconic home in nearby Palm Springs is mostly known for being the honeymoon destination and temporary residence for Elvis Presley and his wife Priscilla.
While some people visit to admire the unique architecture of the house, most come to see the place that was made famous by the King of Rock and Roll.
Guided tours are provided daily, and many special events take place throughout the year.
9. Explore Indian Canyons
The Palm Springs area is a world-famous tourist destination but in earlier times, it was populated by indigenous peoples who made a living off the land.
Today, you can see the remnants of their daily life. Rock art, house pits, ditches, dams and reservoirs are all that’s left but it’s a fascinating reminder of how life once was in the area.
As you explore this historic and beautiful region, you’ll pass through a series of canyons including Tahquitz Canyon and Palm Canyon. The latter is home to a California Fan Palm Oasis that is said to be the largest on earth.
Hiking and horseback riding are popular and there are many areas suitable for picnicking. A gift shop serving snacks, beverages, and native crafts is located in the Palm Canyon area.
10. Learn about aviation history at the Palm Springs Air Museum
At the Palm Springs Air Museum, the focus is on World War II aviation history. Through various exhibits, you’ll learn about the role warplanes and their pilots played in reaching victory.
As you explore the exhibits, you’ll see aviation art, documents, and artefacts. On site, there are three hangars housing the largest collection of WWII combat aircraft in the world. A gift shop, theatre, and resource centre are also on site.
11. Take a break from the heat at the Desert Ice Castle
The desert climate of Cathedral City means there’s very little rain, but the days sure do get hot. Fortunately, there’s a place where you can go to cool off and have some fun out of the searing midday sun.
The Desert Ice Castle is an ice-skating rink. Yes, you read that right. It’s an ice-skating rink in the middle of the desert and it’s a popular one too. Visitors of all ages will have a blast skating to the lively music.
Throughout the week, there are community skating sessions and skate rentals are available since you likely didn’t pack ice skates before you left home.
12. Spend a day exploring Coachella Valley Preserve
Situated in nearby Thousand Palms, the Coachella Valley Preserve is an 880-acre protected wilderness area featuring diverse habitats and an abundance of things to see and do.
This preserve is one of the most popular attractions in the area and as you explore it, you’ll pass through desert wetland and palm woodland ecosystems that are home to a variety of plant and animal life.
There are 28 miles of hiking trails in the park and guided hikes are available during certain times of the year. A visitor’s centre is also on site.
13. Visit the Moorten Botanical Garden
Started in 1938 by Patricia and Chester Moorten, the family owned Moorten Botanical Garden has grown into a beautiful compilation of more than 3,000 plants.
Most of the plants in this garden are cacti and various desert plants but it also showcases a range of plants from as far away as Mexico and Guatemala.
14. Feast on traditional Mexican cuisine at Casa Blanca Restaurant
Whether the craving hits at breakfast, lunch, or dinner, you can be sure to find something to satisfy it at Casa Blanca Restaurant.
This traditional Mexican eatery specializes in authentic Mexican dishes and seafood. The staff are friendly, the environment is lively, the food is delicious, and the servings are generous.
Only the best ingredients are used to prepare each dish and you’ll find a wide variety of options on the menu.
Appetizers, omelettes, enchiladas, fajitas, tostadas, burritos, soups, and more than 150 different entrées are some of the items you’ll find on the menu.
Happy hour is every weekday, and the drinks menu features a wide selection of cocktails, margaritas, tequilas, and wines.
15. Go on an exciting excursion with Desert Adventures
The desert landscape of Cathedral City and its surrounding region makes it the perfect destination for one-of-kind adventures.
Desert Adventures is a local eco-tour company offering a wide variety of tours in the Greater Palm Springs area.
Some of the tours available include scenic bus tours, hiking tours, San Andreas Fault sunset tours, stargazing tours, city tours, and tours of Joshua Tree National Park.
All tours are provided by knowledgeable guides who create a fun and enlightening atmosphere.