Palm Desert is the home of the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, a combination zoo and botanical garden featuring an extensive collection of desert plants and animals and a state-of-the-art animal hospital.
Palm Desert is also the site of the main campus of College of the Desert, the local community college, which has expanded greatly in size since the campus opened in 1961 and one of the buildings was built by donations from the local Cahuilla Indian tribal nations. The state higher education system opened an extension campus duplex (the Indian Wells Education center for both California State University, San Bernardino and the University of California Riverside.
The primary high school is Palm Desert High School (with 2200 students) which is part of the Desert Sands Unified School District. The main Middle School (with 1100 students) is Palm Desert Middle School, a charter school. The four elementary schools in the city include: George Washington Charter, Abraham Lincoln, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan. A northernmost part of Palm Desert and easternmost part of Rancho Mirage is served by the Palm Springs Unified School District, so the students can attend Rancho Mirage High School in Rancho Mirage, or Nellie Coffman Middle School and Cathedral City High School in Cathedral City, California. Some students are also zoned to La Quinta High School and Colonel Mitchell Paige Middle School.
The Riverside County Department of Education operates San Cayetano Community School, a grade 1 to 12 educational facility. Palm Desert has 8 private schools in the immediate area : Desert Adventist Academy, Palm Desert Presbyterian School, Sacred Heart Catholic Academy, Marywood-Palm Valley School, the Learning Tree Academy, the Xavier Preparatory High school a Roman Catholic grade 9–12 school, the Hope Academy; and the Desert Torah Academy, a Jewish community school and its social recreational Jewish Community Center. It also has meetings by the United Jewish Congress of the Desert based in Palm Springs.