Palm Springs

Parent Q&A

  • Palm Springs - things to do with kids

    (5 replies)

    We're visiting folks in Palm Springs over a weekend in March and are looking for ideas of things to do with kids that's not too far to drive to. Let us know and thanks.

    I just got back the week after New Year’s from Palm Springs with my two boys ages 7 and 15. We had a blast! There’s so much to do! Both boys totally enjoyed the Air Museum and got to use the flight simulators in the upstairs library. They also really enjoyed the Pearl Harbor exhibit in one of the hangers where you push buttons and listen to a video and watch the ships light up that were bombed during the seige at Pearl Harbor, but it’s all wonderful. The volunteers there are so informative and helpful to the children. We spent about two hours there.

    They also enjoyed seeing all the wild animals at the Living Desert.

    We did not go up the tram because it was very crowded that week and  hard to make a reservation but that is something else that might be fun and interesting. I think our favorite trip (which was a bit of a drive)  was to Joshua Tree where they got to climb and scamper around on the rocks.

    We also attended a free outdoor Street fair down the main street in Palm Springs where  they closed the street and had booths and music and food,. They also enjoyed swimming in the pool at the motel, the farmers market at Joshua Tree, and stopping at Anderson’s Pea Soup on the way down.

    Oh, my family and I love to go to Palm Springs every year! There is so much fun to be had. My top recommendation is that you head out to Indian Canyons to hike and explore the creeks, swimming holes, and wonderful desert landscape! There are easy hikes and more challenging ones, so you can see how you feel. Head out early, before it gets too hot! Enjoy. We're heading there ourselves for our annual spring break trip!

    Two suggestions: (1) Take the aerial tramway up to Mt. San Jacinto State Park and go for a short hike at the top (you'll probably find snow!). (2) Check out the Living Desert Zoo. 

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Weekend away with girlfriends

August 2008

I HIGHLY recommend Two Bunch Palms, a beautiful and tranquil spa in Desert Hot Springs, outside Palm Springs. I went there with some girlfriends several years ago and have longed to go back ever since. Not cheap, but gloriously relaxing. If you want get into town for a night out, it's not far. steph

I would suggest Palm Springs and the all the towns around it. It is very pretty, warm in December, there are spas aplenty, shopping, and outdoorsy stuff to do. It is a 2 or 2.5 hour drive from LA and a short flight from SFO. We stayed at La Quinta resort over spring break and had a great time. Sedona is pretty sweet, too. But it takes a little time to get to.

[Editor note: additional responses to this question are here: Girls Weekend Away in December ]

2004 - 2006 Recommendations

Palm Springs with a toddler

March 2004

We are traveling to the Rancho Mirage/Palm Springs area with our 2 year-old daughter for the weekend. Does anyone have recommendations for fun places to go? What about family- friendly restaurants to try? Thanks a bunch!

The Living Desert, which is a kind of an open-air zoo that you ride through on trams, is nice for kids. My family likes Elmer's on 111 just south of Palm Springs for both breakfast and dinner. We're also fans of the big Mexican place right on Palm Canyon (I think it's called Terraza and there's another one in Rancho Mirage called Nuevas, both owned by the same family). It looks like it's oriented toward young adults but really the waitstaff is very kid friendly. Ann

We were in Desert Hot Springs for a conference when my child was almost 2 y/o. If you are looking for a place to stay the Marriott Desert Hot Springs Resort was fabulous and relatively cheap (but this was a conf rate and June)- the rooms were huge and beautiful and the pools were terrific for toddlers - 3 or 4 pools with very shallow areas. There is a desert zoo that would have been a bit more fun had we not risked heat stroke to go there. Anon

For Sunday Brunch that will keep the little ones entertained, try Los Casuelas Nuevo (sp?) in Rancho Mirage. Mexican buffet, champagne, outdoor courtyard, and mariachis. Try the living desert. Take the tram ride to the san jacinto forest (bring layers, cold on top). p.s. fan

Palm Springs in December

Feb 2004

Hi - I wrote in another time for recommendations for my in-laws' 50th anniversary celebration. I am so grateful for the recommendations I received on this list. It seems, though, that my in-laws are now considering Palm Springs. I checked the website and there was only one listing dating back to 1999. I was hoping someone had been there more recently with kids and could let me know about great places to stay, things to do, places to eat and the like. Unfortunately, the only kid will be our then 6-year-old. Also, my husband needs to be active - no lounging by the pool all day, for example. Thanks! Lori

We just got back from a mini vacation in Rancho Mirage which is close to Palm Springs. We stayed at the Marriott Rancho Mirage Las Palmas resort and got a pretty good deal on it through priceline (about 1/2 off the rate if you booked directly through the hotel). It's a nice place although not the nicest in the area - there are so many hotels/resorts. This one had a great pool area for kids, it was nicely heated, had a water play area and pretty big water slide. They also have a playground, golf course and spa. Rooms were nice with comfortable beds and they brought us a small refridgerator.

As far as things to do, I would recommend the Living Desert Museum in Palm Desert and the revolving tram that goes up a mountain in Palm Springs. The Living Desert shows you all the plants and animals you might see in the desert and has a great brand new play area for kids.

We went out to dinner one night to Las Casuelas Nuevas (forgive me if I butchered the name!), they had a great outdoor patio, mariachi band, and excellent margaritas!

It's an interesting place, don't know that I'd make it a regular vacation spot but we had a good time. Have fun! Jackie

There is a GREAT children's museum in Rancho Mirage ( And the Living Desert in Palm Desert is a zoo that would be fun for a 6-year-old. Have fun! Liz O.

Palm Springs:

Hiking: Palm Canyon; Tahquitz Canyon. Tahquitz is a bit more strenuous. Both are beautiful. Both are Native American lands. Tahquitz requires a reservation and provides a tour guide.

Food: Rancho Mirage, Las Casuelas Nueva's Sunday Brunch is great. out door, mariachis, buffet. champagne, but very family friendly.

Activities: Living Desert: like a zoo/hike/botanic garden all in one. kids activities occasionally, I think. The TRAM up to san jacinto forest/mtns. Hot chocolate at the top!

Check with the Native American Communities. We attended a Pow Wow/fair before children that I think a child over toddler age would really appreciate: lots of costumes; drumming; dancing.

You might check food channel archives. Rachel Ray did a show on Palm Springs on 40 dollars a day and found great breakfast; fish tacos; and a 2nd happy hour in the later evening (when you leave kids w/ grand parents maybe?)

You are only 1 hour and a bit from Joshua Tree. and there's an interesting nature area just minutes up the road toward joshua tree from 10 with hikes. I also think you can tour the windfarms. also there are hot springs spas in desert hot springs. i can't imagine having shortage of things to do there.

have fun. Jessica

2003 & Earlier

Palm Springs with 6 and 8 year olds

March 2003

My husband and I have never been to Palm Springs, but have heard it is a fun place for families so we're planning a trip with our children (ages 6 and 8) this Spring. Does anybody have recommendations for things to do with the children (or things to avoid). Also, has anybody stayed at either the Embassy Suites in Palm Desert or the Marriott Desert Springs and can give us feedback? Thanks!

We stay at the Marriott Desert Springs for a week or two every year. There are many attractions for children in the area. They have activities in the Villa's during the day for various ages. The hotel and villas are very well kept up. Several swimming pools on the grounds as well as a golf course, spa, shops, boat rides and tram rides around the grounds. Great place. jh

We've gone to Palm Springs with our small children (3 & 6), and they love it! We're going again in mid-April. Besides beautiful weather, hanging out at the hotel pools, etc. Palm Springs has an AMAZING Discovery Museum for kids. (Air- conditioned too!) It's got wonderful activities for the kids, and your children are the perfect age for it! Also, there is the Palm Desert zoo - Have fun! SF Mommy

There are a several places that are fun. A good bet is the Living Desert in Palm Desert. It's like a desert zoo and is quite pretty. What impressed me the most were the big horn sheep you could see up close. Also fun is the Aerial Tramway in Palm Springs. The view is really striking and the weather change is dramatic. At this time of year it should be about 80 degrees in Palm Springs but, at the top of the mountain (I think it's San Jacinto mountain), there might be snow. A bit further away (about a 1 hour drive) is Joshua Tree National Park. March and April are the best times to go to Joshua Tree because you are likely to see the desert flowers in bloom and it's not too ungodly hot just yet. There's also a big water park somewhere around Rancho Mirage - not exactly a desert attraction but it might be fun with the kids. Have fun ! - Desert Native

Be sure to visit the Living Desert Museum (a zoo of desert animals), the Palm Springs Desert Museum (which also has scheduled children's science and art activities), the Indian Canyons hikes (great with palm trees, streams, etc), the tram to the top of San Jacinto (there can be snow there when it is warm on the valley floor), and a trip to see the amazing scenery of Joshua Tree National Park (For a good guide to hikes, see Furbush's ''On Foot in Joshua Tree.'') Have a great time. Melissa T

The Living Desert is a nice family activity with nature shows and a fun tram ride through the zoo. It's about 20 minutes south of Palm Springs. Ann

The Children's Museum of the Desert is GREAT. It is in Rancho Mirage. I also recommend the Living Desert, which is a small zoo, in Palm Desert. Other than that, we spent a lot of time in the pool! Liz O.

Palm Springs has some nice options for children. The Living Desert is a good visit. The tram ride might also be a hit.

There's a restaurant of sorts at top for hot chocolate and meals. The sunday brunch at Los Cosuelas Nuevas (sp?) in Rancho Mirage is very family friendly. Mexican Buffet, outdoor dining, mariachi music. We stayed for many helpings enjoyed the music and were never once rushed by the courteous staff. The buffet has American and Mexican style breakfast/brunch items and ice cream fruit and several other desserts. Jessica

A couple of years ago we went to Palm Springs for Spring break,had such a great time that we bought a Marriott timeshare at Shadow Ridge. Some fun things to do: take bikes if you can, weather is perfect in spring for a ride and it is very flat there-- there is a water park with wave pool, slides etc. good for one day,--golf is superb!--and of course just go to the pool where you are staying. We hang at the pool for many hours everyday. My kid is taking a friend this year. Janet

More recommendations for Palm Springs

From: Petra (2/99)

Very nice are:

- Joshua Tree NP: the area around the Hidden Valley is very pretty with lots of small 2-3 mi hikes; 2mi hike to see the beautiful view from the top of the hill next to the Lost Horse Mine

- Telepherique from Palm Springs to the San Jacinto Peak; there is probably snow now

- for an afternoon or so, there is a palm oasis close to Palm Springs (at the visitor center they know the location) with short hikes and very sandy area, very warm, good to let small children walk around and explore.