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While you may think of celebrities and golf when conjuring up images of Palm Springs, there are plenty of things to do in Palm Springs with kids to keep them entertained for days.
It’s an ideal weekend getaway for anyone in Southern California as it is approximately 107 miles east of Los Angeles and 120 miles northeast of San Diego.
We have made 2 five-day trips here in the past three years. Each time, we visited different attractions in search of the best Palm Springs kids activities.
Sometimes the best things to do are the easiest and most comfortable which are often overlooked. Other times it’s things you’ve never done before.
Read through the following list of Palm Springs kids activities and see what resonates with you and your children. You are bound to find something you all will enjoy. Remember to keep your kids healthy on vacation no matter where you go!
Things to Do in Palm Springs with Kids
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
This is the number one attraction in Palm Springs, in my opinion.
Palm Springs is a city unique to the Sonoran desert. With Mt. Jacinto on the outskirts, one can escape the heat and be 30 degrees cooler after ascending the Tramway. Trust me, this is quite the benefit after spending several 100+ degree days in the scorching sun.
This isn’t an ordinary cable car climbing up the side of a mountain. The Palm Springs Aerial Tram has a rotating platform enabling you to have 360-degree views as you are climbing 2.5 miles up the mountain.
My 7-year-old loved this! It is definitely not for anyone afraid of heights (admittedly, I had a hard time looking down). There are no seats in the tram, so prepare to stand for the 15-minute ride up to the San Jacinto peak of 8500 feet – and hold on.
At the Mount San Jacinto peak
Once at the top, disembark into the lodge where you can watch one of two movies regarding the making of the tram and hiking in the Mt. San Jacinto State Park. In addition, relax and eat at either the casual Pines Cafe or the more formal, Peaks Restaurant.
Step outside the back and enter into the natural beauty of the National Forest. Fifty miles of hiking trails are here waiting for you.
The green pine trees against a deep blue sky with just a touch of snow made a beautiful sight! And the crisp, mountain air was a welcome relief from the Palm Springs heat.
Kids will enjoy the ride up on the tramway as well as playing in nature’s sandbox. Here are a few helpful details:
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway price (as of May 2019 according to their website):
- Monday – Friday – First Tram up at 10:00 am
- Saturday, Sunday and Holidays – First Tram up at 8:00 am
- Daily – Last Tram up at 8:00 pm. Last Tram down at 9:45 pm
- Cars depart at least every half hour
The Living Desert
If the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is my first attraction choice, The Living Desert is my second.
What child (or adult) would not love this? The Living Desert is a zoo and a botanical garden wrapped up as one.
Take a behind the scenes tour, a safari tour or a guided walking tour. All are designed to give you better access and knowledge of the inner workings of The Living Desert.
Kids can feed the giraffes or go for a spin on the endangered species carousel. A Discovery Center, petting zoo and gecko gulch are additional areas kids can run – either on feet or with their imagination.
Places to eat include Coyote Café for made to order sandwiches and salads as well as Thorn Tree Grill for American Cuisine. Picnic tables are located throughout the park, so feel free to pack your own basket, too.
Don’t forget to download The Living Desert app from either the Apple app store or Windows before coming. Here, you can find park maps and event information such as animal feedings and meet and greets!
The Living Desert price:
- $20 – General admission
- $10 – Ages 3 to 12
- *The Living Desert participates in the AZA Reciprocity Program with other zoos and aquariums. If you have an annual membership to one of these, check to see if you can get in half-price as we did with my Cleveland Zoo membership (remember to bring your card).
- Open daily, Oct 1 – May 31 9:00 am – 5:00 pm (closed 12/25)
- June 1 – Sept 30 8:00 am – 1:30 pm
Splash around at the hotel pool
As I mentioned earlier, some of the best things are the easiest. All my daughter cared about was when she could go swimming! I think I heard it 20 times a day ‘When can we go swimming?’… Does that sound familiar?
Our hotel had a couple of pools, but we only swam in the main one. There was a slide she also enjoyed that was overseen by a lifeguard.
We spent one day completely at the pool. Ordered lunch from our lounge chairs and we ate while reading on our iPads. Talk about a great, relaxing day!
The two times we have been to Palm Springs, we stayed at the Westin Mission Hills Villas (a timeshare property in Rancho Mirage) which is connected to the main resort and spa. Here, we had access to pools at both the villas and the resort.
Our room had a separate bedroom away from the living area and kitchen. If you have read any of my hotel reviews, you know I love lots of room and a timeshare fits that bill perfectly.
Other hotel activities
Besides the hotel pool, the resort also offers other fun things throughout the day, such as kids club activities and their own miniature golf course. We saw the turtles, rabbit (who, by the way, has its own climate-controlled wooden house) and ducks being fed and we took their adoption dog for a couple of walks.
The hotel partners with a local pet adoption agency and houses a dog in need of a home in its lobby. People can sign up to walk the dog at different intervals throughout the day. Since starting this a couple of years ago, approximately 200 dogs have found their forever homes. This is the only hotel I have been to that has such a program, but it’s a great way to bring together an owner and pet.
It gave Little K a chance to see that dogs do not always obey!
Don’t overlook your hotel amenities. While it may not be getting out and seeing all that Palm Springs has to offer, it gives you a chance to reconnect with your kids and enjoy time together.
Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert
Have you ever been stumped at those games (or are they tests?) where you are given 4 odd size pieces of wood and told to arrange them in a way to make them fit into a rectangle?
There’s a whole room here at the Children’s Discovery Museum to show you just how smart (or not) you are!
Their website claims the museum inspires personal growth through programs and exhibits that invoke curiosity through hands-on exploration.
Three buildings make up the campus and are broken out into specialty areas. The first building holds the brainbuster and Toddlertown areas. The second building is comprised of building your own race car and learning about your body through various hands-on exercises.
The last building changes its exhibit. When we visited, it was Sid the Science Kid: The Super-Duper Exhibit. Typically, this is a traveling exhibit making its way around children’s museums across the U.S.
Little K said she enjoyed the museum but did admit she felt it was geared for younger kids, especially toddlers. Besides the brain-buster room, the remaining areas were very much appropriated towards those 5 and under.
Nevertheless, we spent 2 hours inside there amid a 103-degree heat wave in April. So, it was a great break from the sun!
The Children’s Discovery Museum price:
- $9.95 per person over the age of 1
- Monday – Saturday 10:00 am – 5:00 pm
- Sunday 1:00pm – 5:00 pm
Other Palm Springs Attractions for kids:
Joshua Tree National Park
I wanted to go here, but we never made it. Plus, we didn’t have the right clothing to go walking in 100-degree weather without any shade. The park entrance is an hour from Palm Springs, but this is definitely on my list for when we go back! Check out the best things to do in Joshua Tree National Park.
The largest collection of flyable World War II planes are housed at this museum along with a collection of vintage cars, flight simulators and a café. History can be fun and this place seems to be just that. This is also on my list!
We probably should have done this on our last visit. Little K loves water parks as do most kids. There are 20 water attractions, a 600-ft lazy river and a wave pool.
In addition, Palm Springs is only 2 hours from both Los Angelas and San Diego. Driving to either of those cities opens up a whole other world of day trip possibilities. There are plenty of things to do in Palm Springs with kids so don’t hesitate to take your children (almost) anywhere. Travel broadens the mind and draws families closer together which is what us moms always hope for.
Have you been to Palm Springs? Where are your favorite places to go there? Please let me know in the comments.
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