Better known as a wealthy retirement community, Palm Springs is also a terrific destination for a fun family vacation. There are all levels of accommodations available and all levels of activity offered – from lounging by the pool to rock climbing in a national park. Following are some family-friendly attractions in the area.
Attractions in Palm Springs
- Palm Canyon Drive — The “downtown” area of Palm Springs, with plenty of restaurants, pubs, art galleries, and shopping. A street fair takes place every Thursday evening (from 7 pm until 10 pm between Amado and Baristo Roads) adding flowers, music, artisans, and vendors to the already attractive merchant mix.
- Palm Springs Aerial Tramway – Families can travel 2 ½ miles up the mountain via the largest rotating tram cars in the world. At the top (where weather can be 30 to 40 degrees cooler) there is a restaurant, a café, a gift shop, and a terrific view of Palm Springs as well as access to Mount San Jacinto State Park’s 54 miles of hiking trails. Their Winter Adventure Center (seasonally) rents cross country skiing and snowshoeing equipment.
- Soak City Water Park- Located right in Palm Springs (at 1500 S Gene Autry Trail, (760) 327-0499), this water park will thrill kids (and adults) of all ages. Soak City has the standard wave pool and lazy river in addition to Pacific Spin (raft ride), Tidal Wave Tower (seven-story high slides), Sea Snake (tube slide in the dark) and more. There is also a 4 -story Family Funhouse with water slides and hose jets. The park offers a number of food options.
- Indian Canyons Hiking – Located a few miles from Palm Springs (enter along South Palm Canyon Drive) are the stunning Indian Canyons of the Agua Caliente Tribe: Palm, Fern, Andreas, Murray, and Tahquitz . Easy, moderate, and strenuous hiking through canyons with fan palms and other desert plants. Ranger-led tours are available – call (760) 323-6018 for reservations.
Attractions Near Palm Springs
- Coachella Preserve – Ten miles east of Palm Springs, there is the 20,000 acre Coachella Preserve, designed to protect unique wildlife such as the Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard that “swims” through desert sand to escape both predators and the heat of the summer. Call (760) 343-2733.
- Joshua Tree National Park – Located only an hour from Palm Springs and spanning both the Mojave and Colorado Deserts, this hauntingly beautiful park offers nature trails, hiking, biking, camping, and rock climbing. In fact, it has just the right kind of large granite boulders that make it one of the world’s best climbing destinations. Children as young as five can participate – for more info, contact Joshua Tree Rock Climbing School.
When in Palm Springs…
- Reserve a “patio room” at the trailer park chic Ace Hotel & Swim Club
- Let your wife slip off to the Estrella Spa at the Viceroy Palm Springs
- Tomorrow you can book a tee time at The Golf Club at Terra Lago
- Grab breakfast or Sunday brunch at Cheeky’s