Family Vacations to Palm Springs, California

Hiking in the Desert, Palm Springs, California
Hiking in the Desert, Palm Springs (courtesy, Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism)

Palm Springs Family Travel Tips

  • Take a scenic ride more than two miles into the air on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.
  • Get a good look at Gila monsters, giant hairy desert scorpions, bighorn sheep and dozens of other desert-dwelling animals at the The Living Desert wildlife and botanical park.
  • Experience the desert the way the pioneers did in a covered wagon tour through the Coachella Valley Preserve.

A little over a hundred miles from the oceanside cities of Los Angeles and San Diego sits a desert getaway with a flavor that's part glamour and part natural beauty—and a great location for sunny family fun.

Palm Springs was originally home to the Agua Caliente (hot water) band of the Cahuilla Indians, who knew the area as "la palma de mano de Dios," or "the palm of God's hand." The area's mineral waters were part of Palm Springs' draw from the beginning of its success as a tourist attraction; but, over time, it became a playground for stars like Bob Hope, Clark Gable, Elvis, and Liberace. The city evolved into a charming and bustling locale filled with restaurants, galleries, coffeehouses, and diverse shopping experiences as well as abundant opportunities to enjoy the desert's natural beauty.

Take a hike or horseback ride down a canyon trail, learn about the pioneers that settled the area in the 1800s, browse the shops downtown, eat at one of the area's notable restaurants, or check out Hollywood memorabilia at the Walk of Stars. No matter the time of year, the area's near-perfect weather means you're very unlikely to end up stuck in a hotel room.

Though this swanky destination has a reputation as a hot spot for nude beaches, spring break antics, and other hedonistic attractions, there's plenty of family-friendly fare (and due to public outcry and newer laws, drunken college kids are no longer so much a part of the culture). Check out the Children's Discovery Museum of the Desert for hands-on, interactive exhibits for kids. Palm Springs Desert Museum offers free family activities. Palm Desert boasts the 1,200-acre The Living Desert wildlife and botanical park, while the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway allows you to take a thrilling ride to the top of Mount San Jacinto. And any child who's ever dreamed of pioneer life won't want to miss taking a covered wagon tour at the Coachella Valley Preserve.

Published: 3 Mar 2009 | Last Updated: 30 Mar 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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