Palm Springs, Kid Style

Palm Springs is a fantastic getaway for families needing to soak in some vitamin D. My grandparents lived in Palm Springs in the winter all of my growing-up years, so you could say I am very familiar with it. Should you decide to visit, here are my tips.

Renting a car? You can rent a car seat from the car rental company. It is so nice not to have to haul yours from home. One thing to be aware of is that they can’t legally install it for you. So where do you go if you are having a tough time with installation? I looked online and was told the police and fire departments will do it. I went to the Palm Springs Police Department, and they said no, check with fire. So I went to the fire department, and they said they aren’t legally supposed to do it either, but they helped me anyway. In fact, there were three of them helping me. This fire department is located next to the airport. They mentioned that the highway patrol is a good place to go for help with this. This probably goes without saying, but trust me, you don’t want a two-door car if you rent. Getting in and out of the car could not possibly be a bigger pain.

When on vacation with the kids, I try to plan a new adventure for each day. Here are some ideas.

Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert. Don’t miss the children’s museum. This place is fantastic and has something for all interests and ages. Hayden loved playing in their pretend grocery store and painting a car. Great activity for a cloudy day.

The Living Desert. This is similar to the zoo. They have a great African village area. Check out the bronze warthogs if you go. One of them is in memory of my grandmother, Elaine Green Eldridge. Poor H has to climb on it for a picture every time we go. He is probably wondering what all the fuss is about the warthogs. His favorite part is the huge train exhibit. They also have a fabulously charming carousel. H loves it. I am ashamed to admit I got a bit dizzy. I never thought that would happen. I have always prided myself on being able to go on all the flippy, spin-me rides that make everyone else sick. They also have an animal hospital where you can see the animals that are healing. H was so sweet; he wanted to pray for each and every one of them. We really enjoy their giraffe exhibit. If you get there at 10:30, you can see/participate in feeding time. They have a great petting zoo as well. H got to brush a goat.

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. If you are afraid of heights, read no further on this tip; you won’t want to go on this tram. I don’t love heights, but I’m not crippled by them either. So I was pretty scared on this but was glad I did it. H didn’t seem to mind it at all. Anyway, once you get to the top, there are two restaurants: one fancy, one cafeteria-style. They have a little movie you can watch and gift shops, of course. Dress warmly; there is snow on top. If I could do it over again, which I doubt I will—once was enough, thank you—I would bring a jogging stroller. There are hikes you can go on. I had a little travel stroller with me, but H and I were partway through one hike when it got too tough trying to push the travel stroller through the snow. H did have fun playing in the snow, though. Also, before you get on the tram, they take your picture for you to buy if you’d like. They superimpose a tram scene behind it that is actually really pretty. I didn’t realize what the pic was for at the time, so we didn’t buy that one. I also wish I had brought a little picnic lunch for us to share.

Oak Glen. This is about half an hour west on the 10 from Palm Springs. Get off at Beaumont, go right, and follow that road up into the mountains. Here you will find a loop with several apple ranches. They all have shops selling their apples, cider, apple butter, homemade doughnuts, etc. Many have animals for kids to look at, restaurants, and little shows. We had so much fun here; we can’t wait to go back.

Cabazon Outlets. This is the most high-end outlet mall I have ever seen. You really don’t want to miss this. H likes it because they have tons of those little rides for kids. He doesn’t like it when they move but loves sitting on them. Free entertainment, hooray! Next to the outlets is a store called Hadley’s, located right off the freeway. You can get a date shake there and sample dates.

Should you need a sitter while in Palm Springs, call Celebrity Sitters. They run background checks on all their sitters and are incredibly picky about who they let sit for them. All sitters come armed with a bag of age-appropriate toys.

The river. This place has loads of great restaurants, a movie theater, and stores. H likes the Ben and Jerry’s, Baja Fresh, and The Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. He also loves all the water that is all through the complex.

You can’t go to southern California without getting some Mexican food. I have two favorites: One is El Mirasol in Palm Springs. You must try their pollo en pipian. I also love the taco shop, Santana’s. They have a drive through. Here you have to try the carnitas fries and beef tacos. Mmmmmmm.

There seams to be a farmers’ market every day here. I love the weekend street fair at the College of the Desert. You can’t miss the kettle corn. We tried the La Quinta farmers’ market this past trip and loved it. It is located in Old Town. After the market, head to Stuft for some great pizza. I love their Greek salad that comes on a pizza crust.

Thursday night in downtown Palm Springs also has a fabulous farmers’ market. I love going and getting dinner at the booths. My favorite is the Middle Eastern food. H loves the frozen banana dipped in chocolate and covered in sprinkles.

Palm Desert Aquatic Center. This place is absolutely perfect and fabulous for families. It’s clean. They have a snack bar. There is a great kiddie pool and water play structure. You will love it; trust me.

Go to El Paseo in Palm Desert for a little shopping. They have a really great kids’ store called Trio that is connected to a great clothing store for moms. Head across the street to either Tommy Bahamas or Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza. At Sammy’s, you can get gluten-free crust or whole wheat crust.

Smoke Tree Stables. H is a little young for this, but when he gets a bit older he will be doing the trail ride up to the palm oasis. Speaking of Palm Oasis, you gotta go here. It is so lush with palm trees, you will think you are in Hawaii. You can go for a hike, have a picnic, and see amazing rock formations. It is so beautiful.

Joshua Tree National Park. This is a fun day trip. The town before you enter the park is very artsy and eclectic. There are tons of neat antique stores right outside the town of Joshua Tree. In the park, you will see a lot of interesting trees and crazy rock formations. So much fun for kids to crawl all over these boulders.

Do you have some Palm Spring favorites? I would love to hear them. Happy travels and vitamin-D soaking.

  1. Caroline Robison says:

    Thanks for the list, Paige! The children and I are headed there in couple weeks for a mid-week trip with some other Moms. This will help us beat the mid-day heat when my redheads and I will shy away from the pool. We are also looking forward to the lazy river and slides at Rancho Las Palmas, a kid-friendly resort.

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