Palm Springs is surrounded by picturesque mountain ranges and is popular with tourists and snowbirds for the endless blue skies and warm weather. We recently visited in February and the temperature was perfect. It was warm enough to spend hours at the pool but not too hot for outings at the Living Zoo or bike rides through the city. There were endless things to do in Palm Springs with kids.
Palm Springs Air Museum
The Palm Springs Air Museum is a perfect way to beat the heat and spend the day viewing vintage aircrafts, trying out your skills on the flight simulators and exploring endless exhibits containing artifacts from the various wars over the last century. The Museum preserves, exhibits, and flies aircraft from World War Two, Korea, and the Vietnam Wars and is well worth the visit if you are in the area.
One of the best things about the museum, and there are many, is that it is almost entirely interactive. There are very few ropes anywhere in the exhibit halls and there are endless opportunities to hop into an aircraft and explore up close and personal. The flight simulators were a hit with the kids but also for Andrew and I to play around with after some assistance from one of the volunteers.
Costs for admission to the museum are very fair in my opinion. Admission for kids 5 and under are free to the museum, kids 6-12 are $11.50 each and adults are $16.50. There is a large play area for the kids to roam freely which includes two simulators, a vintage fire truck to sit in and pretend to drive, a colouring station and much more. It is located right next to the cafeteria so parents can take a break while the kids have fun.
The Living Desert
The Living Desert is a unique zoo and botanical garden that specializes in the deserts of the world. Giraffes, mountain lions, zebras, and cheetahs are just a few of the incredible animals that take you from Africa to North America. Children under 3 are free, kids 3-12 are $14.95 and adults are $24.95. There were many interactive and interesting attractions to visit and we spent about four hours checking the majority of them out.
The opportunity to feed the giraffes is probably the most popular exhibit and in our boys minds one of their favourite parts of their day there. It cost an additional $7 per person to feed the giraffes and it was well organized with a wait of roughly 10 minutes for us that day.
The boys really enjoyed the Petting Kraal where kids can brush the goats. There were goats of all sizes and ages, some playful, some not. The Living Desert has a nice mix of interactive attractions to break up the viewing only ones. It helped to keep the interest and attention of our boys throughout our time there.
All four of us loved the G-Scale Model Train exhibit with over 3,300 feet of tracks! It truly was enormous. You could hear kids getting excited when Thomas the Train went by and the attention to detail by the designers is just a sight to be seen.
I was thankful to be visiting in February because after four hours of walking around in the sun, we were hot, tired and ready for some pool time.
We definitely enjoyed our time at The Living Desert. It is located in Palm Desert which is in between Rancho Mirage and La Quinta so depending on where you are staying in Palm Springs, you can explore other regions of the desert or just head back to the pool like we did!
Stay at the family friendly Omni Resort Rancho Las Palmas
While it is not an attraction to visit, I highly recommend staying at the Omni Resort Rancho Las Palmas in Rancho Mirage. It is family friendly with three different pools, one complete with waterslides. You can easily spend all day at the resort with no need to leave. The grounds are immaculate and the staff were wonderful. The hotel is centrally located and made getting around to other attractions very easy when we finally decided to leave the pool.
Date Shakes at Windmill Market
The idea of drinking a milkshake made with dates is in an interesting concept and although we were unsure if we would actually like them, we made the trip to North Palm Springs to try them out. Windmill Market is located in a nondescript, industrial part of the city and is truly a hidden gem because the date shakes were delicious! Both of my boys loved them and kept asking us every day afterwards to go back for more. Tip for you: the staff charged us for a large shake and then split it into two kids cups for our boys which was cheaper than buying two small sizes. I wish Andrew and I had done the same because they are rich, but delicious. And there is a lovely little outdoor seating area in the back of the store where you can enjoy your shake.
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is the world’s largest rotating tram car, traveling over two and a half miles up to Mt. San Jacinto State Park. I have been in many trams and gondola’s over the years but this was my first time on a rotating tram. I have to admit it was very cool and it helped relieve the jostling from everyone trying to look out at the view because everyone had their own vantage point as it rotated.
One thing to note before you come is to check the weather at the top of the mountain so you can dress appropriately. There was still snow on the ground when we visited in February but the sun was shining so all we needed was a sweatshirt to combat the chill in the air. There are lots of trails with varying lengths to choose from and plenty of viewpoints along the way to snap some photos.
A visit to the Aerial Tramway would be a great way to beat the heat in the hotter months of the year but it was also a pleasant way to spend an afternoon in February. Cost of admission is $16.95 for kids aged 3-10 and $26.95 for adults. There are parking shuttles that run frequently between the parking lots to the entrance but it is a nice, short walk for those that don’t want to wait.
Bike rentals and bike paths
We spent many of our days biking around Palm Springs and it was an enjoyable way to get some exercise. Biking in Palm Springs is mostly flat and there are many dedicated bike lanes in calm neighborhoods throughout the city. There is a great map of all the bike routes and trails in the city and it is very easy to navigate. We rented our bikes from Bike Palm Springs and they had a large selection of bikes in varying sizes and plenty of electric bikes as well. Kids bikes were $20/day or $40/4 days and a standard adult pedal bike was $35/day or $80/4 days. The Las Palmas Loop was an easy, enjoyable bike ride looking at famous mid-century homes and mansions. We rode our bikes to the Palm Springs Air Museum and it was a great way to tire our boys out for the day!
If you are planning a trip to Palm Springs, take comfort knowing that there are many different options for things to do in Palm Springs with kids. Our family kept busy there during our five night stay and the sunshine really is nothing short of glorious.