The resort city of Palm Desert lies about 120 miles east of Los Angeles in the beautiful Coachella Valley, California. The three mountain ranges surrounding Palm Desert contribute to year-round sunny skies and warm temperatures. Palm Desert vacation rentals are perfect retreats where you and your family can easily head into town shop, sight-see, visit museums, and play a diverse array of sports. You can also embark on a hot air balloon ride, biplane, or aerial tramway. Here are the top things to do with children in and around Palm Desert.
1. Swim in the Pools
The perfect solution to the desert heat is the cool water of a swimming pool, and Palm Desert Aquatic Center has three of them. A foot-deep splash pool with water sprayers keeps younger children happy, while the family recreation pool has two twisting, turning water slides. The Olympic-sized pool allows you to practice diving and swimming laps.
2. Visit the Park
Your Palm Desert vacation rental is never far from a park, and the largest is Palm Desert Civic Park. It’s 70 acres contain plenty of open green lawns and walking paths, a rose garden, several picnic areas, and a playground. For sports lovers, the park also has tennis courts, baseball fields, basketball courts, volleyball courts, and a skate park. As a popular gathering place, it often hosts special events and open-air concerts.
3. Go Shopping
The mile-long El Paseo shopping district in downtown Palm Desert is renowned as the Rodeo Drive of the Desert. The area has over 300 boutiques, jewelry stores, art galleries, antique stores, and restaurants. Westfield Palm Desert is the city’s largest shopping mall, with over 150 shops, a food court, and a movie theater. Other premier shopping centers include Desert Crossing, Town Center Plaza, and Plaza De Monterey. For a unique and fun shopping experience, check out the weekend College of the Desert Street Fair, where you can browse open-air stalls for fresh produce, snacks, clothes, jewelry, and other items.
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4. Enjoy the Children’s Museum
The Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert gives kids the opportunity to learn about science and nature through unique hands-on exhibits. For instance, How Things Work helps them learn about the geometry of the building and the skills of rope-tying. Brain Buster Road takes them on a challenging museum tour through stimulating intellectual puzzles. Today I Want to Be takes them to simulated environments where they can pretend to be veterinarians, archaeologists, shoppers, and pizza cooks. Let’s Get Physical has a rock climbing wall, rope maze, pulley system, and light and sound maze for young children.
5. Marvel at the Air Museum
The fascinating Palm Springs Air Museum focuses on the history of aviation. Its vast hangers feature Navy aircraft from the World War II Pacific theater, Army aircraft from the World War II European theater, the B-17 Flying Fortress, a Women Pilots From World War II exhibit, and a tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen. Other displays focus on aircraft from the Vietnam and Korean wars. There’s also a science center, a flight simulator, and other interactive displays.
6. Observe Wildlife at the Zoo
The kids will love observing the animals at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens. The exhibits feature animals from North America, Africa, Asia, and Australia. Featured animals include giraffes, cheetahs, hyenas, ostriches, and mountain lions. The extensive gardens highlight plant habitats from all over the world, including special plants that attract hummingbirds and butterflies. Be sure to check out the giraffe feedings, camel rides, an ant lab, a huge model train display, and the interactive areas in the Discovery Center.
7. Follow the Trails
Near your Palm Desert vacation rental are several trails that are great for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. The well-maintained Hopalong Cassidy Trail is a fairly easy walk or ride and leads to a location with a picturesque view. The Randall Henderson Trail leads through desert vegetation and offers views of local wildlife. The Art Smith Trail ventures into the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument and takes you through palm oases and lush foliage. Numerous other trails offer both simple and rugged terrain.
8. Learn to Play Golf
Over 100 public, private, and semi-private golf courses are in and around Palm Desert, giving you the perfect opportunity to learn the sport or perfect your game. Many of the courses have special facilities or programs for children. For instance, the award-winning Desert Willow Golf Resort offers a special Junior Golf Program where young golfers receive reduced rates for lessons and course use.
9. Float into the Sky
For an unforgettable thrill, explore the Coachella Valley in a hot air balloon. Several balloon services offer panoramic flights over the city and the desert. It’s an amazing experience to see the country clubs, swimming pools, palm groves, and gardens from an aerial vantage point.
10. Fly in a Plane
Another once-in-a-lifetime experience is to fly high above the Coachella Valley in a small biplane. You’ll receive an incomparable view of the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto mountains, the desert landscape, and the resort cities in the valley. The time you spend aloft determines the distance of your trip. Some biplanes can carry two passengers, so join your child for an unforgettable adventure.
11. Explore the Desert
If you want to stay on the ground, try a desert tour in an all-terrain vehicle. You’ll traverse rocky landscapes and rugged mountains and have an opportunity to view wildlife such as bighorn sheep, coyotes, jackrabbits, golden eagles, and roadrunners. Other off-road services allow you to rent vehicles and go on self-guided drives in private desert areas after you receive vehicle and safety instructions.
12. Ride the Tramway
The famous Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is just a short distance from your Palm Desert vacation rental. The tram cars begin at Valley Station just west of Palm Springs and ascend for over two miles through Chico Canyon to Mountain Station in Mount San Jacinto State Park. At the top are gift shops and restaurants, and you can walk along nature trails through the pristine wilderness before descending back down to the valley floor.
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