Nestled in the Sonoran desert at the foot of the San Jacinto Mountains, the chic city of Palm Springs, California has more to offer than just golf courses and upscale spas. Families with children of all ages can find endless entertainment, ranging from hiking trails through desert canyons to a zoo, water park, and sky-high tramway rising up into the mountains. Browse through incredible Palm Springs vacation rentals, and start planning your unforgettable family trip. Here are 12 exciting family-friendly activities in the Palm Springs area to include in your itinerary.
1. Meet the Animals at the Living Desert
More than just your typical zoo, the Living Desert in Palm Springs showcases more than 1,400 desert plant species alongside animal exhibits with bighorn sheep, mountain lions, giraffes, and more. Kids can feed the giraffes and watch the entertaining antics of the meerkats. A hop-on shuttle that cruises through the park provides a well-needed rest for tired little legs between the exhibits. Be sure to check out the seasonal carousel and the Miriam U. Hoover Discovery Center before you leave.
2. Hike Through Coachella Valley Preserve
Once you pick up your trail map at the Coachella Valley Preserve Visitor’s Center, head to the Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve to explore 25 miles of hiking trails winding through the lush wetlands in the heart of the desert. Kids of all ages enjoy seeing the wildflowers bloom and searching for rare wildlife, such as the Coachella Valley fringe-toed lizard.
3. Ride the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
Palm Springs visitors of all ages adore reaching the summit of the snow-capped the San Jacinto Mountains by tram. While the views from the tram are already worth the ride, you can also enjoy some snow-shoeing, cross-country skiing or hiking with the family once you get to the top.
4. Explore Joshua Tree National Park
From a family-friendly hike through Hidden Valley to the views from Keyes View lookout and a walk through the Cholla Cactus Garden, Joshua Tree National Park offers activities to please everyone. Pack a picnic from your vacation rental, and bring plenty of water for your day trip to this remote national park in the San Bernadino mountains.
5. See the Indian Canyons From Horseback
Take a short drive 6 miles south of town to discover the desert beauty of three canyons located on the Agua Caliente tribe’s land. Older kids and teens are sure to enjoy setting off on a horseback ride from Smoke Tree Stables, but you can also hike down one of the trails to try spotting some desert bighorn sheep. You can also spend some time browsing authentic Native American artwork and clay pottery at Palm Canyon.
6. Walk Through Moorten Botanical Garden
Experience the beauty of the desert at Moorten Botanical Garden, where your older kids can walk down paths surrounded by more than 3,000 cacti and other desert plant species from as far away as Guatemala. Remember to pick up a map on your way in to learn about the different plants, and don’t miss the fascinating Cactarium.
7. See the Airplanes at the Palm Springs Air Museum
While older kids love the Palm Springs Air Museum for its airplane demos and a huge collection of WWII aircraft, smaller kids enjoy just sitting in the airplane cockpits located in the exciting kids’ area. The friendly volunteers make your visit even more memorable, as many have first-hand experiences and knowledge to share. Be sure to pick up some toy airplanes at the gift shop before you leave.
8. Hike to the Falls on the Tahquitz Canyon Trail
Take a short drive from your laid-back rental to the Agua Caliente tribe’s canyon path, situated just 2 miles outside of town. People of all ages enjoy the sights of nature while walking the trail to the 60-foot waterfall. Be sure to stop by the Tahquitz Canyon Visitor Center to see Native American artifacts, buy souvenirs, and watch a short film about the area.
9. Cool Off at Wet n’ Wild
Summer days in Palm Springs can get hot, so be sure to stop by Wet n’ Wild to cool down. Older kids can spend hours on the giant water slides and the wave pool while parents lounge on the lazy river. Little ones may be more comfortable playing on the four-story, interactive Kahuna’s Beach House.
10. Visit the Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert
Featuring more than 50 interactive exhibits, the Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert offers hours of entertainment for toddlers and older kids. Kids have a blast playing with magnets, drawing, tinkering with gears, and learning how to weave on a loom.
11. Have Fun at the Ruth Hardy Park and Playground
After a long day of hiking, take some time to relax at the Ruth Hardy Park and Playground before heading back to your Palm Springs vacation rental. Younger kids love the water-spouting turtles and the two sprawling playgrounds, and older kids can play a game of basketball or tennis on the courts.
12. Stop By the World’s Biggest Dinosaur Museum
If you’re visiting Palm Springs with younger kids, you can’t go wrong with a stop to this fun roadside attraction, featuring huge robotic dinosaurs. Here, you can sit on the back of one of the giant dinosaurs, search for treasures in the Dino Dig, and step into the mouth of a T-Rex.
Ready to go? Check out these amazing Palm Springs vacation rentals on Tripping.com.