Family-Friendly Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley

Last Updated on November 19, 2013 by Jody Halsted

Prior to my visit, any mention of Palm Springs, California conjured up images of Hollywood starlets, pristine golf courses, and poshly appointed spas. However, I discovered that Palm Springs has plenty to offer families too. Looking for a unique trip idea for your family? Now is the perfect time to escape winter and head to Palm Springs for warmer temperatures and sunshine.

Palm Springs sign
Welcome to Palm Springs

Resorts and Pool-Time

If you’re in the desert during winter, you might as well take advantage of the beautiful weather. Especially for those who have been dealing with snow and ice back home, Palm Springs is an ideal winter destination. Consider staying at one of the area’s many resorts so that you can spend some time by the pool. Although the weather probably won’t be hot, it’s likely to be warm enough for a midday swim.

Palm Springs, Palm Desert, and Indian Wells, the string of communities that dot the Coachella Valley, all offer a wide array of accommodation choices, so families have plenty of options. In Indian Wells, families can stay at the Renaissance Esmeralda and enjoy a beautiful pool, complete with a zero-entry beach area that is perfect for those traveling with young children. Play in the sand, take a dip, and enjoy a beverage or snack from the poolside bar.

Check out Palm Springs’ top resorts!

The Living Desert

Living Desert camel
Take a camel ride at the Living Desert

As its name suggests, The Living Desert is a desert-themed zoo. With a variety of animals including camels, giraffes, coyotes, mountain lions, and meerkats, this zoo provides a unique way to learn about desert life in North America and Africa. For an extra fee, visitors can even take a ride on a camel. Winter is an exciting time to visit: on select nights in November and December, the park will extend its hours so that visitors can enjoy the holiday-themed WildLights. Thousands of twinkling lights, holiday entertainment, and special wildlife shows are sure to put you in the holiday spirit at this annual event.

A Stroll Around Downtown Palm Springs

Palm Springs star
Star on Palm Spring’s ‘Walk of Fame’

Palm Springs has a walkable downtown area that features a variety of restaurants, shops, and cafes. Along the way, stop to look at Palm Springs’ own “walk of fame” commemorating Hollywood legends who lived or frequently-vacationed in Palm Springs. A few famous names you’re sure to recognize include Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, and Elizabeth Taylor. Kids may be interested to know that the stars aren’t reserved for humans only. “Cheeta” the chimp, Tarzan’s sidekick, has his own star on Palm Canyon Drive too.

Palm Springs’ connection to Hollywood isn’t limited to the sidewalk. During your stroll through downtown, you’ll find a 26-foot tall sculpture of Marilyn Monroe by American artist Seward Johnson called Forever Marilyn. Be sure to stop and take a photo before you leave.

Joshua Tree National Park

Not far from Palm Springs, visitors will find Joshua Tree National Park. This is the perfect side trip for kids who are fans of Dr. Seuss, thanks to the distinctive Joshua trees that look like they are straight out of a children’s book. The desert plants are prevalent in the park and look other-worldly with their spiky leaves and oddly shaped branches.

For fantastic views of the Coachella Valley, head to the Key View overlook. And don’t forget to stop by one of the park’s visitor centers to learn more about desert ecology.

Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley might not be the first place that comes to mind when you are brainstorming a California family vacation. However, this is a great place to escape the cold winter weather, soak up the sunshine, and learn something along the way.

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