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The Palm Springs Family Activities You’ll Actually Want to Do
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The Palm Springs Family Activities You’ll Actually Want to Do

Taking the family on a trip to this desert oasis? Here are the best things to do in Palm Springs with kids.

California.com

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4 min read

November 27, 2020

Found in the Sonoran Desert, Palm Springs is all about luxury resorts, mineral hot springs, and top-notch golf courses; of course, the desert camping opportunities and unique landscape add even more intrigue. California is home to many adventures and Palm Springs surely doesn't disappoint. So, what are you waiting for? Plan an exciting getaway to this desert oasis—there are plenty of Palm Springs family activities for people of all ages to enjoy.

The best palm springs attractions for families

Take the kids to see cool fighter jets and learn about the history of aircraft at the Palm Springs Air Museum.

Palm Springs Air Museum

The Palm Springs Air Museum is committed to the preservation and restoration of America’s most notable fighter jets. This museum is home to one of the world’s largest fighter bird collections, many of which took part in battles during World War II. Stop by the Buddy Rogers Theater to view documentaries about the jets and the impact they had during the war. Let the youngsters climb into the cockpit of the legendary airplanes, getting a first-hand feel for American military history.

Keep kids of all ages entertained at the unparalleled Joshua Tree National Park, where you can enjoy hiking, rock climbing, stargazing, and camping.

Joshua Tree National Park

Approximately 45 minutes outside of Palm Springs, Joshua Tree National Park is an entirely different universe. The park is filled with hiking trails, gorgeous views, and stellar rock formations, making it the perfect family destination to bond with nature. Plan a family camping trip at the Hidden Valley Campground, which provides ample amenities and close proximity to all of the park's attractions.

Trek the rugged trails through Cholla Cactus Garden—decorated with desert wildflowers and formidable rocks—located on the western side of Pinto Basin. You can also get the whole family active with a rock climbing lesson with Cliffhanger Guides; kids can have fun climbing around the park's exceptionally large boulders. When you need a break from the heat, regroup at the visitor’s center, get culturally acquainted at the art gallery, and indulge in delectable food at the park's cafe. 

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The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens

For an up-close look at native and exotic creatures, head to The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, which focuses on educating visitors about wildlife from North America and Africa. Animals such as mountain lions, bighorn sheep, and meerkats have the privilege of calling the zoo their home. With more than 1,400 species of plants spread across the botanical gardens—including a wide variety of cacti and agave—there's so much to discover at this phenomenal facility. Sign your kids up for the day camp to go "behind-the-scenes" at the zoo. Toddlers will also love a day at the Discovery Center, where adventure awaits them in the form of toys and designated play areas.

Treat everyone in the family to a bird's-eye view of the Coachella Valley by booking a hot-air balloon ride.

Balloon Above the Desert

Hot-air balloon rides belong on any bucket list of things to do in Palm Springs with kids, so reserve your tickets with Balloon Above The Desert and go for a ride above the beautiful Coachella Valley. Gaze down at the picturesque landscapes of vineyards, golf courses, and orchards as you soar high in the sky. In-flight amenities include complimentary beverages for the parents and photos and certificates for kids to keep as memorabilia. You can also celebrate anniversaries or birthdays by booking your special event for the ultimate family-friendly Palm Springs activity. 

Explore Indian Canyons, an area comprised of three different canyons, with the family to discover hidden waterfalls and scenic trails.

Indian Canyons

Nature lovers will appreciate the wonders of the Indian Canyons, which offer plenty of trails for hikers and horseback riders. Upon your visit to the group of canyons, you'll come across the ancestral home of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and see everything from rock art and artifacts to dams and reservoirs. Start your visit at the Trading Post in Palm Canyons to pick up maps, food, drinks, and souvenirs. For an easy one-mile loop, wander along the Andreas Canyon Trail equipped with picnic tables and plenty of shade; it's quite the location to relax.

Go for a ride in the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to experience breathtaking views and mountain landscapes.

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

In Palm Springs, 10 minutes is all it takes to go from the scorching desert grounds to the cool highlands. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway travels over 2.5 miles of Chino Canyon and is the world’s largest rotating tramcar. On your way up, take a peek outside your window—wonderful views of rugged cliffs and canyons await you—oh, and keep your eyes open for waterfalls during springtime. Upon reaching the top, which is well over 8,000 feet in elevation, walk the Mount San Jacinto Peak Trail where temperatures drop, making it the perfect escape from the desert heat. Satisfy your cravings at Peaks Restaurant with panoramic views and delectable seafood and pasta dishes.

Enjoy a refreshing dip with the little ones at Palm Desert Aquatic Center. Photo courtesy of Palm Desert Aquatic Center - YMCA.

Palm Desert Aquatic Center

Nothing feels better than a dip in the cool waters on a warm day. For fun under the sun, head to the Palm Desert Aquatic Center. Fun for all ages, the center features three pools, various slides, diving boards, and multiple play areas for water lovers. Register your kids for swimming lessons at the center to become true fish of the ocean. The eight-acre facility also hosts private parties and special events, making it the premium spot to relax and have fun in Palm Springs. 

When visiting the Palm Springs area, don't miss the Cabazon Dinosaurs, a beloved roadside attraction perfect for the young and the young at heart.

Cabazon Dinosaurs

The humongous dinosaurs are impossible to miss on your way to Palm Springs. The 100-ton dinosaurs, T-Rex and Dinny, were once built to entice motorists and road-trippers to the 24-hour Wheel Inn Cafe. Now, the dinosaurs are cultural artifacts from the 1960s, attracting visitors from across the country for an up-close-and-personal look at creatures who once roamed the earth. Kids and adults can trek the Cabazon Dinosaur Trail or climb into the belly of the beast and pick up a souvenir or two. No matter what you do, make sure to pick up a delicious treat from the food truck.

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