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Best things to do in Palm Springs CA with kids

Palm Springs Retro Weekend With Kids

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There is something truly special about visiting Palm Springs with our kids. Whatever the time of year, no matter the circumstances, our family is always ready for a weekend away in the Coachella Valley.

Maybe it’s the beauty of those purple mountains as they meet the warm sandy desert and flowering cacti. Maybe it’s the kitschy retro fun of all the mid-century architecture and furnishings you spy wherever you visit. Or maybe it’s the throwback Hollywood glamour with memories of famous residents like Frank Sinatra, Lucille Ball, Gene Autry, Bob Hope, Jean Harlow and many more.

But mostly, it’s the fact that there is so much to do there. Any way you cut it, this is a great family vacation spot. We’re in Palm Springs probably four or five times a year — no joke. Here are our family favorites as shared by each of us.

Best Things to do in Palm Springs, CA with Kids

Jon:

I love the heat of the desert, the wavy lines the heat makes on the roads as you drive into town, and the smell of freshly trimmed golf greens under waving palm trees. I love the warmth of the sun (well above 100° F in the summer months) and lying by the pool with a cold umbrella drink within sipping reach.

I also like that you can take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway up the mountainside to its perch at 8,500 feet and be instantly in the cool mountain air amid pines and squirrels. Sometimes the snow is still fresh, and you can take in a panoramic view of the entire desert valley below you while enjoying the 30° difference in temperature. Desert to mountains via a 10-minute gondola ride!

Best things to do in Palm Springs CA with kids - Tramway

The Palm Springs Tramway takes you from desert to mountains in a matter of minutes. (Photo credit: Palm Springs Tramway)

Triton:

There is such a variety of restaurants in Palm Springs, and I love to sample them all! One of my favorites for breakfast is Cheeky’s, where I can get a Bacon Flight with five different flavors of bacon such as maple brown sugar or jalapeno. I love the ice cream at Lappert’s Hawaiian Ice Cream, on Palm Canyon Boulevard, for a sweet taste of the islands like Kona Mocha Chip or Hawaiian Sea Salt Caramel.

Drinks and dinner at Workshop Kitchen & Bar are trendy and delicious, situated inside an old work studio downtown. We even got the kids to try the octopus! The nights are warm and pleasant, and I can wear shorts and a tank top at 11 pm, sit by the pool in a comfortable lounge chair and watch for shooting stars.

Ava (12):

One of our family’s favorite Palm Springs restaurants is Blue Coyote Grill, where we can sit outside and eat guacamole, chips and salsa. I wish we could go there every time, though my dads think we should have more variety.

I love walking down Palm Canyon Boulevard and visiting all the retro mid-century thrift stores like Deja Vu or Vintage Oasis, where I can find crazy things like a hot pink Eiffel Tower, sunglasses with jewels in the corners, or weird chairs made from plastic that look like they came from outer space.

One of my favorite things to do in Palm Spring is swimming in the pool and eating hamburgers poolside. I pretend I’m a mermaid with a long beautiful tail, and I can swim forever.

Sophia (14):

Besides my obvious favorite things of swimming in the pool and drinking virgin piña coladas, I really love the The Living Desert. It’s like a zoo but better, because it feels more natural and open to the big blue sky. They even use the rocky mountainsides as animal habitats, where goats and wolves and wildcats can roam in their enclosures more freely.

On one visit, we went into a giant butterfly enclosure, and all kinds of colorful butterflies were hatching and flying and landing on our heads. We got to feed a giraffe and its long black tongue was rough and gentle at the same time. We even rode a camel (which got a little spitty)!

Best things to do in Palm Springs CA with kids - The Living Desert

It’s so fun to feed the giraffes at The Living Desert, one of the best things to do in Palm Springs, CA with kids. (Photo credit: The Living Desert)

Really, no matter the age or interest, Palm Springs has something for everybody. I didn’t even mention hiking in Joshua Tree National Park, cooling down at the Wet ‘n Wild Water Park, a sweet 18 holes at Indian Canyons Golf Course, or the incredible shopping at the Desert Hills Premium Outlets and Cabazon Outlets Center (some say it’s the best combo in the world).

And Hilton Palm Springs is so ridiculously well situated, it makes the whole adventure easier than you can imagine. See you by the pool!

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A Cali boy his entire life, Jon prefers to be near the water at all times. He grew up in San Francisco and now lives in San…

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