Heading to Palm Springs for a family vacation? While kids never tire of the fantastic resort pools, there is life beyond the pool slides and Marco Polo games. Palm Springs has many kid-friendly activities that highlight the desert environment and help you beat the heat for a few hours.
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
Palm Springs, CA 92262
The Palm Springs Aerial Tram has been transporting visitors up the steep Chino Canyon since 1963. The 10-minute ride in the world’s largest rotating tramcars ascends almost 6,000 feet to Mt. San Jacinto State Park, where there are more than 50 miles of hiking trails. The view from the top looking down at the Coachella Valley stretches for miles on a clear day. The average temperature is 30 degrees cooler at the top so dress in layers. During winter, families can don snow shoes and go sledding.
Desert Adventures Jeep Tour
74-794 Lennon Place, Suite B
Palm Desert, CA 92260
Exploring the desert from the seat of a red jeep is an experience that families will never forget. We’ve all heard about the San Andreas Fault but it comes to life on the three-hour tour when you see firsthand what it looks like. The tour also takes guests to a palm oasis and a recreated Cahuilla Indian Village, where the guide explains what life was like for the Indians and pioneers that lived in the harsh desert conditions. This tour is recommended for school age children and older.
The Living Desert
47900 Portola Ave
Palm Desert, CA
The best time to visit The Living Desert is early in the morning when the animals are more active or when it’s cooler and you can comfortably meander throughout the open spaces. The Living Desert focuses on desert preservation and conservation and doesn’t feel like a zoo. The animals are close to the walkways and neatly arranged in different regional areas. Kids particularly like the giraffe feeding and a visit to the working animal hospital that helps about 1,000 animals a year.
Related: Guide To The Living Desert
Knott’s Soak City
1500 S. Gene Autry Trail
Palm Springs, CA 92264
Knott’s Soak City is a manageable-sized water park with a variety of water rides for all ages. It has water play areas, a lazy river, slides and the Pacific Spin, a four-person raft ride that shoots riders through a tunnel into a funnel that drops them 60 feet into another tunnel. There are shade areas with lounge chairs for parents or kids that need a break and fast-food dining options. Bring your own towels and if it’s a hot day, you’ll want to wear your flip flops in the park because the cement walkways between rides heat up in the desert sun.
Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert
71-701 Gerald Ford Drive
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
The Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert is a compact museum filled with hands-on activities that challenge kids’ brains and their coordination. The ropes course and the grocery and pizza parlor are favorites but painting the VW Bug is what kids always remember. When the summer temperatures rise, this museum is a refreshing, air-conditioned break.