With over 300 days of sunshine, 100+ renowned golf courses, and temperate winter weather, Palm Springs, California is a year-round vacation destination. But what about the kids? Is Palm Springs for families? Absolutely! It’s one of our favourite family holiday destinations. These fun things to do in Palm Springs with kids will help you start planning your family vacation.
Make a Splash
Be sure to pack your bathing suits! In a city with over 40,000 swimming pools, it’s easy to find a place to make a splash. Resort pool complexes, aquatic adventure parks, and private pools sparkle under the abundant desert sunshine.
Explore the Living Desert
The Living Desert botanical garden and zoo, dedicated to desert preservation, includes replicas of North American and African deserts. Here visitors can learn about desert animals, plants, and explore the Sonoran desert on a series of scenic trails. Visitors of all ages rank The Living Desert as one of the top fun things to do in Palm Springs with kids (or without) – it’s fantastic!
Feeding the herd of giraffes is one of the highlights of any visit to The Living Desert. Be sure to check the feeding times when you arrive.
The model railroad at The Living Desert is a 3/4 acre development with trains operating on more than 3,300 feet of track. Children (and lots of adults) love watching the locomotives chug through historical scenes, including Mount Rushmore, a mining town, and the Grand Canyon.
Follow the Trails
Palm-lined canyons, paths winding through a Seussical landscape, and scenic trails above Palm Desert are a few of the many hiking options around Palm Springs.
Carry a lot of water when you are hiking in and around Palm Springs. I read that you need a minimum of one liter of water per hour of hiking. When half of your water is gone, turn around and head back.
Joshua Tree National Park
The Mojave and Colorado desert ecosystems come together at Joshua Tree National Park – the landscape is surreal. In this unique destination, you can hike past twisted Joshua Trees, desert plants, and massive boulders.
Located about one hour from Palm Springs, Joshua Tree National Park offers trails ranging from stroller and wheel-chair friendly to expert.
Older children will enjoy hiking into Palm Canyon, part of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians Reservation. Check the website for access hours and admission. You can park at the Trading Post and hike through hundreds of native palm trees in a desert oasis. The Palm Canyon Trail is over 15 miles long, but you will encounter the palm tree oasis in the first mile of the hike.
The Living Desert
Before or after seeing the animals and watching the trains at The Living Desert, you can explore hiking trails within The Living Desert’s nature preserve. The family-friendly and accessible Discovery Loop is a great option for small children. More adventurous hikers may want to tackle the committing three to five-hour Wilderness Loop.
Bump and Grind
Located on Painters Path behind the Target in Palm Desert, Bump and Grind (also known as the Mirage Trail) was our first family hike in Palm Springs. Over the years, the boys progressed from making it to the top of the Mike Schuler Trail at the beginning of the Bump and Grind to completing the entire 5 km loop.
Get into Art
Approachable and family-friendly, the Palm Springs Art Museum is an excellent first museum experience for kids. Read more about why we love to visit the Palm Springs Art Museum here.
Hit the Gas
If you have older kids, visit the nearby BMW Performance Driving School in Thermal, California. It’s an opportunity to accelerate your driving experience with high-performance BMW M vehicles – I can’t imagine more fun behind the wheel. Drivers must be 15 years old with a valid driver’s permit for Teen School. You must be 18 years old for all other BMW Schools (and require a valid driver’s license).
Getting There – Things to Do in Palm Springs with Kids
Palm Springs International Airport, California
Travel in style at the easy-to-navigate international airport in sunny Palm Springs, California. Walk through palm-filled outdoor spaces before claiming your luggage, and hopping into your rental car. There is no need to schlep bags and queue for a car rental shuttle bus in Palm Springs. The rental cars are parked steps from the baggage claim area.
Drive to Palm Springs, California
Palm Springs is about a two-hour drive from Los Angeles and 1 hour and 45 minutes from Anaheim. We often visit Palm Springs before or after a trip to Disneyland and Orange County. If you are coming from San Diego, it’s a two or three-hour drive depending on the route.
Travel Tips – Things to Do in Palm Springs with Kids
- Palm Springs has accommodation options ranging from boutique hotels to five-star resorts. Visit the Greater Palm Springs destination website to find your perfect place to stay.
- If you want to learn more about Palm Springs architecture and design, be sure to visit the city during Modernism Week (February 16 – 26, 2023).
- The following Google map includes our favourite things to do in Palm Springs with kids and family-friendly places to eat and shop.