Palm Springs is city in south eastern California. It sprouted into a resort destination in the twentieth century. Known for its hot springs, stylish hotels, golf courses and spas, it’s also noted for its many fine examples of mid-century-modern architecture. There are loads of fun things to do in Palm Springs for the whole family. Its core shopping district along Palm Canyon Drive features vintage boutiques, interior design shops and restaurants. The surrounding Coachella Valley offers hiking, biking and horseback riding trails. Check out this full list of fun things to do in Palm Springs and get ready for a family vacation to remember.
Fun Things to Do in Palm Springs with the Whole Family
My In-Laws are snow birds and have a home in the Coachella Valley near Palm Springs. Every winter we make sure to take a family trip down south to get out of rainy Washington State and enjoy some much needed sunshine and heat.
When most people think about Palm Springs they are actually referring to the entire Coachella Valley area. The city of Palm Springs is quite a small area but there are many other adjacent cities that are tourist friendly with fun attractions and excursions.
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What are the cities of Palm Springs?
- Palm Springs
- Desert Hot Springs
- Cathedral City
- Rancho Mirage
- Palm Desert
- Indian Wells
- La Quinta
What is the best time to go to Palm Springs?
The best time to visit Palm Springs is between October and April when the weather is sunny and beautiful but not too hot. Unless you love the heat, I wouldn’t recommend visiting in the summertime when daily highs regularly reach the triple digits. If you plan to do some day hikes in the Palm Springs area, check out this guide.
What is the best airport to fly into for Palm Springs?
The Palm Springs (PSP) airport is located just 5 minutes from downtown Palm Springs. Because the Palm Springs airport has fewer flights than nearby metro airports such as Los Angeles airport (LAX) and the Ontario California (ONT), these two airports are also convenient options for air travel to the Palm Springs area but you will have to drive several hours from those airports to Palm Springs.
Do you need a car to get around Palm Springs?
The best way to get around Palm Springs is by car. Although you can walk most places downtown, you’ll need your own wheels to explore the rest of the Coachella Valley. You can also take the bus to reach certain destinations throughout the city and beyond, or you can always take a taxi.
Is there a beach in Palm Springs?
Palm Springs is inland and far away from the Pacific Ocean. The closest thing to a beach near Palm Springs is the Salton Sea which is a shallow saline lake located in the middle of the desert about an hour south east of Palm Springs.
The Salton Sea was formed in 1905 when massive flooding caused the Colorado River to break through an irrigation canal headwork and flow freely into the Salton Basin for 18 months.
The Salton Sea is big and stinky but actually really interesting. Although rundown, it’s the largest lake in California and one of the largest inland seas in the world.
Fun fact: The Salton Sea sits 266 feet below sea level!
Whatever you do- don’t get in the water. It’s nasty and if you ever go visit you’ll see why. Parts of the shore are completely washed up with fish skeletons. There are lots of neat things and wildlife to look at on the shore of the Salton Sea, just don’t expect to go swimming.
Top Family Friendly Activities in Palm Springs
Palm Canyon Drive
Palm Canyon Drive is the the heart of Palm Springs. Take a stroll down this street and you’ll find vintage boutiques, restaurants, cafes and art galleries.
Every Thursday night you can find the popular farmers market: Village Fest. Locals and tourists alike come downtown to enjoy live music throughout the downtown corridor. And check out the flowers and produce at the market. There are over 100 arts, crafts, and food vendors weekly.
Palm Springs Walk of Stars
Palm Springs Walk of Stars is a walk of fame in downtown Palm Springs, California, that honors various people who have lived in the greater Palm Springs area. The stars are embedded in the sidewalk pavement. Think “The Hollywood Walk of Stars” except this is the Palm Springs version.
The walk includes portions of Palm Canyon Drive, Tahquitz Canyon Way, La Plaza Court and Museum Drive.
Among those honored are Presidents of the United States, show business personalities, literary figures (authors, playwrights, screenwriters), pioneers and civic leaders (early settlers, tribal leaders, civic personalities), humanitarians, and Medal of Honor recipients.
The Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert
The Children’s Discovery Museum has an outdoor area of activities and three buildings to wander through indoors. The Museum inspires personal growth through exhibits and programs that that inspire the curiosity and creativity of visitors through hands-on exploration.
It’s great for very hot, rainy or “need an indoor activity” days. You can learn how to tie knots, improve balance and dexterity, and so many other things. The museum is enjoyable for all ages.
The Living Desert Zoo and Botanical Garden
The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is 80 acres of developed land working for the preservation of animals. Divided into North America desert and Africa desert, the zoo features animals from each of those areas as well as botanical gardens and nature trails to walk through.
There is the Tennity Wild Life Hospital where most of the animals receive their annual exams, in addition to any needed treatment.
The nature trails bring you through the Savannah, Village WaTuTU, East African Gardens and Aviaries and the Madagascar Gardens. There is a small petting zoo for the children and one can experience feeding a giraffe and riding a camel for a fee. The other part of the park brings one to the areas of North America where one can see the various native animals, the Sonoran Garden & Aviary, a Palm Oasis and the Mojave Garden.
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is the world’s largest rotating tram car. It travels over two-and-one-half miles along the breathtaking cliffs of Chino Canyon, transporting riders to the pristine wilderness of the Mt. San Jacinto State Park.
During the approximately ten-minute journey, tram cars rotate slowly, so that everyone on board can view spectacular vistas of the valley floor below.
The Mountain Station—elevation 8,516 feet—has two restaurants, observation decks, natural history museum, two documentary theaters and a gift shop.
Have you been to Palm Springs before? Let me know your favorite family activities in the comments!