Looking for some family fun in Palm Springs? We’ve got your ticket! We’ve scoured the net and put together the top 10 Palm Springs family activities all in one place so you don’t have to search all over. Check out our picks for the best Palm Springs family activities and family fun you can’t miss while on your vacation. Also be sure to check out our post on the Best Palm Springs Family Resorts for the best kid-friendly resorts in the area.
Palm Springs has so much to offer families, and tons of kid friendly activities, that I’m sure you won’t be able to do them all, but Be sure to visit the Living Desert Museum (a zoo of desert animals), the Palm Springs Desert Museum (which also has scheduled children’s science and art activities), the Indian Canyons hikes (great with palm trees, streams, etc), the tram to the top of San Jacinto (there can be snow there when it is warm on the valley floor), and a trip to see the amazing scenery of Joshua Tree National Park (For a good guide to hikes, see Furbush’s ”On Foot in Joshua Tree.”)
See more about each below:
The Living Desert shows you all the plants and animals you might see in the desert and has a great brand new play area for kids. Located 15 minutes from Palm Springs, The Living Desert is Palm Deserts’s only Zoo and Botanical Garden, and is a must do for any family vacation to Palm Springs.
2. Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
Two suspended cable cars whisk you from the parched desert floor up nearly 6,000 feet up Chino Canyon to the top of 10,800-foot Mt. San Jacinto (Yah’-sin-toh) in a mere fifteen minutes. Don’t miss this trip when you visit Palm Springs. It is amazing to start in the desert and end up in the mountains, thousands of feet away in just minutes. The views are dramatic, both on the ascent and from the top. There is a large wooded area behind the visitor center and restaurant at the top.
3. Indian Canyons
The Tahquitz Canyon Trail is a two mile loop trail which leads to Tahquitz Falls and back. From the Visitor Center to the falls you will be gaining 350 feet in elevation.
“Fun with the Family” Revenues from admission help fill the tribe’s coffers, but this cluster of oases is a priceless natural jewel. With some of the thickest concentrations of palm trees in the world, thanks to the cool mountain streams that flow through them, the site provides a refreshing refuge from the heat of the desert. There are actually four separate canyons, comprising 32,000 acres: Palm, Tahquitz, Murray, and Andreas. (Note that the Tahquitz Canyon entrance is at 500 West Mesquite Road; guided hikes from there start at 8:00 A.M. Call 760–416–7044 for details.) All have trails for walking or hiking and well-maintained recreational facilities. The unusual rock formations in Andreas Canyon are the repository of ancient Cahuilla rock art. Tours operate Monday through Thursday 10:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. and Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 9:00 A.M., 11:00 A.M., 1:00 P.M., and 3:00 P.M. This canyon has very little shade, no restroom facilities, and no water fountains. Hikers must dress appropriately for the weather conditions, protect themselves from the sun, carry water, and wear hiking boots or sneakers. Those with leather sole shoes, high heels, or flip flops may not be allowed on the trail.
4. Joshua Tree National Park;
Families with young kids will like: When visiting National Parks, we always stop by the ranger station and pick up the Junior Ranger guidebooks. They help lead us through the park in a very child-friendly way, and by completing a number of activities as we explore the park. In Joshua Tree, the Junior Rangers are asked to identify plant species, draw pictures of the desert terrain, and pick up trash!
Families with teenagers will like: Rock climbing is very popular at Joshua Tree National Park. Take your own equipment, or hook up with one of the many climbing outfits in the area.
Click here for more info in kid friendly activities in Joshua Tree.
5. Knott’s Soak City Water Park – Palm Springs
All-day parking fee is $8.00 Car/Van, $14.00 Preferred Car/Van
“Fun with the Family” Museums and movie stars aside, here’s why kids flock to Palm Springs. The park is an immaculately clean twenty-one-acre fantasy playground where cool water reigns supreme. There is amusement for kids of all ages, from Kahuna’s Beach House and the tranquil Sunset River inner-tube ride to more than eighteen other water slides ranging from simple to simply outrageous. The Sea Snake slide is a case in point. Those who dare coast in inner tubes along a 54-inch-wide, 450-foot-long slide that at certain points takes riders through total darkness and down a 50-foot drop—yikes! Plus there is stand-up surfing and body boarding. The three-man inner-tube ride is fast and furious!The most surprising attraction—and arguably the most fun—is California’s largest wave-action pool (800,000 gallons), a broad expanse of water that starts out calm but churns away every fifteen minutes to be a sort of Malibu-in-the-desert. Actually, giant fans create the artificial tide, but it feels like the genuine article. New in 2006 is Pacific Spin, a four-person raft ride that blasts down a 132-foot-long tunnel, and then drops into another 75-foot, six-story tunnel.Open daily mid-March through Labor Day and weekends only through September. Call for specific hours and promotions.
6. Palm Springs Air Museum
Family group rate: 2 adults, 3 youth for $20.
“A must see for airplane loving kids and history buffs”-
Bottom line: My young children lasted about an hour in the museum before they became antsy but families with older children could easily stay for two hours. There is so much to see and I wish we had children with longer attention spans so that I could have spent more time at each of the exhibits. The museum is a unique experience and a great educational addition to a family’s Palm Springs itinerary.
7. Moorten Botanical Garden
Fun with the Family”– Kids will learn about the diversity of desert flora at the world’s first “cactarium,”where 3,000 varieties of cacti flourish in a natural setting. Established in 1938, this unusual botanical garden bristles with cacti in all shapes and sizes. Ask the kids to look for colorful desert flowers because there’s “always something in bloom.”
A GREAT children’s museum in Rancho Mirage, close to Palm Springs. An AMAZING Discovery Museum for kids. (Air- conditioned too!) It’s got wonderful activities for the kids, and its fun for the whole family.
Rancho Mirage, CA 92270
10.Boomers: a fun afternoon for the family – mini golf, waterboats and go karts.
I hope you and your family will get a chance to visit Palm Springs California and do a least a few of our picks for the top 10 Palm Springs family activities. It will surely be a family vacation you’ll not soon forget. And maybe you’ll even get a chance to see a few movie stars along the way :).