fun to do kids palm springs california   Travel for Kids
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Palm Springs

Camel rides

Situated two hours east of Los Angeles, Palm Springs is a desert oasis.  The earliest inhabitants, the Agua Caliente Indians, made good use of year-round water, creeks, waterfalls and pools surrounded by fan palm trees.  A resort area popular for its sunny skies and warm temperatures in winter, there's more to do in Palm Springs than relax by the pool. Kids can ride camels and feed a giraffe at The Living Desert, take the aerial tramway up Mount San Jacinto, and try the local treat, date shakes.

Panoramic view

Palm Springs Ariel Tramway – Ride the aerial tramway from the desert floor to forests on Mt. San Jacinto.  The tram, which rotates 360 degrees around, goes right up over spectacular craggy peaks, with panoramas of the desert in the distance.  At the top are two restaurants, Peaks Restaurant (fancier) and Pines Cafe (casual) for lunch or dinner.


From Mountain Station, in summer it's a short walk over to Long Valley where you'll find picnic tables (bring your picnic lunch) and the ranger station.  Take the Long Valley Discovery Trail (.06 mile) to learn about the plants and animals or Desert View Trail - (1.5 mile loop) for panoramic views of the desert below.  For a longer hike through the forest, take the Round Valley trail (stop into the ranger station first to get a free day hike permit for this trail).


In the winter months, it may be warm in the desert below, but the peak often has snow, and it's cold (it was 35 degrees when we visited), so bring hats, jackets, gloves and warm shoes.  Kids will want to have snowball fights, make snow angels, go sledding and play in the snow.  Sleds can be rented or purchased at the Ski Center in Long Valley.


Palm Springs Air Museum – The Air Museum is chock full of every major plane of World War II in perfect condition, plus a diorama of the attack on Pearl Harbor and huge ship models.  Kids can climb inside and explore a real B-17 bomber. Volunteers in the museum know all about the planes, so ask questions (we met a guy who was a B-17 pilot in World War II).


Knott's Soak City – Soak City is a large water park, so bring your swim suits and float down the lazy river, ride the waves on the giant wave pool, or race down the speed slides. Little kids can play in the Greemie Lagoon water playground.  Bring beach towels and sunscreen.


Boomers – Activity center with bumper cars and bumper boats, go-karts, climbing wall, and everyone in the family will enjoy a round of mini-golf.

Giraffe feeding

The Living Desert (Palm Desert) – At The Living Desert wildlife park, discover the desert animals and plants of North America and Africa.  The Living Desert also has a large outdoor model train layout, play area, animal shows and feedings, plus seasonal events. This is one of our favorite things to do in the Palm Springs area, and it's a full-day activity.


In the Africa section, see camels, wild dogs, zebras, gazelles and cheetahs, pet the goats at the petting Kraal.   Don't miss the daily giraffe feeding where kids get to feed the giraffes – watch the giraffe curl its long purple tongue over the food and eat from your hand! Camel rides are also a big hit.

      For North America there are chubby javelinas (like pigs), cool snakes, bobcats and coyotes curled up in their dens. Also, wander through amazing cactus gardens with different plant habitats and wide variety of cactus.
    Little kids will have fun on the merry-go-round, and next door is a super play area, Gecko Gulch, with saguaro slide, sand and water play area, chuckwalla to climb on,  tunnel to burrow through, benches, picnic area and shade.
    Across from the carousel is a nature trail loop.  Go for a walk out into the desert – there are signs explaining desert plants and geology (it's easier to walk the trail if you're wearing closed toed shoes).

Starry Safaris – Want to spend the night at the park?  Sign up for Starry Safaris (kids ages 5 and up), bring your sleeping bags and sleep in a tent under the stars, go for a nighttime walk, and roast marshmallows over a campfire.


Ride in a covered wagon (La Quinta) – Covered Wagon Tours offers a 2 hour ride through the Coachella Valley Preserve in a mule-drawn wagon. A naturalist guide will point out the unique geology, plants and animals of the surrounding desert environment. After the ride, tuck into a cowboy BBQ buffet, plus entertainment.


Horseback rides – Several ranches, Smoke Tree Stables, Crazy Horse Ranch, Coyote Ridge Stable, and Little Yellow Rose Ranch, offer one and two hour guided trail rides, moonlight rides through the desert and BBQs through the desert.  For kids 7 and up.


Joshua Tree National Park is a day trip from Palm Springs.

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