Are you thinking about visiting Palm Springs with toddlers? In this guide we have you covered with everything you need from where to stay in Palm Springs with toddlers, what to pack and of course the best things to do in Palm Springs with toddlers in tow.
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Why Visit Palm Springs with Toddlers
Palm Springs is not a destination that usually springs to family friendly. Rather it is a place more commonly associated with retirees, golf lovers and of course those heading to the area for the Coachella festival. Therefore people were surprised when we said we were visiting Palm Springs with our toddler.
So why should you visit Palm Springs with toddlers?
- There are great hotels and accommodations with some great family friendly pools
- there are lots of family friendly attractions in the Palm Springs area that have great things for toddlers.
- it is a great destination particular in the shoulder seasons and winter.
On this trip we also visited some other cities as part of our California Road Trip with toddlers. So if you want to follow our road trip be sure to check out some of our other regional city guides:
But before we go into the best things to do in Palm Springs with kids first we will turn our attention to where to stay.
Where to Stay in Palm Springs with toddlers
Palm Springs is a relatively easy place to get around however you definitely need a car to get around Palm Springs.
However there are also some nearby areas that are also fantastic for exploring the Palm Springs area. Some as well, such as Cathedral City offer better value for money than staying in downtown Palm Springs.
Some areas we would consider staying for Palm Springs are:
- Cathedral City
- Rango Mirage
- Indian Wells and
- Palm Desert
You could also consider staying out in the desert near Joshua Tree if your priority is visiting the national park and camping out. However we personally like to have the amenities of the city, and given though we love and think visiting Joshua Tree is worthwhile we think a day is enough in your Palm Springs itinerary.
If you are traveling to Palm Springs on a budget then we recommend looking at Cathedral City and also ensuring that you visit the area outside of peak times.
Some of the most expensive times to visit Palm Springs are in April around the time of the Coachella Festival and also in March when the Indian Wells Tennis is on.
So now you know when to avoid visiting Palm Springs because of costs, we will turn our attention to what sort of things you should look for in Palm Springs accommodation.
As Palm Springs is in the desert, it can get extremely hot especially in the summer. For this reason we think it is really important to pick accommodation in Palm Springs with toddlers that has a good pool.
Some of the best hotel pools in Palm Springs for toddlers include:
Westin Rancho Mirage Resort and Spa
The Westin Rancho Mirage is in the Rancho Mirage area which is personally my favorite area in Palm Springs to stay in. It is really close to some great Palm Springs toddler friendly attractions such as the Living Desert and also close top some great restaurants.
Also the facilities at the Westin Rancho Mirage have to be some of the most family friendly in the area.
This hotel has multiple pools which are great for families with toddlers as well as mini golf, a bowling alley and even a kids club for those traveling with older children. It is also a great place for those considering a Palm Springs Babymoon.
There is also at Ritz Carlton at Rancho Mirage which you could consider that also offers a kids club and great children’s pools.
Omni Rancho Las Palmas’
This is another great choice for families in Palm Springs as it has a high water park with lots of slides that toddlers kids will really enjoy.
Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa
This resort has not one, not two but a whopping SEVEN pools. This really is a great choice for families however if you are visiting over the Tennis Week this resort gets very busy and very expensive.
The Renaissance at Palm Springs
This hotel doesn’t feel as resorty as the others is another great option for families.
Of course you could also look at AirBnB or VRBOs with pools however we tend to opt for hotels over these as we feel there is more safety in staying in hotels but this is of course just personally choice.
There are lots to choose from but we always recommend looking for properties with lots and consistently highly rated reviews.
Note: if you get lots of amazing photos on your trip be sure to check out our favorite family travel quotes and desert captions for instagram.
What to Pack for toddlers going to Palm Springs
So now you know some place to stay in Palm Springs with toddler what should you pack for toddler going to Palm Springs
When I think of Palm Springs I think of pools and incredible inflatables. Your toddler will love these and they make for some great photos. However when traveling with toddlers we recommend bringing your own so they are the right size for your little one.
Click here to shop amazing inflatables for Palm Springs.
You will likely be spending a lot of time in the pool when in Palm Springs with toddlers. We therefore recommend bringing toddler swimwear that has some UVA SPF protection with longer sleeves and legs to help protect your little ones delicate skin from the sun.
Our go to toddler swimwear brand is Splashabout but there are plenty of reputable brands on the market.
Shop toddler swimwear here.
Sun Hat and Sunglasses
Again the desert sun is intense so we recommend packing as many things as possible to help protect your little one from the effects of the sun.
For the reasons mentioned above.
For a full Palm Springs packing list check out this post.
Shoes with a good sole
If you plan on heading out into the desert and hitting Joshua Tree National Park be sure to bring shoes with a good sole for your little one. The terrain and trail heads here are often uneven and there are lots of sharp objects such as needles from cacti etc so be sure their feet are well protected.
Although Palm Springs is in a desert I can tell you it can get cold. In any desert anywhere in the world from Dubai and Qatar and Australia and Palm Springs, desert get cold when the sun isn’t out. Therefore we recommend packing some extra layers for you and your little one and watch out for any cold fronts or strong winds which will make the area feel colder.
Also if you decide to do the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway check the weather before you travel. The elevation here is really high and the temperatures and climate very different from downtown Palm Springs. When we visited in April we found there was still snow at the top of the Tramway. So we were definitely glad to have lots of layers with us.
We also recommend bringing a stroller when you are traveling with toddlers. Travel can tire toddlers out and strollers are great for napping and spending longer days exploring.
Best things to do in Palm Springs with toddlers
So now we have discussed the things you should bring with you to Palm Springs and where to stay we can try our attention to the best things to do in Palm Springs with toddlers
Living Desert Zoo and Gardens with Toddlers
Without a shadow of a doubt the Living Desert Zoo was my toddlers favorite thing to do in Palm Springs. And I have to admit that this is my favorite zoo I have ever been to. It often gets overshadowed by its blockbuster neighbour down In San Diego and don’t get me wrong we love visiting San Diego Zoo with toddlers but there is something special about the Living Desert Zoo.
The Living Desert is essentially a zoo but it is a zoo with a difference. All of the animals here are in their natural habitat conditions of a desert.
Animals you can see here range from giraffes, mountain lions, leopards, rhino, camels to big horn sheep. Our little ones particularly loved the petting zoo and spent almost an hour petting and grooming the very cute goats in this enclosure.
We also loved the Gardens aspect of the Living Desert too. All the planting here is done to minimise the amount of watering and water waste and make the area more sustainable which we really loved.
On top of your ticket price there are also some add on experiences that toddlers may enjoy. My two really enjoyed the Giraffe feeding experience where they got to feed the Giraffes one of their favorite foods – lettuce. They loved seeing how long their tongues are and how incredibly strong.
On top of that they also loved the carousel which features endanger animal. It is truly beautiful and toddlers always love a carousel in my experience.
If you are happy to stay up a bit later then you could also visit Palm Springs during their lantern festival where you will find all manner of animal lanterns shining throughout the park. It is one of the best things to do in Palm Springs for families at night.
If you are visiting during busy times, like we did in Spring break, we recommend purchasing your ticket in advance to prevent a queue at the entrance.
Also we recommend taking a stroller for toddlers here as the site is very large and little legs are likely to get very tired. Although some areas can be tricky to push the stroller over given the dirt paths we definitely don’t regret taking ours.
Joshua Tree with Toddlers
We love visiting Joshua Tree with kids but what about toddler? Is Joshua Tree with toddlers a good idea?
When we first thought about taking our little one here we were slightly concerned given the harsh desert climate and the inherent hazards the Joshua Trees themselves pose however we had an absolute blast. We are so glad we visited.
Joshua Tree is full of amazing trails that are relatively short in length and that are perfectly doable for toddlers who can walk. Just be sure you pack them shoes with a good sole to protect their little feet.
Our little ones also loved watching all the rock climbers and even visiting the amazing Skull Rock, a rock shaped as a skull which my little one thought looked like pirates had been there.
In fact I would go as far as to say that this is one of our favorite national parks to visit with toddlers.
For more information on the best things to do in Joshua Tree with toddlers including trails and sites be sure to check out our dedicated post.
Note: If you are visiting with toddlers we recommend getting to the park for sunrise. Not only will you be rewarded with spectacular views but also it will keep you out of the worst of the desert hear.
Pioneertown is not in Palm Springs but is somewhere we combined a visit to on the day we did Joshua Tree. Pioneertown actually isn’t a real town at all but was established by Dick Curtis in the 1940s as a replica 1880s old West Town for the movies.
Movies are no longer really shot at Pioneertown, but you can still go and visit. Many of the sets are now shops selling cute range of local products and there are plenty of great chances for photo opps.
Before the Pandemic there used to be Wild West Shows that including gun fight show downs but these have not returned since the lifting of measure.
We stopped in at PioneerTown for a late lunch early dinner after a day at Joshua Tree and headed to Pappy and Harriet’s, a Pioneertown institution famed for hosting amazing music acts.
It was super toddler friendly and had a great kids menu, just be prepared for a wait for a table if you go at a busy time.
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
Another must for any visit to Palm Springs with family is the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. It takes roughly ten minutes to reach the summit and again for the descent.
At the top you will be rewarded with some amazing views of the Coachella Valley but that is not all. There are two dining options at the top of the tramway and some short trails.
The tramway runs every 30 minutes but is very popular so I would recommend booking your tickets in advance.
Also top tip: if this is something you want to add to your Palm Spring itinerary I would recommend doing this on the first good day you have. The tramway can’t run in high winds so if you are traveling during high winds plan your itinerary around this.
Also the temperatures at the top of the tramway are much cooler than in the downtown area. Therefore make sure you pack plenty of layers to make up for the temperature differential.
Head to Downtown
Downtown Palm Springs is a must visit even with toddlers. Although shopping is not something usually synonymous as fun for toddlers but there are other things in the downtown area.
The Palm Springs Walk of Stars is fun for slightly older children who will love spotting celebrities they recognise while my toddler just enjoys hopping on the stars as he walked.
There is also the Marilyn Monroe Statue in the downtown area which is fun to pose with for little ones.
There are also some great restaurants here especially for brunch and ice cream lovers.
When we do road trips with toddlers we love finding quirky roadside attractions and you can definitely find one in Palm Springs in the form of the Cazabon Dinosaurs.
The Cazabon Dinosaurs are a short 15 minute drive from Palm Springs and my dinosaur mad toddler loved this. You can see the dinosaurs from the roadside but if you want to get up close or even enter the mouth of a T Rex then you will need to pay for admission into the site.
I do think the admission cost of $13 adults, $11 kids is steep however if you have a kid that loves dinosaurs they will probably find it good value. If your toddler is under 2 then they are free to enter.
Palm Springs Air Museum
If you want to add something more cultural to your Palm Springs vacation then the Palm Springs Air Museum is well worth a visit.
There are lots of World World II era planes which toddlers will love getting up close to and toddler will like climbing into some of the touch friendly exhibitions such as a helicopter cockpit.
Although Amusement parks are not my favorite thing to do on vacation, my toddlers love it. Boomers is a high amusement park complex with arcade games, a climbing wall, mini golf and more.
If you are looking for something fun to do with toddlers then Boomers could be a great choice.
Have you been to Palm Springs with toddlers? What was your highlight? We would love to find out in the comments below.