If a trip to America’s western coast is on the cards, Palm Springs is a must on the list. It’s one of those places I’ve heard about on TV but never really imagined what it’s really like and what we could actually do there apart from marvel in such a different cultural experience. We like to think we’re pretty similar to our American cousins, after all we speak the same language and we are in fact related. But the reality is the culture is very different! I was lucky enough to travel to the US when I was 16, we toured around the west coast exploring the tourist hotspots like The Grand Canyon, Las Vegas and San Francisco. I’m itching to go back and keep exploring, there are plenty of places to stay and houses for rent in Palm Springs, which has inspired this post today.
Where is Palm Springs?
Palm Springs is a city in Riverside County California, USA within the Coachella Valley. It’s about 172 km east of Los Angeles for reference. The nearest airport is Palm Springs International Airport, with regular flights.
Things to do in Palm Springs for Families
If you’re heading there with your children, there are loads of fun family friendly things to do. If you’re an animal loving family, there’s The Living Desert Zoo Gardens, which is a non-profit organisation that aims to preserve a part of the Colorado Desert, as well as entertain and inform visitors young and old with the animals and conservation, together with exciting displays. To really get involved in the desert learning theme, try visiting the Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert, with lots of interactive exhibitions.
For the active family, there are many biking tracks, hiking trails, with breathtaking scenery of the desert and canyons. The famous Joshua Tree, with it’s Dr Seuss like proportions can be found, with specific trails available. I remember going on one of these in the desert and it felt so wild and freeing.
For the thrill seekers amongst you, yet still something you can take the kids on, there’s the The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, which boasts the world’s largest rotating tram car! It travels over two miles along the breathtaking cliffs of Chino Canyon and transports riders to the pristine wilderness of the Mt. San Jacinto State Park. During your journey (about 10 minutes long), the tram cars rotate slowly, offering picturesque and spectacular vistas of the valley floor below. Once you reach the Mountain Station there are two restaurants to choose from, observation decks, a natural history museum, two documentary theaters, a gift shop and over 50 miles of hiking trails.
If swimming is a must on holiday, there’s the wet ‘n wild splash park with 18 intense rides, a beach pool and more, your little fishes will love it! For a (slightly) more relaxing swimming experience, there’s the outdoor public pool at Sunrise Park, which houses an Olympic size swimming pool.
If you prefer to keep dry but stay outdoors, there are parks galore – with the weather almost guaranteed to be sunny (OK don’t sue me about that!), it’s almost a shame to be indoors when you visit Palm Springs. Ruth Hardy Park has a large outdoor play area, tennis and basketball courts and the perfect location in downtown Palm Springs. Other parks include Frances Stevens Park, and Palm Springs Skate park if your children love all things on wheels!
Arts and Culture in Palm Springs
It’s not all outdoor pursuits, there is a buzzing nightlife and plenty of art and culture to soak up. What better way to educate your children than to envelop them in the culture of a city? Art lovers will appreciate the Palm Springs Art Museum, dating back to 1938 has a community feel, and champions new artists. Camelot Theatres is considered to be the desert’s premiere movie theatre, and is home to the Palm Springs International Film Festival (held in the first week of January). For something different, why not try Captain Kirk’s Palm Springs Adventure, which is an Old Las Palmas walking tour – it takes in the old Hollywood homes and architecture, with loads of local knowledge thrown in. See the old homes of Elizabeth Taylor, Katherine Hepburn and Kirk Douglas.
What to Eat in Palm Springs?
The food in the US is out of this world! The portion sizes can be overwhelming, be prepared to go up a size unless you are really disciplined. It’s worth it though. I did some local research into the best places to eat and here’s what I found worth trying: Big breakfasts, (and lunches, and dinners!), both kosher and non, can be found at both Sherman’s Deli locations. The the hot corned beef comes highly recommended, and it’s a far cry from the tinned stuff we get over here!
Grab some roasted meat at the award winning Smoke Tree BBQ & Grill in Palm Springs or Palm Desert. It’s the perfect place for brisket, beer and BBQ; If you’ve got vegetarians, the all american Mac n Cheese is sure to win them over. The family platters to go are an awesome option for some twilight poolside dining back at your hotel or Airbnb.
You can’t visit the US without having a burger and Mcdonalds just won’t cut it, so why not try Tyler’s Burger stand. It’s mega popular, so be prepared for queues at lunch time. Take a seat with your prize and enjoy the people watching as you munch your tasty burger and fries. (Insider tip: it’s cash only, and they’re closed most Sundays).
One day I’ll make it there – have you been or are you planning a trip? Let me know in the comments below.
All information correct at the time of print.