There are so many fun things to do in Palm Desert, here are our top 5 favorites!
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Palm Desert is a city in Riverside County, California in the Coachella Valley. It is about 14 miles east of Palm Springs. You may think of Palm Desert area as only a place where retired people go spend the winter but it is actually a great place for a family vacation.
There is a little something for everyone in Palm Desert, from zoo’s and botanical gardens to awesome shopping and a giant dinosaur roadside attraction for the kids. Read on to learn the best things to do in Palm Desert.
5 Things to do in Palm Desert with Kids
Hello Friends, it’s Adrienne here from Hubbard Family Travels and today I’m going to share some of my best travel tips for southeast California.
My In-laws are snow birds. Every winter they escape the cold, wet winters of the Pacific Northwest for Palm Desert and the Coachella Valley.
Since they have room for us to stay with them at their house and it’s a short 2 hour flight, we try to go down for a visit every winter and soak up as much of the bright desert sun as we can.
No matter what time of year you go to visit, sunshine is almost always a guarantee in southern California. However, I recommend you visit Palm Desert in the fall, winter or spring and skip the summer if possible. The temperatures in the desert can go higher than 110 degrees farhenheit and the hot sun can become unbearable.
The city of Palm Desert is located in the center of the Coachella Valley (yes, where they have that big music festival every year). Palm Desert is known as the cultural and retail center of the nearby desert communities. It is about a 2 hour drive from San Diego and 120 miles from the Mexican border.
No, They are only about 14 miles apart, so if you are staying in one city you can easily visit the other and enjoy the attractions it has to offer.
Palm Springs has more of a mid-century modern vibe. It’s known for is famous architecture, shopping and it’s fun for those who want to feel like they are going back in time to the glitz and glamour of the 1950’s and 60’s. Palm Desert has lots of resorts and casinos. It has lots of shopping and dining options. Both cities are safe, and considered “upscale”.
Best Kid-Friendly Things to Do in Palm Desert
Here are some of our favorite things to do in Palm Desert California.
The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is one of the nicest zoos in the country. It is both a zoo and botanical garden. It features animals from all over the world who are native to a desert climate. The Living Desert’s mission is “desert conservation through preservation, education and appreciation”.
Some of the 450 animals you can expect to see are mountain lions, warthogs, big horn sheep and jaguars. You can feed a giraffe, watch cheetahs run and pet goats at this large family friendly zoo!
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway serves as a gateway to southern California’s Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument, which spans across the southern side of the Coachella Valley.
This area is officially recognized as a cultural and natural resource. Many of the hiking trails in the Mount San Jacinto State Park begin at the top of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway and extend across the San Jacinto Mountains out to the outskirts of the town of Idyllwild. The National Monuments encompasses around 272,000 acres, established to preserve the geological, recreational, cultural, scientific, and biological values of national significance.
You can take a trip up to the top of the Tramway and explore the beautiful hiking trails and scenic views. There is a restaurant and café at the top to satisfy your hunger after you are done exploring.
Oasis Date Farm
The Coachella Valley is known for it’s date farms and no trip to the Palm Desert is complete without a trip to the Oasis Date Farms. They have a gift shop with lots of great souvenirs and if you visit you have to try their signature medjool date milkshake. There is also a café and picnic area on site and you can take a relaxing walk through the date and cactus garden.
The Cabazon Dinosaurs is one of the most iconic roadside attractions in the California. It features two enormous, steel-and-concrete dinosaurs named Dinny the Dinosaur and Mr. Rex.
Located just west of Palm Springs, the 150-foot-long Brontosaurus and the 65-foot-tall Tyrannosaurus Rex are visible from the freeway to travelers passing by on Southern California’s Interstate 10.
The roadside dinosaurs are best known for their appearance in the films Pee-wee’s Big Adventure and The Wizard. The Cabazon Dinosaurs attraction also features an open-air museum with fiberglass and robotic dinosaurs. Other activities at the site include a sand pit where visitors can experience a “dino dig” as well as a gemstone and fossil-panning sluice.
Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is located about 50 minutes west of Palm Springs so it’s a great place to visit for a day trip. Two distinct desert ecosystems, the Mojave and the Colorado, come together in Joshua Tree National Park.
There is a variety of plants and animals who make their home in this area sculpted by strong winds and rain, Including the Joshua Tree and the Cholla cactus.
Have you ever visited this part of southern California? What is your favorite thing to do in Palm Desert? And if you love the desert – be sure to check out our guide to White Sands National Monument in New Mexico, too.