Palm Springs is nothing if not unique.
It’s a desert playground for visitors of all ages–whether you’re an outdoor enthusiast looking to explore desert flora/fauna, an adult looking for a brief escape from the hustle and bustle of the big city life, or a kid being dragged on a road trip with your family, there will be something fun to discover here!
Its neighboring areas are equally as unique and quirky and are definitely worth paying a visit if you’re in the area. The Coachella Valley includes Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Cathedral City, and Rancho Mirage. These cities hold a ton of magic too!
Looking for the best things to do in Palm Springs with kids? You’re not alone. There are plenty of amazing family-friendly activities in Palm Springs. It’s hard to know where to start, especially if you’ve never been before.
This round-up of things to do in Palm Springs with kids is centralized in the Palm Springs, Palm Desert, and Joshua Tree National Park areas. So hop out of that pool, grab the kids and your car keys, and get ready for some fun family time.
All of the picks below, broken out by city/region, are great choices for your first few visits to the area. So read up and take notes on how to best experience the Southern California desert life with your young ones!
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Table of Contents
BEST TIME TO VISIT PALM SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA
The best time to visit Palm Springs is between January to April and October to December. This is when the weather is the most pleasant. During January to March, the weather is at its very best with lots of sunshine and very pleasant average temperatures ranging between 71-78 degrees F (or 22 to 27 degrees C).
Given the near-perfect weather, these months are some of the busiest times of the year to visit. Yep, surprisingly, the fall and winter months are prime time in the desert!
You would think summers in Palm Springs would be nice, but unless you absolutely love the heat, we wouldn’t recommend visiting in the summertime. Daily highs regularly reach the triple digits!
With heat like that, you’ll have to lay by a pool or stay indoors with air-conditioning for almost the entire day.
HOW MANY DAYS FOR A PALM SPRINGS VACATION?
We would recommend spending 3 full days exploring Palm Springs and the surrounding areas.
With 3 days, you have a lot of flexibility. You could plan to allocate one whole day in Joshua Tree and still have enough time to check out other cities/landmarks.
Our past road trips to Palm Springs have started on Friday mornings and ended on Sunday nights (3 days), which have always worked out well for us.
The key is to plan what you want to do ahead of time and to clump the attractions by their proximity to each other. The desert is a massive place, so you don’t want to waste time driving back and forth unnecessarily!
Now, I’m sure a lot of you are wondering. Can you fit a Palm Springs road trip on a regular weekend?
The answer is–it depends. There’s so much to see and do in Palm Springs and the surrounding desert area, so it’ll definitely be tough to pack everything into just 2 weekend days. Plus with kids, keeping to a strict schedule is a bit tougher.
However, if you are heading to the desert to see/do something very specific (such as JUST Palm Springs or JUST Joshua Tree National Park) then yes it’s very possible.
HOW TO GET TO PALM SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA
FLY INTO PSP
Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) is located just minutes from downtown Palm Springs and the Convention Center. Flying to PSP is going to be your most convenient option.
FLY INTO OTHER NEARBY AIRPORTS
- ONT: Ontario International Airport (1 hour 15 minute drive)
- SNA: John Wayne Airport – Orange County (1 hour 30 minute drive)
- LAX: Los Angeles Internation Airport (2 hour drive)
- SAN: San Diego International Airport (2 hour 15 minute drive)
- LAS: Las Vegas McCarran International Airport (4-hour drive)
- PHX: Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (4-hour drive)
Plane tickets may vary by airport, so check flights for multiple destination cities to find the one that works best for you. From these various airports, simply rent a car and be on your merry way!
DRIVING FROM NEARBY CITIES
- From Los Angeles, CA – 107 miles to Palm Springs (2 hours by car)
- From Anaheim, CA – 90 miles to Palm Springs (1 hour 45 minutes by car)
- From San Diego, CA – 140 miles to Palm Springs (2 hours, 10 minutes by car)
- From Las Vegas, NV – 230 miles to Palm Springs (4 hours by car)
- From Phoenix, AZ – 270 miles to Palm Springs (4 hours by car)
- From San Francisco, CA – 486 miles to Palm Springs (7 hours, 30 minutes by car)
GETTING AROUND PALM SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA
Although downtown Palm Springs is very pedestrian-friendly, you will need a car to reach many of the area’s points of interest outlined in this post. As such, the best way to get around Palm Springs is by car.
CAR / RENTAL CAR
If you’re flying directly into Palm Springs International Airport (PSP), you can rent a car once you land at the airport. Expect to pay roughly $40 to $50 per day for standard vehicles.
We like to rent from Hertz. With their Hertz Gold Plus Rewards program (completely free to join), you’ll get counter-free pickup at select locations, and even mobile alerts with your exact rental car and its location before you arrive. Check out rental car pricing and availability here.
Tip: To avoid higher rental car prices, be sure to book your car ahead of time. If you’re booking early enough, shop around and check for rental companies offering seasonal promotions.
If you are more the type to compare prices between rental car companies, use Priceline’s rental car search. Not only does the tool allow you to compare rental car prices, but most of the time you can book with no prepayment and no cancellation fees.
Downtown Palm Springs, particularly along Palm Canyon Drive, is filled with good restaurants and shops to keep you busy for at least a day or two. However, the fun of the Sonoran Desert and Coachella Valley is being able to drive through the vast desert lands, explore the outskirts of town, or even go on a hike or two.
For anything outside of downtown, you will need some form of transportation on wheels.
You can also take the bus to reach certain destinations throughout the city and beyond, or you can call a taxi or take Uber/Lyft.
The SunLine Transit Agency operates a bus that runs throughout Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley. You can pay for a one-time fare, a day pass, or a 10-ride pass. Passes are sold online.
Two of the best routes for travelers are the green line (Route 1) or the orange line (Route 4). The green line travels throughout downtown Palm Springs, then to nearby towns like Cathedral City, Indian Wells, Palm Desert, Indio, and Coachella. The orange line will take you throughout downtown Palm Springs and Palm Desert.
Do note that the bus system is known to be slow, and the hours of operation are limited, from about 5 am to 11 pm with reduced hours for select routes on weekends. Buses generally only run every 20 or 40 minutes, so if you’re going to be in a rush to get somewhere, the bus may not be your best option.
BEST THINGS TO DO IN PALM SPRINGS WITH KIDS
There are a lot of great things to do in Palm Springs with kids, but it can be overwhelming trying to figure out where to go. An average of 300,000 people visit the city each year, and most of them are traveling with kids.
Here are some tips on the top things to do in Palm Springs with kids.
1. DOWNTOWN PALM SPRINGS
It’s got everything you could ask for of a downtown area– from fine dining and casual eateries to upscale shopping and small boutique shops, it’s all available here! Allocate at least two hours to stroll around and explore the whole downtown area.
Aim to start in the heart of the area, Palm Canyon Drive, where you’ll find the majority of clothing shops, art galleries, restaurants, candy stores, and much more. If you have more time, check out the Uptown area, also located on Palm Canyon Drive, where you’ll find some additional boutiques and eateries.
2. PALM SPRINGS VILLAGEFEST
If you’re in town on a Thursday evening, be sure to check out the Palm Springs VillageFest event. This is essentially Palm Springs’ lively weekly street fair, which boasts over 180 vendors and is visited by many locals and tourists alike.
VillageFest is a super fun event filled with great food vendors, live entertainment, artisanal shopping booths, and handmade crafts. It is located on Palm Canyon Drive, between Indian Canyon Drive and Belardo Road. The kids will love the energy and festiveness of this weekly event!
Note: Check their website for the most up-to-date info.
3. PALM SPRINGS AERIAL TRAMWAY
There is no better way to experience the picturesque desert terrain than with a bird’s eye view of Palm Springs’ natural scenery. Kids will love being transported in the Palm Springs aerial tramway up to Chino Canyon in the world’s largest rotating tramcar!
The 10-minute ride takes you over 2.5 miles along Chino Canyon in Mt. San Jacinto State Park, giving you great views of the mountains, vistas, and the wilderness below. During your journey, the tram cars will rotate slowly, giving you surreal 360 views of the area.
Once you reach the Mountain Station at an elevation of 8,516 feet, you and your family can enjoy two restaurants, observation decks, a natural history museum, and over 50 miles of hiking trails.
There are even ‘ride and dine’ packages that allow you to enjoy a meal at the canyon’s summit.
4. PALM SPRINGS ART MUSEUM
Stop by downtown Palm Springs to visit the local art museum. There are great collections of work by western, contemporary, and glass artists as well as rotating exhibitions from internationally acclaimed artists.
Besides enjoying the art, they also run art classes and workshops for both kids and adults. It also offers a range of theatrical and musical performances in its Annenberg Theater.
Don’t forget to pick up the free Gallery Quest activity book at the Box Office and Check-In after entering the museum. To help in your quest, the activity book will suggest a few artworks to look for as you explore all three levels of the museum.
Local Tip: The museum is free every Thursday from 4-8PM and every second Sunday. Why not pair it with your Thursday night at Palm Springs Village Fest?
5. PALM SPRINGS AIR MUSEUM
This top-rated, world-renowned museum gives visitors of all ages an up-close look at the legendary fighters and bombers of WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. If you’re a history buff or your kid really enjoys airplanes, make sure to stop by the Palm Springs Air Museum!
It has one of the world’s largest collections of WWII planes, as well as aircrafts from the Korean and Vietnam wars. No joke, these planes look super cool! There are three exhibit hangars, a gift shop, theater, and an education center.
The Palm Springs Air Museum is a great place to educate your kids about World War II. They’ll have fun wandering around the huge airplanes as well as going inside a real plane and even flying a plane on a flight simulator!
6. RENT A BIKE AND EXPLORE
Palm Springs is known for its colorful neighborhoods full of bright architecture, so what better way to see it all than with a bike tour? Plus, it’s a great way to get the kids to enjoy some time outside!
If driving around is not your thing, I highly recommend renting bikes from a local bike rental company and spending a few hours cruising around the city’s neighborhoods, checking out the eccentric, historic houses.
Don’t know where to go? Check out Trip Savvy’s self-guided tour.
If you’d rather go with a guide who will tell you captivating stories about all things Palm Springs, opt for this guided Modern and More Bike Tour.
7. RUDDY’S GENERAL STORE MUSEUM
Blast from the past alert! Jim Ruddy’s General Store Museum takes you back in time to the good ol’ 1930’s. The museum showcases pristine products from the ’30s in their original boxes and tins.
Among the 6,000-plus items to be found here include groceries, tobacco, hardware, clothing, medicines, biscuits, beauty aids and soaps.
Note: It’s only $1 to get in! Also note the museum is open from September to May, which coincides with the cooler months of the year in Palm Springs.
8. MOORTEN BOTANICAL GARDEN
Moorten’s is a botanical garden that’s like no other. This is a desert garden, “cactarium”, and nursery all in one, comprising of thousands of beautiful succulents and desert plants.
For a small entry fee, you and your family can enjoy a part of your day strolling through this desert botanical garden and its scenic nature trails, which houses roughly 3000 cacti from the USA, Latin America, and Africa. There’s a lot to learn here about the local plant life.
The garden also houses several desert tortoises, so come catch a glimpse up close!
9. COVERED WAGON ADVENTURE AND BBQ
Where else can you take a wagon tour pulled by mules into the desert outback of California? Nowhere but here in the desert!
This is such a unique desert tour, mixing both western charm and the showcasing of natural flora and fauna of the Colorado Sonoran Desert.
On this old-timey tour, you’ll first take a nature walk with your naturalist guide. Upon completion, there will be a live old-time western performance, easy barn dance (optional), corn-hole and horseshoes, and a chuck-wagon style BBQ. Finally, enjoy the sunset, a campfire, and the bright stars in the sky!
This is one of the most creative and interactive things to do in Palm Springs with your kids.
10. ROBOLIGHTS DISPLAY
The kitschy art installation known as Robolights is the work of Kenny Irwin Jr. who created the Christmas-themed light show 30 years ago at his home.
Since then, it has grown into a prominent year-round tourist attraction, now located at an outdoor sculpture park in Palm Spring’s Movie Colony East neighborhood.
Don’t miss this one-of-a-kind attraction featuring towering robots and millions of lights, all constructed from discarded electronics.
11. GO SWIMMING IN A POOL / WATER PARK
The best way to enjoy the warmth of Palm Springs is in a refreshing pool! Hopefully, the hotel/vacation home you booked comes with a pool, but if not, all hope is not lost because you can easily buy a pool pass at one of the many resorts in Palm Springs.
For example, Desert Hot Springs Spa Hotel offers pool passes for children and adults for a small fee (adults and kids are $12, seniors are $7, and babies under 2 are free). With a pool pass, families can use the hotel’s 8 pools, which are filled with natural hot spring water and kept at varying temperatures.
Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa even features a full-on water park on its property! Their Splashtopia water park offers waterslides, a meandering lazy river, a sandy beach, a cliff-side hot tub, and more. In fact, they are one of the few hotels in Palm Springs with a lazy river.
If you haven’t finalized your hotel stay yet, I’d highly consider Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa–the kids will have so much fun here.
12. PALM DESERT AQUATIC CENTER
The Palm Desert Aquatic Center is an 8-acre aquatic park that people of all ages will enjoy if they want to get their swim on. There are 3 pools, several slides, and diving boards for the older kids to use, and a zero-depth pool and splash playground for the little ones.
Whether you and your family want to take a swim lesson, go swimming on your own, or rent a cabana to lounge at, this aquatic center is a good option.
13. SAN GORGONIO PASS WINDFARM
Ever seen the stretch of land covered in thousands of windmills? Yep, that’s The San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm, located in one of the windiest parts of California.
Why are they here, you might wonder? Well, the turbines produce enough electricity to power all of the Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley and you’ll see them as you drive around the region.
If you opt for a 2-hour windill farm tour, you can get an up-close look at how these windmills work as well as learn about the history of the renewable energy industry.
This is another great educational activity to do with the whole family.
14. DO AN ESCAPE ROOM
Escape rooms are popping up everywhere because they are just so darn fun for people of all ages. Palm Springs is no different! If you’re looking for a heart-thumping indoor activity to do with your friends or family, look no further than a timed escape room.
Over the course of an hour or so, you’ll work together to solve puzzles, crack riddles, and ultimately escape the room!
Check out a few of the most popular escape rooms in Palm Springs here.
15. SEE A FAN PALM OASIS
You can’t think of California without also thinking about palm trees. They are literally everywhere in the Palm Springs area.
But the best place to see the Desert Fan Palm, the largest native palm in the United States, is at Palm Canyon–the world’s largest Fan Palm oasis. In this 15-mile long section of Indian Canyons, you will find an abundance of Fan Palms.
This place is gorgeous and it’s such a sight to see. I mean, you’re in the desert, so you’d expect to see nothing but dust and dirt, right? Wrong!
Among the sea of green trees surrounding you, you can picnic near the stream, take a hike on the trails, and learn more about the sacredness of this area to the Cahuilla Indians. The canyons are fantastic for exploring on foot or on a horseback.
Before or after your visit, head to the Trading Post in Palm Canyon for maps, food, drinks, gifts, and Indian crafts.
Other fan palm areas include the nearby Andreas Canyon, which features a short, 1-mile loop trail that follows a stream back into a canyon shaded by fan palms. The 3.9-mile Murray Canyon Trail is another one that features the Seven Sacred Sisters waterfall. Both provide the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic with the kids.
16. WALK AROUND THE COACHELLA VALLEY PRESERVE
Located in Thousand Palms east of Palm Springs, the Coachella Valley Preserve is a protected area filled with great hiking trails. Formed by a system of sand dunes, this 20,000-acre sanctuary is home to several species of rare wildlife and a number of palm oases.
Even during peak hotness from June to September, the beautiful palm trees offer a canopy of shade. In addition to hiking trails, there are also horseback riding trails. Guided hikes are available from October to March.
For the kids, consider the following easy-rated trails:
- McCallum Trail – 1.8 mile
- Indian Palms Trail – 1.2 mile
17. TAKE THE SAN ANDREAS FAULT JEEP TOUR
Learn about California’s geology and desert wilderness on a half-day Jeep tour to the San Andreas Fault. Drive through the Coachella Valley to the fault zone while hearing from your guide about native plant and animal life, local history, the Salton Sea, and earthquakes. Really, there are so many interesting facts to learn about the California desert.
Depending on your preference, you can take a nature walk in the desert or stay in the vehicle. You’ll also stop by a date farm where you can try their signature date milkshake (it’s delicious, so you need to try it).
This tour includes your expert guide, transportation, and light refreshments. Another good educational tour in Palm Springs perfect for all ages!
18. THE LIVING DESERT ZOO AND GARDENS
If you’re traveling with kids, you’ll be happy to know you won’t need to drive too far on your Palm Springs road trip to reach something they will love–animals!
The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens in Palm Desert is a family-friendly zoo specializing in the deserts of the world. You can feed giraffes, pet goats, and see a variety of animals such as mountain lions, zebras, leopards, hyenas, and cheetahs roaming in their natural habitat (as opposed to caged up).
If you don’t have time to visit the actual desert surrounding Palm Springs, then a trip to this zoo and botanical garden is the next best thing in getting your desert experience.
During your time here, you can expect to experience live animal encounter shows, peaceful gardens, various hiking trails, and tram rides. They also have private safari tours!
19. CHILDREN’S DISCOVERY MUSEUM OF THE DESERT
There is no better travel activity for kids than one that is both fun and educational. The Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert features engaging hands-on exhibits for kids and their families to enjoy.
This museum was founded in 1986 by a group of citizens who wanted to provide an environment where children’s intellectual curiosity and self-expression could be freely expressed through play.
Topics throughout the museum span from science, art, and culture to health, engineering and math. Some of the interactive activities include building K’nex race cars, doing brain-bending puzzles, trying their hands at an art project, or visiting Toddlertown.
There are over 80 hands-on exhibits spread out over three galleries. Be sure to check their events calendar before visiting, because there’s always something special going on here.
20. JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK
Joshua Tree National Park is an unmissable attraction when you’re road-tripping in the Palm Springs area. Jtree is like an outdoor playground for people of all ages.
Aside from hiking, make sure you carve out some time to rock scramble and walk around the Cholla Cactus Garden. And if you get the chance to camp at Joshua Tree for the weekend, I say do it!
One of the best times to be in the park is at sunset when the mountains and desert plants are silhouetted against the most impressive glowing sky. There really is nothing like desert sunsets. Another perk of being at the park late? The incredible stargazing that you can do.
Tip: Palm Springs can also be a great base for exploring Joshua Tree, especially if you’re looking for higher-end accommodations instead of camping. It’s less than an hour’s drive from either the South or West entrance, making it a pretty convenient option.
Local Tip: Parking at the park is $30. Instead of paying this one-time fee, pick up the annual National Park pass (American the Beautiful Pass, $80) to save money on all your National Park and National Monument visits for a year.
21. PAPPY AND HARRIET’S PIONEERTOWN PALACE
Pappy & Harriet’s sits at the edge of a dusty “town” that was originally constructed to be an Old West movie set. Despite its original purpose, Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace has been drawing in locals and travelers alike since 1982. It’s a local institution, so in our opinion, it’s a must-do on your Palm Springs road trip!
Kids will love the old western feel of Pioneertown Palace, adults will love the alcoholic refreshments, and all of you will love the menu, featuring ribs, mac and cheese, cheeseburgers, chili dogs, nachos, and more.
If you choose to make a stop here, you’ll be delighted by mesquite BBQ bites, live music, dancing, and super friendly service.
22. WORLD FAMOUS CROCHET MUSEUM
This tiny little exhibit is loaded with cuteness and is one of my favorite places to stop by every time I’m in the Joshua Tree area. The World Famous Crochet Museum is a small green trailer that opens up occasionally.
If you’re lucky enough to get a view from the inside, you’ll find about every object or animal you can think of, represented in crochet form. It’s free and open 24 hours.
23. CABAZON DINOSAURS
The Cabazon Dinosaurs are iconic roadside attractions in Southern California, perfect for the kids. There are two massive dinosaurs in plain view named Dinny the Dinosaur and Mr. Rex.
Once you’re in the parking lot, you’ll find a dinosaur-themed gift shop and a dinosaur exhibit. You can even climb up Mr. Rex all the way to his mouth!
There is an admission cost (that’s a bit steep in our opinion), but snapping a picture or two with Dinny the Dinosaur and Mr. Rex from the outside are free.
24. HADLEY FRUIT ORCHARDS
Home of the world-famous date shake! Yes, a date shake might sound odd, but trust me, this was absolutely delightful. Especially on all-too-common hot days in the desert!
The dried dates are chopped into tiny pieces and swirled throughout the shake, giving the ice cream beverage a lightly sweet flavor. It’s actually a lot yummier than it sounds, so just trust me and get one.
This large market also sells a wide variety of date products, jams, nuts, candies, and hot sauces– all of which make great gifts/souvenirs to bring home. Hadley’s is right next to Desert Hills Premium Outlets, so you can end your shopping trip with a creamy treat!
Fun Fact: One of the region’s main crops is the date. Dates were brought to this area from Africa and the Middle East in the 1800’s. Given the similar terrains, they grow just as well here as they do there!
25. INTERNATIONAL BANANA MUSEUM
Wow. What a dream for a banana lover like myself! This is an off-the-beaten-path attraction if I’ve ever seen one.
Try all sorts of banana-flavored treats—banana ice cream, smoothies, milkshakes and chocolate covers bananas. Also, you can browse the vast collection of banana plush toys, mugs, clothing, key chains, and other quirky gifts. The Banana Museum is located in the town of Mecca about 40 miles outside Palm Springs.
Note: The Banana Museum has very limited hours – open 1 to 5pm a few days per week– so call ahead and check out their website before visiting for official hours.
26. WILDFLOWERS AND SUPER BLOOM (SPRING)
Historically, California has seen some amazing super bloom years. Ample rain is needed each winter, especially in January and February, in order for the plants to create a super bloom. Aside from the obvious Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, some of the best flower sightings can be found in Coachella Valley, specifically Cathedral City.
Wildflowers typically emerge in the California desert in late January and last until mid-May, so here are the first places in the desert to look for the blooms:
- the south-facing Edom Hill
- near the intersection of Date Palm Drive and Varner Road in Cathedral City
- along Interstate 10 throughout the Coachella Valley
- near the south entrance to Joshua Tree National Park
This could be a great time to bust out the professional camera and take some high-quality pictures of the kids frolicking in the fields!
WHERE TO STAY IN PALM SPRINGS WITH KIDS
If you are planning a trip to Palm Springs with the family, you’ll probably want some more space than what a typical hotel can offer you. I’ve found the best houses and condos for rent to stay in while you are here. Hint hint: They all have pools!
- Desert Getaway With Shared Pools/Spas
- Papillon Palm Springs – Classic Alexander Butterfly Home
- 2 Bedroom 2 Bath Condo With Great Mountain Views & Pool
- Luxury 2 Bed 2 Bath Downtown Palm Springs with Pool/Spa/Tennis
- Condo at the Beautiful Oasis Resort in South Palm Springs
With so many great options, you can’t possibly stay at a hotel when there are so many better options like condos and vacation homes that will make your time with the kids that much more memorable!
ESSENTIAL PACKING LIST: PALM SPRINGS
- License and registration | This is a no-brainer, but always good to check you have all documents before it’s too late and you get too far away from home. Do NOT leave home without them. They are road trip essentials!
- Spare Tire | In addition to carrying a spare tire with you, don’t forget to check your current tire conditions before you set off as well.
- Roadside Emergency Kit | You never know what kind of car trouble you may encounter on the road. This kit contains 42 roadside emergency components, including jumper cables, an aluminum flashlight and batteries, 2-in-1 screwdriver, duct tape, poncho, cable ties, bandages, towelettes, and zipper-lock bags.
- Trunk Organizer | With any road trip comes lots and lots of stuff to pack. Keep your road trip essentials organized with a trunk organizer. Not only will this make it so much easier to find what you need, but it will also lead to more space in your trunk for you to pack other necessities.
- Flashlight | You never know when you’re going to be stranded on the road at night, out hiking late, or even exploring a dark cave. Leaving a flashlight in your car can really come in handy when you’re faced with unexpected situations.
- Umbrella | An umbrella, particularly a wind-proof umbrella, is crucial when traveling to destinations with varying/unpredictable weather. If you have an umbrella with you, then it means the rain can’t stop you from enjoying your trip and exploring the outdoors. Just toss one in the trunk for good measure.
- Travel Pillow | If you have room in the car for a regular pillow, I find that they are the most comfortable for long car trips. If you need a more portable option, this memory foam travel pillow works well not only for car travel but also for camping!
- Travel Blanket | For all your napping needs–especially if the driver likes AC and you’re trying to snuggle up for a nap. This one is packable so it won’t take up very much in your car.
- Slip-on Sandals | Slip-on/slip-off sandals are a must for that extra comfort while sitting in the car. This allows you to make lots of stops without having to go through the process of putting your sneakers/boots back on.
- Garbage Bags | Because you don’t want the inside of your car to resemble a dumpster can. Plastic bags (or garbage bags) can also be used to hold wet clothes if you get caught in the rain, go for a swim, etc.
- Smartphone UV Sanitizer and Charger | Our phones gather all the grime and bacteria we touch throughout the day, and then they are stored in warm, dark places like purses and pockets, which make for great breeding grounds for bacteria to grow. They are the third hand we never wash, but should! Using a UV sanitizer such as PhoneSoap on a regular basis will help keep germs and illness at bay.
- First Aid Kit | It’s always good to carry a first aid kit around with you when traveling. Road trips make it easier to do this since all you need to do is toss it in the trunk!
- Hiking Boots | If you plan on hiking, bring well broken-in boots with good ankle support and good traction. My all-time favorites are the Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Boots. They’re one of the lightest boots in its class, very durable, and provide out-of-the-box comfort, which is extremely important if you want to prevent blisters from the start.
- Hiking Socks | If hiking, make sure you have a good pair of cushioned wool hiking socks. For extra toe protection and to prevent blisters from developing from skin-to-skin contact, go with a pair of Injinji toe socks.
- Puffy Jacket | If you’re traveling in the fall or wintertime, you’re going to need layers in the California desert, which tends to get pretty cool nights. You have a lot of options here, but I personally have the North Face Thermoball, and it’s kept me warm throughout my many years of adventuring!
- Daypack | I’m a fan of the Osprey Daylite Daypack. Even when I’m not hiking! It has ample room for all the snacks and water you’ll need, as well as for your camera and the safety essentials for the hike.
- Sunhat | Sun protection is key for any California destination, but especially in the desert.
- Hand Sanitizer | Hand sanitizer gel or wipes are a must any time you’re going to be in contact with surfaces many other people have touched. Never leave your hotel room without it! And if you do happen to forget it, remember to wash your hands often, especially before eating or touching your face.
- Body Wipes / Feminine Wipes | Feeling a bit gross after a hike or bike ride but don’t have the time to shower right in that instant? Just whip out one of these body wipes for a quick refresher. The feminine wipes I like are infused with cucumber and aloe. Trust me, you will feel and smell so much better. Always good to have a few handy in your travel bag.
- Portable Power Bank | You’re probably going to be out all day, snapping away taking pictures… the last thing you want is to be driving along with no phone battery! A portable power bank is a must-have, and Anker’s ultra-light, ultra-portable power bank is tried and true by so many travelers! I never embark on a day of exploration without it.
- Soft Hydration Flask | Stay hydrated throughout the day with a water bottle that can go anywhere with you—and fold up when not in use. I love the packability of these bottles!
- Cooling towel or neck fan | If you’re traveling during the summer months, I implore you to bring a Chill Pal cooling towel or hands-free neck fan to stay cool. It will save your life from the heat and make exploring the outdoors more bearable.
- Portable Cooler | Coolers are a must for any road trip, but especially in the California desert. How else are you going to keep your drinks and sandwiches cool for your picnic/hike? A portable hard cooler will allow you to pack picnic lunches, bring cheese and jams, and more. If you’re looking for the best cooler technology out there, the Yeti Portable Cooler is top of the line, with ColdCell Insulation that offers superior cold-holding compared to other soft coolers.
- Picnic Blanket | We love leaving a picnic blanket in the trunk of our cars. They’re so handy as not only a picnic blanket but also as a mat if you’re looking to just relax or catch a sunset outdoors. This outdoor picnic blanket is amazing because of its water-resistant bottom lining. And it’s super packable!
And that concludes this post! We hope that this Palm Springs with kids guide has inspired you to see something new! If you have any questions about the destinations or have your own travel tips to share, please don’t hesitate to leave them in the comments below.