We just returned from an amazing long weekend in Palm Springs to celebrate our friend’s birthday (happy birthday Jordan!). It was this great balance of family time, romantic date nights and laughs with friends.
Below is a travel guide of what we did over the long weekend. Palm Springs is a great getaway, even though it is marketed toward couples, I found it very family friendly.
Comfy seating and orange stripes everywhere at Norma’s at the Parker.
+ Brunch at Norma’s at The Parker. It’s pricey but with large portions, so split plates with your kids. Every dish we ordered was sooooo good. And don’t forget to carve time to walk around the gardens when you’re finished eating.
+ Brunch at Cheeky’s. The food is incredible, but the price is a crowd of people, so be prepared for a long wait. Always. So either go early, or go to Norma’s.
+ Lunch to-go at The Sandwich Spot. Really amazing deli sandwiches with homemade cookies too.
+ Dinner with the family at Las Casuelas Terraza. Mexican food, mariachi bands, outdoor dining and dancing. It’s a total tourist trap, but your kids (and you) will have a blast.
+ Date-night dinner at Workshop Kitchen+Bar. Jordan planned her big birthday dinner here and the meal was incredible. The restaurant’s menu is seasonal, supports local farms and above all, is soooo delicious. Leave the kids with a sitter and go here, it’s worth it.
Our friend’s birthday dinner at Workshop Kitchen+Bar.
Playing croquet at one of the huge gardens of The Parker.
+ Swim! Make sure your hotel or rental property has a swimming pool. Go pool hopping too, a lot of hotels allow pool access for a resort fee.
+ Explore the lush grounds at The Parker. There’s 13 acres to explore with amazing gardens carved out for games, fire pits and seating. Kids will love exploring each section. I suggest a visit to the gardens after gorging on breakfast (or lunch) at Norma’s.
+ Climb a mountain on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. My two daughters and I took this tram in October 2010 and it was 80 degrees in Palm Springs and we found snow on the mountaintop! Children will love the tram itself, it travels 2.5 miles up to 8,500 feet in elevation in just 10 minutes. Mt. Jacinto State Park is awaiting you at the top, with thousands of acres of forest to explore. A great place to visit year round, especially in the summer when Palm Springs is an inferno!
+ Ride the BUZZ bus. Palm Springs has a free bus running along most of the major hotels and restaurants in the city. My kids love all forms of transportation, especially bus rides. It runs from Thursday to Sunday, 11am until 1am. And it’s free! Check out their route map here.
+ Visit the Living Desert. It’s a zoo and garden focusing on creatures who thrive in the desert. We planned on going but ran out of time, it’s on my list for our next visit.
+ If you’re an aviation fan, check out the Palm Springs Air Museum. It’s focused more on the history of the special planes that served in military defense. Toddler and young kids will just think they are cool planes, but teenagers could appreciate the history behind these special aircraft.
Pool hopping at The Ace.
My little girls sitting at Mountain Station at the top of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, way back in 2010.
The backyard at our home rental!
Our friends all stayed at the Ace Hotel, but we decided to rent a small home nearby instead, which turned out to be the right decision for us. Having our own small home (with a huge pool!) was perfect. We were able to let the kids swim all day, even while their baby brother napped. Plus, we had an extra room for my mother to come up and stay with us. She lives in Orange County, not too far away from Palm Springs, and it was wonderful to have grandma around (plus to have a babysitter for date nights). And it was so peaceful and quiet, I’m tempted to always rent a house on our travels, if possible.
Our rental home had three citrus trees with oranges, lemons and grapefruits. My kids loved climbing the trees and we all enjoyed eating the fruit. We took home a giant bag of lemons to Oakland and made “Palm Springs lemonade.”
Smores on our own firepit and night swimming!
OUTSIDE PALM SPRINGS
+ Joshua Tree National Park – We squeezed in a visit to Joshua Tree on a Sunday morning and this place looks like it’s on another planet! I’ll do a post just about JT soon, but I highly highly recommend going. It’s about an hour from Palm Springs.
+ Cabazon Dinosaurs – If you drove to Palm Springs like our family, there’s a good chance you drove along the 10 fwy and spotted these huge dinosaurs. The dinosaurs have cameos in a few films like The Wizard and Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. Show the films to your older kids and they’ll be even more excited to visit.
I couldn’t recommend Palm Springs enough, we all had such a great time. Have you been to Palm Springs? Anything I should try the next time we visit?