Have you ever considered Palm Springs for a family vacation? I would not have thought the desert oasis screams “take the kids.” Known for its hip vibes and a haven for the LGBTQ community, Palm Springs turned out to be my and my husband’s first vacation with our then-three-month-old daughter, Mabel. Turns out, Palm Springs and its surrounding cities are quite inviting for the entire family. This was a great discovery as I’ve been before we had a baby in tow and adore it. 

Where to Stay 

There are nearly 80 boutique hotels in Palm Springs. I love to stay at independent hotels since there’s so much charm and each location has a unique story. For our visit with Mabel, we loved Los Arboles Hotel. Our Extended Express suite was tucked away in the back of their grounds with no shared walls. Although Mabel is pretty good, this certainly eased any nerves we had if she did get fussy. 

Despite the room being petite, it was ideal for us. Mabel got cozy in her Pack ‘n Play, and we managed to set everything we needed up on our bathroom counter. Bottle warmer, electric toothbrushes, breast pump! I felt like a packing pro already. 

The grounds at Los Arboles reminded me of a Spanish hacienda nestled among the desert mountains. With their pool and jacuzzi right outside our door, it was tempting to kick back and do a whole lot of nothing. Definitely pack everyone’s swimming gear and plan on making a splash. 

Most of the hotels are in the center of town. This makes it easy to park your car and leave it during your stay. We loved walking for breakfast, window shopping, and strolling in the evening with Mabel. 

Pool and desert mountains at hotel
Take a splash at Los Arboles Hotel. (c) Mary Farah
Bed inside hotel room
Our extended express suite. Note the stroller! (c) Mary Farah

Where to Eat 

Palm Springs is known for its incredible dining options. With our cozy dining nook in our hotel room, we enjoyed a chill evening on Saturday and took out from Eight4Nine. We also had a table and chairs on our patio, which was great for grabbing one of my favorites on Sunday morning, Cheeky’s

Although Cheeky’s is a great diner for all, the weekend wait time can be over 90 minutes. We called in our order and enjoyed a walk around town while we waited. Cheeky’s is famous for its modern takes on classic breakfast favorites. Bacon flight, anyone? They’re one of my go-to’s in Palm Springs since their gluten-free waffles never disappoint. Kids of all ages will love the atmosphere and menu options. 

Another fun stop is the kitschy Billy Reed’s. The little ones will love the koi pond out front, and the decor when you step inside might bring to mind San Luis Obispo’s Madonna Inn. Billy Reed’s has the ultimate Americana menu and boasts complete old-school vibes. 

A restaurant that continues to win “Best Of” awards is El Mirasol. Located on-site at Los Arboles, the family-run cantina serves up delicious plates authentic to Mexico and California. By the time we had dinner here on Sunday, we were tired. It had been a fun afternoon out and about with Mabel but we were ready for a drink! We enjoyed a great Cadillac margarita and our meals were superb. 

The best part was we were less than 10 feet from our room to go back and crash. El Mirasol also has a kid’s menu that’s sure to impress. And, since I usually avoid enchiladas because they aren’t gluten-free, they are at El Mirasol!

Up close shot of sandwich
Pastrami sandwich and fries from Eight4Nine. (c) Mary Farah
Waffles on a table
Gluten-free waffles from Cheeky’s. (c) Mary Farah

What to Do 

I’ve visited Palm Springs numerous times. How did I not know about the Living Desert? The Living Desert is a non-profit zoo and botanical garden in Palm Desert, about 30 minutes away. It’s a must with kids. It boasts over 500 animals and 1,200 acres. In addition to the animals, families will love the carousel, hiking trails, and even the chance to feed a giraffe. I can’t wait to come back with Mabel when she’s a bit older. 

Another favorite is the Aerial Tramway. Kids will love to hear that they’re riding in the largest rotating tramcar in the world. The tramway elevates up over 8,500 feet and drops visitors at the top of Mt. San Jacinto State Park. There are multiple hikes as well as a restaurant and gift shop. It’s also the perfect way to escape the heat if you’re in town on a triple-digit day. 

For some nightlife for the entire family, check out Shrek the Musical. It’ll be playing in October and part of November at the Palm Canyon Theatre. There’s also plenty to explore at nearby Joshua Tree as well as Village Fest. Palm Springs’ weekly Thursday night market has returned and has something for everyone from food trucks to shops being open late. Enjoy!

Giraffes enjoying an afternoon
Get up close and personal with giraffes at the Living Desert. (c) Mary Farah
Aerial tramway heading up the mountain
The aerial tramway. (c) Mary Farah


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