Our family has been traveling to Palm Springs annually since 2015; before we had children. So when our first baby came along, it was only natural that we wanted to show her everything that we adored about this warm and vibrant place!
It didn’t take long before we planned our first trip to Palm Springs with a baby. We didn’t stop there! We also have plenty of experience visiting Palm Springs with toddlers. Our daughters are growing up from the baby and toddler stage, but each of them have been to Palm Springs annually since they were born. Our youngest daughter, Capri, got her introduction at just three months old!
Why Visit Palm Springs with a Toddler or Baby
Palm Springs is best known as a popular, laid back California resort town. The streets are lined with gorgeous, towering palm trees and the landscape is dotted with lush, green, golf courses.
We love this flourishing oasis in the desert because of the consistent sunshine year round. The local architecture, including the hotel and restaurant scene, offers an ode to the mid-century modern design that the city was built on. Scenic mountains, desert landscapes and natural hot springs surround the city.
Whether you’re a fan of old classics or you prefer a modern take; you love being in nature or enjoy more metropolitan offerings – Palm Springs is perfect for families with a baby and/or toddler in tow!
Nowadays, Palm Springs is often thought of as the golf mecca of California, and consequently, it is often considered synonymous with the retirement lifestyle. Perhaps that deters some young families from considering this gem for their next vacation? However, that’s exactly how our family came to love Palm Springs!
We first visited our parents who were there to enjoy the snowbird experience. We quickly fell in love with the vibrancy of the area and came to discover that Palm Springs is an amazing family destination! Truly, there are so many things to do in Palm Springs with toddlers or a baby.
Getting to Palm Springs with a Baby or Toddler
One of the things we love most about Palm Springs is the short, hassle-free, direct flight from our home in Calgary, Canada. In just over three hours, we can go from freezing, cold winter, to beautiful sunshine.
Read more on visiting Calgary with a baby or toddler.
There is one fairly small airport, the Palm Springs International Airport (PSP), that services the area. It’s a fun and unique experience in itself! The facility is an open air environment, completely different than what we see in Canada.
If you are flying with a toddler, while waiting to board a flight home you can watch small birds flutter in and out of the terminal area; it’s a huge hit! Once you get through customs, there is a natural grass area with a small playground, and boulders for babies and toddlers to pass the time the way they do best!
See all our recommended toddler travel toys for the airplane here!
In addition, there are restaurants, convenience stores and good coffee for mom and dad to enjoy themselves too.
If you are flying with a lap infant, I recommend taking your bucket seat and travel stroller through the airport to the gate check. That way you can store your carry-on items in the stroller basket while you make your way through the airport lines, and you don’t have to pay to check these larger items, it’s a win-win!
On arrival, we picked up our car seat from the baggage claim area, and proceeded to pick up a pre-booked rental car from a desk in the same area. We were able to install the car seats in our rental car seamlessly right outside the airport doors.
If you don’t want to travel with a car seat of your own, there are plenty Palm Springs baby rentals. These family friendly rental companies in Palm Springs rent out baby items like car seats, cribs, strollers etc.
Depending on where you plan to stay, an alternative to renting a vehicle is to use a local taxi or Uber, which are both readily available at the Palm Springs airport.
When to Plan a Family Trip to Palm Springs
Palm Springs is the perfect destination for a mid-winter, or early spring dethaw. Especially if you’ve been feeling particularly cooped up with your little ones during that time of year.
The temperatures do drop in the winter, so I recommend going during the shoulder seasons, like early Spring and late Fall/early Winter.
During the summer, Palm Springs get very hot, so I wouldn’t recommend going with a baby or toddler from June to August.
Getting Around Palm Springs with a Baby or Toddler
There are a few good options for getting around Palm Springs with a baby or toddler. We opted for a rental car, with our own car seats, which we found to be by far the most convenient. With our own car, we were able to move about on our own schedule and see the sights that were further than just within walking distance.
If you book your accommodation right in the heart of the city, Palm Springs is very walkable. Bring a lightweight stroller for the airplane that also works for getting around. We walked from our accommodation to local coffee shops, the ice cream parlor, and local boutiques downtown.
We decided that flying with a stroller was worth it because the kids were familiar with it. If you spend a big day out on the town, this allows for stroller naps to happen while the adults can keep on with their itinerary too.
Where to Stay in Palm Springs with a Baby or Toddler
Our favorite spot is a ground level, 2 bedroom unit with the convenience of a kitchen and living room. There is plenty of space to set up a pack and play and luckily for us, it was provided by the owners. If you need to rent a crib, there are several options for hiring baby rentals in Palm Springs. Alternatively, you can pack your own lightweight travel crib.
If you have an easy 3 hours direct flight, flying with a pack n’ play is also a suitable option.
Our condo had a gated pool located just steps from our front door. We spent hours and hours splashing in the heated pool, and warming up in the hot tub. We loved the proximity of the ground floor unit, which was so close we could set up our baby travel monitor and read by the pool or swim with our toddler while our baby slept.
We also appreciated the ability to make some of our own meals, and spread out a bit more than a hotel room allows for. Our condo was within walking distance of some great shops and restaurants, so we could still go for a stroll or choose to dine out easily from our home base.
If you are a family who loves the chance to check into a hotel and are looking for Palm Springs baby friendly hotels , some of our favorites are The Saguaro, The ACE, and A Place in the Sun Garden Hotel.
The vibe of the Saguaro is FUN! The hotel is painted in bright pops of color that set the scene for a vibrant vacation. The large pool is the centerpiece of this artistic gem, and we love spending a day or two splashing around. There are plenty of open areas to lounge and play lawn games as well as an onsite restaurant and poolside bar to order appetizers, lunch or a cool drink.
Better yet, you can rent a cabana for the entire family to relax in the shade on hotter days. It can get very busy on weekends with an adult party crowd, so if you like a quieter spot try to go during the week.
The ACE Hotel and Swim Club offers that quintessential mid-century modern eye candy. It is a local icon, with the option of the King’s Lounge room to suit a family. There are two pools and several fireplaces to lounge by. The King’s Highway is the local, onsite diner, and we can highly recommend this restaurant, even if you don’t choose to stay here.
A Place in the Sun Garden Hotel is another of the fantastic Palm Springs toddler friendly resorts, as it has larger units complete with bedrooms plus a living room. It is a boutique hotel with a colorful ode to the local mid century modern style. It’s in a great location, has a heated pool and plenty of space to spread out!
Things to do in Palm Springs with a Baby or Toddler
The wonderful thing about Palm Springs is that if you are visiting Palm Springs with a baby, then you can focus on what the adults prefer to do. On the other hand, there are also plenty of Palm Springs toddler activities.
Here are some of our favorite activities for toddlers in Palm Springs:
No matter what age we’ve brought our kids, I’m not exaggerating when I say that our family spends nearly half our vacation in the pool! We have little fish, who are completely content to splash at any hour of the day.
Maybe it’s because we don’t get the chance to swim as often in Canada, but I love the free play time, creativity and physical activity that come from a day spent in the pool. We usually grab a couple of floaties from Target for something new and exciting to bring to the water. Plus it’s one of the best free things to do in Palm Springs with toddlers.
Palm Springs Art Museum
When we aren’t splashing in the pool, we love going on strolls through interesting spots in the city. The Palm Springs Art Museum is walkable from downtown and offers many creative exhibits for families to enjoy. During the summer, the museum has free admission during set hours, and hands-on activities for families. This is one of the great indoor things to do in Palm Springs.
Out front of the Palm Springs Art Museum is Downtown Park. It is a new green space filled with more of the shady palm trees that the city is known for, seating, a water feature, and a larger than life “Forever Marilyn” statue to snap a picture with. This is a great place to toddlers explore.
You can grab a coffee and carry on to the shopping boutiques within walking distance at North Palm Canyon Drive.
Moorten Botanical Garden and Cactarium
Moorten Botanical Garden and Cactarium is a stunning, natural local gem on the western edge of the city along South Palm Canyon Drive. It was walkable from our condo, but if you are staying closer to downtown, this is where your rental car would come in handy.
If you are looking for things to do with toddlers in Palm Springs, add this to your list. It is stroller-friendly and the pathways throughout the attraction are short, which makes a great place for your newly walking toddler to test out their steps in the gardens too.
You will pass the Moorten’s Mediterranean style home, called “Cactus Castle”, and can say hello to Tank, the giant, resident turtle. The Botanical Gardens truly showcases the desert charm of old Palm Springs.
PS Door Tour
If you happen to be in Palm Springs for Modernism Week in February, you can often find the “PS Door Tour”. It’s a long, potentially walkable, easily drivable route showcasing some of the city’s most colorful, bold, and retro homes.
For anyone traveling to Palm Springs with a baby, you’ll want to check this out. It was a highlight for us parents, and our baby napped for most of the journey in the stroller. If you happen to be there outside of Modernism Week, google it! You may be able to map out your own route through some iconic neighborhoods!
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway looks really fun. It’s on our list of things to see next time we go! It offers a unique view of the breathtaking cliffs of the Chino Canyon, and provides some reprieve from the desert heat, if you are there during the warmer months.
Hiking in Palm Springs with a Baby or Toddler
One of the things we love most about the greater Palm Springs area is that it offers a treasure trove of hiking options. There are some very doable Palm Springs hikes with a baby or toddler in tow.
Indian Canyons is a great spot located just outside of downtown Palm Springs. We took our rental car to get there. I recommend bringing a comfortable baby carrier or toddler hiking backpack carrier, and leaving the stroller in the car.
The trails range in difficulty from beginner level to challenging, so you can pick the intensity level that best suits your family.
From October to June, there are free ranger led interpretive hikes or talks for families to learn more about the natural landscape and history of the Native American tribe responsible for managing the canyons. If hiking isn’t your forte, there are picnic tables and little huts to enjoy a picnic lunch just beyond the parking lot too.
1000 Palms is another great family friendly hike in Palm Springs. Again, it is best to take the rental car, and bring the carriers in case little legs get tired mid route.
We did the Willis Palms trail, a 4.5 mile loop, with some beautiful landscapes including a scenic oasis. We stopped at the picnic benches to enjoy a packed lunch beneath the shade. It is secluded enough from most crowds and also isn’t too tricky underfoot.
Don’t forget comfortable walking shoes, hats, sunscreen, lots of water and yummy snacks to keep the little ones full of energy.
Things to do beyond Palm Springs with a Baby or Toddler
Depending on how long you plan to vacation in Palm Springs, there are just as many or more options for fun beyond the city center. We recommend planning a few days to venture out further with a rental car. That way you have your car seats handy and can do day trips on a schedule that suits your family best.
Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert
The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert was a huge highlight for our toddler! The organization specializes in the deserts of the world with a mission of desert conservation through preservation, education and appreciation.
The animal exhibits and botanical gardens are varied and unique and held the little ones’ attention for hours. Our favorite activities were the hands-on experiences, which included giraffe feedings, the goat petting zoo, carousel rides, playgrounds, and the huge toy train display.
There are many options for food and drinks, and ice cream of course! The Living Desert Zoo is stroller friendly, and bringing one is highly recommended since the path system is quite expansive, and there is a lot of ground to cover.
Joshua Tree National Park with Toddlers
Joshua Tree National Park is stunning. It is my personal favorite to visit while in the area. I make sure that we never miss it. It’s like a giant, natural rock climbing dream for toddlers looking to ascend anything and everything in sight! It’s probably one of the most fun things to do around Palm Springs for toddlers.
You can do a plenty of family friendly hikes in Joshua Tree National Park if your family chooses to, or you can go and enjoy the natural beauty of the desert backdrop from any one of the many entrances to the National Park.
My favorite spot to see is the Cholla Cactus Garden, but keep a close eye on wandering little ones as those cacti are not fun to grab! It’s probably best to keep babies in a carrier here as the ground elevation changes a lot, and it was not stroller friendly where we were.
It can get quite dusty in the desert, so plan accordingly with layers and clothing that you don’t mind your toddler getting dirty in.
Pioneertown is an old western historical town that was once a real life motion-picture movie set. It’s another spot that is interesting for the adults to look at, and fun for toddlers! If you are looking for fun free things to do in Palm Springs and the surrounding area, this is it.
At no cost to enter, it’s a great spot for parents to peruse the shops, while little ones feed the local chickens. It’s a great spot for toddlers to wander. It’s also a good thing to do in Palm Springs with a baby, since it’s also both stroller and carrier friendly.
If you get tired, there are plenty of spots to sit and watch the tumbleweeds roll on by. It is located in the San Bernadino’s high desert, about 40 minutes north of Palm Springs, and makes a great rest stop on the way to or from Joshua Tree National Park.
The Cabazon Dinosaurs are a quiet, little – well BIG – roadside attraction near the popular shopping mecca known as the Cabazon Outlets. It’s an awesome spot to go if you have dino loving toddlers who would light up to see these larger than life monuments.
You can climb right up the center of the T-Rex into his teeth, and look out to the people below or browse the souvenir shop inside the Brontosaurus.
Around the corner, there is an interactive dinosaur park that you can pay a small fee to enter. Our toddlers loved wandering the gardens, riding a dino, and panning for gold at a little panning station! Again this is both stroller and carrier friendly, so bring both in the car for options.
JW Mariott at Palm Desert
Lastly, the JW Mariott at Palm Desert is another really fun little stop. We were drawn in by the gorgeous palm lined entry way that led to a fun Chilean Flamingo pond! We spent the afternoon having lunch at a restaurant on site, playing some lawn games, including a fun putting green course.
We came back one evening for a sunset sail in an electric gondola, where the captain came right into the hotel lobby to pick us up! From there you get a peaceful tour of the golf course and adjacent properties all for free! There are gift shops, a bird aviary and a Starbucks on site too.
Looking for a warm vacation destination for your family? Check-out our list of the top baby-friendly all-inclusive resorts. Be sure to read our guide to staying at an all-inclusive with a baby and sun safety for babies.
Tips for Traveling to Palm Springs with a Baby or Toddler
I think you will find that one of the nice things about traveling to Palm Springs with a baby or toddler is that there aren’t a lot of surprises. It’s a modern American city that will have all the comforts of home.
Here are a few tips for traveling to Palm Springs with toddlers or a baby that will ensure you have the best trip:
- Restaurants are kid friendly and high chairs are not hard to come by. You won’t need to pack a travel high chair, unless you want to use it at your Airbnb.
- Baby change stations are easy to come by too. I always bring a travel change pad just in case, in the diaper bag, but again this is not something we had to plan around.
- A good toddler travel stroller and baby carrier are a must! A hiking carrier is ideal for any longer hikes. The rest you can borrow while traveling.
- A rental car will make traveling around greater Palm Springs with a baby or toddler so much easier, and likely more cost effective in the long run.
- Just like any well established American city, the grocery stores in Palm Springs are plentiful. We usually stop in at Trader Joes and/or Target to browse the products that we don’t have in Canada, while stocking up on meals and snacks for our babies and toddlers. Ralph’s is another good grocery store option for baby essentials including diapers, baby formula, sunscreen, wipes etc.
- Keep sun safety in mind each day. Wear protective clothing from the suns harsh UV rays, lather the sunscreen, and bring layers for when the temperatures dip. Pack comfortable shoes, and a good swim suit!
- Service hours are typical for North American establishments, and we found that the people in Palm Springs were very welcoming! Especially towards adorable little ones.
So I encourage you to go out, climb a mountain or go for a dip! Your kids will thank you for it!
This article was written by Tegan Dow.
Tegan is an adventurous mom, engineer, and creative entrepreneur residing in Calgary, Canada. She loves traveling the world, especially with her husband and young daughters.