Traveling to Palm Springs with a toddler
February 10, 2017 8:48 AM   Subscribe

Spring break is coming up in March and I'm craving a vacation where I can sit by a pool and relax. Sadly, I'm going to be 6 months pregnant at that point and most places I'd like to visit are off-limits due to Zika. A friend of mine suggested that I look at Palm Springs and it looks like it could be an option - but I'm a bit overwhelmed and need recommendations and advice for where to stay and what to do.

This would be the last week of March, and I'd be going with my husband and my 3-year-old. I'm imagining that the primary draws would be spending time playing with my kid in a pool every day, and potentially doing some hiking at Joshua Tree. (I'm not clear on how close this is or how feasible - I love hiking and my kid likes the outdoors, but he's 3 and so we'd be doing 2-3 mile hikes max. Neither he nor I would be up for just driving around a national park and looking out the window.) We wouldn't be interested in golfing or shopping. We like good food but for our own sanity wouldn't want to do more than 1 restaurant meal per day, because: toddler.

I've looked online and gotten rapidly overwhelmed with lodging options. If you're familiar with Palm Springs, do you have a recommendation for which area would be best to stay in, given what we're trying to achieve? (Palm Springs? Palm Desert? Somewhere else nearby?) Specific hotel recommendations are even better! I'd also love suggestions of things that would really fun to do while pregnant, with a toddler in tow.
posted by iminurmefi to Travel & Transportation around Palm Springs, CA (9 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I went to Palm Springs with an almost 2 year old last year!

Joshua Tree had some nice short loops to walk through. My kid was happy. He was also happy just walking up and down the drag. He LOVED the air museum and the kid's museum and the zoo. We actually stayed with a relative in a 55+ community about 20+ min away from Palm Springs and that was a bit annoying - I think we would have gone back to the zoo if it were closer (it was HUGE) - but other than staying close to the action I don't have advice on where to stay.

If you do a VRBO or something similar, you can rent cribs and toys. That was really, really useful. We used this company. We also used this service to get a baby sitter one night. They were easy to work with and my kid was happy.
posted by adorap0621 at 9:09 AM on February 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

I stayed at the Ace Hotel a few years ago and it was great -- awesome food options on site (including a diner), lots of young hipster families with their kids and dogs, several pools, close enough to walk to the main commerce area of town if you don't feel like driving everywhere. It was about an hour drive to Joshua Tree for hiking.
posted by melissasaurus at 9:10 AM on February 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

My sister and her family (2 kids, ages 2 and 4) visited Palm Springs a couple months ago. I'm going there soon so I asked her what she places she visited:

"joshua park, another park with the aerial tramway, air museum, living desert zoo, this nursery with a lot of cactuses"

This story map may help you get a feel for where things are. My sister liked Gyoro Gyoro (if you're into Japanese cuisine) and the Aspen Mills Bakery.
posted by Seboshin at 9:16 AM on February 10, 2017

Maybe someone with more recent experience can chime in, but when I was younger, Palm Springs during Spring Break was a pretty wild place and not what I would call relaxing.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:33 AM on February 10, 2017

My family has been going to the Palm Springs area for vacation since we were all tiny kids (~25 years ago) and my mom now lives out there. It's wonderful. (I will also be there the last week of March. It's a great time to go!)

Where to stay: If you don't want to eat out every meal, renting a condo or house is probably your best bet; there are lots of these, and most will have private pools or have a community pool right nearby. I like Palm Desert for the proximity to fun kid things (Living Desert is, as everyone else says, amazing), but the Valley is like an hour's drive from touristy end to touristy end (La Quinta to Palm Springs), so nothing is really that far away. Family friends have stayed at the Hyatt Regency in Indian Wells -- I suspect it's pricey, but they do have a kids' day camp for ages three and up, which might be a nice thing for a day or two.

There are lots of street fairs -- a weekend craft/flea market at the College of the Desert, a nice farmer's market in La Quinta, and the Thursday night street fair in Palm Springs is really fun -- if kiddo is up for that kind of thing.

Hiking: Joshua Tree will be at least an hour's drive, depending on where you stay, but the hiking is great and there are a lot of short nature trails, which might be nice. Indian Canyons is also great for hiking and much closer. If the weather is really hot, the tram is amazing and the weather at the top will be super cool and pleasant no matter how hot it gets down below, and there are many nice trails up there. There are random little trails all over the place honestly -- like, there's a random nice one behind the art museum (which is also great! though probably not kid friendly).

Honestly though, what I always loved was just hanging out by the pool. And the Living Desert. They let me hold a tarantula once and I still remember how awesome it was :x
posted by goodbyewaffles at 10:13 AM on February 10, 2017 [1 favorite]

I want to mention one thing. At this age I loved bring my kids to zero entry pools. It was so nice to lounge by the water's edge and watch instead of needing to be in the pool at all times.
posted by ReluctantViking at 11:00 AM on February 10, 2017

As mentioned above, the Ace Hotel is well-located and nice. You often see families with young kids there. You also see hip young adults and wonder about their source of income. So it is family-friendly but not family-centric.

Another nice and newish hotel in PS is Arrive. Also V hotel.

Indian Canyons for hiking - not as awe-inspiring as Joshua Tree, but closer and easier.

The tram, and the mountain at the top of the tram, are great as long as you are not totally afraid of heights.

Cheeky's for breakfast or lunch (get there before they open and write your name on the list), Birba for dinner.
posted by sheldman at 11:11 AM on February 10, 2017

Palm Springs is quite fun, and as others have mentioned, definitely go on the aerial tram and to Joshua Tree. You'll find plenty of hikes that are anywhere from 1/4 mile and up. Keep in mind that the Indian Wells tennis tournament takes place over two weeks in March, and it will be very hard to find hotel rooms in Rancho Mirage, Indian Wells, La Quinta, etc.
posted by karbonokapi at 2:30 PM on February 10, 2017

Came here to second the Children's Museum. Lots to do there for a 3-year-old.
posted by lostburner at 2:20 AM on February 11, 2017

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