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Palm Desert and Rancho Mirage: Spring Break for the Family




Updated 2017

Several years back, the desert never registered anywhere near the top of our must-see vacation spots.  Ironically, it is now on our annual list of treks that the family impatiently awaits each spring.  Each year brings a new adventure under the warm desert sun of the Coachella Valley.

Palm Desert

Years ago, our family stumbled upon Palm Desert for the first time. We loved it and it has become a regular landing spot for our desert adventures. It has all the elements for family fun and is a popular snowbird destination less than 15 miles from Palm Springs.

First, the spring scenery is incredible. From the wildflowers that light up the desert to the water-infused suburban landscapes, this desert oasis welcomes the road weary traveler with vibrant display of colors and variety.

Palm Desert also boasts Civic Center Park, hands-down the nicest community park we've encountered in our California travels.

Lodging Accommodations

Lodging to accommodate any budget and style are readily available. From the pampered country club golf resort to the budget traveler and everything in between, it's easy to find the ideal base for your excursions in and around the Coachella Valley. Tip: If you plan on swimming, be sure to check that your hotel has a heated pool. The weather may be hot, but not all pools are.  Explore Hotels and Rates

Shopping and Dining

If you have someone in your family that enjoys shopping, Palm Desert offers the gamut from the high-end El Paseo shopping district to the busy Westfield Mall. A walk through the El Paseo shopping district is a great place to stretch your legs and enjoy some of the terrific scenery, custom boutiques, art galleries or to grab a bite. The River in Rancho Mirage on Highway 111 offers outdoor dining and shopping in a tranquil setting surround by an oasis of cool water features.

Dining choices are also in abundance in and around Palm Desert. For those with younger children or grandkids, the Spaghetti Factory in Rancho Mirage offers a comfortable and lively dinner environment in a relaxed setting. For a casual lunch or late dinner, we always make a stop at Shermans Deli. This New York-Style Family Restaurant is among our top picks and a family favorite. Shermans does get crowded, but it is worth the wait.

Sunnylands - Rancho Mirage

In 2016, we made our way over to Sunnylands, the former Annenberg Estate in Rancho Mirage (off of Bob Hope Drive). Famous for playing host to several presidents and its beautifully inspired mid-century modern architecture, the garden tours are a free and worthwhile stop for exploration. Learn more online at Sunnylands.org.

Joshua Tree and Living Desert Park

In spring, things start to heat up and it's time to get out and explore. No trip to Palm Desert would be complete without a trip to The Living Desert Zoo and Botanical Gardens. Our entire family enjoyed our visit and we make it a priority to visit every year. Easy access.  To learn more about The Living Desert, go http://www.livingdesert.org

The main event for our family is exploring Joshua Tree National Park, about an hour's drive from Palm Desert. Bring plenty of water, snacks and good hiking shoes. Joshua Tree National Park offers opportunities for all ages to experience and explore this desert wonder. From an air-conditioned car tour, to day hiking to the full desert camping experience it is a trip that every Californian should make at least once in their life. To get a glimpse of the spectacular beauty that is Joshua Tree National Park, check out these images.

Unlock Local Secrets

A worthwhile investment of time on a trip to any city or town includes a visit to local centers. In addition to getting practical tips and suggestions not always found on the web, we always meet terrific people linked to their community.

Historical Society
Chamber of Commerce
Visitors Center



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