Long the playground for Hollywood celebrities, the Palm Springs area holds infinite possibilities for family fun. The perennially sunny skies and clean air lure active families outdoors for unparalleled golfing on one of the area's 118 courses, biking through stunning canyons, horseback riding among blooming spring flowers, rock climbing on Joshua Tree's geologic wonders, and more. Families seeking a more relaxed retreat bask in the ease of a stay at one of the area's full-service resorts, leisurely frolicking in pristine swimming pools, dining in gourmet restaurants, and soaking in the area's renowned healing mineral waters after a day at the spa. Either way, the desert itself will be the biggest draw, fascinating visitors young and old.
Spring is the most popular time to visit Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley, when travelers are rewarded with comfortably warm days that are perfect for outdoor recreation and the desert flowers bloom in a truly glorious display. However, resort rates are at their peak and hotels are often booked during the spring, so planning ahead is critical. Fall is the second most popular time to visit, followed closely by winter. Some travelers will dismiss the idea of a summertime visit, but it's one of the best times to experience Palm Springs -- bargain hunters will find steep discounts on everything from tours to resort rates to souvenirs.
Summer is unquestionably hot -- very hot. High temperatures average over 100 degrees in the months of June through September, dropping to the low to mid-70s after the sun goes down. The mercury lowers and activity levels rise during the fall, when visitors can expect daytime temperatures in the 80s and nighttime temperatures in the 60s. The winter months attract snowbirds from all over the country, when the desert averages high temperatures in the 60s and 70s and lows in the 40s. Spring temperatures are pleasant, with highs in the mid-80s and lows in the mid-50s.
Located just minutes from many area hotels, the Palm Springs International Airport (PSP) provides visitors with non-stop and connecting service. At just over one hour away, Ontario International Airport (ONT) is also a viable option for Coachella Valley visitors; Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and San Diego International Airport (SAN) are each about a two-hour's drive from the heart of Palm Springs. Amtrak and Greyhound provide service to the area; interstate 10 serves as the main artery for travelers by car.
Although it is possible to spend an entire vacation in the heart of downtown Palm Springs without need of a car, most families will find that a car is necessary to fully explore the area. (However, many tour companies, including Desert Adventures and Big Wheel Bike Tours, do provide hotel pick-up services.) At just six miles wide (north to south) and 25 miles long (east to west), the area is compact and easily navigable, but driving between points on city streets can take considerably longer than expected. Taxis are readily available; the SunBus provides limited bus service.
The Palm Springs Desert Resort Communities Convention and Visitors Authority maintains www.PalmSpringsUSA.com, which offers extensive information about things to do, places to stay (including a tool for finding available hotel rooms), and a calendar of events for the Coachella Valley. Visit www.palm-springs.org (maintained by the Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism) for similar, but not quite as comprehensive, information about the city of Palm Springs.
Check the Deals sections of Visit Palm Springs. Many hotel and resort websites also list discounts and special offers.