Find out why Greater Palm Springs is such a great family holiday destination

Last updated 23rd March 2024

Greater Palm Springs might be Southern California’s most famous resort oasis, but it’s also amazingly chill, great fun for families and surprisingly easy to reach from the UK.


View from the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

You may not have heard of Greater Palm Springs, but you will recognise the name Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, or simply ‘Coachella’ as it’s known to the world at large. However, get better acquainted with this area and you’ll find legendary festivals are far from the only reason it’s ‘the’ place to see-and-be-seen right now.


Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa

The sun shines for 300 days a year in Greater Palm Springs

Since you’re coming from the UK, 300 days of sunshine could be enough in itself to persuade you to take a closer look. However, it’s what happens in the wonderful weather that really sets Greater Palm Springs apart.

Joshua Tree National Park is at home here

Naturally, the outdoors features large, which you’d expect in the lovely Coachella Valley, surrounded by no fewer than four mountain ranges and with the likes of Joshua Tree National Park as a local playground.

LA is a not too distant neighbour

Basking in endless sunshine also gives each of the nine cities a distinctly laid-back vibe: hard to believe hectic LA is only a couple of hours drive away, but very easy to understand why Greater Palm Springs is such a popular weekend escape for Angelenos.

Then, enhancing that reputation for sunshiny cool, is everything from hot mineral water spa hotels to striking Modernist architecture, world class sporting events, acres of renowned golf courses, not to mention the easy-going and friendly people lucky enough to live here.


Moving Towards the Future, Indio, Greater Palm Springs

The nine great cities of Greater Palm Springs

Out of the nine cities that make up Greater Palm Springs, there will definitely be a few names you recognise. Although the others may not be as well known, they’re all worth getting to know.


Village Fest, Palm Springs

Visit Palm Springs for its indie vibe

The city of Palm Springs delivers art galleries and museums as easily as it does vintage finds and street performance, particularly at its weekly Village Fest. Plus, there are over 400 independent business here, which makes anything from a cup of coffee to a date shake more authentic.

You don’t want to miss hiking with the kids in the Indian Canyons: ancestral home of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and home to natural palm oases and striking rock formations. And a ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is another unmissable experience. Not only is it the largest rotating tramway in the world and source of the best views in Greater Palm Springs, it takes you up to the top of Mount San Jacinto, known for its pristine pine forests and wild-flower-strewn hikes.


Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Golf Resort, Indian Wells

Try Indian Wells for world-class sporting events

One look at its backdrop of the Santa Rosa Mountains against clear, blue skies and you can see why Indian Wells has some of the area’s most luxurious resorts. It’s one of the great golfing cities too. Although if tennis is more your thing, it also hosts the prestigious BNP Paribas Open in early spring each year.


Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Indio, Greater Palm Springs

The city for festivals you’ll recognise

You may not know the name Indio, but you will recognise one of its most famous temporary residents. This is the city where Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival takes place over two weekends in April every year. But it’s far from the only reason to feel festive here: the Stagecoach Festival is another April big hitter.


Hot Air Balloon Festival, Cathedral City

Explore your artistic side in Cathedral City

Like every city in Greater Palm Springs, Cathedral City isn’t short on extraordinary places to stay, but what really defines it is the art, everywhere. And when we say everywhere, you and your kids can even splash around in one of the city’s masterpieces: the Fountain of Life. Don’t be shy, getting wet is actively encouraged.


El Paseo shopping district, Palm Desert

Let Palm Desert entertain you endlessly

This is Southern California, so you’d be disappointed if shopping and non-stop entertainment weren’t in the mix. Greater Palm Springs is incapable of disappointing, as Palm Desert proves. El Paseo Shopping District is here; known for its Fashion Week and line up of remarkable restaurants, shops and art galleries.

This is also where you’ll find Living Desert Zoo & Gardens – if kids aren’t convinced by the fun of shopping. And McCallum Theatre is a resident too; staging everything from award-winning Broadway shows to opera and stand-up.

Where to see stars in Greater Palm Springs

Combining wellness with family fun is a particular talent in Rancho Mirage, a city where some of the most exclusive spa resorts come with a side of waterpark action. Although kids will be just as keen on Rancho Mirage Observatory which delivers excitement of another sort, courtesy of a telescope so powerful it measures distance in terms of 50 million light years.


Two Bunch Palms, Desert Hot Springs

Discover some of earth’s purest mineral springs

If a complete reset is what you want from your holiday, then Desert Hot Springs has that covered. It’s home to some of the purest mineral springs on earth and, they’re so abundant, several of the city’s boutique hotels have mineral pools of their very own.


Civic Center Campus, La Quinta

Gem of the Desert in Greater Palm Springs

Sun, blue skies and a bit of a fairy tale feel best describes La Quinta, well deserving of its title ‘Gem of the Desert’. You might not expect cobblestone streets and quaint architecture in Southern California, but that’s what you get in this city, along with farmer’s markets, art studios, and craft brewers, as well as a gateway to some deeply rewarding canyon hiking.

Coachella is the heritage-rich city

Between its legendary Mexican food and year-round community events, there’s no missing the powerful Hispanic heritage in the city of Coachella. Said to serve life-changing tacos, this is also the place to delve into the past at the Coachella Valley History Museum. And it’s another city that pops up on the colourful Greater Palm Springs’ mural trail.


Omni Rancho Las Palmas, Rancho Mirage

Greater Palm Springs is one of California’s golfing greats

You won’t be too surprised to learn that golf is another great in Greater Palm Springs. What may surprise you is the number of courses which welcome families, encourage junior players and even offer free tee-time to under 15s.

Naturally, if you like your game a bit more traditional, out of the 120 courses in the area, you’ll also find some of the best in North America. And many have been designed by golfing legends, because working with the spectacular local landscape is a course architect’s dream.


Joshua Tree National Park

Stride, ride or bike round a Greater Palm Springs’ icon

Speaking of spectacular landscapes, you have to make time for Joshua Tree National Park while you’re in Greater Palm Springs. Spreading across 800,000 acres, the geography is nothing short of remarkable from its forests of Joshua Trees to the enormous, sculpted boulders that are an irresistible challenge to rock climbers the world over.

You possibly won’t be doing any technical climbs with kids, but happily the park is also networked with phenomenal hiking trails for all levels. Alternatively, treat yourself to some insider knowledge and take a guided walk with a local expert. Or if you feel like horse riding or cycling or even stargazing, you can do all that in Joshua Tree too – as well as in plenty of other places across Greater Palm Springs.


Farmer’s Market, Old Town La Quinta

Meet the people who share your passion for great food

They take food seriously in Greater Palm Springs. By that we mean, you can feel the passion of local chefs from taco trucks to Michelin-recommended restaurants. It’s Southern California, so healthy eating comes naturally and you can almost taste the sunshine in the fresh produce that’s served on the daily all over the place.

Although if you want to go back to basics, have an inspiring browse round one of the regular farmer’s markets and chat to the growers and artisans: more passionate locals taking pride in everything from perfect heirloom tomatoes to freshly baked bread.

It’s a given that your kids might not be as interested in sustainable, low-impact and farm-to-fork as you. However, you can expect them to be mightily impressed by the sheer range of eating possibilities, starting with classic Californian breakfasts: big on pancakes, eggs any which way and fresher than fresh juices.  And forget early to bed on holiday; being able to serve diners outdoors, under the stars, on balmy evenings, is one more reason so many great chefs choose to live and work in Greater Palm Springs.


Renaissance Esmeralda, Indian Wells

Find your perfect place to stay in Greater Palm Springs

Accommodation is another area of excellence in Greater Palm Springs, so be prepared for every option you can think of to be covered. Naturally some of the most opulent spa hotels are at home in this part of Southern California, but there are just as many resorts for families keener on waterparks than thermal pools. In fact, several places combine fun and wellness, so everyone stays happy.

Broad spectrum applies to prices too, which range from money-is-no-object extravagance to nicely on budget for most holiday budgets. And you can even exert your independence, rent a holiday home and live like a local for a little.

How to plan a Greater Palm Springs holiday

Getting to Greater Palm Springs

Year-round UK flights to Palm Springs International Airport take from 13 hours

Direct UK flights to Los Angeles take from 11 hours

Los Angeles is 2 hours by road from Greater Palm Springs

Now Visit Greater Palm Springs and start making plans