Check in with Marriott Bonvoy for California family vacations

Last updated 20th July 2021

The JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa is part of the incredible Marriott Bonvoy portfolio of hotels and resorts and a great base California family vacations this year. We invited travel influencer and LA local, Johnny Jet and his family to visit this June, enjoy the resort and let us in on some favourite things to see and do in Desert Springs. Take a look.

Palm Desert perfects California family vacations

There’s a lot to love about California but one of the best things is the natural diversity of the state. Whatever type of travel you’re looking for, you can find it on California family vacations; from the national parks and of course beaches, to the mountains, desert and everything in between.

I live in Southern California with my family so we’re fortunate that we can visit some of the most beautiful beaches in the world anytime we want, and so many gorgeous destinations are just a couple of hours away. I’ve always appreciated how lucky I am to live where I do, but never more than during this pandemic when we couldn’t travel by plane.


A fast and fun adventure for families with young kids

As travel started opening up and California family vacations were becoming a possibility again, my family and I took a drive two hours southeast of where we live in Los Angeles to Palm Desert for a much-needed escape. It’s not far from LA but feels like a world away and there are lots of things for families with young children (like us) to do. So, we packed up the car and hit the road!

First things first: One of the best things about the drive to Palm Desert is stopping to see the Cabazon Dinosaurs. You’ll find them about an hour and a half from Los Angeles, just off the 101. It’s perhaps one of the most popular roadside attractions thanks to its appearance in Pee Wee Herman’s Big Adventure. The larger-than-life dinosaurs are a kid-pleaser, for sure!


The JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa, a great base for California family vacations

From there, we continued on to Palm Desert and checked into the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa, a sprawling resort situated on 450 acres. The property recently underwent a $50+ million renovation. With 210,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor event space, this hotel is perfect for corporate retreats, and awesome for California family vacations.

The kids absolutely loved Flamingo Island, home to pink Chilean flamingos, located right by the entrance where the friendly flamingos greet guests upon arrival. The Desert Spring’s Golf Club is home to two championship golf courses and the kids loved hitting some balls at the driving range; a gorgeous spot with an even more gorgeous backdrop: the majestic San Jacinto mountains looming in the distance. There’s also a mini golf course for the littles.

While we were visiting the desert, temperatures soared to 108F, so the pool was the place to be … and JW Marriott Desert Springs really delivers in the pool department with multiple options to choose from (a lap pool, a family pool, the main pool, a spa pool.) The kids loved splashing in the family pool and an evening swim was the perfect way to cool off after a hot, hot day. You can buy big floaties at the nearby shop or use one that’s left in the pool as we were told that many guests buy them for their stay but leave them for others instead of deflating them and taking them home.

Don’t miss roadside attractions on California family vacations

Things to Do in Palm Desert and Surrounding Area

There are lots of reasons to fit Palm Desert into California family vacations, not least the great family-friendly things to do while you’re here. If your kids are into animals and wildlife, you won’t want to miss the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, where the kids can learn about the animals who dwell in different climates, go behind the scenes and even feed a giraffe. Note: Certain attractions are temporarily closed due to COVID-19 so be sure to check the zoo’s website for updated information about closures, conditions for entry and other safety procedures that are in place.

Just 30 minutes from the JW Marriott Palm Desert is the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, the world’s largest rotating tram car, which takes passengers on a 2.5-mile journey along the cliffs of Chino Canyon and into Mt. San Jacinto State Park. The ride is about 10 minutes long (reaching an elevation of 8,516 feet) and is an incredible way to take in the breathtaking scenery of the Palm Springs/Palm Desert landscape. It’s a great thing to do on the way home if you’re driving back to Los Angeles or in that direction.

And no California family vacations in this part of the state are complete without a stop at Joshua Tree National Park but be sure to time your visit wisely; soaring desert temperatures can make it too hot to explore, especially for little ones. The sculptured land of this park, shaped by strong winds and sometimes torrential rain, the rugged rocks and distinctive Joshua trees makes it utterly unique and a must-visit spot. Download the National Park Services app before you go so you can access offline maps and more valuable information for your trip.

Planning a family staycation this summer and beyond? Take a look at the incredible Marriott Bonvoy collection of family-friendly hotels and resorts across the US and Canada. And if you want know more about California family vacations at JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa check out Johnny Jet on Instagram!


Marriott Bonvoy membership opens the door to 30 extraordinary hotel brands with over 7600 properties across 133 countries worldwide. A perfect fit for family travelers, Marriott Bonvoy hotels and resorts offer thoughtful solutions like keyless entry, contactless check-in and mobile room service, wherever you travel. And an unparalleled reward structure allows Marriott Bonvoy members to earn and redeem points and access unique benefits whether they’re on a family staycation in the US or taking a vacation almost anywhere else in the world.