A Picture Perfect Family Vacation in the Coachella Valley

Where families can stay, play and eat in the Coachella Valley, California (Family Fun Canada).

Palm Springs, a popular fall-through-spring holiday destination for western Canadians, is actually just the best known of nine small cities that populate Southern California’s Coachella Valley (Cathedral City, Coachella, Desert Hot Springs, Indian Wells, Indio, La Quinta, Palm Desert, Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage). The whole area is renowned for its warm, dry weather, plentiful resorts and restaurants, great golf and a chic-but-casual California vibe. Given that it’s only a 3-hour direct flight from our home in Calgary, we decided it was high time we checked the area out for ourselves!

Here’s where our family found a whole lot of fun in the sun (and got the pics to prove it!) while visiting the Coachella Valley.

At Our Resort

Where families can stay, play and eat in the Coachella Valley, California (Family Fun Canada).

Can you guess our favourite spot at the condo-style Marriott Shadow Ridge I – The Villages in Palm Desert? Yup – this family-oriented pool with nearby hot tub, waterslide and splash park, which we often had nearly to ourselves! FYI – the [inflatable] ray is not a native species.

Where families can stay, play and eat in the Coachella Valley, California (Family Fun Canada).

We enjoyed some lovely family walks around the resort property, complete with warm breezes, turtles, birds and gorgeous views like this one.

Where families can stay, play and eat in the Coachella Valley, California (Family Fun Canada).

Not being ready for the big course didn’t keep us from enjoying golf… free mini golf at our resort!

In The Desert

Where families can stay, play and eat in the Coachella Valley, California (Family Fun Canada).

Our San Andreas Fault Red Jeep Tour included a visit to the desert, the fault itself, a desert oasis, plus a hike up a slot canyon. Our fantastic guide, De, provided a remarkable amount of information on the geology, history, plants and wildlife of the California desert environment and she made sure it was accessible to our children too.

Where families can stay, play and eat in the Coachella Valley, California (Family Fun Canada).

Rock hounding on the jeep company’s private ranch at the San Andreas Fault… taking home some cool rocks and lots of interesting info for their classmates!

At the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway and San Jacinto State Park

Where families can stay, play and eat in the Coachella Valley, California (Family Fun Canada).

The modern tram cars (centre) of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway hold more guests and offer better all-round views than the old-school ones (left, on display at the bottom of the mountain). The trip up takes about 10 minutes and the car rotates twice during the ascent.

Where families can stay, play and eat in the Coachella Valley, California (Family Fun Canada).

The Desert View Trail at San Jacinto State Park (at the top of the tramway) was a nice family hike and boasted 5 viewpoints, each with phenomenal views of the surrounding desert and mountains.

At Area Restaurants

Where families can stay, play and eat in the Coachella Valley, California (Family Fun Canada).

We were hungry after our San Jacinto hike and, because it was Cinqo de Mayo, we needed Mexican food. We found it – in abundance – at Las Casuelas Terraza in Palm Springs.

Where families can stay, play and eat in the Coachella Valley, California (Family Fun Canada).

Babe’s BBQ & Brewhouse in Rancho Mirage specializes in.. what else? BBQ! The kids loved the patio misters; we all enjoyed tasty food and a relaxed vibe. At all the restaurants we visited in the valley, eating outdoors was a huge treat!

Where families can stay, play and eat in the Coachella Valley, California (Family Fun Canada).

Walking off a big dinner is not a chore at The River at Rancho Mirage, an open air shopping mall that is also home to an enormous Cheesecake Factory and Babe’s BBQ.

At The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens

Where families can stay, play and eat in the Coachella Valley, California (Family Fun Canada).

We won’t soon forget feeding carrots to a gentle giraffe at The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens. They really do have purple tongues!

Where families can stay, play and eat in the Coachella Valley, California (Family Fun Canada).

The Living Desert is a great place to learn about the plants and animals that inhabit the world’s deserts. Its educational shows, carousel and extensive miniature railroad add some extra fun, too! There’s even an on-site animal hospital you can visit.

Believe It or Not, At the Airport!

Where families can stay, play and eat in the Coachella Valley, California (Family Fun Canada).

With its open air design, the Palm Springs International (PSP) allows your vacation to begin the moment you exit your plane and last until you have to board your ride home. That playground is inside security!

None of us felt ready to head home after just one week in the Coachella Valley. In fact, this first visit was so much fun that – within 48 hours of arriving home – we booked another one for the fall!

Many thanks to Greater Palm Springs – Find Your Oasis for providing some attractions and meals. The opinions expressed here are my own. ~am

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