The Splashtopia Lazy River Pool at Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa
Why: Once known as a place for scantily clad spring breakers and retiree golfers, the Palm Springs area has quietly transformed itself into a family-friendly destination.
When to Go: Palm Springs is a year-round destination. Although it receives a lot of press for its triple-digit summers, they aren’t too bad, especially for travelers seeking mostly poolside activities. Spring and autumn are perfect for outdoor enthusiasts, while winter is usually still warm enough for swimming.
Where to Stay: Many resorts, with their lushly landscaped pool areas, have rebranded themselves as kid-friendly. It is likely that younger travelers will favor Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa. The property’s on-site Splashtopia features two acres of aquatic fun, including a 425-foot lazy river, a poolside beach, a raging waterfall, water play zones and two 100-foot-long water slides.
What to Do: The best area overview is on a trip up Mt. San Jacinto via the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, which ascends 8,500 feet. At the top, there are hiking trails and cross-country ski trails in winter. By night, the valley’s wide-open vistas are perfect for stargazing. Entertaining programs exploring the mythology behind the stars can be booked through Sky Watcher tours.
A deeper understanding of the area’s flora and fauna can be found on the trails of the Living Desert Zoo & Gardens. The center’s Children’s Discovery Room is especially popular for its "critter close-ups," where kids can touch tortoises, snakes and birds. The Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert also allows kids to explore their world in creative, hands-on experiments. Palm Springs is also home to one of California’s most deluxe water parks, Knott’s Soak City, which features 13 water slides and a wave pool.
Insider Tip: Visitors should know that the Palm Springs Desert Resorts are actually made up of eight cities. Residents of Indian Wells, for example, do not take kindly to their city being called Palm Springs. Visitors can get away with saying "the Palm Springs area," but it is best to refer to each city by its actual name.