Our California Family Road Trip: Palm Springs
I still can’t believe that I am still writing about our trip to California. It was such an epic, incredible trip of a lifetime for us, but life/work/raising three children has got in the way and every time I have a spare five minutes I think to myself I must sit down and write about it. So here I am today, sat in a coffee shop determined to write all about our time in Palm Springs.
So my last post was all about our one night stopover in Newport Beach & Laguna Beach plus a brief visit to the iconic Cabazon Dinosaurs on the way into Palm Springs. Palm Springs was somewhere that we ABSOLUTELY had to visit on our trip. For a long long time now I have wanted to visit, a lot of my style is actually influenced by Palm Springs- the mid century interiors and architecture, the botanics (all the plants!) and just the general sunshine vibe.
Even though Palm Springs isn’t actually a traditional route on a California coast road trip, I just had to add it into our itinerary, even though it meant deviating slightly off course. I am so glad we did. From Newport beach it took us just under two hours to travel the just over 100 miles to Palm Springs. Our plan was to stay three nights which would give us just the amount of time to experience a taster of this amazing destination.
It was so exciting driving along the coast and then seeing the terrain change to mountainous and desert. We went to California in Spring so the weather was warm and pleasant but looking at our phones we saw that Palm Springs was in the late 20’s- perfect for a family who thrives on the hot weather. I couldn’t wait to get out my swimming costume and hit the pool.
Monday 10th April 2017
After stopping off at the iconic roadside destination the Cabazon Dinosaurs, you can read about that here, we arrived at our hotel late afternoon ready to explore Palm Springs. We were staying at the Hyatt Palm Springs, a fantastic family friendly hotel in the middle of the main strip. Palm Springs has so many stylish boutique hotels and inns, but because it is also a stylish getaway for a younger crowd (how old do I sound?!) we decided that we would play it safe by booking into a bigger hotel. We were so glad we did as the Hyatt was perfect for a family like ours.
It had a great pool which the girls couldn’t wait to get out in and splash about. It was late afternoon by this point though so we had to wait to get our cossies on. We decided to head out on foot and explore a bit. The hotel was in a great location on North Canyon Drive, one of the busier areas in town. Palm Springs is full of incredible and stylish places to eat, lovely boutique restaurants, and of course the more touristy restaurants too.
When we heard about Great Shakes we just had to make a trip there. Think any flavour shake under the sun and they had it. I went for birthday cake flavour which was delicious. There was a big queue coming out the door as this place is a bit of an institution in Palm Springs- but it was worth the wait.
Tuesday 11th April 2017
After a lovely nights sleep we woke up with an urge to enjoy the beautiful hot weather and just stay by the pool and do nothing else. As I mentioned above, we went to California in Spring so the weather along the coast was glorious sunshine but often on the cooler side- think t-shirts and jeans with the occasional cardigan or hoody on especially at night time. Palm Springs was in the late 20’s so perfect weather for a swim and it was nice to have a few days of heat.
We headed down to the hotel pool and spent the majority of the day splashing about and having a great time. Give my children a pool and they’ll be happy forever, they are such water babies.
Wren getting far too involved in the pool food service at the Hyatt.
After spending a few glorious hours at the pool we headed up for showers ready to head over to Joshua Tree National Park in the late afternoon. Joshua Tree is an hour or so outside of Palm Springs, heading way into the desert, but it is well worth a trip if you have the time- in fact it was one of the highlights of our trip for me. It’s characterised by some crazy rugged landscapes- boulders, cacti, strange looking trees… but it’s so much fun for kids. You can do full on hikes and all sorts, but we headed up there and had explored just at the entrance. It was so quiet, not another soul was there bar one family, and we stayed until it got dark.
Sitting there up on the rocks watching the sun go down, while the children were climbing around and having the best time was quite simply one of the highlights of my trip. It has been a dream to do a California Road Trip ever since I was a little girl and at some points I had to pinch myself that we were actually there. This was definitely one of those moments. (Although it got dark really quickly and then we panicked we were in the middle of a deserted desert on our own- it was like something out of a horror film!)
I definitely recommend going to Joshua Tree National Park if you have the chance- I hope I get to go back there at some point in my life. We drove the hour or so back to Palm Springs feeling content and happy, with three sleeping babies in the back of our mini van.
Wednesday 12th April 2017
We woke up with yet another day with no huge plans. We decided to head out for breakfast and then have a drive around. One of my favourite things to do is just drive and explore and see where we end up. That’s why I loved doing our road trip so much, while we had an itinerary which we kept to in terms of prebooked hotels, we also had lots of free time just to drive and see where we ended up.
I already knew that I wanted to seek out the famous Palm Springs pink door. A fine example of beautiful, stylish Palm Springs architecture, all you need to do is look up #thatpinkdoor on instagram and you will see if flooded with photos of this rather stunning pink door- it’s become a random iconic instagram destination in it’s own right. I’ve heard since we went that the owners (who have even appeared in interviews and the press about the gorgeous design of their home) have asked people to not randomly come and take photos of their door- they were having people going right up onto their property to take them. We didn’t do that, just safely from afar on the sidewalk.
We had a lovely drive around taking in all the amazing architecture. If I could make my Mum and Dad move to Palm Springs (cause it’s a bit too far away!) I would live there in a shot- it was one of the most amazing places I have ever been.
In the afternoon we headed to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Think a massive cable car that rises 2.5 miles/4 kilometers in one smooth ascent to 8,516 feet, where one minute you are in the blazing Californian sunshine and 10 minutes later (that’s all it takes) you are up on actual freezing snow covered mountains. It’s definitely an experience and not one for the faint hearted- even though it’s a slow and comfortable journey the tram spins to give you perfect views of all aspects of the journey up to the top of San Jacinto.
Snow on the mountains- ten minutes before we were in the blazing hot sunshine. Definitely make sure you pack a jumper if you are planning on heading on the tramway.
I definitely recommend a trip up on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. There’s lots of walks to explore up the top too, as well as a little museum, a restaurant and a little movie theatre showing documentaries. Plus the views are just spectacular.
Thursday 13th April 2017
We woke up and checked out of the Hyatt ready to start our journey to the last destination on our trip- San Diego. But first there was time for one last visit in Palm Springs- the Moorten Botanical Garden. If you have been reading this blog a while or follow me on social media you will know that I am MASSIVE indoor plant fan- so imagine my excitement when I realised there was a little spot in Palm Springs dedicated to every single cacti and succulent you could imagine. It costs $5 for adults to get in (free for children under 5), but it is well worth a visit if you are a fan of the prickly kind.
We spent a good hour wandering around and taking photos in this dreamy spot.
Then it was sadly time to say goodbye to Palm Springs- but not before we took a photo in front of the Welcome to Palm Springs sign. This photo brings back funny memories every time I look at it- it was SO windy and we almost blew off tying to climb on that wall- it doesn’t look that high but it was really high up. Then as we were getting down they turned the sprinklers on to water the grass in front of the sign, so we got soaked. It was really funny looking back, but at the time not so much so!
All in all we loved Palm Springs. Like I said at the start it was one of the places that I have always wanted to visit and it definitely didn’t disappoint. Palm Springs isn’t traditionally a family destination, but there’s loads to do for children. It’s a stylish and fun destination, and it is well worth a trip if you are embarking on a California Road Trip. I wish we had spent more time there and it is somewhere I would love to go back to explore further.
NEXT (AND FINAL STOP)… SAN DIEGO
To check out some more inspiration for travelling to California, check out Visit California. Thanks to them for helping us plan our trip.