Q: Hi, I’m planning a spring break in California. We’d love to go to Palm Springs, but it turns out that the Coachella music festival takes place around the same dates. Can we still make it work? And do you think two teen boys (14 and 18) will like the California desert? ~ Thanks! MR
A: Hi MR! You’ve come to the right place if you want some encouragement to go to Palm Springs. My family and have visited pretty much every year for the last 7 or 8 years, and I can tell you the desert is full of surprises for kids of all ages. We love exploring the mountains and the desert, lounging by the pool, discovering all the Modernist architecture, and soaking up all the Cali sunshine. I think you and your family will have a great spring break.
First things first though: Coachella. This massive outdoor music festival is held in Indio on the polo fields (side note: if you ever visit during the winter, be sure to come to a Sunday polo match, which is a free, kid-friendly outing). It’s held over the course of two weekends, one of which in 2017 is Easter weekend, when lots of kids have spring break. It will be near impossible to get a room on the weekend, but during the week you should be able to book a room for a few nights. I’d look into staying in Rancho Mirage, which is the next town from Palm Springs in the valley; there’s a large resort Marriott that gets great reviews, and the Omni Rancho La Palmas features the Splashtopia water park, which I think your boys would like.
While you’re in the Palm Springs area, definitely get outdoors and explore the desert — I love Indian Canyons, which is just a 10 minute drive from the heart of the city, and offers groomed sand hiking trails that follow a stream with lots of fan palms for shade. Joshua Tree National Park is also worth a visit — it will take about an hour to drive to, but it’s worth the short trip to see the remarkable landscape that calls to mind Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax.
You can also leave the driving to someone else by booking a Desert Adventure with Red Jeep tours; my family took the open jeep trip out to the San Andreas fault a few years ago and loved the bumpy ride, soaring rock formations, and palm oases. Also, don’t miss a trip up the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to the top of the San Jacinto Mountains; it’s the world’s largest rotating tramcar and the views from the top are spectacular.
Since you won’t be spending the weekends in Palm Springs, how about starting or ending your trip in San Diego? My family often does this since airfare is way cheaper to one of those coastal hubs than going direct to the desert. We’ve got a great guide to Coronado Island, one of my favorite spots on the West Coast, on the blog.
Have a family travel question? Email Melissa at firstname.lastname@example.org