Ace is the Place – Accomodations and Attractions Palm Springs

Genie Davis April 30, 2012 No Comments

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We’ve taken many fun trips to Palm Springs over the years. For the pools, the sun, the windmill tours – it’s a beautiful small town nestled in the desert foothills, with a lot of style.

One of the new stylish additions to Palm Springs, and surprisingly child-friendly, is the Ace Hotel and Swim Club located in the southern end of town. This is the least windy enclave in town, which makes an afternoon at the pool perfectly pleasant, regardless of the time of year you visit.

Where to Stay and Splash

Ace Hotel & Swim Club is a quirky and cool update from a former Howard Johnson’s motel. From the outside, it may look as if little has changed – it’s just a two story beige motel. But with rooms a comparative bargain in this vacation mecca, we weren’t expecting all that much. It’s once you check in that you see how much fun this stay is going to be. The rooms are ample in size, and each of them unique. A night table shaped from a tree trunk? Vintage issues of old magazines? A canvas “tent” over the bed? All this and more. My kids were especially taken by the fake animal skin runs tossed across a springy dark cork floor.

Ace Hotel Pool, Palm Springs

The pool area of the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs

The hotel also offers adjoining suites with private patios, and something called a “king lounge room” – besides the king bed, there are two twins with curtains to separate them from the king. Nice choice for a small family. We also enjoyed the all day breakfast available at the hotel’s restaurant, once a Denny’s, now an organically sourced roadhouse.

Where to Explore

When you can lure the kids away from the pool, Indian Canyons oasis is also on the south end of Palm Springs, and it’s a fantastic destination for kids of all ages. Fan palms and gurgling streams and hiking trails are easy enough for the little ones and interesting enough for adults and bigger kids.

There are four separate canyons to explore, depending on your children’s ages and stamina. No matter which trail you choose, do make a stop at Palm Canyon’s trading post and watch humming birds in the garden and succumb to the demands – I did – for a retro souvenir, although you may regret a purchase like mine of a toy tom-tom drum. The trail leads into a shady oasis, with lizards to watch and great views of the surrounding hills and rocky crags. The lush palms and a variety of springs will keep things cool. Older kids will enjoy Murray Canyon, a two mile trail that serves up a rocky path to a small water fall.

Giraffes at the Living Desert in Palm Desert

Feed the Giraffes at the Living Desert in Palm Desert

If you’d rather your nature a bit more contained, you’ll enjoy the Living Desert museum in Palm Desert about half an hour from the Ace. An easy to stroll nature trail offers mountain views and glimpses of plant and animal life. It’s a combination botanical habitat and zoo, with a mellow, out-in-nature vibe. And little kids will love the play park area, replete with a cactus shaped slide. You can’t find that at home in your neighborhood parkette!

Or, for something completely different, make a stop at the fascinating miniature world of nearby Cathedral City’s Big League Dreams Sports Park. Here, in small sized replicas of famous baseball parks like Wrigley Field, you’ll find batting cages to hit some balls as well as a look at America’s Favorite Sport in different settings.

Indian Canyons in Palm Springs

A view of Indian Canyons in Palm Springs

If your kids aren’t up to try a home run, how about a home flight? Potential pilots and air passengers alike will love the Palm Springs Air Museum, a well run attraction featuring a variety of restored planes, most from the World War II era. The museum is next to the airport, and houses most of its displayed planes in large air conditioned buildings, although some are outside.

The museum has a variety of hangars dedicated to Army, Navy, and B-17s.  There’s also some fascinating WWII memorabilia such as period cars, military uniforms and a USO stage.  My kids loved walking through the massive Flying Fortress bomber. Possibly best of all was the chance for them to chat with docents, some of whom had first hand experience of the World War. Small children under age five are free, another plus.

Lunchtime

There’s Norma’s, which also offers a great blueberry pancake breakfast served on a patio made comfortable with misters, and conveniently located in downtown Palm Springs.

Sherman’s Deli in Palm Desert has salads and potato pancakes as well as classic sandwiches, including some that can be made vegan. If it’s close to dinner time, try the cushy but welcoming

Palm Desert spot Villa Abbate, with terrific homemade marinara sauce that pleased the whole family, served over spaghetti. We found the service impeccable, and kids welcomed. Alternatively, the Mexican fare served al fresco at Las Casueles in downtown Palm Springs never disappoints. An added pleasure are local cover bands playing nightly under the stars.

Small children dancing along never seems to be frowned upon.

And if it’s not too late, you can finish the evening with a dip in the Ace pool before heading off to a good night’s sleep in a stylish and fun room.

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Genie Davis is a multi-published fiction author, screen and TV writer, and travel writer. If it was possible, she'd like to spend every day traveling. www.geniedavis.com

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