Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert – Rancho Mirage, CA

Stan R. April 16, 2012 No Comments

Childrens Discovery Museum Winding Walkway

Children's Discovery Museum Winding Walkway leading to second floor

In December of 2011, my wife and I took our two young kids to the Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert in Rancho Mirage, California. We were staying at the Marriott Desert Springs Villas in Palm Desert for a much needed getaway just two weeks before Christmas. We were told by a friend that the Children’s Discovery Museum would be the perfect outlet for our two year old son because of all the interactive exhibits. The fact that it was only a 10 minute drive from our Villa made it an easy decision.

The Museum

Rancho Mirage Children's Discovery Museum Baby Playing

Brain stimulating activities for all ages

The Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert was founded in 1986 and officially opened its doors to the public in 1990. This 18,000 square foot non-profit Museum is located in Rancho Mirage on a well manicured four acre desert site. The indoor facility itself has a very attractive, modern and colorful layout. There is a winding ascending walkway along one perimeter leading to the second floor, high windows providing ample natural light throughout, a uniquely shaped ceiling with sharp angles, and a variety of three dimensional geometric shapes found throughout the facility. All of the exhibits are interactive “hands-on” displays, and unlike many other museums, children are encouraged to touch and explore their various functions.

Our Experience

Children’s Discovery Museum Rancho Mirage Toddler Area

Enclosed toddler play area

We were among the first to enter the Children’s Discovery Museum on a Saturday morning a few minutes past 10am. We had our 9 month old daughter in a stroller when we walked up to the admission stand, but we soon learned that no strollers were allowed inside the exhibit area. Thankfully we had our Ergo baby carrier in the car. If your child is still crawling, I highly recommend bringing along a baby carrier because the no-stroller rule is non-negotiable! We found that although there was one enclosed area where we could let our daughter crawl around free, most of the facility is geared more towards children that can walk on their own.

Children's Discovery Museum Rancho Mirage Be an Archaeologist

Be an Archaeologist

After paying admission (see hours and rates below) and leaving our stroller in the lobby, we finally entered the museum. The first exhibit we encountered was the Archaeologist Field Station with a make-believe excavation site. There were a handful of woven safari hats, several boxes containing different unearthed artifacts, clipboards for the young archaeologists to take field notes, and tools like magnifying glasses, hand shovels and brushes appropriate for an excavation.

We found everything to be toddler and kid friendly so there were no sharp or other dangerous objects to be concerned about. While most of the kids were climbing up on the archaeological site and playing with the different tools, our son was busy grabbing safari hats one by one and trying them on. They were all way too big for his head so my wife and I had a good laugh watching him try to walk around with half of his head hidden beneath.

Rancho Mirage Children's Discovery Museum Magnetic Wall

This entire wall is a magnet where kids can play with metalic objects

Throughout the museum we found many unique exhibits designed to stimulate a young child’s mind from interactive scientific displays featuring magnets, pulleys, and large gears with cranks, to other more social exhibits like an arts and crafts room, a giant string-less harp with built in motion sensors used to play real music, and a large dressing area filled with a variety of hats and costumes.

Rancho Mirage Children's Discovery Museum Volkswagon Beetle

Young artist painting on a most unusual canvas!

Another very unique and popular exhibit was a full sized Volkswagen beetle in the center of a roped off section.  The car was completely covered in multiple colors of paint, and kids were lining up with their smocks and brushes to add their own designs.  A specific color is designated for each new day so that colors stay well defined and don’t mix together.

Other than the dressing room, we found the most popular exhibit among the kids was the make-believe grocery store. Everything you would find in a real grocery store was present including miniature metal frame shopping carts, shelves filled with canned goods, and an organized produce section filled with every fruit and vegetable imaginable. There were also check stands complete with uniforms, grocery bags and fake money.

Rancho Mirage Children's Discovery Museum Police Motorcycle

Our son sitting on a police motorcycle in front of the make-believe grocery store

One part of the store even had a pizza kitchen where children could add various toppings to pizza dough and slide it into an oven to bake.  It was fascinating to watch the children really embrace their various roles as employees and consumers in such a realistic way!

We spent about 2 hours at the facility and our son enjoyed every moment. No food was allowed inside, so we stopped at the gift shop just outside the museum to grab some snacks and souvenirs for the road. We had a great time at the facility and we will definitely return the next time we are in Palm Desert. It will be very interesting to see how our son interacts with the various exhibits as he gets older and is able to appreciate them more profoundly.

Hours and Admission

Rancho Mirage Children's Museum Crank and Gears

Our future engineer cranking gears

The Children’s Discovery Museum of the Desert is located at: 71701 Gerald Ford Drive, Rancho Mirage, California 92270. Admission as of 2012 is $8 per/person. Children under 2 are admitted free. Hours of operation are 10am through 5pm daily. They are closed on Mondays from May through December. There are many special events especially during the Holidays like the annual “Breakfast with Santa”, so be sure to check their website calendar.

Visit their official website at for more information.

avatarAbout the Author:

Stan is the proud father of three young children. He and his wife love to travel frequently to places near and far with their extended family.

Tags: , , , Reviews

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.