10 Spots to Explore in Palm Springs with Autism


Palm Springs, California is widely known as a laid-back golfing and retirement community. Therefore, it is not typically marketed towards families. However, there are some great places in Palm Springs to explore, particularly for travelers who have never been to the area.
Moreover, the city has many dining and lodging options to fit all budgets. From luxury properties with tropical-inspired pools and pampering spas to Palm Springs vacation homesthere’s a place for everyone.For those planning a visit, we have compiled a list of our top 10 spots that are perfect for families with autism.

sign for palm springs family visit
Photo Credit: Marc Cooper @Flickr

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway


The Palm Springs Ariel Tramway is an excellent way to see all of Palm Springs from a unique vantage point. The ride is approximately 10-15 minutes. You will ascend 2.5 miles in slowly rotating tramcars, while you take in the beautiful scenery of the Coachella Valley, cliffs over Chino Canyon, and the rugged terrain of Mt. San Jacinto State Park.Once at the top, you and your family can enjoy hours of hiking, snowshoeing, camping and visiting the winter adventure center. Also, there are two restaurants to grab a quick bite.

 1 Tram Way Palm Springs, CA 92262

Hours- Monday through Friday- Starting at 10 am

Saturday and Sunday and holiday- Starting at 8 am

Last tram down nightly at 9:45 pm

Autism Travel Tip

Parents should make sure to check out the weather when they plan on being here and dress accordingly. Temperatures can significantly differ from the bottom to the top. If your kid has sensory challenges, a make sure to pack at least a jacket.


palm springs aerial tramway
Photo Credit: Joe Wolf @ Flickr

Palm Springs Air Museum

Surprisingly at the Palm Springs Air Museum, most of the planes can still fly! The Palm Springs Air Museum is perfect for anyone interested in aviation, especially military airplanes. The best part is visitors can get up close and personal with aircraft that participated in World War II, Korea, and the Vietnam wars. The venue has a café and library for families that need to take a break. If you and your family are super adventurous, you can even take a ride in one of the warplanes for a fee.

745 N Gene Autry Trail, Palm Springs, CA 92262

Hours- 10 am to 5 pm, except Thanksgiving, Christmas, February 18, 2018.

Autism Travel Tip

The Palm Springs Air Museum is a treasure trove of sensory stimulation.Children with autism can touch the exhibits and walk onto the warplanes.

palm springs war planes
Photo Credit: SDASM Archives @Flickr

Coachella Valley Preserve

If a day of family hiking is on your bucket list of things to do, then head over to the Coachella Valley Preserve. Families can experience 25 miles of hiking trails, and some lead to a beautiful oasis. Surrounded by miles of scenic hiking terrain you are sure to come across some exciting wildlife along the way. Expect to see snakes, lizards, bobcats, coyotes, antelope ground squirrels, great horned owls, and black-throated sparrows just to name a few.Not to be missed is the famous Fan Palms as you make your way to the McCallum Pond.

29200 Thousand Palms Canyon Road, Thousand Palms, CA 92276

Hours- May 1 to September 30, 6 am to 8 pm

October 1 to April 30, 7 am to 5 pm

Autism Travel Tip

When you get into town, stop by the visitor’s center and grab a few travel guides to help you chose the best landmarks for your family. Due to the rugged terrain, closed shoes are a must-have here. Some of the hiking trails are easy, and some have hills, so fitting shoes are a must. Pack lots of water to stay hydrated since you will be hiking in desert conditions.Lastly, make sure to explain to all children not to touch the wildlife.

streets of palm springs
Photo Credit: Mike Linksvayer @Flickr

Ruddy’s General Store Museum

Visiting Ruddy’s General Store Museum is riding a time machine back to the 1930’s. Here you and your family can get a feeling of what life was like back then. The venue has over 6,000 items for your family to admire. Jim Ruddy, the owner, has worked for over 35 years to collect every piece in the collection for this comprehensive museum. Entry is only .95 cents for ages 12 and up.

221 S Palm Canyon Dr. Palm Springs, CA 92262

Hours- Thursday through Sunday 10 am to 4 pm

Autism Travel Tip

When you arrive, make sure to talk with Sally. She is a front desk staff member. She knows the history of Ruddy and his museum and is a valuable source of information about the area.

 10 Spots to Explore in Palm Springs with Autism pin

Statue of Lucille Ball

When walking around downtown Palm Springs, make sure you and your family stop to check out the statue of Lucille Ball of the ‘ I love Lucky’ fame. The figure is made of bronze and features Lucille sitting casually on a bench. Not only is this an excellent mini-history lesson for your kids, but it is also a perfect selfie opportunity for some pictures.

100 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, CA

Autism Travel Tip

Before heading to the Lucille Ball Statue, show your kids some re-runs of the Lucille Ball Show. Doing so will help your children see the similarities and differences of the statue once they see it in real life.

10 spots for autism windmills
Photo Credit: Henrique Pinto @Flickr

Windmill Farms Tours

At the Windmill Farms Tours, you and your family can take a bus ride to see the futuristic looking windmills. Visitors can reserve tour times, and learn about alternative energy. You can also learn about historical windmills, and how renewable energy is continuing to evolve and become better every day. The tours are typically between 1.5 and 2 hours long.

62950 20th Avenue, Palm Springs, CA 92262

Hours- Tours at 10 am and 1 pm

Autism Travel Tip

Attending the Windmill Farms Tour is an excellent opportunity to talk to your kids, especially those with autism about energy and recycling.

walk of fame palm springs
Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons

Palm Springs ‘Walk of Stars’

Unlike the ‘Hollywood Walk of  Fame,’ where celebrities have their stars, the Palm Springs ‘Walk of Stars’ is more of a  salute for entertainers who lived in Palm Springs. So, you might or might not recognize some of the names displayed. However, this shouldn’t stop you and your family from visiting. Be on the lookout for  Ole’ Blue Eyes Sinatra and  Liberace’s stars.
 Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA, 92262

Autism Travel Tip

The Palm Springs ‘Walk of Stars’  is an excellent opportunity to introduce some old time entertainers to your kids with autism. You can prepare the kids by watching youtube clips of the crooners.

10 spots to see in palm springs robolight art
Photo Credit; Joseph Y. @Yelp


Kenny Irwin Jr. gave a new meaning for the adage  “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” with his creation. He has turned his 4-acre property into a  giant masterpiece of artwork. The Palm Springs local collects trash from neighbors along with items found online and recycles them into a stunning light show for the Holidays. Turns out, he works 350 days a year, approximately 10-12 hours a day, to make his artwork know.Furthermore, he uses almost  8-million lights to light up his show.

1077 E Granvia Valmonte Palm Springs, California

Hours- 4:30 pm to 9:30 Pm Until January 3rd

Autism Travel Tip

Visiting Robolights is good for kids with autism because it shows them how artwork can be created from any items.A visit to Robolights might inspire your kids to start their art project.

palm springs brown mountains
Photo Credit: Leonardo Stabile@Flickr

Palm Springs Open Air Market

The Palm Springs Open Air Market is currently closed, but don’t worry, the organizers are looking for a new location according to their Facebook Page. I hope they find a new place soon since our son with autism loves to go there when we are in town.  We get a kick out of gawking at the antiques and odd items as well as eat at the gourmet street food stands. 

Watch for the new location and new hours.

Autism Travel Tip

Depending on the time of day, there may be substantial crowds. Crowds can quickly overwhelm a child with autism, so make sure to look for a quieter area for your children to relax if needed.

palm springs flea mart
Photo Credit; Wikipedia Commons


Joshua Tree National Park

Open year round the Joshua Tree National Park is a must do experience for everyone who explores Palm Springs. Families can go camping and learn about the settlers as well as the native Cahuilla Indians. Apart from the indigenous strange looking trees and plant be sure to watch for bighorn sheep and golden eagles that often wonder about.

 74485 National Park Drive Twentynine Palms, CA 92277-3597

Hours- Open 24 hours

Autism Travel Tip

The Joshua Tree National Park is the best place to experience the Palm Springs outdoor scene. Make sure to bring, sunscreen water, bug spray, and closed-toe shoes to use when you walk around. Advise your kids not to pick any flowers or take rocks since it is prohibited by law.

joshua tree plants
Photo Credit: Joe Wolf @Flickr

Ever been to Palm Springs California?     What was your favorite spot?







Margalit Sturm Francus on FacebookMargalit Sturm Francus on InstagramMargalit Sturm Francus on PinterestMargalit Sturm Francus on TwitterMargalit Sturm Francus on Youtube
Margalit Sturm Francus
A reformed dentist who gave up pulling teeth to show her son the world! Need tips on how to #travel with #autism? Follow me on Instagram & Facebook
Margalit Sturm Francus

Margalit Sturm Francus

A reformed dentist who gave up pulling teeth to show her son the world! Need tips on how to #travel with #autism? Follow me on Instagram & Facebook

One thought on “10 Spots to Explore in Palm Springs with Autism

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