Summer is drawing to a close, but there is still time for one last family getaway.
Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort and Spa
Located on 240 lushly landscaped acres in the heart of the desert, the Rancho Las Palmas feels like a relaxing oasis. Set against a backdrop of mountains and palm trees, the villas are inviting and offer plenty of space for large families to makes themselves at home. With patios overlooking a perfectly manicured golf course or a tropical garden bordering one of the resort’s many pools, the property is a sprawling complex where service soars.
Five restaurants offer options for every taste, while multiple pools dot the property. Splashtopia, a two acre water playground, features a 450-foot lazy river, two 100-foot water slides, cliff-side Jacuzzi, sandy beach and fountains and sprinklers. When it is time for mom to get some me-time, head to the 20,000sq ft spa and adult only pool. Desert botanicals are used to enhance traditional treatment (we highly recommend Stephanie and the CocoMango Massage).
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
If you need to beat the heat, hop on the world’s largest rotating tram car for a two-and-one-half mile trip up the breathtaking cliffs of Chino Canyon. Bring your hiking boots and venture into the pristine wilderness of Mt. San Jacinto State Park. Towering trees, fern and mossed-lined trails (50 miles worth) and a 40 degree drop in temperature await on top of the mountain. During the ten-minute journey, tram cars rotate slowly, offering picturesque and spectacular vistas of the valley floor below. The Mountain Station at an elevation of 8,516 feet offers restaurants, observation decks, a natural history museum and two documentary theaters.
Adventure Hummer Tours of Palm Springs
From the moment the tricked out Hummer jalopy pulls up to the front desk, you’ll be enjoying looks of envy from your fellow guests. The entertaining and exciting tour combines educational elements, as you embark on a short eco walk through 1,000 Palms Oasis, the world’s third largest, and learn how to spot the famous San Andreas Fault. The tour continues into the back entrance of Joshua Tree National Park for a unique experience so memorable, it was featured on the Discovery Channel. Take the three hour adventure early in the morning or at last light for beautiful views.
Omni La Costa Resort & Spa
A short drive south of OC brings you to a beautiful property tucked in the hills of Carlsbad. Luxury exudes from the lovely landscaping and 600 nicely appointed rooms, suites and villas. The environment is so upscale, you might be concerned kids might not be welcomed. Quite to the contrary, upon check-in, little visitors receive a backpack filled with fun items designed specifically for them.
Endless complimentary activities are refreshed weekly and include seasonal highlights, while others offer unique experiences for a surcharge. Some of our favorites are the Nighttime S’more Roasting, Dive in Movies, Surf Camp, Vibz Game Lounge, Kidtopia Kids Club, Kids Fitness Boot Camp and a Sport Court. Even teens are included in the well thought out schedule. If your mini-me wants to hit the clay court or play a round like their parents, lessons and workshops are available and staged by age.
Take advantage of the beach shuttle to avoid parking hassles and schlepping sandy shore gear miles along the road to set up camp. No need to fill the car with boogie boards, skim boards, beach chairs, towels and toys – the concierge will happily lend your crew what they need for a lovely day at popular Moonlight Beach.
For a splash of fun, dive into one of eight swimming areas, including a family-friendly tiered set of pools featuring waterslides, splash pads and poolside smoothies, sandwiches, salads and snacks. Nearby Kidtopia Kids Club offers a welcome AC arts, crafts and games break during super sunny afternoons.
If mom and dad need a little alone time, the Edge adult pool offers panoramic views of the championship golf courses or visit the onsite expansive Spa at La Costa. The Chopra Center offers a wide variety of workshops, yoga classes and retreats, plus meditation sessions that are complimentary for resort guests, combining the healing arts of the East with the best in modern Western medicine.
For our Palm Desert and San Diego escapes, we road-tested the latest Escalade for a week to see how it works as a road trip. (As a note, I drive a Caddy, so am already a fan of the brand so when we were on the search for a vehicle big enough to comfortably handle our crew, the Escalade was an obvious choice.)
The vehicle was large, but not inconveniently so. The key fob opened the back for us and a press of a button made the third row collapse to provide a ton of flat storage space for our bags and golf clubs. One of the biggest surprises was the gas mileage. The computer system on the dash lets you know your current average mpg so you can adjust your driving style to be more efficient. I was floored to see my overall average was 22mpg and that at my peak, I hit 28mpg. That is equal to my much smaller, much lighter sedan.
The first thing the kids noticed were the screens in the back of the seats to use with Apple Car Play. They were able to charge their phones, and connect to the in-car Wifi for their gaming (to save my data plan). They also loved the fact that a dropdown screen in the middle of the car allowed them to take the reins of the radio, and stay on top of what song was playing (which solved several arguments over which artist sang which song).
Leaving LA, we hit a Walgreens Redbox and they enjoyed a movie all the way through rush hour traffic toward Palm Springs, with nary a whine coming from the back. Their included headphones let me listen to my own choice of stations, while they randomly erupted into laughter from the movie. Once we got to the resort, we just dropped the movie off at the local box – a strategy we used several other times during the week.
While the entertainment tech wow’d the kids, a different sort of advanced system won me over. The driving safety elements were simply incredible. It took about three seconds to realize how handy the 360 camera system would be, as it gave a picture perfect view of every side of the car to get me in and out of a tight parking spot – something I had concerns about not being used to such a large vehicle. When I got too close to a neighboring car, the flashing warning was not only visible, but a little buzz in the seat below physically alerted me. (Later in the week, this was a literal lifesaver as a texting skateboarder flew past inches behind my already reversing car in the Pacific City parking lot.)
I have always stressed while navigating the busy SoCal highways, but a little icon on the side mirrors that alerts the driver to cars whipping into their blind spot helped me relax. What took that one step further was the massagers incorporated into the car seats. I used the “anti-fatigue” setting on the long late night trip back from the desert. When the kids noticed, I suddenly had company in the front seat as they took turns every drive to get massaged and to make use of the incorporated seat fans to instantly chill out.