Does the thought of a trip to the snow with your munchkins send shivers up your spine? Our SoCal beach babes are often not equipped for a day in the white stuff. Does anyone in your family really know how to put chains on the car? Not to mention that tiny tummies, windy roads, and long car trips are often a recipe for disaster. But…if you have ever wished you could step outside into a winter wonderland for an hour or two of snow ball fights and then wiggle your nose like Samantha and find yourself back in 75 degree Southern California sunshine, your wish has been answered. Almost. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway offers a fun and convenient way to take your little ones to see the snow. Stay for minutes or the whole day: mom and dad will enjoy the stunning panorama views, while the kiddos will marvel at scaling the mountainside at a good clip, passing from desert to frozen tundra over the course of ten minutes.
To the Tundra
A two-hour drive on the 10 will take you to the tramway. Once at the top, you enter Southern California’s version of an Alpine Lodge. The walk down to the snowy San Jacitinto park is a windy concrete pathway that can get icy. Wear good shoes and take it slow. A jogging stroller with rugged wheels might be a good choice if your tiny tot is still a little unsteady on his feet. Once you make it down the path you will find yourself in a little slice of winter paradise. Visitors are encouraged to bring sleds, discs, and snow shoes to take full advantage of the park. You can get up to the minute weather info and buy advance tickets on the website: www.pstramway.com.
The Early Bird Gets the Empty Tram
The sooner you arrive, the easier it is to park. As the lots close to the departure station fill up, cars are parked lower down the mountain and passengers are bussed up to the station. Being on the first tram is ideal. As it gets later in the day the lines for tickets and the tram get longer and longer. Plus, an early morning tram may only have a few passengers on it making for a much more comfortable ride to the top. Trams depart every fifteen to thirty minutes, depending on crowds, beginning at 8:00am on weekends and 10:00am on weekdays.
Baby, It’s Cold!
Bundle up! It may be warm and sunny at the bottom, but the change in temperature at the top can be a drop of up to 40 degrees. Ask other parents at school if they have snow gloves and gear you can borrow, or check local consignment shops. Here’s a link for some of the best kid’s resale and consignment in the area: Growing Kids: 5 Great LA Resale Stores. Most of the cold weather gear is hardly used. Remember, being in the snow with a cold, wet and cranky kiddo means nobody is having fun.
Mom, I’m Hungry
In the lodge there is a small café, The Pines, with snacks and pre-made sandwiches. They sell hot cocoa (made from packet) that, after a few hours in the cold, tastes heavenly in spite of its origins. There is also a more formal restaurant, The Peaks, in the lodge that even has a children’s menu.
You might want to make a weekend of it. Who wouldn’t want to tell their friends at school on Monday how they lounged at the pool on Saturday and built a snowman on Sunday? There are tons of family-friendly places to stay in the area along with a bunch of neat things to do. For more info on where to stay and what to do, check out, Kid Friendly Palm Springs. Make sure you go visit the giant Marilyn Monroe and give her toes a little tickle. On the way home, a quick stop at Hadley’s for their famous date shake and a little shopping at the Desert Hills Premium Outlets makes a Palm Springs weekend a win for everybody.
— Kate Felton
Photo Credits: Kate Felton