(This arti­cle may or may not con­tain affil­i­ate links. What does that mean?)


Are we there yet? No, not yet. 

Upon re-con­firm­ing the actu­al address of our des­ti­na­tion, which turns out was not Palm Springs, our fam­i­ly learned we were 100 miles far­ther than where we expect­ed to be at that point.  We were, in fact, far from “there”. 

After we let the pan­ic of the extra dis­tance to Bor­rego Springs wash over us, downed some salty, crunchy road snacks, and shushed the chil­dren, we eval­u­at­ed our options. At 85 miles south of Palm Springs it turned out Bor­rego Springs was not quite as “on the way”  to Phoenix as we expected. 

We chose Bor­rego Springs, and more specif­i­cal­ly, the quirky old-west­ern-town-themed Palm Canyon Hotel & RV Resort, as a one-night stopover to break up our road trip. 



Palm Canyon Hotel in Borrego Springs

THIS is what “here” would look like



We enter­tained scrap­ping the plans and just dri­ving straight through to Phoenix. But alas, with time on our side (as it rarely is), we pressed on with the orig­i­nal plans that ulti­mate­ly brought us past the San Diego coun­ty line — and clos­er to a grander adven­ture than we ever imagined.

We drove past the sto­ried Salton Sea and through the rolling & rut­ted desert land­scape of Anza-Bor­rego State Park, where ATV enthu­si­asts have that mag­i­cal way of mak­ing per­fect cir­cles with their tricked-out RVs in the mid­dle of nowhere. The scene makes get­ting dirty look quite opulent.






BORREGO springs for family fun with kids!



Arriving at Borrego Springs


Fun places to stay in the desert



There is no civ­i­liza­tion for miles, then sud­den­ly there it is! Radi­a­tor Springs!  Wait no, not Radi­a­tor Springs, it’s Bor­rego Springs, but it feels like it’s straight out of the movie Cars. A very large and charm­ing round­about wel­comed vis­i­tors, fol­lowed by restau­rants, shops, and art gal­leries that line the main thor­ough­fare.  Then, as you trav­el along Route 22, a small col­lec­tion of quaint inns ulti­mate­ly bring you to Palm Canyon, the heart of the hik­ing scene in Anza-Bor­rego State Park. 



Hiking Treasures

What could pos­si­bly beck­on adven­ture-seek­ing hik­ing enthu­si­asts more than a 5‑mile roundtrip trail named Hell­hole Canyon?  It turns out the Palm Canyon trail is more the crown jew­el of the area, but both trails have the poten­tial to fea­ture a desert “oasis” expe­ri­ence com­plete with a water trick­le – so long as you don’t go in the dead heat of summer. 



Desert Hiking in Palm Canyon BORREGO springs for family fun with kids!



Best Times To Go


Anoth­er inter­est­ing fea­ture about Bor­rego Springs is that it is one of just a hand­ful of towns (29 at press time) that are part of the Inter­na­tion­al Dark-Sky com­mu­ni­ty.  You will not find stop­lights or street­lights in this town that is home to less than 3,000 full-time res­i­dents.  So if you appre­ci­ate the Milky Way (and not just the snack­ing kind), plan your vis­it when it’s dark­est, dur­ing the new moon, for opti­mal star­ry sky view­ing.  Or if you enjoy the dra­ma of night­time adven­ture, per­haps vis­it­ing dur­ing the full moon is the way to go.  As with most desert trips, the spring and fall are the best times to visit.



Galleta Meadows Estate


desert art in borrego springs grasshopper



Then there are the spec­tac­u­lar desert sculp­tures of Gal­leta Mead­ows Estate. This I must say was the high­light.  But first a con­fes­sion: I had seen images and had once-upon-a-time said I’d love to see them, but nev­er took the next steps to find out exact­ly where they were.  So behold! 

Because I was so excit­ed to see these sculp­tures in Gal­leta Mead­ows, we first drove by them at night.  This is a col­lec­tion of 130 mas­sive met­al sculp­tures that are dot­ted across sev­er­al acres of unde­vel­oped land, where smooth dirt roads sweep in and around.  If you’ve ever been on an African safari, it is that thrilling feel­ing of “there’s one!” each time you see a new crea­ture where you’d least expect it. Espe­cial­ly when it is dark.  Even the kids agreed it was F‑U-N!




So nat­u­ral­ly, we returned in the morn­ing light.  The sus­pense had dis­si­pat­ed but the awe was still there.  These struc­tures, espe­cial­ly the 350-foot ser­pent sculp­ture, are dra­mat­ic and imag­i­na­tive, and tru­ly dia­monds in the South­ern Cal­i­for­nia desert rough.




Dueling critters in Borrego Springs family fun at borrego springs, california fun things to do with kids

Don’t make me come between you two!!!



Galleta meadows desert sculpture



In this very town that I expect­ed not much more from than to say that “we hiked through hell and back” and then slept at a place with a whole lot of char­ac­ter, I now get to acci­den­tal­ly check some­thing off my “some­day” list AND the kids get to actu­al­ly enjoy see­ing art!  Mama is feel­ing victorious.


Desert art in Borrego Springs

That’s right road trip! Take that!



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When You Go


Getting There



From Los Ange­les, it’s approx­i­mate­ly 150 miles south­east. Use the inter­ac­tive map above to get your exact route.


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Where to Eat


All that “cul­ture col­lect­ing” had us work­ing up an appetite, and for a town this size there is a sur­pris­ing num­ber of decent eater­ies in Bor­rego Springs.  Before mak­ing our way back to high­way 10 east, we enjoyed a tasty break­fast al fres­co at an adorable café called Red Ocotil­lo.  Across the way, ven­dors were set­ting up for a farmer’s mar­ket in that love­ly swath of a round­about, the pulse of the town.  There we sat in the shade of a tree, eat­ing break­fast bur­ri­tos and crab cake bene­dict, rehash­ing the events of the pre­vi­ous day.  Which sculp­tures we liked best.  Curiosi­ties about the con­stel­la­tions we saw. And how it was a good thing we got back from our hike before dark — because we may have found our­selves off the path a time or two — and the wilds of the desert cer­tain­ly seemed to come alive at night.



To that point, in the end, that is what made our trip most mem­o­rable: it was not quite the “path” we expect­ed to be on but we were so hap­py we found it.  After all, the more flex­i­ble and open to adven­ture you can be, espe­cial­ly when trav­el­ing as a fam­i­ly, the more mem­o­ries you’ll make and resilience you’ll build along the way.

Whether you are com­ing from the greater San Diego or Los Ange­les areas or beyond, Bor­rego Springs is an easy and fun get­away for fam­i­lies, cou­ples or friends alike.    The mod­est mix of out­door activ­i­ties,  pool­side relax­ation, and that great desert art scene pro­vides some­thing fun for every­one to enjoy.

Were we real­ly only there less than 24 hours?




BORREGO springs for family fun with kids!



Hei­di Creed, MBA, CTC is the VP of Mar­ket­ing & Client Expe­ri­ence at Town & Coun­try Trav­el, a bou­tique trav­el agency in Thou­sand Oaks, Ca. She believes that more than any­thing trav­el is about expe­ri­ence col­lect­ing and deep con­nec­tions with the places you vis­it. Feel free to reach out heidi@countrytravel.com