One of the best things about Southern California is that you have a little bit of every type of terrain at your fingertips:  the ocean, mountains, valley and desert – which is the next stop on my “Farewell to Orange County” tour.  My daughters and I spent the weekend at Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa, a desert escape that has undergone a $35 million renovation to attract more families.

This hacienda-style resort offers enough self-contained amusement for everyone in the family:  a 27-hole golf course with six lakes, 25 tennis courts, a HUGE spa and fitness center, four pools, two restaurants, a bar, poolside food and beverages and – best of all – SPLASHTOPIA!

Too much fun!

Splashtopia is why so many families are flocking to Las Palmas for a quickie.  Imagine a smaller version of your favorite water park, right outside your hotel room. At this 1.2-acre aquatic playground, the only language spoken is squealing, as kids (and adults!) barrel down two 100-foot water slides.  Snaking around all the delightful chaos is a cool and calming Lazy River.

For parents who would rather read and relax than enjoy a good scream, a tranquility pool is a short scurry away.  And if you truly value your alone time, you can rent a private cabana for a few choice bucks, where personal waiters will fuss over you all day (and probably feed you grapes if you ask).

Hungry, anyone?

After working up a hunger doing, well, NOTHING, you can either dine casually at Palms Café on breakfast foods, brick-oven pizza, sandwiches and Starbuck’s coffee; or enjoy a meal at bluEmber, the resort’s signature restaurant, which serves up delectable, A-list wines and chef-prepared dishes.

If you MUST work out …

The resort has well-equipped fitness center with state-of-the-art treadmills, steppers, bikes and the like. Or, take a morning walk on the scenic fitness trails before it gets too hot.

For information on weekday and weekend rates, go to

Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa
41-000 Bob Hope Drive
Rancho Mirage, CA  92270
760.568.2727; 866.423.1195