One of the best air museums in the country is found in sunny southern California. The Palm Springs Air Museum in Palm Springs, is a very family-friendly, well-done, and enjoyable stop for all ages!
Focusing on the WWII aircraft, the museum’s knowledgeable staff loves to share about this era in our history. With nearly 40 docents, 70% of whom are retired veterans, there is always someone around to answer questions and share stories from WWII.
The fun begins while you are still outside – there are several aircraft on display that make for great photo ops.
The museum is comprised of a lobby, and 3 indoor hangars: the European Theater hangar, the Pacific Theater, and the B-17 hangar. A fourth is in the process of being built as the museum expands.
In front of the Craven’s Hangar, you will find military displays that you can examine – our boys especially love these kinds of exhibits.
The museum has at least 4 large, gorgeous murals, including one that greets you as you enter the main doors.
To your left is the ticket counter, and a gift shop with quite a collection of military and aircraft collectibles.
The Palm Springs Air Museum’s 65,000 square foot facility is brimming with hands-on and static displays, including 46 vintage aircraft, most of which have been restored and are still flown today. One of their aircraft, an SBD Dauntless, was submerged under Lake Michigan for 50 years before being pulled up and restored. The Dauntless is the only aircraft in their Pacific Theater hanger that is not air worthy.
During our visit, there was a friendly volunteer stationed near their rare P-47 Thunderbolt. He told the kids all about the museum, details about many of the aircraft, and just general facts about World War II.
The museum is very family friendly. They have a kid’s area, a cute cafe’, and several hands-on exhibits. They even have a great sense of humor.
The hangars are filled with aircraft, signs, photos and pictures, displays of models and war memorabilia, and even actual war footage being played on monitors.
There are several murals scattered throughout the hangars, like this one honoring the Tuskegee Airmen…
The guys’ favorites were all the restored aircraft, like this F4U Corsair, and talking with the veterans.
The little girls’ favorites were watching the monitors, playing in the museum’s children’s area, and going upstairs to the library, where you can use their flight simulation programs on the computers they have set up there.
Caleb’s favorite was the kid’s area, of course!
A display in the South/Pacific Hangar…
While the primary focus of the Palm Springs Air Museum is on aircraft, there is also quite a bit of information on the aircraft carriers and battleships that they served alongside…
We were excited to find a penny pressing machine here! It is located between the Freedom Fighters Cafe’, where you can purchase various sandwiches ($5.75 to $8), chips and drinks…, and the Kool Kids area. One more pressed penny added to their collections! I suppose that we should get Caleb a book like the other kids have – he has quite a little collection of pressed pennies, from across the country, that we have stashed away for him in a nightstand drawer.
In the Kool Kids area, children can play in the simulator of a Grumman OV-1 Mohawk, do paper crafts, play in an old firetruck, go on the air in a mock radio station, and direct air traffic from a control tower.
The Palm Springs Air Museum is continually growing and improving! During our visit, they were gearing up to unveil this restored P51 Mustang, which is now housed in one of their indoor hangars.
Besides the 3 indoor hangars, there are additional aircraft outside.
The air museum is located adjacent to the Palm Springs Airport, which adds to the atmosphere as visitor’s can see and hear the planes flying in and out of the airport. WWII era music being piped into the hangars doesn’t hurt the aura either!
The kids really enjoyed getting to test out this transport plane (which does NOT fly, for obvious reasons…)…
We were pleasantly surprised with our visit to the Palm Springs Air Museum! We had not heard of it before visiting Palm Springs, so we were extra pleased when it ended up being one of the best air museums that we have visited in our cross-country travels!
Here are our tips for visiting the Palm Springs Air Museum:
*Call ahead to find out about any special programs that may be offered during your time in Palm Springs, and plan accordingly. They generally have a program every Saturday at 1, but call to confirm and find out if they are offering any additional if that is of interest to you.
*Plan for, and tour around, the weather. Palm Springs can get very hot! Since some of the aircraft are outside, if you are visiting during the hot season, check them out during the coolest part of the day (generally morning, so head outside first!)
*Between the Pacific and the European Theaters is another theater – a movie theater! On your way into the displays, be sure to note the film schedule posted outside the door to see if any interest you – they play different footage/film throughout the day.
*No signs, but if you head upstairs to the library (R at the top of the stairs) there are computers loaded with flight simulation programs that you can practice flying on. Not games, but practice programs. My kids really enjoyed this part of the museum, in fact, it was Joel, Emma’s, and Savanna’s favorite part of the museum.
*Choose comfy shoes! The museum is all concrete, and you will want to visit the whole thing. There are numerous places to sit down and rest your feet tho, the choicest being at the cafe’ where you can also pick up refreshments.
*Don’t forget your quarters and penny for your pressed penny souvenir. There are also some fun offerings in the gift shop, but, unfortunately, no bumper stickers (too bad for us!).
*Write down any questions and take them with you so you don’t forget to ask! The staff and docents at this museum were so knowledgeable, and answered several of the boys’ questions.
*Take your camera – our kids were so happy to get their picture taken with the P-47 Thunderbolt since it was the first one we’ve ever seen in an air museum! #WWIIgeeks
Check it out! It’s a great family-friendly stop in Palm Springs. You can find out more about the Palm Springs Air Museum on their website at PalmSpringsAirMuseum.org.