BONJOUR WORLD: Get that Palm Springs state of mind
When I lived in Los Angeles, Palm Springs was always that weekend getaway where you could relax and unwind. On my recent trip I found that Palm Springs is still a stress reliever with a choice of options for activities that include spa, gastronomy delights and plenty of action if that is what you are looking to do.
However, let’s do a lesson in geography here since Palm Springs is not just Palm Springs. Nope, it is Palm Springs and more, surrounded by Palm Desert, Coachella, Cathedral City, Desert Hot Springs, Rancho Mirage, La Quinta, Indio and India Wells.
Okay, first, close your eyes and let’s get into the Palm Springs vibe. Hideaway for the happily famous, golf, spas and a pretty impressive film festival too.
Palm Desert, 350 days of sunshine and plenty of hiking, biking and golfing, you get the picture.
Coachella, this is the one place that just about everyone has heard of these days as in the Coachella Valley Music and Art Festival. It’s young, fun and offers a lot of history at the same time.
Cathedral City, more shopping, more art, more spa, more ah.
Desert Hot Springs with three dozen health spas, but hipster cool while at the same time exclusive. The healing waters are the draw here so take some time to heal at the thermal springs
Now you are ready to think about the entire picture when I say, “Palm Springs.”
The morning I landed in Palm Springs a car awaited and I headed off to my first adventure, which was the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. While in the Valley Station before heading up top take the time to check out the historical display panels featuring Chino Canyon. On the tram you climb 2.5 miles in 10 minutes to experience sweeping views in a rotating tram-car. At the top it is 8,516 feet and then you can take a hike in the nearby San Jacinto State Park or in the winter you can snowshoe. While up top, find the designated selfie spot overlooking the Coachella Valley.
At one point I recommend heading to the BMW Performance Center in Thermal. Translated, you get to drive cool BMWs on a track. A short lesson and then get in, get ready and all systems go. Choose your badass BMW and take her for a spin. I did. At the BMW Performance Driving School, the team of expert drivers take you through the paces but allow you to test your driving skills every which way you can.
For art lovers I recommend the Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture + Design Center and the Heather James Fine Art.
For the more boho art lover head over to Coachella. The Coachella Art Walk is a must. Self-guided, there are a variety of cool murals to discover. My favorites were The Band and Ojo De Aguila. There are eight murals to seek and find and each one offers a good conversation.
Another Coachella factoid is this town is home to some of the area’s best authentic Mexican food. Along with the towns of Indio, Thermal and Mecca, Coachella produces 95% of the dates in this country as well.
It is here you want to fast forward to Shield’s Date Garden in Indio. It was in 2011, according to the folks at the Palm Springs CVB, who told me the garden was contacted with the opportunity to have a number of biblical garden statues that had been located in Vancouver, Canada moved to the area. The Shield’s horticulture and landscape team began construction and the Garden was open in 2013. The garden path takes you through 17 acres on the date farm with 14 scenes and includes 23 statues that outline the life of Christ.
Another must while in the area is a jeep tour. Because you really can’t leave without doing a jeep tour. I did the San Andreas Fault Jeep Tour with Desert Adventures Eco-Tours. It was a good morning of learning about the history and the landscape and just taking in the views. In fact, these guys take you off the beaten path in a cool jeep and you get to experience some of the backroads of the area while thinking about the mighty San Andreas Fault Line that is always on your mind. There is nothing like nature here and if you don’t “wow” at the Painted Canyon then you aren’t breathing – seriously.
Where to eat
Here are few suggestions where I took my meals and you won’t be sorry when you stop in for a bite.
707 N Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs
Indian Wells Golf Resort, VUE Grill and Bar
44-500 Indian Wells Lane, Indian Wells
We had our fill of drinks and food at VUE, let me just mention first and foremost, save room for the Signature House Made Sticky Coachella Date Cake. Don’t ask questions just do it. Otherwise, I am thinking you should start with the Bacon Mac and Cheese, Bourbon Buffalo Wings oh, and then you need an entrée, right? Try the sushi options, but the signature dishes are the Be Together Prime Tomahawk Ribeye, the Kentucky Bourbon Chicken or the Whiskey Pig, heck try it all.
Wilma and Freida’s
73575 El Paseo, Palm Desert
Breakfast lunch, comfort food, outdoor shopping nearby so its home-style good eats that you are probably craving. Stop in here for just the right menu. Go for the blueberry French toast and get decadent, you deserve it.
Chi Chi at Avalon Hotel and Bungalows
415 South Belardo Road, Palm Springs
Definitely a Palm Springs vibe and after lunch have a massage – it’s the best.
Where to stay
Miramonte Resort and Spa
45000 Indian Wells Lane, Indian Wells
An award-winning resort located in Indian Wells there are 215 guestrooms, dining, pools, a spa and golf. With a Mediterranean village-like theme the resort sits on 11 acres with gardens and architecture that creates a romantic feel as you dream the day away and wonder what do to next.
Colony Palms Hotel
572 N Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs
Cool little hipster hideaway that bespeaks old Hollywood, big sunglasses and lazy days with martinis by the pool. At least for one dinner enjoy the Purple Palms because the vibe is right and the food is good.