Author: Andrew Schaeffer

I’m not an outdoorsy guy. I’m in my element when I’m lounging on the couch binging something on Netflix. But, I needed to change that habit and get out and get moving—and what better way to do so than by going somewhere with plenty of outdoor activities?

Travel/Food Writer Linda Milks with Bella and Catie on a dog-friendly Palm Springs vacation.

Palm Springs is a well-known doggie haven. Many hotels, restaurants, and shops happily welcome and even indulge our four-legged friends. So when we recently had an opportunity to explore Palm Springs with our dogs, we were excited. Bella (Linda Milks’ feisty white Maltese/Lhasa Apso) and Catie (Sue and Todd Montgomery’s friendly black Cocker Spaniel) were equally enthusiastic. While they are both “senior” dogs, they still love to travel — mainly because they love all the snacks along the way.

CATIE:  I love traveling with my Mom and Dad. I was so worried when I saw them put their suitcases in the car. I thought they were going to leave me behind, but “bow wowsy”—  they put me in the car and I got to go too.  I was even more excited when my doggy pal, Bella, hopped in the backseat.

BELLA:  I usually get left at home when Mom goes on a trip, but it didn’t happen this time. I was so happy to see you, Catie. I heard we were going to some wonderful small hotels in Palm Springs, and when we pulled up to Talavera, I knew this was going to be great. When we opened the door, there was my very own guest dog bed and some tasty treats. The bathroom was huge so that’s where my Mom put the special dog bowls they set out for me. I could look out the door to the hot tub in the back area that was all enclosed with a bamboo fence, making it my own private playground.

Bella settling in for her stay at the Talavera, a dog-friendly boutique hotel in Palm Springs.

This hotel is small and the rooms are all very private. There was only one other room next to the pool. They left their door open, so, of course, I went exploring to see just who they were. I guess they like dogs because they wanted to pet me. (I do like attention!)

Katie with her own welcome sign at Avanti in Palm Springs

CATIE: I was thrilled that our hotel, Avanti Palm Springs, was so welcoming to me. There was even a sign at the front door with my name on it. The setting was quiet and nicely landscaped with a lovely pool and hot tub. My Dad walked me all over and I felt right at home. Our room was stylish (yes, I may be a dog, but I still like style) and comfort. We even had a kitchen where Dad could concoct snacks for me.

 

The pool at AVANTI in Palm Springs

BELLA:  Now let’s talk about the yummy food we ate in Palm Springs.

Swordfish Tacos at Azucar is an ideal lunch.

CATIE: Yep, we went to so many great restaurants and sat on their outside patios. Everywhere we went there were water bowls and lots of snacks.  Our first lunch was at Azucar, a welcoming place with inventive cuisine (as my Mom, the food writer, would say). This restaurant is located at La Serena Villas, a luxurious boutique hotel. Mom and Dad and Linda had drinks and delicious appetizers and swordfish tacos. (I know they were delicious because I got some too.)

Cioppino at Jakes, one of dog-friendliest,locally-owned restaurants in Palm Springs.

BELLA: Catie, did you know that the first night’s restaurant, Jake’s, was named after the owners’ dog? Do you think we will ever get a restaurant named after us? Bruce and Chris, the owners, were so nice to us, and I loved meeting their new dog, Jackson. But more than that, I loved the bites we got from that giant meatball your Dad ordered. The shrimp that our Moms gave us was pretty tasty, too. I didn’t think my mom could finish that big bowl of Cioppino, but she did. Maybe it’s because we helped her.

Copely’s local- owned and pup-friendly restaurant is a Palm Springs favorite.

CATIE: Bella, have you ever eaten at a five-star restaurant?  Well, Copley’s was a first for me. And we were both treated like the princesses we are. The setting was magical, and I loved sampling some of our humans’ fabulous fare, such as Dad’s Mizo Glazed Scottish Salmon and Linda’s Slow Roasted Duck Breast. I was especially impressed to learn that this chic, historic site was Cary Grant’s guesthouse during the 1940s. (I know about Cary Grant because I always love watching him with Audrey Hepburn in “Charade.”)

The epic margarita flight at Tac/Quila in Palm Springs

BELLA: Catie, we sure had a great lunch the second day (and that means lots of treats off our parents’ plates). We tried Tac/Quila, home to modern Jalisco-style cuisine and, according to our parents, the best margarita flight ever. Catie, didn’t you just love the bites of beef you got from the fajitas? The pork from Mom’s al Pastor made me beg for more.

Breakfast or brunch at Palm Springs legendary Sherman’s is not to be missed.

CATIE: The last morning in Palm Springs, remember that breakfast at Sherman’s, a very famous New York-style deli and noshing spot for dogs and humans alike? While the humans had scrumptious egg dishes (like my Mom’s lox and scrambled eggs), we had special snacks and bowls of fresh water. And then Mom and Dad ordered yummy pastrami sandwiches to take home.  (Hey, I love pastrami too.)

Bella exploring at Bones and Scones in Palm Springs

BELLA: We also got to go to some very fun pet stores. I loved Bones & Scones because they gave us treats and Mom bought me more treats (like pumpkin and peanut butter biscuits) to take home.  This store specializes in making healthy and organic dog food, which is very important for us senior pups so we can stay at the top of our games.

 

Catie showing off her new pink halter at Posh Pet Care in Palm Springs.

CATIE: My Dad bought me a bright pink halter at Posh Pet Care. This was another special pet shop with lots of toys and dog outfits. (I am a bit voluptuous, but they even had sweaters that fit me just fine.)

The owners of Boozehounds giving Catie a tour of their new expansion which will include a play area for dogs.

BELLA: Catie, I think we should tell them about Boozehounds.  This bar and restaurant will open soon in Palm Springs, and it will be a wonderful destination where dogs can take their humans. We met the founders, Jimmy McGill and Steve Piacenza, and they loved us.

CATIE: Well, who wouldn’t love us?  We are so cute and, Bella, you only nipped at the owners’ feet once.

Mixologist, Justin Gordon, making dog parents happy at Boozehounds in Palm Springs.

BELLA: Wow! That mixologist, Justin Gordon, sure seemed to make our parents happy. Those drinks were so colorful, and they “oohed” and “aahed” about them. Maybe we can come back again when they have the play area set up for dogs while our parents have cocktails.

Final note from dog parents:

Our doggies were treated very well on this trip, although they were exhausted when we got home after all their antics in Palm Springs. We had so much fun with them, and we definitely encourage other dog lovers to take their pups to this amazing dog-friendly destination. And make sure you stay in a Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotel (PSPSH), as we did. Many of these charming hotels welcome dogs.

 

Story provided by Linda Milks and Susan Montgomery.

By:  Kent Taylor

There are three spectacular ways to stargaze–all within an hour of Palm Springs.

Two International Dark Sky Parks (Joshua Tree National Park and Borrego Springs) are located within an hour’s drive from Palm Springs and offer unbelievably beautiful views of the night sky.

But if you prefer something a little more structured, one year ago, the Rancho Mirage public library opened a state-of-the-art observatory that has many programs, exhibits, and events that are open to the public. The building itself is quite beautiful even without the activities and exhibits.

The impressive observatory, adjacent to the library, is happy to welcome guests of all ages to learn more on astronomy with telescope-viewing and stargazing. Knowledgeable guides point out gems in the dark sky and answer questions — and yes, it is all it’s free.

If you are more interested in a “Star Gazing” event, pre-registration is required, as the stargazing events fill up quickly once announced.

The list of events and sign up information may be found on their calendar of events
http://ranchomiragelibrary.evanced.info/signup/calendar

Or if you would like to do a “Behind the scenes” Observatory Facility Tour: no registration is necessary. Simply meet in the Library Lobby, Tuesdays through Saturdays, two tours a day. (9am and 3pm) It is a 45-minute tour

Observatory
71-100 Highway 111,
Rancho Mirage, CA, 92270
ranchomiragelibrary.org

There’s no better way to see Palm Springs than by bike, and several boutique hotels in the city offer complimentary use of cruisers during the day.

Just off of North Indian Canyon Drive, The Avanti Hotel is a short ride away from the shops, restaurants, and nightlife in downtown Palm Springs. Hop on and hit such hotspots as Copa, Tropicale, and Jake’s. The Avanti Hotel, 354 E. Stevens Road, Palm Springs. 760-327-3866

Don’t feel like peddling all by yourself? The Desert Riviera has retro-style cruiser bikes available in single or tandem. Take a ride around the neighborhood to check out the different architectural styles, or even bike to a nearby hiking trail. The Desert Riviera, 610 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-327-5314

The Movie Colony Hotel is undergoing a major renovation, but one thing remains the same — guests can borrow touring bikes to take in the sites on two wheels. Adjacent to the Design District, the Movie Colony Hotel is just a quick bike ride away from museums, art galleries, restaurants, and boutiques. If you don’t mind going on a five-mile trek, ride over to the famous Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Movie Colony Hotel, 726 N. Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-320-6340

Amin Casa embodies the quiet sophistication of Palm Springs, with a twist of old Hollywood glamour.

Once the residence of actress Gloria Swanson, Amin Casa made its debut in the Historic Tennis Club neighborhood in November 2016, following several months of major renovations both inside and out. “Amin” means “ours” in Tagalog, while “casa” is Spanish for “home,” and owners Ramon Bautista and Nelson Cooley want it to feel like “your home away from home.” 

“On property, guests will find the relaxing, club-like ambiance and genuine, heartfelt hospitality they have come to treasure,” Ramon said. 

The compound dates back to the 1920s, and when fully occupied, the property only accommodates 14 guests, adults only. The bungalows come with living rooms, kitchens complete with microwaves, coffeemakers, blenders, and dishes, eco-friendly toiletries, and bathrobes and slippers, plus the Swanson residence with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a fireplace, and the property’s largest kitchen. There are stunning gardens, fountains, a swimming pool, cabanas, and an outdoor dining area with a grilling station.

Above all else, Ramon and Nelson, who have experience at some of the finest hotels in the world, strive to give the patrons of Amin Casa one thing: “Intuitive, gracious service provided by a staff passionate about pleasing our guests.”

Wake up in Palm Springs with the sun gloriously shining and grab your glamorous floppy hat, recyclable water bottle, and sunglasses. It doesn’t matter if the museums are closed because there’s so much fabulous public art to explore in Palm Springs.

Start your walking tour in the Uptown Design District on North Palm Canyon.

First Stop – Palm Springs Desert Art Center

The center for Palm Springs creative arts is the Desert Art Center at 550 N Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262. Often overlooked, this grand building is the home for numerous art classes, exhibits, and theatre performances. One of our city’s latest art installations is on the Desert Center’s palatial grass-covered lawn.

MIDABI is an artist and philosopher focused on large-scale public art using text in sculptures and murals. Residing in Palm Springs since 1998, with family roots going back to the 1950s, MIDABI continues a family tradition of contributing artistically to the desert.

Large, bold, and thought-provoking, MIDABI creates works of art that seek to inspire and challenge the viewer to think for themselves and see reality differently. One may feel shaken, for emotional core values may be questioned.

Since you have your walking shoes on, head on down Palm Canyon; along the way, you will see colorful benches to rest upon, which our local artists created.

Second Stop – Koffi North

If you want to have a cup of coffee, you might want to stop at Koffi North. Be sure to go straight through the store to the back and see the courtyard. The locals hang out here during non-Covid times.

Third Stop – Near the Palm Springs Art Museum

Now that your energy is restored, head down to Museum Way and turn right.

Before you get to the Palm Springs Art Museum and located in what we locals call the “Sand Pit,” (and future home of an underground parking lot) are ten sculptures, 11 ft long X 9-foot fiberglass babies. A barcode replaces any semblance of a face.

Czech artist David Cerny has loaned this art installation to Palm Springs through 2022. He wanted to make a statement about the dehumanization of society due to big tech and data. We are betting you will have an opinion.

Check out the wall on your left as you overlook the Sand Pit. You’ll spot a mural by Santa Monica artist, Peter Tigler, who worked with attendees of all ages to create this 7-foot-tall-by15-wide mural at the Annual La Quinta Arts Festival in 2019. Look closely; it was created by finger painting. The bright colors and numerous scenes invoke the sense of “Wish you were here.” It’s a great place to take a selfie to post your social media.

Fourth Stop – Graffiti Park

Across the street from the Sand Pit is our Graffiti Park. While waiting for the area to be developed, artists are encouraged to express themselves through their art. The various cement pillars and stones, remnants of past construction, serve as canvases. The art is constantly changing, so be sure to come back and see it on your next visit.

Fifth Stop – Right Side of Palm Springs Art Museum

The Palm Springs Art Museum is closed, but the parking lot holds a surprise. Check out the Road Signs scattered throughout the premises. They were created by artist Gerald Clark, who identifies himself first as an artist; and secondly, a Cahuilla Indian.

These Road Signs were created for an exhibit of his work in the Palm Springs Art Museum a couple of years ago. Walk to the museum’s right side first, then see the rest of them on the museum’s left side.

Sixth Stop – Left Side of the Palm Springs Art Museum

After you have pursued both sides of the museum, you will see a large semi-truck parked in the parking lot. In the semi is a three-story all-metal house, called the Aluminare House, designed by Albert Frey and A. Lawrence Kocher. The house was donated to the Palm Springs Art Museum for its permanent collection and will be reassembled in 2021. It is considered to be one of the most outstanding examples of Modernist architecture in the world.

We hope you have enjoyed this tour of some of our public art. There are many more installations–both inside and outside–scattered throughout the city. However, we wanted to give you a small taste of the many treasures that await your visit to Palm Springs.

How to Travel Safely by Car

Not since the days of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnez’ road trip to California and when the Hollywood stars like Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe traveled to Palm Springs have road trips been so popular. This is the time to nostalgically take a road trip and reflect on those bygone days.

Pack your car and head to Palm Springs to enjoy one of the elegantly restored boutique mid-century hotels in the group known as the Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels. With almost 80 hotels from which to choose, you can be revitalized a poolside environment and snuggle in a cozy bungalow.

Before you head out, though, there are some safety precautions you should know during these times of Covid-19.

What to Bring in the Car

Even if you are traveling a short distance, bring all your travel documents—your auto insurance card, your driver’s license, auto registration, and your health insurance card.

Try to bring as much as possible of what you may need to be self-sufficient and cut down on trips to stores once you arrive. Bring water, snacks, lunch (to eat on the way or once you reach your destination), disinfectant wipes, masks, gloves, phone chargers, medications, and Ziploc bags. If you want to have some wine and spirits, pack those bottles under the car seat so you don’t have to journey to a liquor store.

Stopping for Gas and a Restroom

Like it or not, that gas stop and restroom is sometimes necessary. When you are pumping gas, disposable gloves are a great idea. Once you have finished pumping, use sanitizing wipes on anything you have touched– door handle, steering wheel, knobs for air conditioning or the radio, and your credit card.

As far as public toilets at gas stations, prepare for the worst. Bring toilet paper and soap. Make sure you really scrub your hands for at least those 20 seconds. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose before washing. Grab a clean paper towel to grab that door handle.

Staying at a Hotel

Here comes the beauty of staying at a Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotel. With all hotels being less than 50 rooms, your room will be on the ground level or one flight upstairs. There will be no elevator rides or long hallways to negotiate. That’s because most of the small hotels were designed to face open-air courtyards.

While all of the Palm Springs Preferred Hotels have undergone deep cleaning and as a group have in place a set of baseline of safety sanitation standards, it is still a good idea to practice safety cleaning of your room. Once you are inside, use sanitary wipes to clean areas where people touch like door knobs, tables, faucets, toilets, sinks, light switches, phones, remotes, and curtain handles. Wipe down anywhere you will rest your belongings.

Eating and Drinking During Your Stay

Palm Springs is currently not open to indoor dining. But the wonderful part about visiting Palm Springs is that the weather is conducive to dining outdoors, a much safer option. Many of the finer restaurants provide food and cocktail delivery so that you can just sit back and dine comfortably in your room or by the pool. A list of some of those options are: The Tropicale, Eight4Nine Restaurant and Lounge, El Mirasol Restaurant, Jakes’ Palm Springs, and 533 Viet Fusion.

Note that the City of Palm Springs mandates the use of face masks in public, whether you are indoors or out.

So, grab your swimsuit and a slice of nostalgia on a well-deserved road trip to Palm Springs where unsurpassed blissfulness, hospitality, and tranquility await.

In the desert, one of the best times to take the bikes out is early in the day. And many boutique hotels offer free loaner bikes to make it super easy for you to get around town or explore the canyons before the sun is high.

If you want to really explore the desert, Evan Trubee, owner of Big Wheel Tours, offers The Earthquake Canyon Express – Riders are treated to a geologic extravaganza on this 20-mile tour that descends through the heart of the San Andreas Fault zone on a paved road to the heart of grape country near Mecca.

There are no cross roads, no turns, and very little traffic which makes this a relaxing sightseeing adventure. Even the non-athletic can handle this ride but Evan offers electric bikes for those who need an extra boost.  And he takes care of everything from bikes, helmets, water bottles, snacks, and refreshments to knowledgeable guides and support vehicles.

Santiago Resort’s Bike Recommendations

Our friends at the Santiago Resort have put together a list of adventures that might be just the inspiration you need to jump on a bike during your next stay.

Twin Palms Neighborhood – One of the best “hidden gem” neighborhoods of Palm Springs! It is filled with beautiful mid-century homes that are so well taken care of, you can really feel the homeowner and neighborhood pride. Twin Palms is between La Verne Way, Palm Canyon and Camino Real, creating a perfect triangular neighborhood of very awesome homes.

Moorten Botanical Garden– This quirky little garden was created by Clark Chester “Cactus Slim” Moorten and his wife, Patricia. Cactus Slim was an original Keystone Cop and a stand-in for Howard Hughes. It is still in the family and is now run by his son, Chester. Thousands of specimens sourced from all over the world are represented here, yet the one-acre gardens retain a homey intimacy.

Moorten Botanical Garden
1701 S. Palm Canyon Dr.
Summer Hours 9AM — 1PM: Friday, Saturday, Sunday only
Winter Hours: 10AM — 4PM daily (closed Wednesdays)

Mesquite Bike Trail- Start out along the S Riverside wash trail, then at Sunrise and Sunny Dunes you will find the entrance to this fun, short trail at the beginning of the Mesquite Country Club & Condos.  You can ride through to see the entire Mesquite golf course and the area that is currently being considered the Mesquite Desert Preserve. You end up on El Cielo, and you can loop back through back streets of the neighborhoods ‘Los Compadres’ (a 70’s Neighborhood) and ‘Deepwell’.

Sherman’s Deli –Sherman’s Deli is a true Palm Springs Institution. They have a fantastic “NY Deli Style” menu that includes Jewish deli favorites like bagels and lox, matzo ball soup, potato latkes, and many more traditional breakfast favorites. The front patio sits in morning shade, and they have a bike rack right in front to make lock up very easy! Best of all, they open at 7:00 AM so you can beat the heat back to your hotel’s swimming pool.

 

Here’s a handy map to download of Palm Springs bike routes and trails.

Get out there and enjoy the ride!

 

When you fly or drive into Palm Springs from the West, you cannot miss the sudden, dramatic appearance of hundreds of windmills. To be exact, 2200 at this writing. Few people know that it is possible to take a tour of this windmill farm. Standing at the bottom of a windmill and looking up is a thrill for even the most skeptical participant.

Windmill Farm Background 

The formation of the windmill farm, as it is now called, began in 1984. The location was chosen because it is consistently the windiest place in the United States. Winds are clocked regularly at 30 mph because air current is trapped and funneled between the two mountain ranges.

With the 1980s oil crisis came the need to increase the development of alternative energy; thus, this area received international attention and became a focus for rapid design and development of more efficient windmills. Today, constant research is done by four companies, including one from Spain.

Public Access 

With changing times, the Windmill Tour Company pivoted. Previously, a bus trip through the area was accompanied by a volunteer narrator for the tour. Now, one can take a vehicle with up to eight people and drive through the farm with a video or audio narration.

Upon arrival, you are handed a sanitized iPad in a plastic bag.  Then you drive through the designated path, which is marked, and look for the blue barrel with a number that matches the narrative on the video. At each stop, there is room to park so that you can get out and take as many pictures as you want.

Highlights of the Tour 

For engineer types, there is a display of the original turbines with detailed descriptions of the design. We learned that the original open-tower design proved noisy and caused the demise of many birds. Thus, it was back to the drawing board for redesign, especially the blades. Today, the fiberglass blades can be 144 feet long, almost the width of a football field.

One of the stops allows you to get right up to the windmill with a column that extends 300 feet into the air. The majesty of this engineering feat is difficult to comprehend.

This approximately 1.5-hour tour is truly a magnificent experience. You learn, take in the fresh desert air, and your appreciation of windmill power will increase tenfold.

 

Helpful Hints: Make reservations on their website. There are no restrooms available. Make sure you take plenty of water and a hat, for there is no shade on this tour. Finally, when you sign up for the tour, be sure to copy the directions. It is handicap accessible. 

Palm Springs Windmill Tours
www.windmilltours.com
62950 20th Avenue
Palm Springs, CA 92262
800-531-5834

 

We always love it when travel writers visit Palm Springs and stay in one of our uniquely beautiful, independently-owned Palm Springs boutique hotels. But it is particularly heartening when a writer like Joanna visits us and is completely captivated by the charm of her hotel and Palm Springs. Joanna recently stayed at the Alcazar and here’s what she had to say about her trip.