Wanderlust must be in my DNA. There are times when my innate desire to travel and explore wells up like hot lava that’s about to burst from a volcano, and I have no choice but to hit the road. Traveling via airplane fills the need, too, but there’s something about being on the open road that feels the most liberating—plus, I can pack as many pairs of shoes and hats as I want without paying extra baggage fees.

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.

As if 2020 wasn’t crazy enough, I welcomed my first baby in 2021. Adjusting to life with little Mabel has been a wild adventure, yet mostly done at home. I’ve always loved to travel and especially hop in the car for a road trip. With all things considered, the first weekend of Spring seemed like the perfect time to head out to Palm Springs.

If you’re thinking, they’re crazy to travel with a two-month-old. Don’t worry, my husband, Mike and I also had that thought. Yet, in Palm Springs, there’s no better place to chill-lax and do a lot of nothing except enjoy the views, pool, food, and weather.

We ventured out from Ventura County early Saturday afternoon. In the “old days,” I would have been gung-ho to leave early and make pit stops along the way. This trip? It was all about Mabel’s feeding times and keeping her in a good mood. While she does well on car rides, we love that Palm Springs is under 150 miles. This keeps us at three or fewer hours away. We did end up stopping a bit, yet still arrived while the sun was shining.

Check into the Los Arboles Hotel in Palm Springs

Nestled on the corner of Indian Canyon Drive and Tamarisk Road, we were thrilled to check into Los Arboles Hotel. Los Arboles is centrally located along the chic Uptown Design District and Movie Colony. They’re also a stone’s throw from foodie favorites like Cheeky’s. Need I say more?

With six room types, we made ourselves right at home in an Expanded Express suite. Instead of just grabbing our suitcases, we got baby situated with her playpen, toys, diaper bag, and bottle warmer. Despite the “express” title, our suite was spacious even with our extra load of gear. Our room boasted tile flooring throughout, a dining nook, bathtub, rain shower, an old Spanish-style armoire, and a vase of fresh flowers courtesy of Hermano Flower Shop. We thought the small dining corner would be great as we opted for mostly takeout yet we enjoyed our adorable patio at the entrance foyer. The weather was gorgeous and helped us enjoy the laid-back vibes even more so.

Entrance and patio to the Expanded Express suite at Los Arboles Hotel in Palm Spings

The grounds at Los Arboles take you to many different places. The surrounding desert mountains make it so you never forget where you are. Hacienda-inspired architecture gives you the essence of Spain. The aroma of homemade food from the hotel’s restaurant, El Mirasol, will take you South of the border. My favorite was the tropical inspirations thanks to the array of exotic plants and trees throughout.

Take a splash at the Los Arboles pool

With a baby in tow, we were nervous about her getting fussy. Luckily, Los Arboles’ hotelier, Karina Castaneda, kept this in mind. She reserved us a room tucked away in the back of the hotel with no shared walls. Personal touches like that can be hard to come by. It’s one of my top reasons for staying in Palm Springs. You can tell Karina and her family takes great pride in giving their guests a stay that feels more like “home.”

Comfy bed and suite at Los Arboles

Something I appreciated more than ever during our stay was the food. Days are so filled with taking care of Mabel, that we often slack on meals. Having a terrific slew of restaurants available, from higher-end to casual, was just what mommy and daddy needed.

Grilled Cubano Sandwich from 849

Having previously been to 849, their Scottish Steelhead was on my mind. Within a 5-minute walk of the hotel, 849 is a staple along the Uptown Design District. Its modern, posh dining atmosphere and patio make you want to look cute and maybe get out some heels. Since leggings and tees were more the goals this trip, we opted for takeout. The steelhead was flaky and cooked to perfection. Mike enjoyed the grilled Cubano sandwich with fries. Mabel took in the sights and sounds from the television (great OnDemand lineup with HBO) while we enjoyed our meal.

Takeout perfection from Cheeky’s

Did I mention how close you are to great restaurants? Another one is Cheeky’s. A Buzzfeed darling, Cheeky’s offers up modern takes on traditional breakfast favorites. What gets them the long wait times? Cult favorites like their bacon flight and Bloody Mary’s. One of my favorite highlights of the trip was enjoying our Cheeky’s takeout on the patio back at our room. I devoured my waffle (as always). Mike thought the bacon flight, which is five pieces of flavored bacon, was worth it.

When lunch rolled around, we found two fantastic and casual options. Favorites among the locals, Native Foods is a 100% vegan menu while Chicken Ranch is an excellent and healthy choice if you’re not looking for entirely plant-based.

Visit the giraffes at the Living Desert

Although past trips have found me taking a ride up the Aerial Tramway, we decided to hold off on it again until Mabel is older. Instead, we drove out to Palm Desert on a sunny Sunday afternoon to experience the Living Desert. 20 miles from Los Arboles, the Living Desert blends an impressive zoo with nature trails and botanical gardens. Visitors young and old will also appreciate their elaborate G-scale train set outlining the California railroad.

Even though it feels a bit more exhausting traveling with a baby, Palm Springs was ideal. I look forward to returning in years to come and tell Mabel that her very first trip was here.

Guidelines for Palm Springs Visitors

With temperatures in the 70s and the sun shining brightly, we are welcoming visitors who need to travel for essential reasons. There are restrictions you need to aware of as of December 11, 2020.

According to the state of California’s Public Health Department, essential reasons for travel include “work and study, critical infrastructure support, economic services and supply chains, health, immediate medical care, and safety and security.”

As you drive into town, you will see this banner across our main throughways into town. We local citizens are doing a great job of wearing masks and social distancing. We ask our visitors to honor us by doing the same.

Boutique Hotels

Unfortunately, our quaint and inviting hotels are not open except for essential Covid mitigation. At this time, we have no way of knowing if this restriction will remain in place after December 27, 2020. If a member of your household is at risk or has been exposed to Covid, you may safely seek shelter at one of the hotels.

Shopping

Retail stores are open. However, they are at 20% capacity. The good news is you can be sure of your safety in the store, for social distancing and masks are required.  You will want to call and check on hours for stores are adjusting their hours to accommodate the flow of traffic.

Dining

Hopefully, you have been here before and know which are your favorite restaurants, because the only way you can enjoy their food is by curbside pick-up or delivery service. The City of Palm Springs just passed a new ordinance that cut the delivery service’s amount and enhanced the amount the restaurant will get from your purchase.

At least through December 27, 2020, there is no outside or indoor dining.

Art and Museums

Unfortunately, museums remain closed. However, we have over 70 public art installations in Palm Springs. There is nothing like taking the paths less traveled downtown and finding them in unexpected places, like behind the Desert Art Center, located on Palm Canyon Drive.

Thursday Night Street Fair

This fun and engaging activity remains closed until further notice.

Certified Saturday Market

Located on the grounds of the Palm Springs Cultural Center, the vendors continue to provide farm-fresh produce.

Hiking

Palm Springs is renowned as a community of great hiking with spectacular views. Trails are open and attract hikers of all degrees of endurance. These hikes also offer the possible chance of seeing our famous mountain sheep. A reminder: Take plenty of water with you and wear a hat. Our sun here is hotter than you might think.

Walks and Bicycling

Each of our neighborhoods takes on its unique kind of personality. Old Las Palmas provides you with a look at mansions built in the late 40s and 50s. Gigantic palm trees and lush plants thrive in the desert air. A walk through the Movie Colony is always enjoyable.

Bike paths are prevalent in Palm Springs. You may want to rent a bike, so you can explore our many streets and view our palatial residents and modernism style homes.

Many of our attractions are closed. Yet, we local citizens never get tired of the sunrises as we sip our coffee in the morning, the sun dancing on the mountains during the day, or cocktails as we watch the sun setting behind these glorious mountains in 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.

Not only does Palm Springs beckon one to come to visit for its countless sunshine days, but there is also a new reason to plan your vacation to this increasingly hip town. At least once a week, contemporary public art is being unveiled.

Palm Springs is quiet and has crispness in the air as one ventures out to get a cup of coffee on Palm Canyon at our downtown Starbucks. Clamoring for your attention is the PS I Love Letters, with its brilliant red color glistens in the filtered sunlight through the palm trees. It’s the perfect place to take an Instagramable photo.

Nona Watson, CEO of Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce, conceived the artwork. She enlisted the design talents of Maru Palmersheim, and Palm Spring Canyon Print and Grit Development provided the space.

(This particular morning, a family of three was standing near the sign. The little girl was having fun frolicking around the sign, so we thought she would be the perfect model. The mother later sent us an email requesting a copy of the photo. She is pianist Jeewon Park.)

Unity, a mural with Inaugural Poet Amanda Gorman’s portrait, graces one of the “art pit” walls at the corner of Belardo Road and Museum Way.  This temporary art installation will be there through December 2021.

MisterAlex, a Los Angeles-based artist, depicted Amanda surrounded by butterflies. “During my research of Amanda, I discovered she overcame a speech impediment. In addition, during her young life, she dedicated her many hours of hard work to bring people together; thus, I chose Unity for the theme.”

The Fault Line Meditation

Curator and artist, Jevpic considers himself a fortunate man. During the pandemic, he received his largest commission ever. While digging in the “art pit” to create this art installation, many local people supported him. They picked up shovels and helped him develop his vision, which looks entirely different during the day than it does at night.

In Jevpic words, “The path in the shape of the San Andres Fault is a metaphor for the faults we encounter in our life. Faults have existed before us and will be after us. Just learn, grow and move on.”

Guadalajara Artist Gonzalo Lebrija‘s temporary creation, History of Suspended, is directly in front of the Palm Springs Art Museum. The Palm Springs Art Commission worked with the museum to prepare the space and erect the art installation referred to as “A Moment for the Impossible.”

Lebrija wants to encourage thought “suspension of the passage of time – focusing on the precise moment of stillness and impact. This installation encourages one to walk around and even visit at different times of the day. The reflection in the pool also calls one to reflect on the time and space around them.

MIDABI, a Palm Springs artist who has his art in front of the Desert Center Art Center, now came up with another relevant sign. WOW on Indian Canyon Drive, near Andreas, cannot help but make you smile.  When is the last time you saw art that says, “Wow?”

His metal, esoteric sculptures are created using his thought process:  a. Always be a student b. Have a heart of a child and c. Remember you are a human being first and foremost before any other identity.

Popsicles is a temporary art installation near Townie Bagels on Sunny Dunes by Salina, California artist John Cerney. John is known as the “cutout artist” for his larger-than-life creations along California and Midwest highways. This a great place to capture selfies for your social media.

John started as a portrait artist, then began drawing. He noticed barren walls and old barns with expansive walls and convinced owners murals would enhance their spaces. The next step was designing a way for more people to see his figures. At first, he made the life size, but they realized they were not big enough for people to see as they whizzed by on the highways. Thus, these plywood cutouts are now bigger than life.

Besides a vibrate art scene, retail shops are thriving, and new restaurants are popping up everywhere. If you haven’t been to Palm Springs, you are sure to see lots of changes, including constructing the 1.5 acres of new City Park being built steps away from the Palm Springs Art Museum.

So find your stay, maybe even take advantage of a summer special and make your reservation today.

Amin Casa exterior

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.”

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

 

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.”