The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway gondola moving up Mt. San Jacinto

Tune in on Saturday, May 13 at 4 p.m. PT for the latest episode of “Palm Springs Sunshine Stays,” the podcast that covers everything travelers need to know about this desert paradise.

During the show, “Outdoor Adventures in Sunny Palm Springs,” Big Blend Radio’s Lisa Smith, Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels’ Kimberli Munkres, Madison Morgan from the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, and Bill Crabb from Big Wheel Tours will chat about popular outside activities in Palm Springs, from hiking to cycling. 

Palm Springs Sunshine Stays is a partnership between Big Blend and PSPSH, with new shows premiering on the second Saturday of the month. Guests include Palm Springs hoteliers, restauranteurs, and business owners who share their insights on Palm Springs and tips and tricks on how travelers can make the most out of their visits to this vibrant city.

Listen to Palm Springs Sunshine Stays on YouTube, the Big Blend Radio website, Spotify, iHeartRadio, SoundCloud, or Audible.

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.

Vibe Style and Design

One of the biggest challenges we’ve faced during this ongoing pandemic is gathering our families in a safe setting. So here is a great idea. When we are allowed to safely travel again, why not consider bringing your family to one of the lovely small boutique hotels in the Palm Springs?

Recently, representatives from several of these hotels shared their experiences and thoughts with me about planning gatherings of families and close friends.

Many of these hotels encourage guests to buy out the entire hotel. There are many advantages to a buyout, such as knowing you are with a familiar group (your own “bubble”) while not interacting with strangers. You can also relax with confidence knowing that the hotels have taken all kinds of protective measures so that your stay is safe. At the same time, you can enjoy the beautiful Palm Springs setting.

Since the start of the pandemic, Dive (playfully decorated in a St. Tropez style) has hosted more than a dozen gatherings of families and close friends. Like many small hotels, it is well designed to accommodate small groups. Guests can enjoy spacious outdoor gardens, pools, multiple lounging areas, and fountains spread across a half-acre lot, making socially distancing easy and comfortable. Dive, which has 11 rooms, welcomes small groups, but if you need more than five rooms, the hotel requires a full buyout, which means you would have exclusive access to the property and a dedicated staff for support.

The Weekend, a small, mid-century modern hotel, where I have stayed and which I love, has ten deluxe suites, most with two bedrooms and two baths, along with living rooms, kitchens, and patios.  During the pandemic, the owners prefer that the entire hotel be bought out so you will not encounter other guests besides your family members.

One advantage at The Weekend and most other small boutique hotels is there are no hallways or elevators and the rooms open directly to the pool so there are plenty of opportunities for social distancing.

Both Hotel El Cid and The Marley (sister hotels) are private boutique hotels that rent to only one group at a time so they are perfect for families or close friends. They are also lovingly decorated and totally luxurious. The Marley has nine bedrooms and El Cid has seven bedrooms.  Both hotels are completely walled and gated for total privacy. Each hotel has full kitchens that allow guests to cook for themselves or groups can bring in professional chefs

Dining options are varied but ample at most of the small hotels. The Weekend delivers a lavish continental breakfast to each suite every morning. Their suites have a kitchen (no stove) with a full-sized refrigerator, ice maker, and four-seat dining room table. At Dive, two amazing chefs are available to support whatever dining needs guests have. In addition, each guest receives a complimentary organic breakfast each morning. During the current Covid situation, all food and drinks are served in single-use containers to ensure guests’ safety.

The safety and well-being of guests are the top priorities at the PSPSH hotels. Each hotel has enhanced cleaning and sanitizing procedures in place. All staff members are equipped with proper PPE — sanitizers, gloves, and masks. At The Weekend, staff members have daily temperature checks.  At all the hotels, guests are asked to wear masks coming and going from the hotel and to socially distance while relaxing at poolside. Outside visitors are not allowed.

So many of us have been mostly confined to our own homes for the last many months and, if you are like me, you are chomping at the bit to get out and start traveling again. Staying at a small boutique hotel is an ideal way to reconnect with close family members and friends while enjoying a luxurious setting in a fabulous location. Even if you live close to Palm Springs, you will feel as if you have really gotten away. Just go to the PSPSH website to find out when hotels are open and then you can explore the many enticing options for small groups in Palm Springs.

Blogger Elaine Masters experienced everything Palm Springs has to offer during a recent 3-day trip.

Blogger Elaine Masters wanted a classic Palm Springs vacation, and that’s exactly what she had, soaking in the city’s sights and visiting some of the most popular hotels, from the Spanish-style Los Arboles to the Art Deco-inspired Westcott.

The pool at La Serena Villas in Palm Springs, California, is surrounded by lounge chairs and palms

Although this is a continuation of my first destination wedding post, it’s a bit of a “Chinese menu” if you will — one from this column, one from that column. You just need to decide on which one from each menu. Also here, you will find our bakers, florists, and a photographer. Keep in mind, when it comes to cakes and bakers, I have not ordered from them, nor do I know how good they are. You’ll have to figure that out with your tastebuds and your eyes.  

Boutique hotels for just the bridal party

Small hotels and resorts mean just that, on the smaller end. These hotels have a vibe that screams “very special events with very special friends happen here” (but not out loud). You’ve got to check them all out — there is something here for every group’s personality. 

Dive Palm Springs — Not only can you house your bridal party in their 11 gorgeous rooms, but there is space to hold the wedding itself, and a soundproof room for after reception (10 p.m.) hijinks. You have to visit to get how special it is. So cool.

La Maison — At the 13-room La Maison, it can be hard to remember you’re actually in Palm Springs. The property offers a touch of France in the heart of Palm Springs, with lovely lavender and bright flowers across the grounds. Rooms overlook the pool and gardens, and there are fountains across the property, offering a soundtrack of cool, trickling water.

Starburst tiles on the floor of The Velvet Rope's Bar Valerie in Palm Springs, California, contrast with the deep red and green velvet walls and chairs

Get the party started at The Velvet Rope’s Bar Valerie. Photo courtesy of The Velvet Rope

The Velvet Rope — Trendy, high-end hotel in the Old Las Palmas neighborhood with a very cool design. Each of the nine rooms is either velvet or inspired by a Hollywood icon, paying homage to Palm Springs’ Hollywood roots. Formerly known as the La Posada, the hotel was designed in 1952 by Herbert Burns.

La Serena Villas — There are ​​18 gorgeous and private villas, each with a private patio featuring a clawfoot tub, fire pit, sparkling pool and jacuzzi. You and your guests can enjoy Whispers Spa, known for its calming facials, massages, and body treatments. Azúcar, the on-site restaurant, overlooks the pool, and provides delicious and modern dining. Cocktail and great views can be found at Sugar High, the rooftop bar.

Mahala — New hotel, 14 rooms, you have to see it to believe it. Barcelona-based Stuart Patterson of Colorola created the overall Mahala concept, branding, interior design, custom furnishings and “supergraphics” that are continually evolving throughout the property. The hotel is a living canvas of art and design.

Willows Historic Palm Springs Inn — This hotel is so dreamy you’ll never want to leave. The Willows is available to accommodate overnight guests looking to enjoy a full three-course gourmet breakfast, evening wine with hors d’oeuvres, and numerous other complimentary amenities. Pair it with the O’Donnell House (see below) for an incredibly romantic event.

Perfect Palm Springs boutique hotel for wedding guests

An aerial view of Arrive Palm Springs hotel

The modernist Arrive Palm Springs. Photo courtesy of Arrive Palm Springs

The 32-room Arrive Palm Springs is known for its fun, party vibes — guests are guaranteed to get excited about your wedding. Located on the north end of Palm Canyon at Vista Chino, a variety of good food options are just a stone’s throw away: 1501 Gastropub, Sandfish Sushi, HeyDay Burgers (yum!), Billy Reed’s, Freddie’s at The Cole Hotel.

A day to remember

Lunch in Palm Canyons — Coordinated by The Best of the Best Tours (they also have white birds for your wedding ceremony), this special event is like an old show on the BBC. Just a quiet day in the middle of nowhere enjoying the afternoon sun and a spread of delicious food.

Enjoy a pre-wedding bridal party dinner

Boozehounds — Chill spot on the northern end of Palm Canyon. Pooches welcome.

Johnny Costa’s — Old school Italian in decor and food.

Kaiser Grille — In the heart of downtown, terrific food.

Mr. Lyons — Sounds stuffy — it’s anything but that. Food is exceptional. 

So•Pa — Family style meals under a backdrop you’ll never forget.

Spencer’s — It’s the place everyone goes on special occasions.  

A classic Palm Springs wedding and reception

 

PS Underground — Known for its themed dinners with an original show (performed by terrific local entertainers), they will also host/help design your wedding and reception for a spectacular day to remember. Very cool space.

O’Donnell House — Sitting above the Palm Springs Art Museum in the mountain, this venue has a bird’s eye view of Palm Springs. It’s pretty spectacular, check it out.

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway — Yes, you can get married at the Tram. There are three options for your room, plus your guests get to take a very nice ride up the mountain. You can also just opt to have the reception here. 

Spencer’s — Indoor accommodation for 50 to 200 guests. The Bougainvillea Room, nestled at the foot of the San Jacinto Mountains, has hosted special events, elegant affairs, and celebrity galas for over 50 years. Erroll Flynn, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Kirk Douglas, Dinah Shore, Ol’ Blue Eyes himself, Frank Sinatra, and many others have all attended parties in this stunning location. This mid-century modern style room boasts floor-to-ceiling windows, an inlaid stone rock waterfall, fireplace, and romantic lighting. Reception only.

The white exterior of Eight4Nine restaurant in downtown Palm Springs, California

Eight4Nine Restaurant in downtown Palm Springs. Photo courtesy of Eight4Nine

Eight4Nine — Beautiful black and white restaurant with a pop of red. This used to be the Palm Springs Post Office, but you’d never guess.

Copley’s — Lovely estate, formerly Cary Grant’s guesthouse. Located in the heart of Palm Springs, this is a casual yet sophisticated restaurant offering a unique indoor-outdoor dining experience. 

Sonoran — Their website got hijacked, but it’s a gorgeous space. You can see photos here, just don’t click the link to the venue.

Late night options to keep the party going 

Reforma Nightclub

Pretty Faces Nightclub

Tryst Bar

Where to order cakes

Crown Town Cakes

Over The Rainbow

The Buttercake Studio

Fantastical Sweets by Mika

Where to order flowers

Palm Springs Florist

Lilies Palm Springs

My Little Flower Shop

Artisan Events

Wedding photographers

Lani Garfield — There are others, but I have seen Lani’s work. She’s got a great eye in a large situation, managing to capture all the best shots.

For entertainment at your reception or singer for your wedding, I know too many talented people and would be hard pressed to not recommend all of them. The talent down here is that special. If you go to a club and you like a singer, ask about their rates. 

Happy planning!

Sometimes, a girl just needs to shop. And sometimes a girl only has a few shekels to spare (at least that has been this girl’s experience.) For me, nothing is more satisfying than finding a treasure at a bargain price. And to-be-found treasures abound in Greater Palm Springs. Take it from the groaning rod in my closet. (That is lowercase “rod” and not a euphemism, people; eyes up here.)

There are some very tony enclaves in our little valley, and those fashionistas will donate items that have often only been worn once, and sometimes not at all. They write it off and you get to score. The old win/win.

Add to that, repurposing is the new green. Instead of purchasing so-so made items from foreign countries, buy well-made, time-told, one-of-a-kind items that no one else will have (you’re an original!). This is good for the planet, and we’ve only got one of those.

First up are the thrift stores, the real bargaineers out there. With the exception of Revivals, most of them are not label checkers, so if you do some digging, you can often find some fashion items on the cheap.

Second, and aptly, we have the second-hand stores that know what they’ve got. And they’ve got some pretty cool stuff. Almost all of them are an eclectic mix of everything, but some (like Iconic Atomic) are mostly retro fashions.

And finally, vinyl. Because you just bought an old-timey turntable and you need some 33s. At least that’s what I did. Just a cheap suitcase turntable, but it sure does take me back to the angst of my youth. Ah…memories. Better to listen to them on vinyl, and evoke good memories than wait for bedtime when all those bad decisions you made in your 20s flood your dreams. Just me?

Revivals. Photo courtesy of Visit Palm Springs

Thrift stores:

Revivals

For the past 13 years, Wil Stiles has donated its unsold seasonal stock to Revivals Thrift Store. They’re savvy and know what they’ve got, but it’s still a bargain — I once got a Kate Spade coat here for $75. Sales benefit DAP Health, which was originally for those living with AIDS. It’s a terrific institution that also sees IEHP patients. Great cause, great doctors, great services, great items including some new furniture.

The $75 Kate Spade jacket. Photo by Kay Kudukis

Palm Springs
611 S Palm Canyon Dr

Cathedral City
68-401 CA-111

Palm Desert
72-885 CA-111

Goodwill

I have found some great clothes here. I generally don’t purchase used shoes because feet, but just recently I found some Bass loafers with chunky heels for $8.99 in pristine condition. People don’t expect much from Goodwill, but they’re missing out.

Cathedral City
67-555 E Palm Canyon Dr

Rancho Mirage
72014 CA-111

Angel View

I have found fashion labels here for under $10 with tags. Angel View’s mission is helping children and adults with disabilities reach their maximum potential. And the stores are HUGE.

Palm Springs
462 N Indian Canyon Dr

Cathedral City
67625 CA-111

Desert Hot Springs
64669 Dillon Rd
66389 Pierson Blvd
12840 Cactus Dr

Rancho Mirage
72747 Dinah Shore Drive

Palm Desert UCR
37023 Cook St

Palm Desert
72705 CA-111  (in Palms to Pines West Shopping Center)

Bermuda Dunes
77898 Country Club Dr, Ste. 91

Sun City
78395 Varner Rd

La Quinta
79400 CA-111
77975 Calle Tampico

Vintage resale:

You’re going to pay a lot more here, but they’ve done the digging for you, and the items are pristine.

Gypsyland
2675 N Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs

Iconic Atomic
1103 N Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs

Little Shop of Treasures — I want to live here. Seriously cool store.
616 E Sunny Dunes Rd, Palm Springs

Sunny Dunes Antique Mall — has everything from everywhere. Many stores combined into one.
507 E Sunny Dunes Rd. Palm Springs

Pre-Loved — a collection of currently pre-loved labels for the fashionably conscious
668 N Palm Canyon, Palm Springs

Vinyl:

Don’t forget to check at all of the above stores as well — I bought two albums at Gypsyland.

Gre Coffee House

Palm Springs Vinyl Records 

Winzer Records

Music Heals

Workcation hotel room in Palm Springs, CA

Say goodbye to your home office and hello to Palm Springs

For those who have been working from home for months now, a change of scenery is in order — and the best views are in Palm Springs.

Since Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels — a collection of more than 70 boutique hotels — began reopening on June 12, some guests have been settling in for work and play. El Mirasol Villas owners Paul Pressman and Bruce Wishnefsky have had several people specifically request rooms conducive to working remotely, ensuring that they have strong WiFi and a desk available.

“As they have been self-quarantined or already work remotely, they wanted to get out of the house or home office and work in a relaxed desert environment,” Paul says. “They love taking breaks between conference calls or Zoom meetings and laying in the sun, taking a swim in the pool, or relaxing in the jacuzzi. One guest who has work that crosses time zones said he loved the desert nights on his patio or poolside where he could set up his laptop and work.”

“Monday through Friday work vacations are definitely becoming a thing,” says Robert Hunt, general manager of Alcazar Palm Springs, a 34-room boutique hotel in the uptown Palm Springs art district. “It makes perfect sense because there are fewer people around mid-week and the rates are lower than on the weekends.  People are craving a change of scenery but they want someplace quiet and safe where they can still get their work done.”

Sabrina Sakdikul is a community relations manager for a nonprofit in the San Francisco Bay Area, and drove down to Palm Springs to spend a few days at the Los Arboles Hotel. After spending several months working from home alongside her roommates, it was a relief to have a space of her own.

The property felt like “an oasis,” Sabrina says. She switched up her location throughout the day — sometimes working in her room, other times by the pool or on a patio — and with everyone wearing masks, she felt safe. When it was time for lunch, she would walk a few steps to the on-site restaurant, El Mirasol, and if she needed to clear her head, would take a quick dip in the pool.

“Palm Springs is a very laid-back place, and it does make me feel like I’m in paradise,” Sabrina says. “In Google and Zoom meetings, they have backgrounds that look like you’re somewhere cool and calming, and I was actually in a place that was cool and calming.”

Going on this getaway to Palm Springs left Sabrina feeling energized and refreshed, her stress melting away in the desert sun.

“I feel like I was able to really get away from all the craziness that has been going on,” Sabrina says. “It was nice being able to do something different.”

Several small hotels, like The Weekend Palm Springs, The Rossi, Casa Cody Country Inn, The Triangle Inn Palm Springs, and Les Cactus – among others – offer small suites or casitas with kitchenettes, which allow space for weeklong guests to prepare their own meals. Some hotels such as Villa Royale, Arrive Palm Springs, La Serena Villas, and Alcazar have restaurants on site. Many Palm Springs restaurants deliver meals and cocktails directly to hotels so guests can dine poolside.

 

Comfort and Safety Prioritized

Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels are legendary for their style, safety, and comfort–all of which continue to be a priority. Over the past few weeks, the owners and general managers of Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels have collaboratively created a baseline of safety sanitation standards.

Most Palm Springs boutique hotels have fewer than 30 rooms, making them easier to thoroughly clean and keep sanitized. Common areas are typically outside, and a majority of rooms have their own private entrances and air conditioning units.

Each hotel will provide its own safety guidelines in addition to the requirements set forth by the City of Palm Springs and the ones they collectively developed. This information will be shared with guests when they receive their reservation confirmation.

Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels is a consortium of independently owned boutique hotels, which are an essential part of this desert resort town’s uncommon culture and economy. From quirky to charming, mid-century modern to clothing-optional, Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels has got your stay. Follow the fun on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest. Please visit Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels Summer Recovery Specials page for details.

When you’re planning your holidays, don’t forget about Palm Springs; it’s the perfect place to celebrate. Why? It’s the best of both worlds: it’s sunny and there’s snow, but we keep it in the mountains, where it belongs. It’s an arrangement we have with the weather. It’s all very official, you can look it up at City Hall (you can’t).

There’s a lot to do throughout the Coachella Valley, and if you’re looking for charm (seriously, who’s ever said “I hate charm”?) make one of our small resort hotels and inns home base.

We’re pretty tight with our sister cities — like most families, we’re all very different yet we’ve bonded. The new entertainment arena recently built in Thousand Palms/Palm Desert was initially planned for Palm Springs, but everyone agreed that it would ruin the feel and create a parking nightmare. It has been a bone of contention for years – in fact it was only in the last seven years that larger brands have been allowed to build in downtown Palm Springs. But our small inns and resorts know no one else can offer a Palm Springs experience like they can. Every frequent traveler wanting to inhale the culture will always stay local; it’s how you keep your favorite vacation destinations open. Bonus: no one knows Palm Springs like the locals. And we’re very happy you’ve come to visit.

Find your home base here using the preferences dropdown to plan your perfect stay. And now, here are some big holiday events throughout the valley. Most of these are kid-friendly, or just for the kid in you:

Cathedral City

Dec. 7: Cathedral City tree lighting and North Pole Village 

Take the kids to meet Santa and watch them light the tree. The town square is adorable, and check out the fountain; the material surrounding it is bouncy.

Indio

Magic Lights at Polo Club — The Polo Club is not just about the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Beyond Van Gogh has been there since October and for the holidays they’ve set up a grand drive-thru, so pile everyone in the car and head on out. Prices are reasonable. (P.S. I went to the Van Gogh exhibition, and it was pretty awesome.)

La Quinta

Old Town Artisan Studios: Gingerbread Lane — Trust me when I say this place is everything. The grounds are stunning and at Christmas they go ALL out, including Gingerbread Lane featuring Santa and Mrs. Claus. You can paint a pre-made ceramic which they will fire for you to take home. Prices are modest and support the art programs specifically for kids with challenges, seniors, and veterans. It’s really special.

Rancho Mirage

Dec. 4: Children’s Discovery Museum Jingle Bell Rock. Please note you have to be accompanied by a child. Also, the museum has been closed for quite some time for a remodel. I believe this is on the grounds, and not in the museum itself.

Dec. 10: Home For The Holidays. A free concert from the city of Rancho Mirage at the Amphitheater produced by Desert Theatricals. This company is always top-notch.

Palm Desert

At the McCallum Theatre: Dec. 2-3: Mannheim Steamroller Christmas; Dec. 6: All is Calm: The Truce of 1914; Dec. 9: The Storm Large Holiday Ordeal; Dec. 18: Merri-Achi Christmas; Dec. 19: Dave Koz & Friends Christmas. I went here for the first time a few weeks back, and it’s an impressive space with fantastic production values.

Wild Lights at The Living Desert. The zoo always does it up over the holidays. My favorite is the miniature train. It was cold when I went last year, and I didn’t wear a heavy enough jacket, so we never made it over to see how the animals decorated.

This is not a holiday item, but come December, there’s a new kid in town: Acrisure Arena. It’s in Thousand Palms/Palm Desert (it’s Thousand Palms) and has a mix of hockey and some pretty big name entertainment. They’re starting strong with double-header Chris Rock and Dave Chappelle, Maroon 5, Shania Twain, Lizzo, The Eagles, and more. Score some tickets, then plan a future getaway. Music, comedy and sports — it’s a hat trick!

Palm Springs

Dec. 3:  PS Festival of Lights Parade. Palm Springs is like stepping back in time during Christmas. The streets are decorated just like the ones in my small town growing up during the 1960s.

Dec. 10: Modern Men Chorus holiday show at Palm Springs Cultural Center.

Dec. 14: Palm Canyon Theatre Let It Snow Holiday Concert. Community theater loved by many.

Wishing everyone a healthy and happy holiday season, and a marvelous new year. I’ll see you in 2023.

Trying to figure out how many golf courses there are in the Coachella Valley is not as easy a task as one would think. Some e-publications say over 120, others claim there’s more than 125, and one suggested there are at least 130. No matter which one you believe, that’s a lot of golf courses!

Links Magazine called Pam Springs a “Golf Mecca” while a Google request for “best cities to play golf in America” turned up 100 and not a peep about our 120/125/130+ courses. Meanwhile, Pete Dye’s scratching his head about that Google return because he was busy out here. He designed two beauts at La Quinta Resort; the TPC Stadium at PGA West, ranked one of the top 100 designed courses by GOLF Magazine; and one at the Westin Rancho Mirage Golf Resort. Throw in some courses designed by Arnold Palmer, Greg Norman, and Jack Nicklaus and you’re in golfer’s paradise.

Full disclosure: I cannot even hit a golf ball on an Xbox, so my level of skill is zero. But I thrifted some golf clothes and I absolutely look like I know what I’m talking about. Unless those little cute little skorts are for tennis. Either way, swing batter batter…no wait, I think that’s baseball.

Many of our clubs are members only, but there are some terrific public courses here as well:

Indian Canyons Golf Resort: This golf club dates back to 1961, and it’s where Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, and Dwight D. Eisenhower used to play. There are also two courses: the North Course and — any guesses? — yes! The South Course!

These courses are on Murray Canyon Drive and were formerly part of The Canyon Country Club, which was situated on the corners of South Palm Canyon and Murray Canyon. That club is long gone, but if you wander the corner, look down and squint, you might see it in your mind’s eye. There is still landscaping visible and a long bougainvillea’d upper path you can walk down to the golf shop and bar and grill with a spectacular view of the South Course’s greens and the mountains. But you came here for the golf, so let’s talk about that.

Indian Canyons’ South Course. Photo courtesy of Visit Palm Springs

Indian Canyons’ 6,582-yard South Course was remodeled in 2004 by architect Casey O’Callahan with consultation from LPGA legend Amy Alcott. There are four ponds, 850 palms, and 500 Washingtonia filifera, a native palm that is important to the Agua Caliente tribe. The North Course was designed by William F. Bell, son of famed golf course architect William P. Bell. The longer of the two courses, the par-72 North Course plays 6,943 yards. The course is surrounded by mid-century modern homes, including many that were once owned by Walt Disney. There are six water hazards, including a lake with a fountain that shoots spray more than 100 feet into the air. 

Book the North Course or South Course here.

Escena Golf Club: A Nicklaus Design golf course, Escena is ranked among the top public courses in California, with unobstructed sightlines and carefully placed bunkers and water hazards. “With back tees stretching to nearly 7,200 yards, Escena offers a formidable test for the skilled player, but with four sets of tees, two additional combo tee options, and room to roam, how you satisfy your personal appetite for challenge is entirely up to you,” the club says. Book tee times here. The Grill has good food and spectacular views.

The Escena Golf Club. Photo courtesy of Visit Palm Springs

Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort: This was just rated “One of the Best Places to Play” by Golf Digest, and it has two courses to choose from.

The Resort Course at Tahquitz Creek — Designed by Ted Robinson, this “friendly, yet demanding” desert links-style gold course has beautiful mountain views and scenic waterscapes. Click the link for diagrams and statistics on each hole. Tee times for Resort Course.

The Legend Course at Tahquitz Creek — This William F. Bell-designed country club style golf course has incredible mountain views. Tee times for Legend Course. If you work up an appetite, visit Traditions Cafe for aprés golf.

Gorgeous views seen from the Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort. Photo courtesy of Visit Palm Springs

If you’re downtown, you might notice a golf course behind the Hyatt. That’s the O’Donnell Course and sadly, it’s private. It is, however, the oldest golf course in Palm Springs. Stop by and stare at it for a minute.

With 120/125/130+ golf courses there are clearly many I haven’t mentioned, but the last three are public and are in Palm Springs, close to your preferred small hotel, so you can get in an early game then enjoy some time poolside before you hit the town.

With the world opening up more, it is the perfect time to visit Palm Springs. With 70 plus small hotels to choose from within Palm Spring’s city limits, deciding which one may seem like an overwhelming task. However, here are five hotels that each have a unique touch that might help with your selection.

Photo of Arrive Hotel pool

You Never have to Leave the Premises when you Stay at Arrive

Arrive

Located on North Palm Canyon, the adults-only Arrive hotel is a playful  oasis in the desert.

Here is the best thing about Arrive that you will not find anywhere else in town: their Poptails.

Made for adults only, Poptails are boozy, frozen ice pops aka childhood nostalgia for the very grown-up you. Available in rotating flavors like Aperol Spritz, Paloma, and Sex by the Pool, these housemade treats are a must. They’re available poolside for hotel guests but the locals know they can pop by and pick them up to go. It might be the best $8 you can spend on a hot day.

If you need to satisfy your caffeine or sugar craving, Arrive also has the Ice Cream Shop(pe) right on site, which is perfect if you want something a little less adult-like to cool your palate. And you can pick up speciality drinks for poolside enjoyment  or to go from the Cartel coffee shop.

 

The Cole Hotel and Biscuit and Counter Develop a Partnership

The Cole Hotel

This Palm Springs boutique hotel, designed by American Architect Hugh Kaptur in 1959, is restored and opened during the pandemic. The kitchen was expanded for the owners wanted to make their space one where visitors didn’t have to leave the premises for superb food.

Suddenly, things closed down because of Covid-19. It no longer made sense to have a full menu and chef on the premises. Biscuits and Counters had recently come to town and had no venue consistently to produce their melt-in-your-mouth biscuits, which were quickly becoming in great demand.

A partnership was developed. Biscuits and Counter made their savory biscuits in the kitchen and started to serve them in creative ways to The Cole’s guests. Now you walk out of your room and enjoy brunch by the pool.

If you want, you can meet local Palm Springs residents, for they have heard about the brunches and are coming to The Cole for a Sunday morning meetup with friends.

 

Take a Deep Breath and Enjoy the Gardens at the Dive Hotel

Dive Palm Springs

Are you dreaming of going to Europe and visiting the French Riviera?  We cannot help you with that right now, but we have a suggestion: reserve a room at Dive Palm Springs, an 11-room, adults-only boutique resort located in the heart of Palm Springs.

There are several stand-out  aspects to Dive but one of them is LuLu — an 8-foot-tall woman in a blue swimsuit and bathing cap made of neon and aluminum— who coyly greets you when you arrive.

And the other thing is Dive’s magnificent two-room, two-bed Paris Suite. It’s centerpiece is a 1919 belle époque brass and copper elevator cage that has been fully restored and converted into a Queen bed and lounge. There’s also the vintage“Not-So-Minibar” — a full-sized bar in a stunning vintage Tambour cabinet featuring 8 full bottles of premium liquors, elegant glassware and premium wines and Dom Perignon. There’s also an original copper-clad exterior window from the Flatiron building in NYC (c. 1903), reborn as an oversized antique wall mirror, the Christian Lacroix butterfly wallpaper, and antique Parisian chandeliers.  Très magnifique!

 

The Monkey Tree Offers Relaxation and Scandinavian Spa

The Monkey Tree

The 60-year old The Monkey Tree hotel has been restored to its mid-century modernism grandeur. Step back and feel what it was like when Palm Springs was the haven for movie stars escaping from the glare of the cameras.

This is the only place with an authentic Scandinavian Spa.  It has three components:

  1. First, you go into a dry sauna. (Presently, it is not open due to Covid-19 regulations – However, as soon restrictions are eliminated, it will be available again.)
  2. Then you jump into a pool cooled to 55 degrees and is for single occupancy.
  3. Finally, you go into an extra-deep jacuzzi. You sit on a bench, which allows you to have water over your shoulders. It is heated at 102 degrees and has room for two.

There are no day passes, so you can only have this “refreshing” unique experience if you are a hotel guest.

 

The Santiago Hotel has the Largest Resort Pool in Palm Springs

Santiago  

The Santiago hotel has a well-deserved reputation as one of the premier small hotels in Palm Springs that caters to gay men. This swimsuit-optional, 24-room boutique hotel is set amid luxurious and meticulously cared-for gardens.

Time for a dip? You can get plenty of exercise, for the Santiago has the largest pool at any Palm Springs resort. Enjoy a poolside lunch and drinks with misters providing the perfect cooling system on hot summer days. Picture swinging in a two-man hammock among the lush garden planted with exotic plants and cacti.  When you look up, you see the majestic mountain views with the occasional cloud dancing on the horizon.

Bonus wow: The Santiago  is the only resort in Palm Springs that includes complementary breakfast, lunch, and refreshments (served all day in the cantina).

Enjoy the tastefully decorated rooms, luxury bath products, and flat-screen TVs. You deserve a stress-free, pampered getaway.