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From the beginning, the land the Cahuilla called Se-Khi (“boiling water”), the place Spanish explorers dubbed the ridiculously wordy La Palma de la Mano de Dios (“the palm of God’s hand”), and the city now (succinctly) known as Palm Springs, should probably have been named what it is: Paradise.

In the early 1900s, Palm Springs was the spot to cure lung ailments, and evolved into a place where scads of tennis-happy movie stars and U.S. presidents with a penchant for golf and impeccable hospitality came to live their best lives away from the cameras. 

More recently it’s evolved into a foodie paradise with 18-carat jazz, award winning cabaret, and fantastic theatre. (I know, Americans spell it “theater,” but generally stage companies use the British spelling because … drama.) All the musicians and actors tired of the rat race live and thrive in 350 days of sunshine per year, with a gorgeous mountain backdrop (including the second highest peak in California) and a million stars dazzling the night sky. So, if you’re a bit earthy/crunchy, and crave a relationship with the Earth, Palm Springs is your mecca. 

We can’t float your boat (our water’s mostly underground), but we can sizzle your bacon (in the summer, with just the sun) in our soul-satisfying, untouched wilderness.

Hiking in Palm Springs

Palm trees and rocks against a blue sky in Indian Canyons in Palm Springs, California

A hike in Indian Canyons is always a good idea. Photo courtesy of Visit Palm Springs

Indian Canyons — Located at the end of South Palm Canyon, this is the ancestral home of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. Out here, with the exception of the Trading Post at the “end” (and a few hiker amenities), it’s just you and nature. One blog purports that you may “run into some old rock art, house-pits, irrigation ditches, dams, trails or food preparation areas while hiking in the canyons,” and now I have to go back and find them all, damnit.

There are three canyons to hike here (weirdly I thought there were more) and just like the rooms in your house, they’re all a bit different.

Murray Canyon This is the only trail I have personally hiked in Indian Canyons. It’s a lot of flat land with nothing going on until you hit the copse of palm trees in the distance, and then I think a chorus of angels sang as we stepped beneath the trees and into another world. Suddenly it was all flora and wildlife, and I swear someone turned on an air conditioner. We crossed a couple of streams, one a bit bigger than expected, and we both chose a different path across. I was on the other side when I heard my friend shriek “RATTLER!” I did not see it (just the snake sunbathing at the entrance where we parked. I don’t know if he’s there every day, though. You know how snakes are.) We never made it to the small waterfall at the end. Someone, who was incredibly out of shape, got tired. Might have been me. 

Andreas Canyon — At 1.2 miles, it is the shortest of the three hikes, and I wish I’d known that. From their website: “A scenic foot trail leads through the canyon passing groves of stately skirted palms, unusual rock formations, and the perennial Andreas Creek. One can still see bedrock mortars and metates used centuries ago for preparing food. This tranquil setting is excellent for photography, bird-watching, or a picnic at one of the tables along the trail.”

Palm Canyon — At 15 miles, it’s the Mack Daddy of the trio. At the top is that Trading Post I mentioned earlier and just beyond the lip is one of the most breathtaking views you’ll see in your lifetime. In fact, here’s this tidbit from their website: “Palm Canyon is one of the areas of great beauty in Western North America. A moderately graded foot path winds down into the canyon for picnicking near the stream, meditation, exploring, hiking, or horseback riding.”

While it falls under the Indian Canyons banner, the Tahquitz Trail is just west of downtown, and was the stand-in for Shangri-La in the 1937 film Lost Horizon. It’s that stunning. This is not a difficult hike (I did it with ease), and you are rewarded at the end with a beautiful waterfall gushing into a pool of water. And yes, you can hop on in.

All of the above: $12 for adults, $7 for seniors and students, $6 for children. Military get in for free (thank you for your service!). Equestrian fees are $11 (where riding is allowed).

Horseback riding around town

Two people ride horses through the Palm Springs desert landscape

Just horsin’ around in Palm Springs. Photo courtesy of Visit Palm Springs

For centuries, this was the only way to get around in Palm Springs — everybody was on a horse. Palm Springs is a great place to experience what it was like in the Old West, and Smoketree Stables will get you as close to that feeling without the hardship. I love horseback riding, but throughout the years haven’t been particularly successful at it. I had one horse that decided I needed to experience a run at full gallop my first time riding. Yet, I persisted. Several horses have tried to knock me off with low hanging branches, and one time the saddle was improperly buckled, and the saddle and I ended up perpendicular to the horse’s belly. Cats and dogs, on the other hand, love me as long as I don’t try to ride them. 

This link has everything you need to know for a much better experience than the ones I’ve had. They’ll hook you up so you can ride through Murray Canyon on a personal or group ride.

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

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

Temperatures are much cooler at the top of the tramway. Courtesy of Visit Palm Springs

Most of us go for the gondola ride to the top, and have a nice lunch then gaze at the city below before we get in line for the ride back down. However, if you are an action figure, Mt. San Jacinto State Park is the place for you. Luckily, you are already in it. From their website: “Mt. San Jacinto State Park offers over 50 miles of hiking trails located within a 14,000-acre pristine wilderness, one of the last in California. All trails are accessed by exiting the Mountain Station and descending a concrete pathway to Long Valley. There you will find picnic tables, the ranger station, flush toilets, and several easy trails.”

This is the link that will lead you to the trails and a map. And the outdoor fun is not just limited to hiking. During the winter you can snowshoe and cross-country ski, and if you’re a crazy person you can camp. This stuff requires a wilderness permit, but it’s free.

For those who are certifiably insane, you can hike the tram station to Idyllwild. That link is to a great little website that tells you everything you need to know about any particular trail, plus hiker experiences, current temps, and difficulty. Tram to Idyllwild is a tough hike that is 9.6 miles and takes roughly six hours point to point. 

Stargazing in the desert

Palm Springs is shy on street lamps, which keeps the light pollution at bay. Many of our preferred hotels are tucked away in even less lit neighborhoods so you can hang by the pool in a chaise lounge and oooh and ahhh with a cocktail in your hand. But for those who are looking to get up close and personal with the cosmos, book with Sky Watcher. A knowledgable guide with telescopes and special glasses (not filled with alcohol) will take you on a tour of our planetary neighbors. 

Where to stay

Villa Royale Hotel exterior sign with a hedge and palm trees behind it

Welcome to the Villa Royale. Photo courtesy of Villa Royale

Any of our Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels will be a great experience, but for this particular type of outing, I have a few specific suggestions.

For that “by the pool under the night sky with a cocktail” experience, Villa Royale is a good choice. On the southeast end of Palm Springs, it’s far enough away from Palm Canyon that the few street lamps we do have won’t hinder your experience. 

For a completely earthy-crunchy immersion, try the exotic Korakia. Dressed up as a pensione somewhere in the Middle East, they’ve got yogurt and yoga and they’re very big on tea.

Deeper pockets will take you to The Willows Historic Palm Springs Inn. It sits higher up than most of the other inns (stargazing at a premium) and has a wonderful garden where Albert Einstein himself used to sunbathe nude. If you see dead people, that would be a great sighting. 

Here’s a link for you to sort it out yourself because I have to go. I’m craving granola.

“One thing about flying that he never got used to was that no matter how awful the weather was on the ground, if you flew high enough you could always find the sun.” ― Tom Clancy, The Hunt for Red October

On the ground, in the air, you can always find the sun in Palm Springs. It shines 360 days out of the year. And when I say “shine,” I do mean shine. October is generally gorgeous. You may hit a few days in the 100s, but mostly it will be 80s and 90s, great for the pool and for keeping your summer tan in top notch shape. Evenings can get cool-ish, so bring a light wrap/jacket when you go out to one of the many events available to you here in Palm Springs.

This month (and next!)  is all about the big events. We’ve got Modernism Week-October, Halloween, and then Pride. The excitement is palpable; I’m all giddy inside.

A lot of these events partner with the big hotels, but in order to have a true Palm Springs experience, check out our boutique hotels and resorts. They’re all about you. A smaller footprint means exceptional customer service. And if you’re one of those folks that doesn’t like being fussed over, there are plenty of options that operate like a VRBO — you let yourself in, and although people are close at hand if you need them, you’ll otherwise never see ’em. Two such hotels are Talavera and The Weekend.

The lovely pool area at Weekend Palm Springs. Photo courtesy of The Weekend Palm Springs

Special note: The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is closed until Oct. 10.

New restaurant alerts:

Bread and Flours, a sourdough bakery, just opened on the north end near Toucan’s (they share a parking lot) and Boozehounds, the very dog-friendly bar and restaurant.

The Front Porch doesn’t have a website yet (that I can find) but it is (you’ll never guess) the front porch of Farm, located in The Plaza. It’s all indoors, and it’s small, so make it a date night. If you’ve never been to Farm, you are missing out. Their food is outstanding and their ambiance equally so. If you can’t get in, my other little French favorite is L’Atelier right across the way, just beyond Tyler’s, which is open again! You must check out all three, writer’s orders.

Coming soon: The same couple that owns Farm created Tac/Quila, a fabulous, high-end Mexican restaurant specializing in seafood. This is gonna sound weird (at least it did to me) but have the fried avocado as an appetizer. It’s batter-fried, like tempura, and ZOMG is it good! But that’s not why I’m writing this. Just like Farm, Tac/Quila is going to open another bar/restaurant called Clandestino, featuring a smaller food menu and a larger bar. Its motto seems to be “shhh, no one will know you’re here unless you tell them.”

Cheers to good friends. Photo courtesy of Visit Palm Springs

And now, the main events:

Oct. 1 and 2: 15th Annual Palm Springs Body, Mind, Spirit Weekend at Crystal Fantasy. This is a HUGE event with classes (and more) in just about every spiritual art. If you’re interested in reiki, crystals, chakras, tarot, and psychic readings, you’ve found your home.

Oct. 2: Palm Springs Vintage Market at Palm Springs Cultural Center. Held the first Sunday of the month, it’s the best place around to get vintage everything. Why? Because it’s vintage dealers from all over selling their treasures. Go get you some.

Oct. 7: Fellini Retrospective: AMARCORD, a scathing satirical critique of Italian provincial life during the 1930s, the height of the fascist period. Bar opens at 5 p.m. with Italian food specials, followed by AMARCORD at 7 p.m. Come early and mingle with fellow film lovers.

Oct. 13-16: Modernism Week-October. I’m going to be a tour guide assistant this year, so if you see me in the bottom of your bus, please say hello!

Oct. 15 and 16: Modernism Show and Sale Fall Edition

Oct.15: Sky Islands and Climate Refugia at the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. It’s a hike, what more can I say? Oh yeah, it costs the price of a ticket up.

Oct. 21: LGBTQ Center Stage Event. (Don’t ask me who Rob is, I have no idea. They think he’s/she’s me.) The Center Stage gala will be held at the Palm Springs Air Museum amid stunning views of the San Jacinto Mountains and departing planes, dazzlingly catered by the iconic LULU California Bistro (great food and people watching at their location). Entertainment will include Jennifer Corday, award-winning and out-and-proud lesbian singer/songwriter, and Brian Justin Crum, the top-charting queer singer-songwriter and former America’s Got Talent finalist!

Oct. 29: Palm Springs Air Museum Chili Cook-Off & Car Show. Museum admission includes car show. Chili tastings are $1 each or $5 for six tasting tickets. Car show opens at 10 a.m., while tastings start at 11 a.m. To enter a vehicle, please call 760-774-9936 or email packard1708@gmail.com. It says it’s going to be spooky, so maybe I should have put this in the Halloween post, but unless you’re afraid of chili and flying, I don’t see a lot of spooky.

There’s plenty more happening this month — for ticketed food and entertainment, make sure to check out The Purple Room, PS Underground (new spiffy website!), The Alibi, Oscar’s, Cascade Lounge (for comedy, Jazzville, blues and Latin music in the casino), and Melvyn’s (located in the historic Ingleside Inn) for a damn fine time. Also, Palm Springs Cultural Center, a.k.a. Camelot Theatres, has a bunch of fun to be had. Not just movies (they’re great, it’s a 58′ screen!) but also booze, food, and entertainment. Here’s the weekly stuff.

The Casablanca Lounge at Melvyn’s. Photo courtesy of Melvyn’s

Heads up for November:

Rock the Plaza. This all-star concert on Friday, November 11, is a fundraiser to save the historic Plaza Theatre in Palm Springs. Featuring Alice Cooper, Paul Rodgers (Free, Bad Company), Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age), Orianthi (Michael Jackson, Steve Vai, Alice Cooper), and many, many more musicians. Hosted by Chris Carter, music producer and SiriusXM DJ. Tickets are $175 per person and up.

Pride is in November, and if you’re looking for somewhere to hang out and enjoy the festivities, try Roly China Fusion.

If you need somewhere to stay for Pride, we’ve got you covered. We have a fabulous selection of all-male clothing-optional hotels. Just use the dropdowns to sort.

Happy birthday to all the Libras and Scorpios out there, and when you come here to celebrate, please shop and stay local. It keeps the lights on.

See you next month!

The streets are filled with people celebrating Pride. Photo courtesy of Visit Palm Springs

You woke up in Palm Springs — what a great way to start the day! You may be wondering, what kind of things are there to do other than shop, eat, and soak up the rays poolside at my wonderful boutique resort? 

Tons, people, tons! And these are all outdoors so you can enjoy the spectacular weather. Here are some suggestions, ranked in order of how much energy you’re willing to part with.

I’ve got about an eighth of a tank

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
This could belong in every category depending on what you choose — the red pill or … nah, no pills involved, except perhaps Dramamine; the gondola can sway a titch. For the ‘not too active,’ shop in the gift store, ride the gondola up, have lunch, check out the views, ride the gondola back. For the very active, get a list of the trails and stick around. If you do some planning before you go, you can hike just about anywhere. But that’s for a very aggressive day, which I hear some people like. You need a full tank and a generator for those.

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Photo credit: Visit Palm Springs

Downtown Park
By the Palm Springs Art Museum. Peep the Marilyn statue, the babies, the car, and snap some very cool photo ops. Highly Instagram worthy.

Sunnylands
Bird walks and outdoor films. Truly gorgeous grounds.

Palm Springs POWER baseball
Not a lotto game, but our baseball team. Games start in June. Wear a hat.

Living Desert
It’s a beautiful zoo — the animals are well cared for, and you can feed the giraffes. FYI: They’re not walking around willy-nilly and you feed them a leaf in passing, during supervised feeding times. Sorry if I crushed any dreams.

The Living Desert. Photo credit: Visit Palm Springs

Red Jeep Desert Tours
Take a ride in a Jeep and go see things. They’ve got plenty of options.

Path of the Bighorn (self-tour of bighorn sheep sculptures)
Scattered all over the Coachella Valley are 33 bighorn sheep sculptures. The Peninsular desert bighorn is an endangered species, and the Path of the Bighorn gives visitors the opportunity to appreciate incredible art and the beauty of the animal. I haven’t seen an IG story about them yet, so someone get on that.

A bighorn sheep in the wilds of Palm Springs. Photo credit: Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels

Hot Air Balloon Rides in Indio
Is it romantic, is it thrilling, or will it scare the birthmark off of you? You decide. But the Coachella Valley is spectacular from the sky.

Skywatcher star tours
State-of-the-art telescopes give you views of the cosmos, while “experienced guides weave together the myths and legends behind each constellation,” Skywatcher’s website states. These tours combine “breathtaking views and awe-inspiring astronomy with the heroes, lovers, and tragic figures from cultures around the world.” Also, they’re pretty.

The Dinosaurs Exhibit
Artist Ricardo Breceda’s public art installation Jurassic World consists of 11 life-sized dinosaurs, complete with name tags (one’s name is Steve, he’s a T-Rex. Okay, that’s just what I call him). This one is courtesy of Museum of Ancient Wonders and Cathedral City. Brecada also has sculptures in Borrego Springs.

I’ve got at least a half a tank

Boomers
Fun for all ages: Go-karts, three mini-golf courses, batting cages, bumper boats, arcade games, and a rock wall. I went here for my birthday one year and I’m an overgrown adult.

Bucket of balls
At Indian Canyons Golf Course. They’re like $8, and after you’re done, you can have a cocktail at the full bar and eat a tasty lunch in the clubhouse. And the grounds are stunning.

Palm Springs Historical Society walking and biking tours
So many to choose from! Put on some comfy shoes, pick your decade, and giddy-up.

Full tank and four-wheel drive

Smoke Tree Stables
Probably should have saved the giddy-up for this sentence. Instead, I’ll tell you that there are three ride options, but one is on hold. Prices per person are $80-$200, depending on your choice. Closed Wednesdays and Thursdays.

If you’re enjoying riding one of the bikes provided by your hotel and want to go exploring, then check out the City of Palm Springs bicycle routes map.

Guests at Talavera Palm Springs can use these bikes to tool around town. Photo credit: Talavera Palm Springs

Bring your balls

In bold are the sporty things you can do at our local parks.

DeMuth Park
4200 E Mesquite Ave., in Demuth Community Center
Colorful playground, four lit tennis courts, baseball fields, and a youth center.

Ruth Hardy Park
700 Tamarisk Rd.
This 22-acre park features tennis, basketball and sand volleyball courts, plus picnic tables and grills.

Sunrise Park
480 S Sunrise Way
Basketball court, baseball field, picnic tables, grills, drinking fountains, restroom facilities, and play structures, including water-squirting turtles. Also here: Library Center, Swim Center, Palm Springs Stadium, and Palm Springs Skate Park.

Baristo Park
296 S Calle Encilia
Local two-acre park with play equipment, a basketball court, picnic tables, and grills.

You’re not my mom. No, I’m not, but I care. So wear sunscreen, always have water on hand, and drink it (rinse, repeat). Also, throw a few snacks in the backpack. No one likes a hangry hiker. Especially not the (ridiculously handsome) EMTs who have to rescue your sorry tush because you didn’t hydrate.

If you think about it, tag us in your photos. We love seeing your adventures, and with your permission and photo credit, we’d love to share them here if that’s cool with you. 

Speaking of cool, no — you are.