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By Susan Montgomery

My daughter (who is 40-something) is a busy surgeon in San Diego.  I love to travel with her, but she does not have much time to get away. The challenge is: Where can we enjoy a weekend getaway that is not too far away and still feels like a real retreat? Fortunately, we have a lot in common when it comes to our travel preferences. We both love nice hotels with all the amenities (including a fabulous pool of course), wonderful restaurants and cocktails, unique shopping, and lovely weather in the great outdoors.

We have taken a few trips to Palm Springs together and found everything we want in a getaway, including beautiful weather almost any time of year. This article highlights a few of our wonderful experiences on several trips. If you would like to visit Palm Springs with your daughter (or your mother or your sister or your best friend), you might like to stop at some of these spots too.

Stay at The Weekend

We love staying at the small boutique hotels in Palm Springs where we find privacy and serenity in lush settings. While we’ve had relaxing stays at several delightful hotels, I think The Weekend Palm Springs is an ideal choice for a mother/daughter getaway because it offers stylishly furnished two-bedroom suites. My daughter and I prefer our own rooms so this works well for us. At The Weekend, we can stay together but have our own separate rooms for sleeping. (I’ve heard that I snore, but that can’t possibly be true.)

A classic example of mid-century modern architecture, this sleek, luxurious hotel in the lovely Old Las Palmas neighborhood was once a retreat for many of the “rat pack” Hollywood celebrities. The structure has recently undergone a stunning, multi-million dollar renovation but still retains its historical character. These suites surround a beautiful, inviting pool with lounge chairs and benches. (I can just imagine Marilyn Monroe languidly lounging by the pool.) The Weekend is a peaceful getaway but still within easy walking distance of hip bars, restaurants, and shops. Included with each stay is a delicious, ample continental breakfast delivered right to your room every morning. We both love savoring early morning coffee and really looked forward to the delectable breakfast trays.

Eat and drink

There are so many special spots in Palm Springs for great food and cocktails. Here are just a few suggestions for places my daughter and I love.

Azucar is the restaurant at La Serena Villas and is a perfect stop for lunch or dinner. The setting is modish and open with an upstairs deck overlooking the mountains and the pool. The cocktails are innovative and the food is equally tantalizing. We loved the fish tacos and watermelon salad with feta, but there are many other enticing choices.

Cocktails at Azucar in La Serena Villas

Holiday House is another chic restaurant in a small hotel. Its bar focuses on creative cocktails (such as the Aperol Spritz or the Club 55 martini (made with gin, elder flower liqueur, lemon, and rosemary-infused syrup). For lunch, if you are really hungry, you will love the juicy Pantry Cheeseburger or for a healthier option, try the Baby Kale Salad topped with salmon.

Cheeky’s (adjacent to the Alcazar Hotel) is the perfect place for a tasty breakfast or lunch before exploring Palm Springs. We love their cheesy eggs and unique bacon flight accompanied by great coffee or a spicy bloody mary. (Start the day with a zing!)

Wexler’s Deli at another small hotel, Arrive, attracts a lively youngish crowd, but this older babe loved it too. The vibe is rocking and the drinks are refreshing. We tried the savory smoked fish platter that paired well with some unique cocktails, including one that looked just like a snow cone (but was infused with vodka)

For Late Night Fun

When traveling with your daughter, you can’t go to bed too early. After dinner, the night has just begun and there is lots to do in Palm Springs.

My daughter particularly enjoyed the cozy speakeasy, Seymour’s, which is hidden away in the famous steakhouse Mr. Lyons (also an excellent dining choice). Its secret location and dimly lit atmosphere capture the ambiance of prohibition days. Creative cocktails are imaginative and delicious.

The Purple Room in the Trinidad Hotel is an iconic supper club with live entertainment Tuesdays through Sundays and vintage cocktails like Old Blue Eyes, the signature old-fashioned that was evidently Frank’s favorite drink. The dinner menu also offers traditional, nicely prepared steak, fish and pasta options. When we were there most recently, the talented owner, Michael Holmes, was performing a special show with nostalgic rat pack songs that carried us back to a bygone era. I almost expected Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin to stroll out on stage to soothe us with their old favorites.

Also harking back to the Hollywood era is the Casablanca Lounge in Melvyn’s Restaurant at the Ingleside Inn. (Melvyn’s is also a romantic spot for classic dishes like Steak Diane and Bananas Foster prepared flambè at your table.) Guests sip cocktails and dance to live music most nights, making this a perfect stop for an after dinner drink.

To do:

Besides eating and drinking, there is lots to do in Palm Springs—all activities that appeal to both my daughter and me. Most of the small hotels have bikes for guests and plenty of tours are available from celebrity home bus tours to walking tours around various neighborhoods. We love the entrancing Palm Springs Art Museum. The impressive collections focus on art of the Americas and California, including Native American artifacts and contemporary glass art, highlighted by a stunning Chihuly sculpture. My daughter and I have also really enjoyed the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. In ten minutes, you can ride in a unique tramcar (with a rotating floor) from the Coachella Valley desert up 8,500 feet to a top peak of the San Jacinto Mountains. At the top you can savor the gorgeous views, hike around, and then have lunch. And of course once you are back from your tram ride, you can shop, shop, shop in the many small boutiques with unique items you can’t find anywhere else. We particularly like the shops with mid-century furnishings and décor.

We never get tired of visiting Palm Springs. There is so much to see and do — and eat and drink — and it’s so special to share the experience with your daughter — or your mother. I hope to go back with my daughter for my birthday soon.

Kay Kudukis Paints Palm Springs Red

Glorious September in Palm Springs, often offering the perfect balance between sun worshipers and those preferring a more sun-kissed look. With the lower temps and evenings cooling down substantially, the nights are delightfully dreamy. Leisurely strolls down Palm Canyon are back in style, and dining al fresco is de rigueur.

VillageFest courtesy of VillageFest

With the evenings cooling off, the VillageFest is definitely heating up! Our Thursday night street fair/party partially closes Palm Canyon Drive to traffic. Vendors are usually scattered from Amado to Baristo. Palm Canyon Drive is filled with buskers; pop-up restaurants and stores; and artisans of every ilk. Palm Springs is home to a ton of incredibly talented artists and crafters. Downtown businesses remain open, so it’s scads of fun. Even though it’s outdoors, it’s a large event and masks are required. More about that at the end.

And now, onto some most excellent adventures. Some big, some small– you can have it all in Palm Springs:

Dinah Weekend

This is for all the Sappho Sisters who have been waiting for their turn to throw a party. And this is a great one. I will talk more about it in my article All Gay, All Day. It has been my observation that lesbians are underserved in Palm Springs. Although everywhere is all-inclusive, gay bars mean mostly for men. I’ll tell you more about it in the next blog. But

If you’d like to skip my next article, you can go straight (“Never!” said every lesbian) to their website here.

Desert Rose Theater Upcoming Shows and Venue

Theater

Desert Rose Playhouse is just off its massively successful run of The Great American Trailer Park Musical (TGATPM). I saw it, and I laughed uncontrollably throughout the whole show. Those who hadn’t stopped at a dispensary prior laughed just as hard. The Rocky Horror Show will be up on stage until September 12th. Trust me when I say that this LGBTQ+ friendly theater company is full of surprises (the leads of TGATPM were in drag) so I’m looking forward to meeting their Dr. Frank-N-Furter.

Latin Nights at The Cascade Lounge courtesy of Cascade Lounge

Entertainment

Jazzville is back at The Cascade Lounge. If you wear the name jazzbo proudly (as you should) this is where you want to be on Thursdays. Book in advance. Their shows sell out pretty quickly and start at 7:00 PM.

Sunday nights get steamy at Cascade with Nacho Bustillos and Quinto Menguante’s Latin Nights. Their music ranges from salsa, cumbia, banda, bachata, reggaeton to pop. Dancing shoes are highly encouraged.

Melvyn’s Sunday Jams at the famous Ingleside Inn begin at 3pm on Sundays and go until the musicians get tired, aka dinner time. Led by Mikael Healey, it’s a lineup of the best of the best players in PS and beyond. It’s a $30 cover, it’s in Melyvn’s Casablanca Lounge, and – oh no! It’s only running through 9/26! Once again, calling all jazzbos. Also, it’s a pretty fun experience. You get to do a little bit of dress up, and drink martinis just like in the Rat Pack days.

Oscars has some special shows coming up, including evenings with Linsday Wagner and Sandra Bernardt – not together, that would be a bit “too too” even for Palm Springs. Heads would explode from nostalgia overload if the Bionic Woman and Madonna’s ex-bestie shared a stage.

Me and some of my favorite Queens

Drag Shows

Toucans – OM Stars, far too many shows to list. Check the website, prepare to stay out late, and prepare to dance your “katushies” off.

Roly China Fusion Sadly, the Drag Brunch ends on 9/5 (as of this typing). HOWEVER they have a great party planned for Pride, so give it a look-see. More in my next blog.

Bitchies Brunch at Oscars – Like you need me to tell you anything at all about this event.

PS Air Saturday Night Flight – Naughty stewardess, drinks, while you “fly” the friendly skies. Special experience.

The Judy Show starring Michael Holmes at The Purple Room

Dinner Shows

Guys– The Purple Room is back! That means The Judy Show is back! I may have just peed a little. Upcoming guests are Jane Monheit, and Lee Squared: Liberace and Ms. Peggy Lee Coming Out (of covid). Keep checking the website for updated acts, and if you’ve never been, go to The Judy Show. If you’re like me and gained the COVID ten-ish, you’ll laugh a few pounds off.

There are some returning shows and some new forms of musical and culinary insanity from the wildly creative minds of Michael Fietsam and David Horgen of PS Underground. They, too, keep adding shows, and sell-out fast, so you’ve gotta be fast on the click.

Fun and Games

Monday nights Wilma and Frieda’s turns into Ethyl’s Place and Atomic Bingo! Doors open 5:30pm, Bingo! Starts at 6:30pm.

420 Bank and Dispensary Lounge has some events coming up, so check out their events. They also have a sort of “Palm Springs’ Got Talent” show with a recording contract at Melrose Recording Studio here in PS. Hosted by Derek Jordan Gregg, you can email JayBirdBookings@yahoo.com for more info and to sign up. Every Thursday, 5:30pm-8:00pm.

Summer Sing Along is still happening at the PS Cultural Center.

Don’t forget about The PS Tramway. Super fun ride to the top of the mountain with plenty of trails to hike. Speaking of hiking, don’t forget to check out our great preserves at Indian Canyons. Tons of trails and they’re all absolutely GORGEOUS. Take water, and wear hiking shoes and socks. We got rattlers.

Scavenger hunts. I know. You were not expecting that. But what fun! It’s a bit more of a group activity, so if you don’t work and play well with others, earbuds by the pool! There are two here in Palm Springs, Viator and Let’s Roam. They are a fun addition to a walking tour, so you get to stroll through history and Palm Springs landmarks while playing a game.

In October, there’s one to support our fantastic, no-kill, Palm Springs Animal Shelter. Here’s the info on the Scavenger Hunt. If you can’t play, a small donation goes a long way. I was going to put a team together, but I only have one friend–and they’re mad at me.

Comedy

Oscars is bringing Last Laugh Comedy to the last Wednesday of every month. Comedian and host Max Mitchell is bringing his funniest friends to entertain us. I’m a comedy ho, so – see ya there.

Upping their Friday game, Cascade Lounge has Cascade Comedy. Presented by Comedy Madness, each show is 90 minutes and features a roster of comedians with past appearances on Tonight Show, Conan, Netflix, America’s Got Talent, Comedy Central, Showtime and more.

One-Off Event

Dîner en Blanc – COMING IN OCTOBER

You really need to do some planning for this one. Everything except your skin color needs to be white. Your outfit, your table and chairs (which you bring) – and your picnic basket (which you also bring…with food in it). You will not know where you will be dining until you get there, but you will be eating your own food – so no allergy issues there. You can learn all about it on their website (which I believe might also be white) where you can also sign up,

Now that our lights are back on, we’re doing our best to keep them that way. The City of Palm Springs requires that all of the clubs require proof of vaccination, so you can either whip out your card, or show them your QR code from the State of California. And, at the time of this writing, masks are required indoors, so when you put on your shoes and your shirt, stick a mask in your pocket. And then–you know what? I’m not your mom, and you’re a responsible adult, right? You know what to do.

Viva Palm Springs!

Without a doubt, Christmas in Palm Springs is bright and gay in a variety of ways. And variety is the spice of life, non?

The mornings yield a crisp temp of the low 40s, while the days are sunny and warm, in the 70s — light sweater weather. The spirit and spirits flow freely here, and if you’re not into the boozy side, there are a bunch of fun, family-oriented things to do. There are also some events that are not — family oriented, that is. Read on for all of the naughty and nice awaiting you in Palm Springs’ bright, open, and welcoming arms.

Courtesy of Palm Springs Air Museum

Palm Springs Air Museum Events

Santa Fly-In and Winter Light Show
Dec. 18-22, 6 p.m.

Each evening Santa Claus will arrive at the Air Museum in his helicopter to greet all the good little girls and boys who have come to see him. In addition to sitting for photographs and having a special gift for each child, Santa will open the museum to reveal a Christmas light spectacular for children young and old to enjoy. Details on cost per car or person TBD. 

Men Of The Desert Fashion Show & Luncheon
Dec. 5, 11 a.m.

Now in its 12th year, the Men of the Desert Fashion Show and Luncheon brings together dudes, dogs, and designer duds at the Palm Springs Air Museum. This fashionable event is held in conjunction with Animal Samaritans.

Desert Air
Dec. 10-11

Desert Air, a 21+ event that requires ID and vaccination card, debuts a dance weekend getaway under the desert sky – hosting two intimate days of world class underground dance music amongst the historic aircrafts of the Palm Springs Air Museum. No parking is available at the venue – a shuttle pass is highly encouraged for the best and easiest way to get to and from the Air Museum.

The Air Museum still has their warbird rides, too.

Miscellaneous Fun

Desert Tasty Tours
Available for most of December — check out their calendar for dates

This three hour, $85 walking tour of downtown Palm Springs features food tastings along the way. As Desert Tasty Tours puts it, “Eating your way through the tour is just one of the tasty ingredients — add a dash of history, a cup of culture, and a dollop of famous resident name dropping, and you get a delicious day of fun!” Open to guests 13 and older.

Drink, Dance, and Dine
Dec. 2, 9, 16, 23, and 30, 4 p.m.

Enjoy professional and educational performances and community dance lessons, plus hang out with the dancers at Persimmon Bistro & Wine Bar and under the sky in the gorgeous Meyerman Sculpture Garden. Presented by Nickerson-Rossi Dance.

Greentank and Friendly Farms Hall of Flowers (Cannabis Event)
Dec. 8, 5 to 9 p.m.

Eat, drink and vape your way through three specially crafted pairings that will take your tastebuds on a journey into the future of cannabis consumption. This event at Flannery Exchange features special flower sponsor guests Ball Family Farms and Humboldt’s Finest and special guest chef Jonathan Leiva from Oakland. This is a NO SMOKING event. All activations provided will be vapor only.

The Palm Springs Art Museum offers complimentary museum admission from 5 to 7 p.m. during Free Thursdays — be sure to make a reservation online ahead of time

Tours

Red Jeep Tours

Palm Springs Tram

Windmilll Tours

Dinner Theater/Shows (food is involved, okay?)

Oscar’s presents Gunhild Carling
Dec. 3 and 4

This was a HUGE hit last time around.

Purple Room
Dec. 3 and 4
The Skivvies — Say It Ain’t Snow
This troupe of entertainers dazzle with their alt-cabaret, new burlesque show.

Dec. 5,12, and 19
Judy’s Old Fashioned Christmas
Dinner starts at 5 p.m., followed by the show at 7.

Dec. 17 and 18
Diane Schuur

Courtesy of PS Underground

PS Underground

There’s so much going on — first we have Spy on Dec. 4, followed by Gospel Brunch on Dec. 5; Holiday Havoc (the elves have taken over!) on Dec. 11; Sounds of the Season on Dec. 12; Sparkle (international holiday traditions) on Dec. 17; and Rouge (1920s Speakeasy) on Dec. 30.

Theater/Movies

Palm Springs Cultural Center

Classic musical movies on the big screen again. 

Dec. 4: Victor/Victoria

Dec. 18: Best Little Whorehouse In Texas

Dec. 25: White Christmas

Palm Canyon Theater 

The Sound of Music

Dec. 3, 10, 11, 17, 18 at 8 p.m.

Dec. 5, 12, 19 at 2 p.m.

Dec. 9, 16 at 7 p.m.

Holiday Sparkle Christmas pageant

Dec. 15

Desert Rose Playhouse

Christmas With The Crawfords
Dec. 9, 16, 23 at 7 p.m.
Dec. 10, 11 17, 18, 24 at 8 p.m.
Dec 12, 19, 26 at 2 p.m.

We find Ms. (Joan) Crawford prepping for her infamous 1940s Christmas Eve radio broadcast, with Christina and Christopher in tow. The show is a 90-minute parade of famous movie stars dropping by unannounced to sing, dance, and generally toss each other around. You know the gang: Hedda Hopper, Ann Miller, Baby Jane Hudson, Judy Garland, Gloria Swanson, Ethel Merman, Carmen Miranda, Mae West. and even the Andrew Sisters.

Brian Justin Crum Holiday in the Desert
Dec. 3 and 4
Brian Justin Crum is an American singer and actor from San Diego. In 2016, he came to national attention competing on the 11th season of America’s Got Talent, taking fourth place.

The Nutcracker, presented by CK Dance Company
Dec. 21 and 22
CK Dance, Palm Springs’ award-winning dance company, returns to the beautiful Annenberg Theater at the Palm Springs Art Museum for its 25th Anniversary performances of the quintessential holiday ballet The Nutcracker.

Music

Jazzville Wednesdays — see calendar for information on shows

Oscar’s — lots of fun recurring events

Martinis and Moxie – A Desert Society Social
Dec. 12 at 6 p.m.
Celebrating the music and life of Frank Sinatra.

Purple Room

You don’t have to have dinner to listen to some great music during the week, but the food’s pretty fab and they have a great happy hour.

Mondays: Charles Herrera and Keisha D’ perform timeless classics that inspire the soul.

Tuesdays: Rose Mallett, jazz legend, sings the music of Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughn, Duke Ellington, and more.

Wednesdays: Michael Holmes and Darci Daniels swing to the music of the Rat Pack era.

Thursdays: Sharon Sills, Sass, Sex and Song. One of the desert’s most popular performers.

Drag and Nekked Men

A May Zing Sundays at Chill

Andy Santiago presents a drag brunch with no compromises. RuPaul’s Drag Race‘s Honey Davenport hosts Drag Race‘s Mariah Paris Balenciaga. Featuring Jazmyn Simone and Lauren Banall.

PS Drag Brunch
Roly China Fusion presents the only Sunday Dim Sum drag brunch in Palm Springs. Multiple dates, with tickets starting at $15.

Savage Men Male Revue
Dec. 3 at 9 p.m. Tickets start at $20.

Hunk-O-Mania Male Revue Strippers Show or is it Illusions? If you figure it out, let me know…
Dec. at 9 p.m. Pete’s Hideaway. Tickets start at $30.

AirOtic Soirée: An open air burlesque cirque style cabaret
Hunters Palm Springs. Tickets start at $48.

New Years Eve, Rock & Roll Bash at the World Famous Palm Canyon Roadhouse
Dec. 31 at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $20.

Cheers in the new year at the Light It Up New Year’s Eve Block Party at Agua Caliente Palm Springs’ Cascade Lounge. Dance the night away while DJ Lady Kate takes the stage starting at 8 p.m. From food trucks to fireworks and all in between, bring the family out for a great evening!

I’m sure there are more NYE events, but getting that info seems to require selling my first-born cat, and I am not sure which one it is…

Also, coming up on Jan. 6 is the Palm Springs International Film Festival, so book your rooms and get your tickets now.

As always, stay safe, wear your mask, and carry your vaccination card or recent negative test with you at all times. You can still have fun following these rules — I’ve had some wildly fun times since they let me out of my house.

When it comes to 2022, here are some wise words from the grand dame of words, Dorothy Parker: Let the past die, my child, and go gaily on from its unmarked grave. 

Happy everything, everyone!

Did you know that Palm Springs is internationally famous? Well, it is. Since 2006, people from all over the planet have been coming to Palm Springs during the month of February for the banging party we call Modernism Week. It’s like the United Nations all up in here.  

Before the big event, Modernism Week holds a four-day preview in October called Modernism Fall Preview (a.k.a. Mini-Mod Week), running from October 14 through 17. It’s jam-packed with loads to do — over 50 events!  

Modernism Week and Mini-Mod Week are so popular the best events sell out the same day they go on sale. So unless some fabulous bit of wizardry transpires (it might, Palm Springs is magical), forget about Sunnylands and Frank Sinatra’s Twin Palms Estate Tour. There’s plenty left to see though, from significant mid-century modern home tours to architectural double decker bus tours. 

You can dress as you like, but a lot of people choose to pull out their pedal pushers and fedoras — whatever it takes to achieve that retro look. During Mini-Mod Week, the town takes on that old-timey feel of the ’50s and ’60s.

There are some cool cocktail-style events, but those sell out pretty fast. One of my very favorite supper clubs, PS Underground, has a brand new show for this year called Beatnik. Hurry and book, their shows are always outstanding. 

Even if you miss out on your favorite events, there’s still the main event at the Palm Springs Convention Center where you can browse everything mid-century modern, including art, furniture, and lighting. You can find a list of exhibitors here. 

If you’re the curious type like me, or a little iffy on modernism, this article breaks down mid-century modern art for you. The same with architecture here. 

Friday night is the big opening night party for the Modernism Show and Sale. Tickets are $75 in advance and $85 at the door. A purchase to the opening night party gives you access to the show on Saturday and Sunday. 

Skipping the party? (You’re gonna say “no” to a party?!) You can still buy a ticket for Saturday and Sunday that will cost you one Jackson (soon to be Tubman!) and gets you in both days so you can shop ‘til you bop later on that evening. 

Whether you do or don’t plan on going to the Modernism Week preview, but love the vibe of the mid-mod experience, we have mid-century modern hotels for the complete experience. There are 25 of them, all with great amenities — learn more about these fabulous spots here. 


The Purple Room, a Rat Pack-inspired supper club, has some of the finest entertainment in town. Here are the weekend shows during Modernism Preview:  

October 14: Sharon Sills (every Thursday) 

October 15: Branden and James — vocals and cello performing the Lady Gaga songbook 

October 16: Branden and James  — vocals and cello performing the Lady Gaga songbook 

October 17: The Judy Show (my favorite show in town! Every Sunday.) 

Also, check out V Wine Lounge, where the vibe is so retro you’ll squee. 

By the way, the bus tours are hella fun. I am a tour guide assistant and even from my view (I sit in the bottom of the bus, you’ll be on top — bring sunscreen and hold onto your hats!) it’s a fun and informative 2-and-a-half hour ride. 

Hope to see you there, and let’s go retro!