Fun In The Sun In Palm Springs
The Desert Oasis Offers Everything A Girl Roamer Wants From Celebrities, Fine Dining, Shopping, And Plenty of Opportunities to Enjoy The Sunshine
by Heather Cassell
Golf and sun beaconed to us as Super G drove along Highway 5 in Rosie’s, our convertible Fiat, top down, with me in the passenger seat heading toward Palm Springs, California. The desert oasis has been the playground to the stars for decades and for this long weekend getaway it was going to be ours.
Palm Springs is unique with its 1950s architecture, art galleries, boutique shopping, and outdoor activities, especially its 124 pristine golf courses and plethora of hiking trails and national and state parks. The desert city offers travelers everything that they want under the sun. There simply is no other place like Palm Springs.
This trip was about golf, more specifically the Ladies Pro Golf Associations ANA Inspiration Championship, March 28 – April 3, and The Dinah, the largest women’s party and music festival, March 30 – April 3.
While these are two good reasons to head to the California Desert, Palm Springs offers year-round events such as the Palm Springs International Film Festival, Modernism Week, to the forthcoming Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, and more. Palm Springs also simply gives an excuse to lay by the pool with a good book.
But, like I said we weren’t there to simply sit poolside sipping cocktails, which we did (don’t get me wrong). There were golf stars to be seen, concerts to go to, restaurants to check out and golfing and hiking to do to work off the calories.
During the day, the Mission Hills Golf Club was packed with spectators watching female golf superstars, such as Lydia Ko and Michelle Wie, whom Super G was so excited to get a glimpse of as they competed on the green. The women were swing their clubs aiming to land the ball in the hole for a plaque of their own in the long line of winners since 1972 when the tournament was founded by Big Band era entertainer and TV personality, Dinah Shore.
Dinah was an avid golfer and an advocate for professional women golfers. A statue of Dinah pays tribute to her and marks the beginning of the plaques of female golf stars at the Mission Hills Golf Club.
At the Hilton Palm Springs (400 East Tahquitz Canyon Way; 760-320-6868; ; Hilton.com/en/hotels/california/Hilton-Palm-Springs-PSPPSHF/index.html), which is The Dinah headquarters, women splashed around the pool and bumped and grind to the hits coming from the DJ booth during the day and at night were treated to headlining hit makers Christina Perry and Meghan Trainor, emerging artists Ivy Levan and Bebe Rexha and superstar DJs.
This year The Dinah promises to deliver party goers the same top notch entertainment with rockers Elle King of “Ex’s & “Oh’s” hit maker to Hunter Valentine saying good-bye for now tour to saying hello to Madison Paige, Angel Haze, and Jolivi. Then there’s the celebrity DJs Samantha Rhonson and Mary Mac, Kate Moennig and Camila Grey, a.k.a. The X Names; and Taryn Manning and 10 emerging spin masters from the East Coast to the West Coast there to help you get your groove on. Of course Hollywood will be in the house packing The Dinah’s red carpet with Clementine Ford, Elizabeth Keener and 43 other stars.
Palm Springs is more than golf, and The Dinah and festivals. The desert city is also noted for its colorful style and being a treasure trove of mid-20th century architecture and design that takes travelers back in time to the bygone era of Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack and Marilyn Monroe and all that 1950s Hollywood glamour.
The tradition carries on in Palm Spring’s as celebrities stars line Palm Canyon Drive in the Uptown Design District. The district which pays tribute to mid-20th century Americana and the more seemingly innocent era of post-war American history and the city hosts a bevy of film festivals that roll out the red carpet for the stars celebrating its connection to the Hollywood glitz and glam of yesteryear and today.
Shopping Like A Star
If celebrity sightings aren’t enough, then perhaps the shopping will bedazzle you. One of visitors and local’s favorite stores is Lush Couture (110 South Palm Canyon Drive; 760-323-9332; ; LushPS.com) as well as Villagefest that takes over downtown Palm Springs every Thursday night.
The Uptown Design District features top designers’ boutiques, such as Trina Turk (891 North Palm Canyon Drive; 760-416-2856; ; TrinaTurk.com), and the art enthusiasts will enjoy checking out six artists studios located at the Backstreet Art District (2600 South Cherokee Way; BackStreetArtDistrict.com) off the main strip. Every Wednesday night art collectors and admirers can meet the artists themselves during the weekly Art Walk, 6 – 9 p.m.
The Uptown Design District has been completely revitalized and continues to add new and interesting boutique shops and it has been folded into Villagefest, Thursday night’s artisan shopping extravaganza.
Dine Like A Queen
Palm Springs offers a quality dining scene from longtime favorites to new experiences that we thoroughly delighted in. Much of the dining scene is upscale, especially along the main drag North and South Palm Canyon Drive, but travelers can find more moderately priced quality dining experiences on the fringes of and slightly off the main strip.
One of the quality but not overly pricey eats on North Palm Canyon Drive can be found at Jake’s Palm Springs (664 North Palm Canyon Drive; 760-327-4400; ; JakesPalmSprings.com). Jakes offers American bistro style chef-forward food for lunch, dinner and we were told it is one of the best brunch spots in the city, in a cheerful and bright casual dining setting.
We got it on good authority that Jake’s is the place, but if brunch is your thing, another decent place is Pinocchio In the Desert’s (134 East Tahquitz Canyon Way; 760-322-3776; ; PinocchioPS.com). Pinocchio’s serves up bottomless mimosas along with healthy portions. You will be set for a day of drinking and partying or heading out into the desert hiking or golfing.
Fueling up for the evening of a great show and dancing we suggest Zin American Bistro (198 South Palm Canyon Drive; 760-322-6300; PSZin.com) for American fare and good wine. If you are in the mood for an American take on European-style food Copley’s on Palm Canyon (621 North Palm Canyon Drive; 760-327-9555; CopleysPalmSprings.com) will satisfy your craving. But if you are into the old-school Italian, we suggest Johnny Costa’s Ristorante (440 South Palm Canyon Drive; 760-325-4556; JohnnyCostasPalmSprings.com) or the flavors of Greece you can’t go wrong at Miro’s Restaurant (H-, 1555 South Palm Canyon Dr #101; 760-323-5199; MirosPalmSprings.com), and to get a true flavor of Mexico we suggest Rio Azul Mexican Bar & Grill (350 South Indian Canyon Drive; 760-992-5641; RioAzulPalmSprings.com), respectively, to name a few.
For a fantastic view of the Palm Springs valley for lunch or dinner head up to the Aerial Tram’s restaurant Peaks Restaurant (1 Tramway Road; 760-325-4537; PSTramway.com/Dining.html) where you will be treated to a bird’s eye view of the desert floor while you dine and an opportunity to work off your meal walking the trails.
There’s a reason why Palm Springs is known as the “Golf Capital of the World.” Don’t let the desert setting fool you. Palm Springs boasts of 124 pristine golf courses, one of which, the Mission Hills Country Club (34-600 Mission Hills Drive; 760-324-9400; ClubCorp.com/Clubs/Mission-Hills-Country-Club), which hosts the annual the Ladies Pro Golf Associations ANA Inspiration Championship, in Rancho Mirage. The desert also offers plenty of hiking and biking trails in the from the Indian Canyons trails to the Lost Palms Oasis Trail at Cottonwood Spring in nearby Joshua Tree National Park to riding up the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway (1 Tram Way; 760-325-1449; ; PSTramway.com) to the famous San Jacinto State Park wilderness 8,500 feet above the desert floor.
We had many options in Palm Springs to work off the calories while Super G hit the green with her friends at Indian Canyons Golf Resort (1097 East Murray Canyon Drive; 760-833-8700; IndianCanyonsGolf.com). I hit the palm trails with Desert Adventures (74794 Lennon Place; 760-324-5337; ; Red-Jeep.com), which take visitors out onto the trails around Greater Palm Springs and Joshua Tree National Park, celebrity home tours, and more.
Super G and her friends had a great time hitting the green at the historic Indian Canyons Golf Resort. The 36-hole course that offers a North and South courses was once a private club that was the playground to the rich and famous.
William F. Bell, son of a famous golf course architect William P. Bell, designed the North Course, which is longer 72-par course and features a Disney fountain among other unique features.
However, Super G and her friends played a round on the South Course, which could be said was redesigned with the girls in mind by LPGA legend Amy Alcott who consulted on the design by architect Casey O’Callahan in 2004. Needless to say it’s a favorite among women golfers.
The intermediate level course is beautiful and green with its Palm Trees and four ponds surrounded by the San Jacinto Mountain Range making it a very scenic range. If you have never been to the course before it’s worth a trip and the gracious staff will make you feel right at home.
I met up with a guide from Desert Adventures who took our group out to Indian Canyons which include Andreas Canyon and Palm Canyon where we walked beneath the palms trees before braking for a brown bag lunch provided by the tour before climbing through the rocks and caves beneath the desert sun in Murray Canyon. The trails were relatively easy making for a pleasant hike that was also educational thanks to our guide informing us of the history of the area and the flora and palm trees as well as animals in the desert.
Our group also journeyed upward between a crack in the San Jacinto State Park aboard the Aerial Tramway to the trails, which offers skiing during the winter and spring and hiking and biking during the late spring through the fall.
Last year, we checked into the former Curve Hotel, which is set to re-open this month as the V Palm Springs (333 East Palm Canyon Drive; 760-327-1211; ; VPalmSprings.com). The hotel at the bend on the edge of town heading out to the desert has been getting a much needed swanky makeover for the past several months transforming it into a boutique hotel.
Across the street is the Casitas Laquita (450 East Palm Canyon Drive; 760-416-9999; ; CasitasLaquita.com), a charming woman-owned boutique hotel.
However, you can’t beat staying in the heart of the action at the Hilton Palm Springs where you can simply park your car and walk everywhere for the duration of your stay downtown if you aren’t heading out to the golf courses. The Hard Rock Hotel Palm Springs (150 South Indian Canyon Drive; 760-325-9676; ; HRHPalmSprings.com) offers a rocking stay in the heart of the action too.
Getting To Palm Springs
Needless to say, we were literally having fun in the sun between golf, pool parties, shopping, and fine dining and you can too.
From the San Francisco Bay Area we cruised down Highway 5 to Interstate 210 to Highway 111 and took Interstate 10, which dropped us into the heart of Palm Springs six and a half hours later.
From Los Angeles travelers can head east to the desert along Highway 101 South to Interstate 10 to Highway 111 in to the heart of Palm Springs about 2 hours and 15 minutes later.
Super G contributed to this article.
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