March 7-20, 2019
Palm Springs is a desert resort town where the streets are named after movie stars, golf communities line both sides of the streets and the sun shines continuously. This sounded like the perfect spot for us to visit with our motorcoach, as warm weather seekers is who we are. But there is more to the story and it’s best to start at the beginning.
When we plan our trips we usually have one main attraction in mind and for this trip that was Death Valley. We knew we needed to get there no later than March because Death Valley is famous for the hottest temperatures ever recorded on earth, and after March the temperatures start to soar over 100 degrees. So with this in mind Palm Springs seemed to be a logical and nice place to stop on our way. As we did more research on Palm Springs, we realized that this is a major winter destination for RV’ers and we were in for a big treat.
Let me begin with our RV Resort. A lot of RV parks use that “resort “ description in their name without merit, but Outdoor Resort Palm Springs is everything you think a resort should be. It has 8 heated swimming pools, 26 holes of golf, two major club houses, tennis courts, pickle ball courts, spas, fitness club, even an on site Italian restaurant! All of this less than a 10 minute drive from downtown Palm Springs.
The resort is a private ownership community so you are renting directly from the owner which is the biggest challenge in securing a spot, but we did, right on the 8th hole with a spectacular view of the golf course. The grounds are meticulously maintained and lined with flower beds and palm trees. We also found our neighbors very friendly. This is a very active community where people know and care for each other. We learned to play pickle ball from one of our neighbors and it is a game we fell in love with and will continue to play when we return home.
The area people usually refer to as “Palm Springs” actually encompasses four principal communities; Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Desert Palm and Rancho Mirage. All are intertwined and it is hard to tell when you are leaving one and entering another, they do offer different attractions and shopping districts, all very popular. Palm Springs has a delightful shopping and dining corridor along Palm Canyon Drive, where you can stroll and window shop or stop for a drink, coffee, lunch or dinner at many adorable restaurants. Palm Springs offers free public parking garages but they get really full in the afternoon.
One of the major attractions of Palm Springs is the mid century modern architecture homes and some hotels. The Indian Canyon neighborhood has famous modernist homes with colorful doors. These homes have become a tourist attraction of sorts even though they are private homes. People ride their bikes through these neighborhoods and in our case we drove there to take pictures of some of the most notable homes. We even had to compete for curb side parking with a film crew that was taking pictures of a model with a vintage car in front of one of these homes.
If those homes aren’t enough, Palm Springs is also where Elvis spent his honeymoon and you can go see that house too! We did, and found it’s currently on the market for a cool $9 million price tag.
Another famous shopping area is El Paseo Drive in Desert Palm. You can do some serious damage to your wallet with the many high end shops and art galleries. We used a lot of restraint but I found a cute pair of white capris that I had been looking for, I’m very lucky that way 😏
Another must do, if you enjoy art, is a visit to the Art Museum in downtown Palm Springs. They have an impressive permanent collection and many programs and special exhibitions. While we were there they had an exhibition called “Unsettled “ it tells a story of the Greater West through art where the artists envision a future while honoring the ancestors of the west. It was very moving at times and head scratching at others but that is art after all, it needs to draw a response from us. A tip about the museum, it is free on Thursdays from 4-8 pm.
Sitting at the edge of Palm Springs at the Gorgonio Pass of the San Bernardino Mountains, is a wind farm of over 4000 windmills with enough capacity to power Palm Springs and the entire Coachella Valley. This site was made famous in the helicopter chase scene of the movie Mission Impossible III. It is a big attraction for picture taking as they allow an area for public access. There is also a two hour tour you can take that takes you inside. We drove there for some sightseeing and took some movies and pictures. While we were there we ran across an impromptu gathering of vintage motorhomes from the 1960’s, which was a lot of fun to see and talk to the proud owners.
One of the things we really enjoy are day trips. Idyllwild, a small mountain community an hour’s drive from our resort seemed like the perfect choice. When I read that the mayor of the town is a Golden Retriever I was sold sight unseen. The mayor’s name is Max and he was a write-in candidate and democratically elected, only in California folks! The drive takes you from Palm Desert onto hwy 74, a switchback road where you climb up to over 5000 feet. The views are spectacular with plenty of vista points along the way. We arrived at the Idyllwild town square around 11am with a blistering wind and 40 degrees temperatures, but we were prepared. Is a good thing there are plenty of shops to dart in and out off for warmth, and I found a sweet wool hat that came in handy. We found out this was unusual and normally it is a bit warmer this time of year. We did some shopping and stopped for lunch at Frattello’s Ristorante and Pizzeria for a delicious pizza, wine and a slice mascarpone limoncello cake. Hope my white capris fit after this 😕
All the towns in the Palm Spring area (locals call this the Coachella valley) are very bike friendly and we took advantage of that to do some sightseeing on our bikes. The bike lanes are very wide and in some areas they transition into wash areas (a runoff area created by significant rain in the desert) which makes it unique and exciting. All this within view of the surrounding mountains makes it a truly enjoyable biking experience.
Speaking of the surroundings, there is much more to do in this area. Beautiful mountain hiking, such as Tahquitz Canyon or the Coachella valley palm oasis. Also near by is the famous Joshua Tree National Park. I have devoted separate blog posts to many of these, please check them out!
We absolutely loved this area and I know we will return. It may become a yearly event! There is that much to do and enjoy here. We are so happy to have the opportunity to enjoy and see this great country, it truly is a blessing and we count ours every day.