Due to popular demand, we are revisiting this story in time for a visit to the desert during the season. This year, due to excessive rain, the desert flowers are at their peak in March and April. Enjoy!
Whether you are into shopping, the outdoors, entertainment or just lounging by the pool, Palm Springs is your weekend destination. A little more than an hour by plane (Alaska Airlines has three daily non-stops from SFO) or about seven hours by car, this desert community has something for everyone.
More than 100 years ago, Palm Springs was a sleepy village situated in what were once hallowed Indian canyons. By the turn of the 20th Century, it was thought to be a place with restorative powers, due to the natural hot springs. By the 1920’s, it was discovered by movie makers and the Hollywood elite. Considered just far enough from Los Angeles to be out of the reach of tyrannical studio heads, movie stars flocked to the area to let down their hair and party like early rock stars.
As the era of Old Hollywood faded, the “Rat Pack,” headed by Frank Sinatra made it their own, building luxurious homes and backing the building of high end resorts and golf courses. But by the 80s, Palm Springs had become a faded beauty, known for tacky tee-shirt shops and retirees.
Enter Sonny Bono. The entertainer, restaurant entrepreneur and social activist ran for mayor and to everyone’s surprise, won the seat. Bono worked hard to bring the charisma back to the area, starting the Palm Springs International Film Festival, helping to restore the city core and bringing media attention back to the desert community. Sadly, he was killed in a tragic ski accident in 1998 .
But his work and dreams live on. Today, Palm Springs is a happening place, full of fascinating things to do, places to visit and of course that unbeatable weather.
Here’s how you can experience your own Palm Springs Weekend:
3:00 p.m.: Take the mid-afternoon flight from SFO to PSP. Check into the Ace Hotel, the newest and hippest hotel in the city. You may see in its stark white walls and orange doors a faint resemblance to a 60’s Motel 6, which it once was. The room rate varies by season, so check the website to make reservations.
6:00 p.m.: Head to Tropicale in downtown PS for cocktails and dinner. The outside patio is a great place to meet new friends while you enjoy the warm evening air. The restaurant has both indoor and outdoor seating. Serving a Hawaiian Fusion menu, entrees run from about $15 to $25.
10:00 p.m.: Don’t miss a show of the Palm Springs Follies. You may have to order tickets ahead of time as this is the most popular show in the city. 60 and 70 year old showgirls sing and dance their way through the music of the 1930s to 1950s. Las Vegas has nothing on this extravaganza.
9:00 a.m.: After breakfast at the Kings Highway at the Ace, rent scooters right out front and motor around the fascinating mid-century neighborhoods nearby. Stop at the top of Palm Canyon Drive, and look south for a dead on view of Bob Hopes house, designed by famed architect John Lautner.
Noon: Park your scooter in front of LOOK, for lunch. The lime green and black and white décor makes for a perfect place to experience the ultimate PS vibe. The food and service are the best with a covered patio to keep you out of the sun. My favorite, a wrap called Nuts and Clucks runs just under $10.
2:00 p.m.: Continue your scooter tour through the downtown neighborhoods of Las Palmas, The Movie Colony and Old Tuscany. Get a map of the celebrity homes just about anywhere downtown so you don’t miss the pad where Elvis spent his honeymoon with Priscilla or the Peter Lawford house, where it’s said Marilyn Monroe secretly met with Bobby Kennedy.
6:00 p.m.: Cool your tired body with a margarita and dinner at El Mirasol. This come as you are Mexican restaurant attracts all types, from blue haired grandmas to families to in- the-know gay men. Get there early, as it gets crowded. Once you have your table, don’t hurry the meal. The people-watching is as good as the food. Their signature margarita is about $8, but the food itself is very inexpensive.
9:00 p.m.: Stroll along the retro shops of north Palm Canyon. Window shop, take in an art gallery opening or grab a gelato.
10:00 a.m.: Right across from the Ace is Koffi, where you can sit by the fountain and enjoy the view of Mt. Jacinto. Also be sure to check out Koffi downtown, where Sunday morning is an event with the grassy yard filled with morning people and their dogs. Right next door is Just Fabulous, where you can buy gifts, cards and books on the history and homes of Palm Springs.
1:00 p.m.: Palm Springs is famous for its consignment stores. Two of the best are The Estate Sale and J & J Consignments. Peruse everything from furniture to art to jewelry here. If you see something you like, buy it. By tomorrow, it may be gone.
4:00 p.m.: As your afternoon draws to a close, take time to lounge by the pool. The Ace pool area is usually rocking with a lively crowd on late Sunday afternoons.
7:00 p.m.: Palm Springs is loaded with entertainment options. From the McCallum Theatre to the Annenberg Theater to the many casinos in the area, there is always a great artist in town. Recent concerts ran the gamut from Reba McIntyre to Earth, Wind and Fire to Adam Lambert.
Sadly, you’ll have to catch that Monday flight home. But this is one weekend you won’t forget while you make notes of all the things still to do on your next visit.--SEW
140 E. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs
760 323 0721
The Estate Sale
Palm Springs Follies
Last Updated (Sunday, 06 March 2011 01:32)