Getaway to Palm Springs

In North America, Staycations by LA Travel Magazine

Life is so hectic these days that I find myself in dire need of a vacation at least once a month. Sure, we all wish we could jet set off to Europe or Fiji every time we need to clear our heads, but unfortunately that isn’t always a realistic tripaholic craving.

Got a few days? A quick getaway is the best way to really recharge the batteries and rejuvenate the spirit. With only two to three days off, a weekend excursion, or even a road trip means going somewhere close while still getting far away from it all to spend some quality “me” time.

It’s a beautiful day so we roll down our windows, crank up the iTunes playlist and make our way to Palm Springs. Palm Springs has been a destination of the Hollywood elite for years. For the same reasons that the rich and famous flock here, it’s also a great place for a relaxation getaway. The perfect place to slow down the pace for a while and just breathe. Things to accomplish on the weekend agenda include eating, shopping, checking out the zoo, Knott’s Soak City, eating some more and a journey up the aerial tramway to explore the cliffs of Chino Canyon.

While there are certainly enough chain hotels to appease the skeptical traveler, it’s the small boutique hotels that truly reflect what Palm Springs is all about. This is why our hotel of choice was the Saguaro located just seconds from downtown.  The Sydell Group acquired the hotel in mid 2011 with a plan to fully renovate the property into a resort celebrating the natural desert surroundings of Palm Springs. On the heels of their successful launch of the Saguaro Scottsdale, Sydell assembled the same team of creative partners to help re-launch this hotel, also named The Saguaro [suh-warh-oh], after the iconic cactus of the Sonoran Desert. Although many Palm Springs hotels are stuck in the past, with outdated décor and under-par entertainment, there are a few desert gems that are definitely worthy of your time, this was one of them.  The vibrant color set follows the light spectrum, which in turn creates different perspectives of the hotel according to the time of day.

Once checked in it was time to hit the town and grab some dinner.  Adobe Grill at the La Quinta Resort came highly recommended.  We couldn’t wait to eat their after all the praise so we didn’t waste any time. Table for 2 please. The best part of the meal was the tableside Guacamole.  The ingredients were so fresh, the avocados perfectly ripe…what was their secret?  After speaking with the server he explained that the restaurant had their own garden and at the end of our meal Chef Stephen Strickland would be happy to show us.  Wow!  What Chef does that on a busy Saturday night?  Now that is truly over the top customer service!  I was impressed.

For our entrees we ordered Chicken Mole Oaxaca and the award winning Tamales.  Both were fabulous and the Tamales were the best I have tried to date.  I highly recommend them!  After our full meal the Chef guided us on a tour of the garden and resort grounds as promised.  I have never stayed at La Quinta but that will definitely be changing on our next trip out.  The landscape is beautiful and I feel like we’re in another world.  This resort is perfect for the whole family even our four legged friends are welcome here, we will be back.  The Chef recommends we try PGA West while we are visiting and my other half is quick to agree and sign us up for a round the following morning.

The next morning we headed to PGA West at the La Quinta to see what the Chef’s recommendation was all about. We get paired up with none other than pro golfer Lucas Lee, this ought to be good. After watching him at the first hole I am intimidated, on the other hand maybe he will give me some pointers and at least help me hit the ball in the right direction. We approach the 9th hole and I am still waiting for that a-ha moment but unfortunately it never comes and it’s apparent to me; I will never be a pro golfer.

Next stop for the day the Living Desert Zoo. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting out of the Living Desert Zoo before I arrived. A few desert animals and some birds hiding from the desert heat in small enclosures surrounded by cacti. To my surprise there were all types of animals from North America and Africa. The big horn sheep walking along the side of a rocky hill is definitely not to be missed. If you can catch a glimpse the cheetahs and jaguars are incredible. We arrived at just the right time, at 10am the zoo allows guests to feed the giraffes. What amazing creatures, with beautiful eyelashes may I add…are those extensions?

After touring the zoo and playing some morning golf, the Palm Springs weather is brutal and we are dying of heat.  Knott’s Soak City sounded like the perfect way to cool off!  Twenty-four waterslides and attractions keep tourists and locals alike happily entertained at the park all day.  Our first stop is the Coronado Express tube ride, so much fun!  We made sure to hit every ride and then ended our day in the lazy river.

Back at the hotel, I am dreaming of a repeat of last night’s dinner.  Would it be weird to go to Adobe Grill two nights in a row? After an easy convincing we decide to head back for round two.  The experience again is amazing and the food, just as good as the night before.  When a place is this good you just have to go back.  This time we paced ourselves and spent the rest of the evening enjoying the live music outside the restaurant.  It was a perfect end to a perfect day.

We awoke refreshed and ready to take on the world.  “How about getting some exercise and fresh air” says the other half.  I agree it was time to work off all that Mexican food.  I wasn’t sure what he had in mind until we pulled on to the long windy road heading up the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.  I had always wanted to visit but never made the time.  My mistake.  Once aboard the tram, I am amazed at the views as we lift our way into the mountains above.  Once we had arrived the fresh air and 55 degree temperature overwhelm you.  I can’t believe we haven’t done this before.  We hiked for about two hours; we could have stayed up there all day.  The sound of birds chirping and trees whistling in the wind is enough to make me feel at home back in New Hampshire.  We will definitely be back.

We make our way back to the hotel to gather our things and get ready to check out.  We turn our bags over to the bellman and go for one last jaunt in the pool.  After ordering lunch we realize we can’t prolong the inevitable any more.  It is time to leave.

I always feel sad leaving Palm Springs, the best way to cheer up is a stopover at the Cabazon outlets on the way home. Shopping is the perfect way to end a trip, especially when there is a GUCCI outlet involved!