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palm springs

Hipsters and Hollywood in Palm Springs

Some think of Palm Springs as a winter golf retreat for retirees or the resting place of old Hollywood relics.  Others think of it as a once a year destination for hipsters pre and post Coachella (like us, the festival part not the hipster part).  The reality:  it’s all the above, which makes for an interesting mix and a town worth visiting!

palm springs

We’ve been to Palm Springs several times and really only scratched the surface of what this sunny destination is all about.  This time around we gave ourselves a mission to discover what has made Palm Springs so iconic for such a long time.  No matter what, everyone we talked to loved it for one of or all of three things:  the resort lifestyle, the food scene, and the art/design.

The Resort Lifestyle

From clothing optional (oh my) to boutique hotels, swim clubs and gated communities, it’s all about the resort lifestyle!  For us, we were happily living it up at the Thousand Trails Palm Springs RV Resort and Campground!  It may not be the Four Seasons or the La Quinta but the people were fun, the grass was green and we were surrounded by palm trees.

Its the perfect base camp for Thousand Trails members because…well, resort style accommodations in Palm Springs don’t get any cheaper!

The food scene

There are plenty of restaurants to discover, almost too many for one person to attempt to tackle.  The tricky part was finding the good ones among the boring ones.  We read several articles written by foodies and most came to the same conclusion: Typical bland boring resort food!  But you know us, we love a challenge!  After loads of research, dozens of conversations with the locals, and a few misses; here are our favs.

Cheeky’s brunch spot may be laid-back, but its menu is serious business.   The crowd was mixed and it was all about fresh, organic ingredients and local fare.  The menu states:  juices are squeezed by hand, the sausages are made in-house and “scrambled eggs come custard style, if you like them more cooked, just let us know!”  And the patio is dog friendly!

JIAO is modern, fresh and the perfect place for lunch on a hot day.  The food is light and packed with bright flavors that leave you feeling refreshed.  If you want something that won’t put you in a food coma, go for a salad or noodle dish here.

sauce

palm springs eats

palm springs

Koffi coffee seemed to be a local favorite and we had no complaints.  It was our daily afternoon pick me up!

Kings Highway at The Ace is a Hipster hot spot and housed in an old Denny’s restaurant.  It’s a retro-luxe diner that’s serves local, organic and artisanal fare, which is anything but traditional diner fare.  It’s open until the wee hours and was the perfect place to meet up with friends!  I would tell you more about it, but you should see what our friends Tire Treks had to say.

kings highway

ice cream

Las Cansuela’s was mediocre Mexican at best, but the ambiance packed the house.  Eat somewhere else and then head over for drinks.  They have live music almost every day and a dance floor where you can get down like it’s 1969.  It’s perfect for a group or solo travelers looking for a good time.

las casuelas

dancing in palm springs

The Art/Design

One of the best ways to get a feel for Palm Springs is to hop in the car and go for a drive.  The Desert Modernism Architecture Tour will show you where Hollywood relics once lived and give you reason to peep around really shi shi neighborhoods and not get the evil eye.  After all, butterfly roof-lines are a modernist landmark and who doesn’t want to see where Frank Sinatra used to hang his hat!  The map is $5 from the visitors center, and the self guided tour is a little uncomfortable at first cause you feel like a peeping tom, but after a few stops it’s kinda exhilarating.

frank sinatra palm springs home

nice view

nice drive up appeal

modern

The Design District is a far cry from the over populated, over touristy section of Palm Canyon Drive that has become so famous over the years.  This short stretch of Palm Canyon Drive (1 block north of the tourists) between Tamarisk Road and Tachevah Drive, you’ll find one of a kind mid-century modern boutiques, and the home of the one and only Trina Turk Residential store.  Not that we purchased anything, but it is fun to browse around and watch Jason sweat with each glimpse of a price tag!

Of course there are museums and galleries, but a walk through the land of Robolights was an experience that is beyond anything I have ever seen.  It’s the largest residential light display in the US and a whimsical robotic winter wonderland.  We had so much fun, there is a post coming soon to show you more of this interesting find.  Until then, think of a futuristic winter wonderland set in the North pole…without the snow and surrounded by palm trees.

robo lights

Getting out of Palm Springs

Escaping the desert heat is easy, not cheap, but easy.  $24, ten minuets and 8500 feet later, the worlds largest rotating aerial tramway, affectionately known as “the Tram” to the locals, transports you to the San Jacinto State Park Wilderness.  It’s a stark difference from the desert floor so pack a sweater, long pants, and don’t even think about wearing flip-flops.   For the super adventurous ride up in the morning and hike over to Idyllwild for lunch.  The views are vast and the Lookout Lounge is a nice stop after a long hike through the forest.

tram

_MG_4805   at the top  hike

tiny tree

new friends

The bar may not be the best place to pick up a date but it’s a great place to make new friends! The group photo was just the beginning of a very long night filled with dinner, dancing, conversation and sore cheeks from laughing all night. In case you didn’t already know, people are what makes travel great! If you ever loose your faith in humanity or forget the kindness of the human spirit, take a trip. It’s good for the soul.

It’s your turn. Have you been to Palm Springs? Did we miss something spectacular (I am sure we did), tell us about it in the comments below.

Disclaimer: While we were compensated to film the campground (thanks Thousand Trails!)…all of our experiences and opinions are NOT purchased and are still our own.

Hello there! I honestly don’t know what to say, so I am going to tell you a bunch of random facts instead. I'm a fish eating vegetarian who hates spiders and loves snakes. I almost never took vacations growing up. I wanted to be Pippi Longstocking (still do). I misspell about every other word I write and still struggle with grammar. I love splurging on a good high tea (which is really hard to find these days). And whatever you do, don’t tell me I can’t do something, because then I'll HAVE to do it!

Comments (26)

  • Russ and Wanda Younger

    We are a big fan of yours and thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, experience and stories! We will be retiring in 6 years and are beginning to explore the RV World and this away we hope to purchase an RV prior to retirement and go from there. My question to you two is; we have medication delivered to our home, do you know how we would be able to receive it when we are touring the nation in our RV ?
    Thank you and be safe out there!
    Russ & Wanda Younger

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  • Will Haas

    …And don’t forget, every Thursday evening Palm Canyon Drive is closed to vehicle traffic in Palm Springs. The streets are then lined with vendors, musicians, and fun attractions.

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  • Louis A Waters

    Did you go to the Air Museum or the Patton Museum?

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  • Rob Sokolis

    We haven’t been to Palm Springs, yet. But, I do want to put in a thumbs up FOR the gif files. Any way we can see MORE of your photo’s is a good thing, Jason!

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  • Like just about everyone, I’m a big fan of Jason and Nikki’s travels and web site. I’ve spent a year scouring the Internet and I think this is absolutely the best RV travel site on the net!

    I, for one, actually like the animated GIFs. It’s a technique I’m seeing used more and more in sophisticated sites. Once you get used to the changing images I don’t think it’s all that distracting. The only other option is to have long scrolls of text and pictures. That’s a problem I’ve been facing on our own web site. It’s always a “work in progress,” but for now I think embedding a couple of mini slide shows in the text is a fun way of showcasing Jason’s great photography.

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    • Don, you are too kind 🙂 How many compliments can you cram into one short paragraph? Thanks for the feedback, and we’ll keep truckin’ along and doing our best to provide fun stories, photos and videos!

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  • Mark

    Sorry to say, but you missed one of the best parts of the desert. It’s called “The Living Desert” and it’s a real treasure. Not only does it have a spectacular display of animals that are found in Africa (a very similar climate), but during the Christmas holidays it has an over the top light decorations that have been a sell out for years.

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    • Mark, it was on our list of things to do….but we ran out of time! Such is life on the road, as you pass through one place you realize you’ve missed a dozen must see attractions. Oh well.

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  • Mike J.

    Awesome video and pics! PS is one of our favorite destinations and you caught the essence of why it’s still the popular spot for all generations to enjoy.

    Safe travels and we look forward to more adventures while we wait for the next vacation break to take the rig out…

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  • David Shoemaker

    Nikki, I need to a plus one on the need for static photos. The gif files are driving me nuts.
    Thanks

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    • Understand David, so many stories to tell in one post, didn’t want it to be 20 pages long with all the photos. Thanks for the feedback.

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  • Blake AjaySanford

    our family sure enjoy following your adventures! The Date Festival was always a favorite !

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    • Love Dates! We didn’t do anything in with dates in Palm Springs but we did do a tour in Yuma the date capitol of the world. YUM!

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  • The tram is do fun! There is a wonderful children’s museum (although that may actually be Palm Desert) as well. Many of our friends from Ventura rave about the Ace hotel. I’ve never been but their pictures make it look fun.

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    • the Ace is where the eatery Kings Highway is, loved that place 🙂

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  • Chris

    How’s the heat? My wife and I own a lot at Outdoor Resorts Palm Springs (www.orps.com). We have a fifth wheel trailer we leave parked there for our winter getaway. We’ve never gone to visit when the heat is 115°- how is your RV’s air conditioner keeping up?

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  • Not to be overly critical, but could you please assess your use of gif files instead of static photos? I can’t concentrate on your text because something is always moving. It’s very distracting.

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  • Don’t forget the modern art museum! When we visited in December the Palm Springs Modern Art Museum was free on Thursday evenings. A Palm Springs must see in my opinion.

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