Palm Springs, with its warm winters, scorching summers and renowned Bob Hope Classic, is indeed a golfer’s paradise. Like Walgreens, there seems to be a golf course on every corner, making it the nation’s leading golf destination. But enough about golf.
There’s so much more to see and do here. There’s tennis on one of the many area courts, or watch the pros duke it out at Indian Wells Tennis Garden. A 16-mile hike on the Art Smith Trail, penetrating the mountains and resting in several palm oases along the trail. A less strenuous stroll along El Paseo Drive will tempt you with the latest desert fashions and art galleries ranging from traditional to What in the world is that? contemporary.
McCallum Theater brings Broadway to the desert, and for a more vintage evening of song and dance, there’s the Fabulous Palm Springs Follies, with youngsters from 56 to 81 years of age performing music from doo-wop to disco. People magazine says of them, “They sing, they dance, they’re ancient and they draw sellout crowds.”
The Spa Resort Casino welcomes all willing to lose money, Fantasy Balloon Flights wow with sunrise and sunset rides and Robert Imber educates with mid-century architectural tours to grand Spanish haciendas. Exciting polo takes place on Sundays at both the Eldorado and Empire Polo Clubs, with occasional Friday night action under the lights.
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is a must. Leave your bikini behind, grab your parka and hiking boots and stuff your acrophobia into the world’s largest rotating tram for the Swiss-engineered ascent to 8,500 feet above sea level. In winter months, you’ll be greeted by snow, spectacular views, a nice restaurant and the inevitable gift shop.
On firmer ground is another must-do, The Living Desert, a 1,200-acres zoo and botanical garden—a wonderful adventure for all ages. Zebras, camels, cheetahs and many more creatures dwell happily among wildflowers and exotic cacti. A quarter-acre model railroad, with the largest miniature train trestle in the world, travels through a mini adobe village, the Grand Canyon and many more interesting locales.
If I had to pick a favorite must-do, it would be the Palm Springs Air Museum, where volunteer docents, some of them World War II veterans, enhance your visit through one of the world’s largest collections of flying WWII combat aircraft. You can thank Bob Hope for the memories of his moral boosting visits to the troops, climb aboard a warplane, drool over the pristine vintage automobiles or visit the resource library with computer flight simulators.
Luxury hotels include Club Colony Palms Hotel, Parker Palm Springs and The Ritz-Carlton. I chose La Quinta Resort & Club, which was originally built in 1926 and is surrounded by the Santa Rosa Mountains. Within walking distance of charming Old Town La Quinta, it has been beautifully updated but still oozes Old World Spanish charm. Rooms, suites and casitas (Spanish for small house) are available—many with their own patios and choice of pools, and all with spirit lifting, riotous gardens. Resort dining includes the stunning Morgan’s in the Desert and more casual Twenty6 for the most mouth-watering French toast topped with warm blueberries and strawberries.
More dining options include Norma’s at The Parker for fabulous breakfasts, Melvyn’s at the Ingleside Inn, a great throwback to old time Palm Springs, lovely outdoor dining at Purple Palm at the Colony Palms, Lavender Bistro for romantic, outdoor dining, Amorè for Italian in a grand setting, The Flame for Japanese hibachi and Brazilian barbecue, Johannes for award-winning Euro-Asian-Austrian cuisine, Arnold Palmer Restaurant, just because it’s Arnold Palmer’s, Hog’s Breath Inn, just because it’s Clint Eastwood’s, and The Tavern at the Polo Bar for the best Kobe burgers in town.
So, who needs golf? For all those who consider golf a ‘good walk spoiled,’ there’s plenty to love about Palm Springs, without chasing that little white ball around. LN