California Desert Getaway: Palm Springs and Indian Wells
Gone are the days when Palm Springs was a laid-back little city and home to numerous celebrities. Greater Palm Springs now encompasses nine cities in a sprawling patchwork across the Coachella Valley. Highway 111 now takes you through Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, La Quinta, and Indian Wells. Visitors can choose from a variety of accommodations, attractions, and culinary delights while still enjoying that relaxed desert vibe.
This delightful restaurant is located inside the Miramonte Indian Wells Resort and Spa. After a complete remodel and great attention to detail, they have upped their culinary program and are offering healthy cuisine using local and seasonal ingredients.
Start with the sweet and slightly spicy stir-fried green beans with crispy pork, Thai basil, mint, and peanuts ($6). The most popular entrée is the Mangalitsa pork chop with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and caramelized Brussels sprouts ($39). The chef calls the latter his walking avocado as its composition makes it high in omega-3 fatty acids and uses the good-for-you monounsaturated fats. For dessert, try a desert classic— a date shake topped with toasted coconut ($8).
Chef de cuisine Sergio Garza uses his talent and passion for food in the dishes he prepares. The outside terrace next to a fountain is the ideal casual atmosphere to enjoy their signature breakfast: huevos rancheros from locally-sourced peppers and cage free eggs or a fresh breakfast bowl with local Coachella Valley honey.
With an open and breezy ambiance, AC3 is part of the Hotel Paseo, the only boutique hotel in trendy El Paseo shopping district. Serving eclectic fare in a fun, colorful atmosphere, they have salads, burgers, and sandwiches. Try the California salad with grilled shrimp, spinach, orange, grapefruit, and herb vinaigrette ($16).
Situated on the most fashionable corner along Palm Canyon Drive, Kaiser Grille is where locals go to relax and enjoy appetizers, cocktails, and good conversation.
Having received local and international acclaim, Johannes Restaurant has been a Palm Springs institution for 18 years. Chef Johannes Bacher serves global modern European cuisine in this downtown location. Known for his Weiner schnitzel, Bacher serves not only traditional veal but also an entire menu of variations on the dish. Pair it with some of their great wines for a splendid evening out.
Located a block off the busy Palm Canyon, Chi Chi is an oasis of tranquility nestled among some cute bungalows, citrus trees, and swimming pools. Breakfast offerings include their açai bowl packed full of plump fruits, granola, and bee pollen ($15).
What started out as a gourmet takeout named after the owner’s dog has turned into a full-time eatery. Jake’s is in an area of Palm Springs known as the Uptown Design District, which has seen a resurgence of growth with hip shops and 10 restaurants. Jake’s serves American bistro food, and the signature dish is Miami Vice Salad, chock full of romaine, avocado, tomato, and feta with Key lime caper vinaigrette ($19).
This place feels like one of those secretive locations that only the locals know about. With its dark lighting and crazy light fixtures and artwork, this French bistro evokes Paris at the turn of the 20th century but with contemporary features. The menu includes everything from escargots to roasted duck and pairs well with their extensive wine menu.
By far, the most popular, must-see attraction here is the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, designated as a treasured natural and cultural resource by a special act of Congress in 2000. You can see from all angles aboard the world’s largest rotating tramcar whose floor moves 360 degrees as it climbs 8,500 feet into the San Jacinto Mountains.
Take a leisurely two-mile stroll back in time to when Palm Springs was just a small village and home to the rich and famous. You will learn about the history and architecture that made Palm Springs so desirable and home to some of Hollywood’s biggest celebrities of the day, including Kirk Douglas, Clark Gable, and Liberace.
For more information: Visit California
Where to Stay:
Individual rooms are set among the property’s winding, lushly landscaped pathways, fountains, and native trees with great views of the nearby mountains. Rooms are modern and comfortable and contain most amenities.
Centrally located along Palm Canyon Drive, the Hyatt offers clean and well-equipped rooms and suites with views of the nearby San Jacinto Mountains and downtown. They have two onsite restaurants with HooDoo offering handcrafted cocktails and nightly entertainment.
Although it has grown tremendously since its early days, the Greater Palm Springs area still has an easygoing, laid-back charm all its own. With abundant shopping along Palm Canyon Drive and a diverse restaurant mix, there is something here for every budget and lifestyle.
All accommodations, transportation, meals, and attractions were provided at no charge for this review.