Going Places: Soothe your senses and plan your escape to Palm Springs, California.
By MARILYN ROBITAILLE
Sometimes you encounter a place with such special vibes that you don’t fully understand the experience until you’re back at home and had time to process it.
Palm Springs, California, defies definition as a vacation destination. You’ll discover a special something there to soothe all your senses, something that defies description.
For one thing, the town capitalizes on its storied past. If you’re of a certain age, you’ll get a real thrill from a tour of the vacation homes where some of the most famous stars of the past escaped from hectic Hollywood.
What’s so stunning about the former holiday homes of the likes of Bob Hope, Lucille Ball or Bing Crosby has more to do with how very normal they look. Unlike the fortresses you now see if you tour stars’ homes in Beverly Hills, the Palm Springs houses have view-accessibility in normal neighborhoods.
Certainly, they’re big and rambling, but you can see the front porch and visualize Bob Hope toting his golf clubs down the path to his garage and awaiting caddy. Although seeing the chalet where Elvis and Pricilla honeymooned will push the buttons of any self-respecting Elvis fan, the success of the rest of the tour depends on dripping nostalgia.
If you want a cheap thrill and a chance to see the lay of the land literally, don’t miss the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. It has bragging rights of being the “largest rotating Tram car,” and it will take you straight up the cliffs of Chino Canyon.
The ride takes about 10 minutes, and once you reach the summit, you can visit the gift shop, eat at the restaurant and even take a hike through some of the state park trails that originate at the top of the mountain.
For shoppers and art lovers, Palm Canyon Drive has everything to complete you. This decidedly liberal town attracts people of every flavor, so be open-minded when you go. Interesting galleries, shops and restaurants all have unique qualities like you’d never see in a more generic environment.
If your timing’s just right, you might be on hand for one of the many art festivals sponsored by the town. Check out a community calendar to see the variety. The Palm Spring International Film Festival opens to the public every January, and unlike some film festival, this one’s non-industry friendly.
Venues open all over town where you can see a film and then attend a reception and talk to the filmmakers and actors. You can always count on some A-listed stars to be on hand for special events.
We took a side trip to a famous spa that used to be owned as a hide-out for gangster Al Capone. Located outside Palm Desert just 20 minutes from Palm Springs, Two Bunch Palms has splendid facilities where you can relax in natural hot springs and experience true tranquility.
We indulged in an outdoor hot mud soak that I’ll never forget for a variety of reasons, but that’s a topic for another day.
From casinos to world-class golf courses to state-of-the-art spa experiences, the choices can leave you breathless.
Palm Springs – add it to your bucket list.