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  • Writer's pictureKathy Condon

Palm Springs Attractions A Resident Takes Her Friend

Trees at the Palm Spring Attractions. Cherry Blossom, pink and white herons at their base.
The Glow in the Park at the Living Desert and Gardens Photo by Kathy Condon

When a long-time friend comes from the Northwest, Vancouver, Washington, I enjoy planning a week of activities. This Palm Springs resident started keeping an eye out for fun things to do in Coachella Valley.  

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Arrival at the Palm Springs International Airport (PSP)

With over 13 nonstop flights into Palm Springs International Airport (PSP), visiting our community is easier than ever. Also, our airport is literally six minutes from downtown Palm Springs. I live near the airport, so I told her to text me when she landed and come directly to the front entrance since I knew she had a carry-on.

As planned, she was there as I drove up. Then, we had a short drive home, with our traditional champagne welcome and conversations late into the night.

A room draped with sheer curtains and chairs sitting iin the background
Wellness Spa Lounge at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Spa Photo by Kathy Condon

Day At the JW Marriott Desert Springs Spa

Since I had been there and written a blog about my visit to the JW Marriot Desert Springs Spa, I was confident she would appreciate the environment, staff, and amenities. She wondered how we could spend so much time there, but she became a believer after seven hours.

We came home relaxed, and our bodies felt terrific. It was a beautiful Palm Springs day.

Movie Night in Palm Springs

I have several CDs and have decided I wanted to watch them one last time before I give them away. Since it is difficult for us to agree on a type of movie, I had her sort through the box.

She chooses Gone Girl with Ben Affleck. I was delighted since I had seen it, and it kept us very engaged to the end.  

Journey to Indio

One of my favorite places to take people is Jackalope Restaurant in Indio. The beautiful backyard, complete with waterfalls and art, offers a sense of delight, for it is an unusual place to find in the desert.

It closed during the pandemic, and I heard it would be closed forever. However, it has reopened to our delight, so I was anxious to see if it retained its original ambiance.

The pig in front of the restaurant has been replaced with a cowboy on a horse.

With trepidation, I entered the restaurant, fearing the décor would be entirely different. However, I smiled broadly once inside. Thankfully, the original décor had been retained. It's a Western theme everywhere you look.

Since it was a windy day, we found a booth and met a friend there for Happy Hour. We looked at the Happy Hour menu and were disappointed in the options. We were missing things we loved there before, like the tantalizing nachos.

A large cactus made of fabric and light made to look like a alligator at the Living Desert and Gardens
Entrance to The Glow at the Park at the Living Desert and Gardens Photo by Kathy Condon

Off to the Glow in the Desert at the Living Desert

Our 6:30 p.m. reservation allowed us to arrive just as the sun set. In retrospect, we were glad we were the early birds at the Glow in the Park at the Living Desert and Gardens, for the crowds increased as the evening wore on. With fewer people, taking pictures of the spectacular installations was easier.

I may exaggerate, but I feel over 500 art installations were scattered throughout the space. Giant cherry blossom trees greeted us once we went through the entry gates. Walking up to them, I could see the blossoms were made of individual petals with fabric stretched over wire.

What stood out most to me were the vibrant colors. Everything, from the beautiful pathways elaborately decorated with artistic designs to the panda bears sitting in unexpected places, was stunning with incredible lighting.

Add peppy music. It is impossible not to feel happy walking through the Glow in the Park. I loved every aspect of it.

Lit lanterns floating on the water and casting shadows on the water. Four palm trees in the back of the pond.
Water Lantern Festival in Palm Desert Civic Park Photo by Kathy Condon

Water Lantern Festival

For the first time, the Water Lantern Festival was held in Palm Desert Civic Park. We decided to get tickets. We headed out early and were glad we had the perfect place to put our blanket on the water's edge.

Each attendee was given a kit to assemble their lantern. With four sides to write a personal message, we used the provided marker to write something before we completed our lantern.

After sunset, there was a meditation as we set our lantern afloat with LED lights. It was a beautiful sight, with hundreds of lanterns floating and reflecting their light on the calm water. (Don't worry about our environment—the lanterns were set free in a contained area, and staff collected all of them after we left.)

Long Kimballs sign done in mosaic
Kimbals in Downtown Palm Springs Photo by Kathy Condon

Palm Springs Attractions include Shopping Downtown Palm Springs

Sometimes, it takes someone visiting to stop and explore the various shops in downtown Palm Springs. One of my favorite stops is Kimbals. If you want some excellent resort wear or some bling, this is a place you will want to stop. You will appreciate meeting Kim Galland, the shop's owner.

Approximately 75% of the shops downtown are independently owned, so you are bound to find some unusual items for yourself or gifts. Stop at PSP Destination if you want a distinct Palm Springs gift. Peepa's will help you discover gifts for all family members and some local art.

If you haven't seen the downtown park, walk through it. Watch the schedule; often, there is music in the Park with the band on the stand in the amphitheater.

Spa room with tub in the distances with a narrow window and plant.
The Spa at Sec He Mineral Springs Rooms

The Spa at Sec He Day

Since my friend is a spa lover, we made reservations for the day before she left at The Spa at Sec He. Again, I had been here but had no hesitation in suggesting we spend the day there.  

This time, after leaving the mineral springs bath, I noticed something different. My skin was so smooth, and I was wondering why. After investigating the internet, I discovered that mineral hot springs unclog pores caused by soap residue in hard water areas and grit and dirt from the environment.

We spent a relaxing whole day there. The staff was great, as always, and exercising in the outdoor mineral springs pool on a sunny day was great. 

Dining in Palm Springs

I have some dining favorites in Palm Springs, so I plan to dine at these places. Yes, I cooked some meals for my friend but planned where we would go since I had someone to dine with.

Bill's Pizza

After finishing my nails at Lovely Nails, I often go to Bill's Pizza to get a piece. But it had been a long time since I had ordered a small pizza and enjoyed it with a friend.

My favorite is the Elton John, smothered in lots of artichoke hearts. She agreed, and we shared a small pizza and still had a piece left for me.

The Reef

The Reef cannot be outdone with how it prepares coconut shrimp. Add one of their classic Mai Tais, and you will have the perfect meal with visitors while you catch up.

Bongo Johnny's Patio Bar and Grill

One of my favorite places to start the day is Bongo Johnny's Patio and Grill. The staff is attentive and fun. My favorite breakfast entrée is their spinach and feta scramble. Add their crispy hashbrowns and sourdough bread, and you can have breakfast with friends.

Bamboo plate with a panini sandwich with avacado sticking out.
Panini at the Pal Bar at The Spa at Sec He Photo by Kathy Condon

Pal Bar

The Pal Bar at The Spa at the Sec He, the outdoor restaurant at The Spa at Sec He, offers various hot options. My favorite is the Chicken Panini. Add a Monkeyberry smoothie, and you will be more than full. I appreciate that all utensils are made of bamboo.

Alas, the week flew. I took my friend to the Palm Springs Airport for her afternoon flight. It was a terrific visit to show my friend Palm Springs attractions, for I could share my world, laugh, and learn more about my community.

Kathy Condon wearing a white shirt and large gold beads
Kathy Condon Journalist and Travel Writer

Kathy Condon is a Journalist, Travel Writer, and Award-winning Author. Her niche is luxury experiences and communities in the shadow of other cities. 760-902-3094


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