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  • Cool Off at the Rowan Palm Springs (2024)

    As a Palm Springs resident for nearly 13 years, I draw on my experience and confidently say nothing stays static in our town. Now that all the barren storefronts are filled, hotels, businesses, and retail stores are constantly using their creativity to expand their offerings. If you are a returning visitor, I assure you there will be new things to experience. The host has provided support for this activity. The opinions expressed in this post are honest and reflect the author's genuine experience. Here's what is new at the Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs located downtown: Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs Summer Soiree Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs quietly became part of IHG Hotels & Resorts' luxury and lifestyle portfolio. With that change, things are happening at the Rowan, both in appearance and events. Wanting to stay on top of these changes, I accepted an invitation to explore the Window Bar in the early evening with a friend. Above the bar is an enormous and lavish floral décor covering the bar area, created by Wanda Barcelona. This studio, based in Barcelona, Spain, uses state-of-the-art technology to design works made of paper and cardboard. (Unofficially, the word is it changes with the seasons.) Cocktail Time at the Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs Craft cocktails are the rage. Bartenders in Palm Springs, not to be left behind, are using their creativity to take old classics and experiment to create a familiar drink with a twist. Since I enjoy Old Fashioneds, I was encouraged to try Coco Fashioned. It would be an excellent nightcap because it tended toward the sweet side. It was constructed of Fior de Cana 12 years, Giffard Banane du bresil, Walnut Bitters, and coconut chips. Our conversation was long, so it was time to try another cocktail. I ordered a Basil Caipirnha. If you like limes and basil, this is the drink for you. It is very refreshing. It is the perfect drink when you want to stop for something refreshing and to help you cool down after shopping in our nearby retail stores. Bar Bites at the Rowan The menu changes frequently. The items I mentioned are not on the menu listed on the website. However, I have to say, there should be no problem for anyone finding something they would like. I tried the shrimp rolls—think lobster rolls only with shrimp. Two small rolls stuffed and very filling. I would certainly have them again. My guest had Sweet Corn Guacamole. If you decide this is all you want for food, it is plentiful and served with crispy chips. She noted it was unusual because it had sunflower seeds, but the jury is still out on whether that is a good addition. Sharing the Chocolate Fondant proved to be a good move. The cake was freshly baked, with vanilla gelato and fresh berries, and was the perfect way to complete our Window Bar Experience. High Tea Another new addition is the High Tea, held on Fridays and Saturdays from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., which serves pastries, scones, and botanical ice teas. Live Music On Fridays, the Rowan Palm Springs features a resident artist, George Delegans. The time of his performance varies, so you might want to check with them. Postcard Station They have a postcard station where you can share your stellar time in Palm Springs with your friends. Here, you can get a stamped postcard and surprise your friends with snail mail. It was a delightful evening out with an attentive staff. I encourage you to stop in, refresh, and try one of the bartenders, fresh botanical cocktails. Kathy Condon is a Journalist, Travel Writer, and Award-winning Author. Her niche is luxury experiences and communities living in the shadows of large Metropolitan cities. 760-902-3094                 Click this link  to learn more about Kathy Condon.

  • Stay at Sonesta Irvine and Explore the Area

    When I had the opportunity to review the Sonesta Irvine in Irvine, California, I gladly accepted the invitation. I knew nothing about Irvine, which is only 100 miles from Palm Springs, my home of 12 years. The host has provided support for certain aspects of the trip, which may include accommodations, activities, meals, or other services. However, the opinions expressed in this post are honest and reflect the author's genuine experience. Research Revealed Factoids About Irvine 1. Since 2005, the FBI has named Irvine the safest city for violent crime of its size in the United States. 2. Irvine has been named #10 as the Healthiest Cities in America. The criteria were its health care, food, fitness, and green space. 3. Irvine has a plethora of corporate headquarters including Pacific Premier Bank, Toshiba, Taco Bell, and Samsung. 4. Irvine is a planned community. Time for a Road Trip The research piqued my curiosity, so I headed out from Palm Springs with a friend to explore the area. Leaving midday on a weekday meant the traffic was sparse for our journey. We ditched the highway and opted for the road over the mountains, leading through small towns and breathtaking scenery. Checking into the Sonesta Irvine We were warned that construction may be taking place at the Sonesta Irvine . I have to say that it was not readily noticeable because it is 95% complete. We quickly noticed innovation throughout the premises. Unlike most hotels, the registration area is off to the far left. Straight ahead is the bank of elevators. Once registered, the elevators are readily available to head to your room and are convenient when you leave the hotel. Off to your right, the hotel space opens with high ceilings and light beaming through them. Lounge places are abundant. Also noticeable was that many people were using their computers at the scattered high tables with internet connections. In the background are bookshelves with accessories that individually catch your attention. Dining at Havens Point Provisions & Spirits Keeping with the open space theme, Havens Point bar and restaurant is steps away from the lounge and workstation area. Thus, one doesn't go through any doors but can dine at various table configurations. We chose to try one with a booth and chairs and finally decided we preferred a table with comfy chairs for dining throughout our stay, though one could also eat at a barista table. Of course, we had to try the cocktails. Since I am an aficionado of Old Fashioneds, I can say the one I had here was outstanding. Haven Point certainly lives up to its reputation as one of the best places to have craft cocktails in the area. For breakfast, try the French Toast, a delectable twist on Bananas Foster. For dinner, order the shareable Lemongrass and Ginger Fried Chicken. My 12 oz Prime NY steak was superb. The Sonesta Irvine Rooms Our room with two queen-sized beds was perfect for our stay. I loved that the lamps on both sides had bases with outlets for regular plugs and configurations for our phone chargers. Nary an iron existed. Instead, the innovative idea of having a steamer. It makes sense that who wants to deal with an ironing board when at a hotel? The bathroom showers were large, and we both commented that we noticed it was paying attention to sustainable water issues, yet certainly did the job of providing an enjoyable shower. Something you don't see at many hotels. On every two floors, guests can use a washer and dryer. Sonesta Irvine Work Suite My friend and I were seasoned trainers, teaching social workers how to help people with disabilities get jobs during our former lives. We had experience working in various training rooms and admired that everything needed was available here. This flexible space is the prototype for four other Sonesta Hotels. It is a brilliant space, and it is no wonder its design has been created at other Sonestas. Elements of Work Suite It is a vast room. Off to the left is a bar- the perfect place for snacks. The surface area provides a square for cold foods and another for warm foods, provided when the package is purchased for the use of the room. The tables can be configured in any way the room renter desires. There are long tables with internet connections and small tables. If you want comfy lounge chairs, no problem; they are in the same room. Do you need an area to take a break? They are there; even games are available if you decide teambuilding might be better reinforced with a game board. Or attendees can go out on the patio. Need visual aid equipment? No problem. It comes with the package purchased, so there is no nickel-diming you with additional charges. Whiteboards and even butcher-wrap paper rolls are adhered to the wall to help you with your presentation. Besides the Work Suite, there is a large ballroom and smaller meeting rooms throughout the hotel. Twenty-hour Fitness Studio The entire space has been upgraded. Peloton equipment is available. After your workout, the inside heated pool and hot tub are available to cap off your workout session. Exploring Irvine When it is time for breaks or activities, there are some unique things to see. Yes, Disneyland is only 14 miles away, but here are some other options: The Great Park If there was a surprise, it was The Great Park , 13,000 acres. Formerly an air force base, the city now owns the land. We commented on how happy children must be when it is announced they are going to Great Park. Every sport and space to play is available here—there is even a soccer stadium: tennis courts, football fields, and basketball courts. A giant waterslide provides endless fun for those hot California days. There is an ornate carousel for minor children, well, maybe adults too. Picnic tables are spread throughout the grounds, so you can enjoy a packed picnic when the hunger bug hits. The art gallery has an extensive display of local artists, some working in their studios, so you can watch them work. After viewing the art, stroll down to the farm-to-table gardens being developed to educate gardeners on the best sustainability practices. The University of California Irvine Their art galleries are staffed with art history majors so that you can learn more about the art and the artists. However, it is also a unique opportunity to talk with students about life while attending a university. There is lots of green space to relax. You might want to sign up for their newsletter in advance to catch up on their many free lectures. Irvine Spectrum Be prepared to spend hours visiting Spectrum , comprising 5,000 acres and 38 million sq. ft. designed for day and night activities. It offers everything from shopping to physical fitness entertainment opportunities like movies and nightclubs.   If I plan a conference in the future, I will seriously consider this hotel. It is near John Wayne Airport and an easy drive from Los Angeles, making it convenient for corporate conferences. Plus, you would not hear from attendees; there isn't anything to do in the area. After spending two days in Irvine and enjoying the hospitality of the Sonesta Irvine and its attentive staff, I've concluded another trip to the area is needed. We only scratched the surface of what there is to see and experience in Irvine, California. Kathy Condon is a Travel Writer, Journalist, and Award-Winning Author.  SATW    760-902-3094   Here's a link  to learn more about Kathy Condon

  • Cabazon is High on Peoples List for Things to Do in Palm Springs

    Not familiar with Cabazon? If you have not heard of it, there is a strong chance that high-end shopping and bargains are not foremost on your mind when you are planning your next getaway. However, if you like shopping, let me enlighten you why you may want to seek out this international attraction. Cabazon is actually a town, about 18 miles west of Palm Springs, California. However, it is known for its Desert Hills Premium Outlet. It is a mecca for shoppers from around the world in search of a bargain for designer clothing, accessories, and household items. You will need a rental car to get there if you are flying into the Palm Springs Airport. Another option is an Uber or Lyft. If you are driving to Palm Springs from San Diego or Los Angeles you will see the high-rise Morongo Casino and Hotel Resort in the distance. The Outlet is before that, so keep your eyes open for the exit sign, it comes up fast. If you miss it, you have to travel down the road a bit before you can turn around. Parking your car is sometimes a challenge for top-rated attraction. I’ve discovered if you park behind the famous In and Out Burger, your chances of finding a space significantly increases for it is at the far end from Palm Springs. Be sure to make note what entrance, and by what store, you are approaching this adventure. This complex gets confusing. Another caution. This mall is located in a sort of a wind tunnel, there is a reason the windmills are in this area. So be sure to take a sweater along. In the winter, you will be glad you will have a REAL winter coat for the winds whistle through here at a good pace. What kind of stores can I expect to see here? Name any Brand and I’m pretty sure you will find a store carrying the name. Here is a list of a few of the brands represented at Cabazon: Saks OFF 5th Stores, Ann Taylor, Salvatore Ferragamo, Armani, Marc Jacobs, Carter’s, Coach, Elie Tahari, Ugg, Columbia Sports Wear So you get the picture. Truthfully, it is best if you have a list before you arrive because there is no way you can traverse this complex, which is divided into three sections, on a day’s visit. There are no restaurants, just a food court in the middle section. There is an occasional kiosk for some lights snacks. Insider’s Advice – eat a hearty breakfast before you leave and/or make reservations at your favorite restaurant in Palm Springs for the evening. Trust me, you will be tired and just want to relax and enjoy some good food after sharing the complex with thousands of people. Coupons are Honored Go to the Desert Hills Premium Outlet site. There you will find information on their VIP program. I urge you to sign up for the savings with coupons listed there will increase your savings at many of the stores. By the way, when you are in Coachella Valley, and you say you are going to Cabazon, we know you mean you are going shopping. Desert Hill Premium Outlet 48750 Seminole Drive Cabazon, CA 92230 Kathy Condon is a travel writer and blogger. She is the Founder of the Palm Springs Insider Guider Her book It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask: It’s All About Communication was named Best Book Finalist By USA Book News 760-902-3094

  • Westin Rancho Mirage Golf Resort and Spa Reopening.

    Life for this Palm Springs travel writer is filled with peaks and valleys. I have learned to accept rejection, celebrate wins, and value the relationships that I make along the way. This past week, all the good aspects of this writing journey came together at the reopening of Westin Rancho Mirage Golf Resort and Spa after a $15 million remodel of the resort and grounds. Through various Facebook posts, zoom calls, and phone calls, I realized there was a person who not only was willing to share but went out of her way to help writers learn the path to becoming good and recognized travel writers. Her name is Mary Charlebois. I sought her out somewhere along the line for some quiet advice on a direction I was thinking about taking the following week. I knew I could count on getting an answer from her based on her seven years plus of travel writing and editing for a popular website. An Email Arrived Mary sent me a note and told me how she had met the lovely women from 360viewPR on her travel journeys. They had invited her to come to Palm Springs to reopen the Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort and Spa and wanted her to cover various aspects of the resort. I gave her a call, excited about the fact that we would, at last, meet in person. During that conversation, she said, Let me send them an email and suggest you be invited to cover the event, too, since you live there. Meeting at the Restaurant at the Resort We agreed to meet for lunch at the newly remodeled Pinzimini Restaurant, for she had breakfast there and was raving about the food. At the appointed time, we met, hugged, and carried on with a two-hour lunch and a tour of the beautiful resort grounds. Later, we agreed there were no surprises about meeting each other, but she thought I was taller. The Introduction Worked The 360viewPR group invited me to attend the dinner and concert that evening. After my lunch and tour, I headed home and changed clothes to enable me to arrive on time to meet the others covering this event. Michelle Rodriquez, the owner of 360viewPR, and her colleague Jan Ortega met Mary and me in the resort lobby. The resort manager soon arrived and escorted us to our VIP table. The floor-length tablecloths perfectly accompanied the beautiful table with an approximately three-foot-long fresh flower centerpiece. The Evening The meal was delicious and contained several healthy options. The resort's goal of becoming known as a wellness resort appears to be well on its way. The spa is remodeled, the exercise room has a view of the 18-hole champion golf course, and bicycles are available to rent. Courts for pickleball, tennis, basketball, and volleyball are upgraded. The huge central pool is convenient for the hotel and restaurants and provides the perfect space to exercise or drink your umbrella-decorated cocktails if you desire. Westin Rancho Mirage Golf Resort Backyard Venue This newly enlarged and remodeled space on the Westin Mission Golf Resort and Spa grounds is sure to become a place where locals and hotel guests look forward to the scheduled concerts at this outdoor venue. The location with artificial turf, raised round stage, provides a great space under the stars that is hard to beat. Please see the attached schedule for the concerts. The first concert showcasing DW3, and The Grooves sold out. It was easy to see why. Not only did the music have us tapping our feet and swaying with the music, but the dance area was packed. As I left the concert and walked toward the entrance, I peeked in Pinz & Pints, a game arcade where you can play various pinball machines, bowl, or play air hockey. If you want to watch it, no problem. There is a great bar and lounge area. It has been a wonderful day. Quiet time with Mary was very special. I met many members of the resort staff who not only were attentive, but their pride in their resort was also so evident, for they enjoyed sharing some details we may have overlooked. As a resident of Coachella Valley, I can say that I am thrilled to learn about this beautiful resort. No question, I will be back, and I look forward to inviting someone to come with me to future concerts in their Backyard. Kathy Condon is a freelance journalist and travel writer. She is the Founder of the Palm Springs Insider Guide. Her book It Doesn't Hurt to Ask: It's All About Communication was named Best Book Finalist By USA Book News. 760-902-3094

  • Palm Springs Airport is Easy to Navigate

    If you tell someone you are from Palm Springs, California, it more than likely takes no less than three sentences before someone will say I love your airport, if they have flown into Coachella Valley. Our airport was designed by Donald Wexler, known for his modernist style. The style of the 50s and 60s is prevalent in Palm Springs and celebrated during Modernism Week each February and October. Please be aware that clicking on affiliate links may result in Palm Springs Insider Guide earning a commission. This disclosure follows the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR § 255.5: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Location of the Palm Springs Airport (PSP) Located on the north side of Coachella Valley, the Palm Springs Airport is a relatively small airport two miles from downtown Palm Springs and an easy 6-minute ride in a taxi, Lyft, or Uber. If you are staying down Valley, you may want to rent a car, but reserve a car ahead of time. Once you are off the plane, head down the escalator to our open courtyard. Especially on a cold northern day, arriving outside with the warm breeze is the first thing that will alert you that it will be a memorable getaway or conference. Follow the signs to baggage, go through the revolving door, and turn right to baggage claim. The rental car agencies are located immediately behind the baggage claim area. Once assigned a vehicle, it is an easy, short walk to your car. Taxis are lined up in front, ready to take you to your destination. If using Lyft or Uber, follow the signs to the left for the pick-up point. Checking In for a Flight Palm Springs is the home to the following significant events: ·  International Film Festival (January) ·  Modernism Week (February) ·  American Documentary Film Festival (March) ·  BNP Paribas Open (March) ·  Coachella (Two weekends in April} ·  Stagecoach (April) ·  Fall Modernism Week (October) Each of these events brings in thousands of people. This means if you come during one of these events, you must prepare for a couple of hours to get through security before going to your assigned gate when leaving Palm Springs. However, TSA lines and plenty of CLEAR stations can help those with the proper credentials. If you only have a carry-on, have your transportation to the airport drop you off at the main door, and you will be right in front of security. Once Through Security After getting yourself back together and ensuring all your belongings are accounted for, walk out the door into our beautiful airport courtyard. Take time to look around at the art that dots various places. Check your gate number, for you will be heading to one of two places: 1. Straight head is The Sonny Bono concourse, where you go up the escalator under the canopy constructed to protect you from hot summer days. Here, the larger planes with a longer distance tend to load. There is an elevator to the left of the escalator, making it convenient if you have more than one carry-on. The open area at the top of the escalator is being remodeled, so be prepared for an uneven floor. 2.  For smaller planes, and often connecting flights through Phoenix and Dallas, be prepared to do a little walking to the south concourse. However, the pathway is wide and has lovely plantings, art, and trees to observe as you make your way to this adjacent terminal. Just before you reach the concourse, on the right, are large spaces reserved for restrooms. When boarding and out the concourse door, you are often asked to put your carry-on on a cart before heading up the ramp to the plane. Make sure you have what you might need for the usually short flights. Refreshments and that Important Cup of Coffee Once you leave security, even if you must catch an early morning flight, PSP Coffee House will serve you a hot cup of coffee at 4:00 a.m. It is located to the right of the escalator and elevator. On my recent trip, I smiled when I noted that Nine Cities Craft is now located outside the terminal where the smaller planes leave—no more balancing PSP Coffee down the long walkway to the second terminal, which was open at 5:00 a.m. They also have pastries and other drinks available. Breakfast and more substantial food and drink are available in the Sonny Bono Concourse at Santa Rosa Kitchen & Spirits. This full-service restaurant has outdoor seating, making it the perfect place to have breakfast before your flight. It also has grab-and-go food available for your meal on the plane. PSP Wine Bar also has an outdoor patio. Here, you can grab some light snacks if you have plenty of time before your plane leaves. If you are like most of us, we seem to get to the airport early and are most of the time amazed at how easy the airport is to navigate. My plane from Dallas was recently delayed, resulting in my arrival time in Palm Springs at 1:00 a.m. Even though I was so tired, for it was 3:00 a.m. in the time zone I had just come from, I cherished the warmth of the Palm Springs evening. With carry-on in hand, I started my journey down to the exit. I smiled as a Frank Sinatra sound wafted through the otherwise quiet airport. It was so good to be home. Kathy Condon is a journalist, travel writer, and award-winning author. Her niche is luxury experiences and communities living in the shadows of larger cities.     760-902-3094

  • Palm Springs Resident Shares Things to See in the City of Rancho Mirage

    Rancho Mirage is often thought of as more of a place to live than to visit for attractions. Digging deeper, I found a list you might want to use to explore this city located in the center of Coachella Valley. All the attractions I mention are within the confines of Rancho Mirage's 25 square miles. Rancho Mirage is one of nine cities in Coachella Valley. Read my explanation of the nine cities. Please be aware that clicking on affiliate links may result in Palm Springs Insider Guide earning a commission. This disclosure follows the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR § 255.5: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. 1. Sunnylands Center and Gardens If you asked me what is not to be missed in the entire Coachella Valley, I would reply that it is a visit to Sunnylands. Yet, when I query local residents, I am always surprised how few have visited this beautiful oasis in our desert community. Sunnylands Center and Gardens is located on Ambassador Walter and Lenore Annenberg's 200-acre estate. At their passing, the estate was turned over to the City of Rancho Mirage with a hefty foundation to ensure its accessibility to the public through its $32 million education building. Today, it is often called the White House of the West, for all presidents since Eisenhower, except Trump, have stayed here and used it for significant retreats and conferences. The house itself is only accessible by tickets, which sell out rapidly. The Education Building and the surrounding grounds have no admission. For me, it is a place of tranquility. Whether I decide to walk the labyrinth or sit on a bench under one of the trees in the immense garden, I cannot help but feel calmness flowing over me. If I decide I want a bite to eat, the small cafeteria will help cure the hunger pains. Or if I need a special gift, the adjacent gift shop has unusual gifts for all ages. In my view, when you need to slow down and relax, there is no better place. Sign up for their newsletter Behind the Pink Wall to watch for their events, such as movies on the green in May and October. It is closed from mid-June through mid-September. You can read about my experiences picking olives on the grounds here. 2. Rancho Mirage Library and Observatory Located on the grounds of the Rancho Mirage Library is the Rancho Mirage Observatory, which was dedicated in 2018. We have long been able to see the various galaxies. However, urban lights are starting to interfere, causing the stars' lights to dim. Now, with the Rancho Mirage Observatory and the help of an assigned astrologer, we can view the galaxies with a magnificent, powerful telescope. Check out their website for tour dates, times, and special events. 3.      The City of Rancho Mirage Thrift Shopping You won't want to miss Collector's Corner, Coachella Valley's Premier Thrift Shop. It truly is a treasure hunter's paradise. A professional staff, supplemented with volunteers, runs it for the Eisenhower Health Dolores Hope Auxiliary. The Eisenhower Health Center is the recipient of funds. The clothing is pristine. Men's and women's clothing are available, but no children's clothing. Furniture for every room in your home is available at outstanding prices. If you need household items, head upstairs, where you will find organized sections of everything from picture frames to bedspreads. 4. Work out at the Rancho Mirage Community Park Parents, there is a shaded playground, and wood chips offer a safe landing if mishaps occur. Plenty of benches are scattered throughout the area, so it is easy to keep everyone in sight. Courts are available for tennis or pickleball. Enjoy a desert evening, and head to the Rancho Mirage Community Park amphitheater. This 1,000-seat arena routinely has concerts during the season, which runs from around October 1 to May 1 each year. You will want to check the Park's website to keep abreast of performances. 5. Brandini Toffee Made in Rancho Mirage If you haven't heard, Brandini Toffee was developed by two then-teenagers who wanted to raise funds for a trip to Europe. The brand is so well-known that it has found its way into Oscar recipients' gift bags. It is fun to order a toffee shake and watch the toffee being made through the glass windows. We view it as the perfect gift to take our friends for a special treat. Plus, their popcorn is addictive—just the right amount of toffee dribble to make it so good. 6. Frank Sinatra Developed Michael S. Wolfson Park My daughter and I were exploring the Valley when we stumbled across Michael S. Wolfson Park at the intersection of Frank Sinatra and Davall. Frank Sinatra was instrumental in constructing it to honor a former City of Mirage Council Member and Planning Commissioner, Michael S Wolfson. It's a Victorian-like garden with a fountain, lush plants, and numerous benches. We were particularly impressed by its signs in braille. Since it is a dog-friendly park, one can assume this is great for meeting friends while letting their dogs enjoy the outdoors. 7. The Children's Discovery Museum of the Desert The Children's Discovery Museum is again open to the community's delight. Closed during the pandemic, the board, staff, and volunteers used the time to plan an even more creative and educational environment for children. With over 50 interactive exhibits, there is a wide variety of possibilities to help children learn and exercise those growing muscles. It's an excellent place for families to explore together. Day camps organized for ages up to 10 can help entertain children on Coachella Valley's hot summer days. 8. The River at Rancho Mirage is Flourishing Once languishing, this beautiful area on an artificial pond along Highway 111 again attracts people to shop, dine, and relax with open-air concerts. The new management looked at the area differently and routinely brings in special events. The River at Rancho Mirage is a great halfway point in the Valley for meeting people. You can meet for a movie at the Cinemark Century at the River and XD or have a cocktail at one of the many restaurants. Frankly, getting an ice cream cone and sitting on the water's edge as the sun sets over the nearby mountains, one cannot help but marvel at the beautiful world around her. 9. Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage If you are ready for some gambling, the Aqua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage looms large over the desert landscape right off Highway 10. This is the perfect spot if you come in at the Palm Springs International Airport and decide you don't want to travel around—no need to move if you don't want to. There are pools and seven restaurants where you can dine in casual and formal atmospheres. There is every form of gambling you would like to try or you can be entertained at The Show. Plus, the resort hotel accommodations are superb, with excellent customer service. 10. Beautiful Resorts are Found in Rancho Mirage Besides the Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa Rancho Mirage, we have four other lovely full-service resorts in the City of Rancho Mirage. The Ritz Carlton Rancho Mirage--known for its outstanding view of the Coachella Valley and excellent Spa. (There is no golf course on the grounds.) Sensei--Located on a private estate, it is considered the ultimate luxury experience. Omni Rancho Las Palmas--Fabulous retreat for families: waterslides and lazy river for the children, golf for Mom and Dad, and a full-service spa. Read my review here. Westin Rancho Mirage Golf Resort & Spa--360 acres, live performances, and golf courses with outstanding views of our mountains. Here's my review of the Grand Reopening. I trust I have shown you the City of Rancho Mirage offers a variety of opportunities to appreciate our 340 days of sunshine each year. It welcomes snowbirds and is an excellent location to relax on a weekend getaway. I didn't even mention the outstanding restaurants. However, be assured the cuisine in Rancho Mirage will hold some delightful surprises, too. Kathy Condon is a journalist, travel writer, and award-winning author. Her niche is luxury experiences and exploring communities living in the shadows of large metropolitan areas.   760-902-3094

  • Road Trip to San Diego from Palm Springs

    When you are invited to go to San Diego and stay in a fabulous hotel, how would any red-blooded travel writer respond? Yes, of course. I love it when my calendar is open, and an invitation like this comes along. I accepted this kind invitation from Ballantines Public Relations. The invitation was for a two-night stay at the San Diego Sheraton Hotel and Marina to see some of the refurbished areas. The others are expected to be completed in August 2024 and cost $100 million. Please be aware that clicking on affiliate links may result in Palm Springs Insider Guide earning a commission. This disclosure follows the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR § 255.5: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Preparation for the Road Trip to San Diego Sheraton Hotel and Marina With the itinerary in hand, I knew what to pack in my carry-on, which has been getting quite the workout lately. About 15 years ago, on the advice of flight attendants, I bought a Kirkland Signature Brand, and it is still going strong. It has been a while since I was in San Diego, so I got out the map and decided how to go. I am not a fan of freeways, so I always look for country roads that slant toward my destination. This time, it was apparent that going through Temecula would work well. So, the turnoff on Highway 10 out of Palm Springs was in Banning, Route 243 South. Then, take Highway 15 from Temecula to continue the trip to San Diego. Road Trip to San Diego First Stop I enjoy this leg because it's scenic as you drive over the mountains. The land flattens at the base of the mountains, but you can see our majestic mountains in any direction. Shortly after Winchester, Winchester Farm Market is usually a stop, especially since I learned they now carry Julian Pies, my favorite apple pie because it is much like my mom used to make. This route also allowed me the perfect opportunity to arrange a luncheon date with Norma Marlowe of Visit Temecula, who suggested we have lunch at the Altisima Winery. Thus, I met her at the appointed time and immediately fell in love with the location. The view, high above other prominent wineries, made the trip there alone worth it. Plus, the food and wine were superb. Drive on Highway 15 from Temecula to San Diego Harbor Leaving Temecula, it is easy to get on Highway 15. Soon, I marveled at the wildflowers blooming on the hills near the roadside. I learned the blue was wild lilacs, while the California Poppy's orange colors couldn't help one get a bit distracted, for they were so bright. I still wish I had pulled over someplace and captured one of the colorful hillsides in a photo. Checking in at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina Located on Harbor Island, this gigantic hotel looms large on the waterfront. Since the refurbishing is happening, there is a circuitous route to the registration desk, but the signage leaves no doubt about where you head to the temporary registration desk. Check-in went smoothly. My Suite My newly refurbished suite on the 7th floor felt so fresh and inviting. The king-size bed was hidden behind a partition. Frankly, it was great to see a different hotel room configuration. The area where you walk in includes a lovely sofa, a contemporary coffee table, and a TV set mounted on the wall. (By the way, there was also a TV on the other side of the partition, so you could still watch television while lounging in bed.) The dining table was set near the patio window, so you have a fabulous view of the Marina any time of year. The weather was gorgeous. I often went out on the patio. I drank my coffee there, and the sunsets were beautiful, which made me watch the time so I could go out there to see the sun's reflection in the water. The bathroom had all the needed amenities, including lovely lotions, shampoos, and conditioners. The shower was fabulous, causing me to take a much longer one than usual. Rumosa Restaurant with Floor-to-Ceiling Windows Chef Sesar Oceguera creates unique cuisine by combining Baja, Mexico's vibrant and bold flavors, with reimagined all-American classic food called Cali-Baja. So, look for unusual twists on food served all day at the Rumosa. Lovely dividers and contemporary art installations, along with trees illuminated with lights, help visitors feel they are entering a unique space at any time of day. Lobby is a Gathering Place With lovely lounge areas, this is the perfect place to wait for friends or meet colleagues. Nearby is a Starbucks if you want to grab a cup of coffee. Even more impressive is the MarinaMarket and Cafe. This large space has fresh pastries but, more importantly, a variety of snacks, including wine and an assortment of non-alcoholic drinks. You can find a unique souvenir for your dog sitter or your grandchildren. Grab a stylish hoodie if you thought it would be much warmer here than it is, especially in the evenings. Meeting Space There is a large assortment of meeting rooms. The flexible panels are adjustable to accommodate any conference or retreat of any size. The wide hallways allow for spontaneous conversations without blocking the flow of traffic. Sheraton San Diego Staff Gave Us a Special Treat One rarely gets to cruise on an upscale yacht in San Diego Harbor. We were told to assemble in the lobby and were led down to the Marina, where we boarded the Nerissa, operated under the watchful eye of Zolna Yachts. When we arrived, we were handed a mimosa, and lovely guitar music played in the background. We toured the yacht to see where our perch would be for the cruise on the San Diego Harbor on this glorious, cloudless day. Soon, we were off, sailing by hundreds of boats moored in the area. Before we knew it, the captain took us up close and personal to one of the gigantic aircraft carriers docked in the area. The enormity of those carriers quickly became apparent. I heard they were like a city. Now I understand why that label is probably very accurate. The San Diego landscape loomed large before us. Docked was a Disney cruise ship. It's fun to see the Mickey Ears on the upper deck, no mistaking its allegiance. Fortunately, I was able to stay for another day. I walked to the end of Harbor Island. I passed another Sheraton hotel, which was part of the extended refurbishing project. Sheraton San Diego's presence is immense on this island. Its location is an easy drive to downtown and allows any visitor to explore the abundant attractions in the area easily. It was a delight to experience this grand hotel and be on the inside know, to learn about the renovations still being completed. The pools are being reconfigured. I can hardly wait to experience something like the ameba-shaped pool and the cozy firepits in the future. Road Trip Back to Palm Springs Since I was so comfy in my room the last morning, I ended up with a late start home. So, I had to hightail it home. Alas, no stop in Temecula on the way home for an appointment awaited me. I anticipated it to be a three-hour drive. Since it was a Friday, I felt fortunate I made it home with nary one slow traffic stop. A suggestion: if you are asked to go somewhere, go. You will stretch your brain and, more than likely, your outlook on the world, for you will see things from a different perspective. The road trip to San Diego was a terrific getaway. I have always appreciated these trips because they make one realize how much there is to experience in the world. If you are planning a trip to San Diego, I suggest you strongly consider making a reservation at the San Diego Sheraton Hotel and Marina. Relaxation is strongly encouraged, and rooms with patios invite you to stop and take in the beauty of sunrises and sunsets over San Diego Harbor. Kathy Condon is a journalist, travel writer, and award-winning author. Her niche is luxury experiences and writing about communities living in the shadow of larger cities.  760-902-3094 About

  • March Palm Springs Attractions

    High season is in full swing, and activities are abundant throughout the entire Coachella Valley. We locals may grumble about the traffic or the need to make reservations at our favorite time. Yet, we revel in attending the many March Palm Springs attractions and enjoy various things to do. Please be aware that clicking on affiliate links may result in Palm Springs Insider Guide earning a commission. This disclosure follows the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR § 255.5: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Lately, I have not had enough hours in the day to attend Palm Springs events that bring me joy or allow me to experience a new event or place. Yet, let me share two recent experiences and encourage you to plan to attend next year. The BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Gardens I received a message in my email asking if I would like to attend the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden courtesy of Seabourn, one of the event's main sponsors. I had previously walked the grounds when they were accessible to the public for free for the first two days of the tournament to watch the qualifying matches. The BNP Paribas Open During the Day On my first visit, a beautiful cloudless Indian Wells day provided an excellent opportunity to appreciate the display of the Tennis Garden's landscape artists' outstanding flower beds. People happily walked the grounds, got food from numerous vendors, and then grabbed a picnic table under the palm trees. The BNP Paribas Open at Night With the Seabourn invitation in hand for the 6:00 p.m. match, I headed there at about four o'clock to enjoy the flowers and grounds before heading to my seat. The landscapers had, once again, worked their magic, and from the check-in area throughout the grounds, I again marveled at the colors and creativity. With 6:00 p.m. approaching, I found my way to my seat in Stadium 1. It seats 16,100 people and is the second largest stadium in the United States after Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York City, which has a capacity of 23,500. My first impression was, wow, it's bright here, and everything is crystal clear. Throughout the evening, I learned that this was the first season with an entire redo of the lighting system, now all LED, which was particularly helpful for the television cameras. However, I have to say, as an attendee, it was magnificent to be able to watch the ball so easily, plus the ads along the sides of the stadium's bright colors truly popped. Now, after the fact, I am happy to say that I saw Carlos Alcaraz play that night; who was eventually named the tournament's male champion. Adding to the excitement of the evening, I got to see a tiebreaker, with Carlos coming out on top. I thought about what I had experienced as I walked to the car. By the way, parking was free. Sitting in a large stadium with crowds cheering under a clear night sky is difficult for this writer to put into words. To sum it up, however, I am incredibly grateful Seabourn invited me. I highly urge you to consider attending at least a portion of the BNP Paribus Open in March. AmDocs Fim Festival in Palm Springs AmDocs stands for the American Documentary and Animation Film Festival, which was held in Palm Springs from March 21 to 25, 2024. Thousands of people came to watch approximately 200 films selected from over 2,000 submissions. The first festival, created by Teddy Grouya in 2011, was held in 2012. This non-profit aims to celebrate and promote documentaries worldwide and bring real issues to light by independent filmmakers. It is consistently listed among the Top 100 Film Festivals in the world. Event Sponsors provide funds so this event can continue to be a non-profit and keep the costs low for the filmmakers. They underwrite the costs for theatre rentals, food, advertising, equipment, etc. To say the community rallies around this event is an understatement. Instead of filmmakers staying in hotels, community residents open their homes for homestays for any filmmaker who requests it. I have hosted a filmmaker in my home twice and found it a terrific experience. Volunteers work behind the scenes many months before the festival opens. Then, during the event, you can see many people wearing black t-shirts with the AmDocs eye logo when you attend one of the films, which are often bundled together in segments. Finally, hosts open their homes and restaurants for outstanding after-parties. I heard one filmmaker say, "I've been to many film festivals, but I have never been treated as well as I am at this one, as he browses through a beautiful art-filled home with a glass of champagne. As a resident of Palm Springs, I love the energy this event brings to the community, and people from all over the world get a chance to let us show them desert hospitality. Plus, we can view outstanding documentaries that often stretch us out of our comfort zones. The Dates for March Palm Springs Attractions March 5-16th, 2025, is the date for the BNP Paribus Open in Indian Wells. AmDocs Film Festival is scheduled for March 27-31, 2025. I strongly suggest you start planning to visit Palm Springs in March 2025. Please make your reservations early, as these two events often fill our boutique hotels. Once you have the experience, people keep coming back year after year. Of course, there are many other Palm Springs attractions throughout the area, but I wanted to share my personal experience attending these two significant events with you. AND you know what? I look forward to coming back again next year. Kathy Condon is a Journalist, Travel Writer, and Award-winning Author. Her niche is luxury experiences and communities living in the shadows of larger ones.   760-902-3094 About

  • Hyatt Regency Irvine Stay Does Not Disappoint

    Have you ever considered reserving a place you haven't visited and then exploring the area around you? Recently, I did just that, for I had no understanding of Irvine, California. I accepted the Hyatt Regency Irvine invitation and marked it on my calendar for a visit. Please be aware that clicking on affiliate links may result in Palm Springs Insider Guide earning a commission. This disclosure follows the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR § 255.5: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Irvine, California, is located 92 miles from Palm Springs. Thus, it can be a day trip for Palm Springs peeps. However, after reading my review of the area and hotel, I hope I entice you to stay and explore. Since I enjoy the backroads more than highway driving, I took Highway 79 from Beaumont—a beautiful drive any time of the year. Arriving at the Hyatt Regency Irvine We were warned that refurbishing and enhancements were still in process and that the entrance would more than likely have construction happening. However, it was apparent where we should park for registration. We stopped, and a staff member was there, ready to guide us to the registration. As you walk into the entrance of the Hyatt Regency Irvine, a relaxing, contemporary lounge area, complete with a fireplace, welcomes you as you want through the doors. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the gigantic chandler suspended over the area. With the key to our room, we headed up to our room on the glass elevator, giving one an understanding of the construction in the entrance, which is bound to be stunning based on what we could see. Our Room Was Fabulous Opening the door, we found ourselves in a living room-like setting. The full-length glass windows revealed an expansive patio with a table and four chairs. On the other side of the patio, you can sit on a lovely chair and enjoy the quiet of the morning. Inside the living room area was a lovely sofa bed. Nearby was a lamp with a shelf constructed, so it also had a phone charger pad. A large television was on the wall, creating the perfect place to sit and eat our snacks. Well, okay, enjoy our cocktail, too. The room was very spacious, with queen-sized beds. Behind the headboard, the interior designer had created a brilliant design element. The wall was covered with dark blue and white design wallpaper, so there was no need to add wall art. It was a delightful first for me to experience in a hotel—when you got out of bed in the middle of the night, and your feet hit the floor, a dim light lit the way for your trip to the nearby bathroom. I smiled when it quickly went off, and I crawled back into bed with the luxurious linens. Other Rooms Kids Suite at the Hyatt Regency Irvine Most of us have traveled with children. Frankly, the Kids Suite is a dream place for parents who want to have a little space for themselves. One area of the Suite has bunk beds and a separate room for the adults in the family. With a door closed the children have their own space to watch TV and play games. Extended Stay Suite Since several Fortune 100 Tech Corporations surround the hotel, the Hyatt Regency Irvine provides accommodations that work well for longer-term stays. It has a kitchenette—a small casita-like space with all the necessary amenities. Of course, there are other rooms in different configurations. Frankly, seeing the thought put into the design was very impressive, so any traveler's needs have been considered. The Market Place If I have ever been impressed with something, it is the Market at the Hyatt Regency Irvine. This expansive area has the following: ·        Fresh fruit juice and smoothies ·        An array of baked goods, including cookies for the late-night munchies. ·        Groundwork Coffee in a variety of blends ·        Omelets are made to order. ·        Evenings: Enticing salads and sandwiches ·        Grab-and-Go Meals ·        Craft Beers, wine, and cocktails in bottles and cans (I can attest to the fact they are excellent) Then, if you do not need food immediately, check out the retail shelves. All the items are locally sourced, so you won't see the usual big brands. Oh my, zebra popcorn is more than addictive. Also, if you forget some travel supplies, you will find a display of everything from tweezers to sleeping pills. Finally, there is a self-checkout for your items for those on the go and hurrying to get to our airplane or off to a meeting. By the way, a full-service, farm-to-table restaurant will open this Summer. Pool Oasis The revamped pool area will open this Summer. Picture yourself lying in your swimming suit on a warm summer night with a cocktail in hand, watching a movie on the gigantic screen. Or maybe you want quiet time around a firepit or just relaxing in one of the cabanas. Nearby, the children are enjoying the water slides. Meeting Space If I haven't convinced you to bring your family to the Hyatt Regency Irvine, another option is to plan a conference or a corporate meeting at this grand hotel. Personally, I cannot imagine a meeting need that cannot be met here with the enormity of the meeting spaces and the gracious help of highly attentive staff. Yes, you can tell I was impressed with the Hyatt Regency Irvine. The final changes have yet to be completed, but my stay was outstanding. One more thing, the hotel is two miles from the John Wayne Airport. However, as I mentioned, it is an easy drive from Palm Springs, making it a great getaway. Kathy Condon is a Journalist, Travel Writer, and Award-winning Author. Her niche is luxury experiences communities living in the shadows of large cities, and she enjoys writing about hidden gems.      760-902-3094 About

  • Fall in Palm Springs Brings Changes in Lifestyle (2023)

    As I walked out on my patio at 6:00 a.m., the sun rose over the San Jacinto mountains, and a few fluffy clouds floated by. I smiled, for fall in Palm Springs has obviously arrived. The cool morning air allows me to, once again, sit out on the patio for a couple of hours while looking through social media and planning my day. Please be aware that clicking on affiliate links may result in Palm Springs Insider Guide earning a commission. This disclosure follows the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR § 255.5: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. There is no question we locals are happy and relieved the 100-degree days are behind us. We have watched enough streaming TV movies. We missed our patio dining and poolside chats with friends. Fall in Palm Springs Changes in Routines · Planning trips out to do errands before 10:00 a.m. or after 7:00 p.m. is no longer necessary. During the summer, we have to make sure we have water with us, sunglasses, and, of course, wearing suntan lotion as we walk out our front doors. Now, we have no hesitation in running errands at any time of the day. · As the snowbirds arrived and visitors from nearby Los Angeles and San Diego, we realized we must make reservations for our favorite restaurants. Some restaurants closed to allow owners and employees to have vacations. Still, others used the summer months to do updating. So, it is fun to see changes when they reopened, including perusing the new menus. · No longer do we seek the parking spot nearest the grocery store entrance. Now, I find myself parking far away to get some steps in and soak up the beauty surrounding us on any given day. · Early morning swims are postponed until the sun and pool heaters raise the temperatures. I have discovered about 11:00 a.m. is perfect. · With the stores along Palm Canyon packed with new merchandise, one can browse and talk to the shop owners anytime. By the way, most of our stores in the city of Palm Springs are independently owned. · Now, one does not have to get up at the crack of dawn to head to our favorite trail. However, we still wear a hat and suntan lotion and take twice as much water as we think we need. Plus, we tell a friend where we will be going. Events Increased Two-fold in the Fall in Palm Springs. Admittedly, I love opening my emails and finding announcements of openings and events. Here are some of the recent announcements: · The Aqua Caliente Tribe announced the Grand Opening of its long-awaited new Cultural Center on November 3, 2023. The exterior of the building is beautiful, so we look forward to the fence being removed and the opportunity to learn through their exhibits and lectures. · The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway went through its annual maintenance and is now open for reservations and the perfect place to hike, relax on their patios, and have dinner. · The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens and winter hours to 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. · The Coachella Vally Firebirds have started their season—an opportunity to see, perhaps, your first ice hockey game at the Acrisure Arena. Ice Hockey is an activity that the entire family will likely enjoy. · Palm Springs Modernism Fall Show is opening this month. We look forward to seeing some iconic 50s and 60s homes perfectly preserved or restored to their former grandeur. · VillageFest’s vendors increase in the fall. Thursday nights on Palm Canyon continue to become a community gathering place. · The Palm Springs Art Museum is open, free of charge, on Thursdays from 4:00-8:00 p.m., thanks to a grant from the City of Palm Springs. · Our new downtown Palm Springs Park (Still to be officially named) starts concerts in the park. There is no charge, and here is your chance to relax under the beautiful palm trees and star-filled sky. · The golf courses have been reseeded, and they look forward to a season where people come from all over the world to experience our professional courses with stunning mountain views. · It is the perfect time to get up and get close to the Windmills by taking a tour. You don’t know how large they are until you stand at the base of one of them. · Oscars is open while remodeling the large space. Their intimate evenings are special when we hear famous people share personal aspects of their lives. · The Palm Springs Cultural Center continues to offer live music, innovative programming, and sharing its grounds with the Certified Farmers Market on Saturday mornings. Patio dining is once again in great demand. Please make your reservations and take a light wrap, for our desert climate can get cool in the evenings. Fall in Palm Springs encourages locals to stop and greet our neighbors on our walkway as we head to our community parking lots. Sitting outside on our patios with cocktails, we once again watch the sun set behind our mountains, causing the scattered clouds to turn brilliant pink. We trust you will plan a trip here and come to enjoy the relaxed, awesome community we call home 360 days a year. Oh, alright, we plan our vacations in the middle of the summer, but now it is time to celebrate our weather and events, making every day an adventure living here. Kathy Condon is a Journalist, Travel Writer, and Award-winning Author. Her niche is luxury experiences and communities living in the shadows of large cities. 760-902-3094

  • Temecula California a Short RoadTrip from Palm Springs Part 2 (2024)

    After a full day of exploring wineries in Temecula, California, including Robert Renzoni Vineyards, Leoness Cellars, Wilson Creek Winery, and Fazeli Cellars (see Part 1), I was ready to investigate other attractions in the area. Please be aware that clicking on affiliate links may result in Palm Springs Insider Guide earning a commission. This disclosure follows the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR § 255.5: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Vine House Bed and Breakfast is Elegant without Pretense. I woke up to sunlight beaming through the windows of my second-floor suite at The Vine House Bed and Breakfast. Checking in the day before, I felt like I had been crowned a princess. The room was huge: a crystal chandelier, giant padded headboard, and French doors leading to a patio overlooking the nearby vineyard. Plus, exquisite linens made it extremely difficult to fling back the covers and start my day. At 9:00 a.m., there was a quiet knock at my door. I opened the door, and sitting on a portable table was my breakfast with a rose, accompanied by orange juice, a long narrow plate displaying a perfectly made omelet, potatoes, and French toast. Knowing there had to be a story behind the charming Bed and Breakfast, I was thrilled to interview Lacey Britton, the co-owner with her husband, Rob. Lacey worked in Human Resources in San Diego; her husband was well-established in the financial world there. After a few years, and with small children, she started thinking about what she would really like to do for her next career. She told her husband about a dream of having a venue where she could host weddings, so the search started. About the same time, her father-in-law passed away, and they wanted to provide a home for his mother. As they looked for property, they fanned out further and further from San Diego. Then they discovered Temecula and this property with a home, a casita for the mother-in-law, and a barn that housed race cars. With her vision in mind for the barn, she and her husband built it into a beautiful yet charming five-bedroom bed and breakfast. Lacey watches over every detail, creating each room with a theme. Every amenity a person could want is provided. Its location is in the countryside yet easily accessible to local wineries and attractions. Dorland Mountain Arts Colony Near Temecula California Ellen and Robert Dorland homesteaded 300 acres near Temecula. Ellen, an accomplished internationally known concert pianist, was friends with Barbara Horton, a dedicated environmentalist. Ellen dreamed of making the space a retreat for artists. The two women formed a non-profit organization in 1979 by working with the Nature Conservancy. Today, the Dorland Mountain Arts Colony has six cottages (one with a grand piano) and two art studios on a section of the land. A building called the Kitchen House provides a meeting place for the artists to collaborate if they choose to do so. Over 1500 artists, musicians, and writers have applied and been accepted to spend a week in the tranquil setting. Here, surrounded by only the rustle of leaves and occasional forest animals and birds, they can allow their creativity to flourish. Temecula Olive Oil Company Olive View Ranch The 18-mile drive to Olive View Ranch through Temecula Valley revealed an expected pleasant visit. I parked my car by the rail fence graced with white rose bushes, alerting me that I may be for a different experience than expected. I walked up the winding pathway to the tasting room, an open, tropical-like building with bottles of olive oil and vinegar waiting to be tasted. Thom Curry, a Southern California authority on growing and processing olives, met me, for I had made the required reservation for a tour. Thom took me through the grounds, once a wetland and drug-infested area and now a place where there were various vignettes waiting for visitors to relax and enjoy the solace of the quiet countryside. Relax in twig furniture or take a page from your childhood and grab a swing and pump your way to a thrilling ride, the ones that made you smile when you were little. With plenty of space, weddings have found a peaceful, serene setting, and fundraisers are frequent because of the variety of venues. If you want a family reunion, the ideal place for a large community grill is waiting to be the centerpiece for preparing your meal. The olive orchard trees meet to form a cathedral-like setting as you walk through them. Thom explains how he designed the first portable olive pressing machine. My experience harvesting olives at Sunnylands resulted in a great conversation, for he pressed the olives that day. The tour ended with me sitting and enjoying the tasting of olive oil. Thom has mastered mixing olive oil and vinegar, producing a salad dressing that is hard to resist. Dining in Temecula I already talked about the excellent breakfast at Vine House Bed and Breakfast. Now let's look closer at the places where I dined. Creekside Grille at the Wilson Creek Winery Not only is the Creekside Grille at the Wilson Creek Winery in a beautiful setting, but I also had the extraordinary opportunity to meet with Kristina Filippi—one of three women winemakers in Temecula Valley, whom I wrote about in Part 1 of Temecula California Road Trip from Palm Springs. Thirty-year-old Cabernet grapevines surround the lovely outdoor patio. I thoroughly enjoyed my Vineyard Salad with organic baby greens, golden raisins, candied walnuts, bleu cheese, and vanilla balsamic vinaigrette. A glass of Viognier perfectly accompanied the meal and our conversation. Avensole Winery the Perfect Place to Meet a Friend for Lunch To say the grounds of Avensole Winery are beautiful does not effectively describe the scene that was laid out before me as I explored before I had lunch with Jessica Neilson, General Manager. I wandered into the tasting room at the foot of the path, with an outdoor patio overlooking the gazebo used for weddings and the water lily-laden pond next to it. The tasting room was stripped of extraneous items and focused instead on the wine bottles and beautiful tasting bar serving as the focus of the entire room. During lunch, Jessica revealed that she often comes to the grounds early before the staff arrives to enjoy the morning quiet. She enjoys observing hot air balloons floating over the vineyards. I can only imagine how tranquil this way of starting a day must be. Avensole Winery, a women-run winery, focuses on Zinfandel, but on its 16 acres, grows other grapes, taking full advantage of the cool morning air floating in the Pacific Ocean to produce outstanding wine. With award-winning wines and a variety of venues to have a wedding, this winery is a place you will want to consider for any special event. For lunch, I ordered 2020 Zinfandel Rose, 100% Zinfandel rose, strawberry, cherry & blood orange with an elegant finish. Okay, I had two glasses. It was a long lunch. I felt like I was transported back to my experience drinking Rose in southern France on a day with weather similar to what I experienced here in Temecula. It paired perfectly with a Chicken Club, with grilled chicken, smoked bacon, heirloom tomato, and avocado spread. Ponte Family Estate Winery Restaurant While coming from the parking lot to The Restaurant of the Ponte dining patio, you walk a path surrounded by blooming white roses, revealing their beauty on the well-lit path. Seated in the perfect spot, with heaters providing the ideal temperature, it was fabulous dining outside in late October. A special moment was when Chef Admin Boubaddi came out to greet Norma Marlowe of Visit Temecula Valley and me. He told us he enjoyed having a constantly changing menu and using products to create farm-to-table cuisine. His smile broadened as he told us he only used fresh herbs. Alas, it was too dark for us to tour his herb garden, which was obviously his pride and joy. My entrée, halibut, was pan-sheared with porcini mushroom and breadcrumb-crusted filet and served in a bowl with olives, artichokes, asparagus, potato gnocchi topped with white wine butter. My Pinot Grigio was the perfect accompaniment. Now about dessert, oh my. Souffle of dark chocolate cake, vanilla anglaise, chocolate sauce, and fresh berries. With 300 acres of mature vineyards and gardens perfectly landscaped, there is much more to come back and explore. Plus, there is a hotel on the grounds, and the gift shop offers a wide variety of unusual gifts. One of their blends, such as Super T and the ever-popular Beverino would be a perfect hostess gift. The Gambling Cowboy makes its name at Great Steakhouse Located off Main Street in Old Town Temecula, you take an elevator to the top floor to the Gambling Cowboy Steakhouse. Once you walk off the elevator, your eyes dance across the room, for there is so much to observe. Every inch of the walls and flat surfaces has an object on it. I use the word object because photographs, sculptures, vases, saddles, and anything remotely connected to a Western theme are displayed. Since it is a steakhouse, I ordered a 72-hour Blacken ribeye steak. It was plated with garlic mashed potatoes and fresh asparagus from a nearby farm. I paired it with a glass of Leoness Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon, and I was one happy diner. Of course, we had to try the dessert and let us say, the homemade bread pudding with warm Jack Daniels caramel sauce did not disappoint. A hot cup of coffee was the crowning touch to a more than satisfying meal. When Rene Ehmcke, the owner, joined the table, it was the perfect time for me to ask, Why did you name the restaurant the Gambling Cowboy? She smiled, and she said, There is a story. My Mom and I wanted to name the restaurant after my dad, who was alive. We were having trouble coming up with a name. One night, we went to a local Mexican restaurant. After a couple of margaritas, I said, Dad always gambled on me. My Mom piped up. He has always been a cowboy. That's when it was decided it would be the Gambling Cowboy. The place was bustling; word had gotten out; one can always count on getting an excellent steak at this restaurant that has never lost its focus, serving great steaks. I trust you enjoyed reading Part 1 and Part 2 about my discoveries with the guidance of Visit Temecula Valley; without their direction, I would likely never have discovered these places. It was a fantastic journey, and I'm already looking forward to going back and digging deeper into the stories of the attractions and people that make up this community, which I quickly discovered do everything they can to support each other. Kathy Condon is a journalist, travel writer, and award-winning author. Her niche is luxury experiences and communities living in the shadows of larger cities. 760-902-3094

  • A Miracle Pop Up at Truss and Twine in Palm Springs California 2023

    Really? A miracle? Perhaps it isn’t what you usually think about when using the term. However, Miracle Pop Up at the Truss and Twine is a whole lot of fun. Please be aware that clicking on affiliate links may result in Palm Springs Insider Guide earning a commission. This disclosure follows the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR § 255.5: Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Truss and Twine is a classy craft cocktail venue in Palm Springs, California, in the Uptown Design District. On any evening, customers can be seated at the U-shaped bar. The minimalist décor is reinforced with a cantilever black steel canopy over the concrete bar. Co-owners Michael Beckman and Jose Mourani share their time between Truss and Twine and Workshop Kitchen Bar. At Truss and Twine, Brandon Glass, with an electric personality, serves as General Manager and Bartender, regaling customers with stories as they relax. Miracle Pop-Up Arrives for the Holidays at Truss and Twine What is a Miracle Pop-Up? Greg Boehm was building a cocktail bar in East Village in New York City. The space would not be finished for the holidays, so Greg’s mother suggested they transform it into a pop-up serving specialty drinks with holiday décor. To their surprise, not only did friends come to support them, but crowds started to appear. It became the place where lone customers could come in and experience the joy of Christmas through the kitschy décor and holiday music. Laughter permeated the air. His bar industry colleagues took notice and asked how he created the event. Thinking the process through, Greg figured out how the event could be duplicated. By 2016, four locations had opened with specifically crafted cocktails and information about creating the atmosphere to make it feel like a nostalgic Christmas. Today, Miracle has been recreated in over 150 locations throughout the world. Truss and Twine Miracle Pop-Up: Only One in Palm Springs Brandon Glass proudly shares how pleased they are to be the host of this event. The closest other one would be in Los Angeles. The franchise has a strict limit: Miracle Pop-Ups must be at least 50 miles from each other. Walking into Truss and Twine The minute you park the car, you see the lights and even Santa and his sleigh marking the façade of North Palm Canyon. I couldn’t help but notice the white trees meticulously stenciled on the windows and the doors as we entered Truss and Twine. Greeted by staff in holiday sweaters and Santa hats, we sat down at the bar. Lined against the wall were tables waiting for groups of people to sit. Santa-like hats, complete with the pompons on one side, were gracing the back of all the chairs in the entire space. White lights dangled from the ceiling. The concrete walls were creatively decorated to look like gift boxes. Seriously, it would be impossible not to start feeling the Christmas spirit from the décor created by Palm Springs event planner Haley Riccio. Haley does all the events for Truss and Twine and Workplace Kitchen and Bar. Time to Taste the Miracle Pop-Up Specialty Cocktails Snowball Old-Fashioned – Rye whiskey, gingerbread, aromatic & wormwood bitters, orange essence. I had this old-fashioned and can give it a thumbs up. A delightful touch, the ice was a snowball, perfectly formed under the watchful eyes of the staff. Yippee Ki Ya Mother F----r—Barbados rum, rhum agricole, Trinidad overproof rum, ube & coconut orgeat, acid-adjusted pineapple juice. My companion ordered this drink, which came in Santa’s pants mug. Jingle Balls Nog—cognac, cream sherry, almond milk, cream, egg, vanilla nutmeg. Since I love drinking egg nog during the holidays, I ordered this, trusting I wouldn’t be disappointed. I wasn’t. I love it. Rudolph’s Replacement---Vodka, coffee liqueur, white crème de cacao, orange curacao, chai, almond milk, aromatic bitters. My companion ordered this and said it was like a mild Espresso martini served in a dragon mug. There are a total of 12 specialty drinks. So, another trip will be necessary to take full advantage of this varied cocktail menu. I plan to meet there with friends again. When you purchase a specialty mug in which the craft cocktails are served, 10% of the sales profits go to SEVA. SEVA is a foundation that promotes the sustainability of organizations worldwide to help support eyesight health. Small Bites are Available On Wednesdays and Thursdays, Hoja Blanca, a local food pop-up, serves a menu of modern Mexican-inspired food. Friday through Tuesday, a special menu created by the Truss and Twine team has a Christmas theme menu. For example, they have a Christmas Cheese Ball, Mary’s Chicken Leg Confit in Mole, and a cookie tin for those wanting sweets. Alas, it was time to say goodnight. It indeed was a fun experience, with the addition of helping it be the first-holiday event I have attended this year and put me in the holiday experience. This is a unique opportunity to meet up with friends and enjoy the holiday spirit while having an adventure trying Miracle Pop-Up’s specialty cocktails. Truss and Twine is open from 5:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. and is hosting this event through December 31, so you have plenty of time to get it on your calendar. Kathy Condon is a Journalist, Travel Writer, and Award-winning Author. Her niche is luxury experiences and communities living in the shadows of larger cities. 760-902-3094

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