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  • Activities in Palm Springs in May

    Not sure what there was about the date, May 18. Yet, there I was invited to three events scattered throughout Coachella Valley. Delighted I was in town and could take advantage of the Greater Palm Springs activities. I wanted to share with you what I learned. First Stop a Hardhat Tour of Thompson Hotel Palm Springs Located on the corner of Alejo and North Palm Canyon, we residents have seen "something" being built on the large parcel of land that has languished as a vacant lot for years. The fence when up, and rumors swirled, questioning what it would look like since it has a prominent location by the Palm Springs Gateway sign. The Inside Scoop about the Thompson Hotel Palm Springs The owner, management team, and the public relations team at the construction entrance on Indian Canyon greeted us. We proceeded to tour the premises once we had our hard hats and green vests. Smiling for in the past, Facebook would post when they saw "a worker" on the premises. I can assure you many people were scattered throughout the building attending to their assigned construction duties. The Thompson Hotel Palm Springs, under the Hyatt's banner, entrance will be on Palm Canyon, effectively splitting the space into two sections. The one to the right will be 100 rooms, while the other side will have more Executive-like suites with a pool. The rooftop will have a pool and restaurant with Middle Eastern food with a stunning view of the mountains. Also located on the floor is an event space that will surely be the site for beautiful musical evenings. Plus, there will be numerous meeting rooms. I have to admit one of the aspects I am most excited about is the art. Craig Hall, the owner, casually mentioned there would be original art throughout the entire building. I caught the spark in his eye and asked him later as we sat in a circle discussing the hotel, "There was a huge smile when you mentioned there would be art. Why does that bring you so much pleasure?" He smiled and replied, "All my life, I have been around art, thanks to my mother." Through the years, I have been collecting. Now I am in the process of helping select every piece of art that will be in this building. It will have diverse artists and styles and will include local artists who have been selected. Mr. Hall said, "We inherited an awful lot of things in this structure already done and couldn't be changed." From my perspective, as one that used to work in art galleries, I can tell you there will be LOTS of walls to hang art. Conclusion: There is a great deal of work to do yet. To the thrill of everyone, the elevators started working for the first time the day before we arrived. IF all goes well, it is anticipated that Thompson Hotel Palm Springs will open before the end of the year. Renaissance Esmeralda Resort and Spa in Indian Wells Celebrated Worldwide Event Have you heard of Global Day of Discovery? I hadn't. Years ago, the Renaissance hotels united and designated the same day every Renaissance would have an event highlighting the attributes of where the resorts are located. This resort took it a step further and made it into a mini arts festival. Meeting with Jacob Kendrick, Director of Sales and Marketing of the Renaissance Esmeralda, was a delight; his energy and enthusiasm for the event were apparent. One does not have to wonder why he is good at what he does, for not only does he tout the Renaissance but the entire Coachella Valley. Art displayed on easels greeted me as I walked down the grand stairway at the resort—a perfect showcase for some of our local artists. Kathleen Strukoff's art was displayed. Later in the evening, she would capture the scene in a painting while people mingled while enjoying specialty drinks at the Place Lobby bar. Coachella's Dick and Jane Band would take the stage later that evening. Guests, including hotel clients and locals who, were aware of these events. Passed were canapes using our indigenous dates and citrus in a variety of forms the Renaissance culinary team prepared. A fun factoid: The Renaissance always says Beverage and Food instead of Food and Beverage. Why? What do you have first when you sit down at a restaurant? A beverage. Activities in Palm Springs at Azure Sky Hotel Book Signing The lovely Azure Sky opened over a year ago with new owners and refurbished space. The 14-room hotel held its first book signing event. Every indication they were on to something, for the room was filled. Mingling occurred afterward with delightful food and wine. I didn't realize until I got there I had seen Marissa Mullen, creator of the Cheese By Numbers method for presenting food, on various television shows. She shared with us her new book That Cheese Plate Wants to Party. Catherine McCord interviewed her, an influencer who created for parents to show easy ways to present wholesome, delicious homemade food. She was masterful with interviewing skills and quickly got Marissa smiling and sharing her cheese experiences worldwide. Including her hunt for cheese in France made with live insects that continues to elude her on her cheese discovery journey. Whew, it was quite the day. I am pleased I was included in the events. I learned a great deal and trust that you, the reader, appreciate how I share my learnings about my activities in Palm Springs with you. I love it, for I never know what an email will bring. Be assured. I will continue to share. Also, please let me know what more you would learn more about. Here is a list of some other summer Palm Springs activities. Kathy Condon is an award-winning author, journalist, and travel writer. Follow her at her website: 760-902-3094 About

  • Driving from Las Vegas to Palm Springs on the Backroads

    After spending a couple of days or more in Las Vegas, many of you feel like your senses are overloaded. You wake up and acknowledge it is time to pack up and head back home. Yet, the prospect of driving from Las Vegas to Palm Springs on Highway 15, retracing your steps, and possibly finding yourself stuck in traffic is not your ideal way to end your getaway on a high note. There is an alternative to Driving Highway 15 to Las Vegas There are, however, a few caveats: 1. Make sure you have a map or capture directions from your travel app before you leave Las Vegas. Internet reception can be spotty. You take many different roads, so do not rely on your inner sense of guidance/intuition. 2. Avoid driving from Las Vegas to Palm Springs on the back road during the heat of the summer, for The Mojave National Preserve can reach 120 degrees in this area. The road is not highly traveled; thus, any breakdown would cause a severe challenge for gas stations that are practically non-existent. 3. During the rainy season, some roads flood. They are blocked with gates and would make it impossible for you to continue your journey. Assuming you are not discouraged by the above caveats, your drive is about to begin. With the gas tank full, you have had a satisfying breakfast, and extra packed water, it is time to head out. The Journey Begins This driving route from Las Vegas to Palm Springs will take you south on Hwy 15 for about fifty miles. About 25 miles into your trip, watch for a turnoff to Seven Magic Mountains. The road parallels Highway 15 and is easy on and off. Walking shoes are recommended for you to walk from the parking lot to the 30-foot-high art installation. The compacted path is wheelchair accessible. Be sure to take your camera with you. If it is hot, grab your water bottle; once you are there, you become mesmerized by the grandeur of the art and can easily become dehydrated in the desert. Return to your car, and get back to Hwy 15. Soon, your directions will tell you to turn off on a country road. The landscape in this valley frequently changes, for it has diverse plants and rock formations. Hundreds of Joshua trees in one area and low bushes in another bloom profusely in the spring. Kelso Depot Visitors Center As you approach the town of Kelso, you will see one of your first signs of humanity. You will have been traveling along a railroad track on your journey. This is where the workers lived while constructing the railroad. Their small houses are still inhabited, and you can see them in the distance. Keep your eyes open for the Kelso Visitors Center, for the sign is really small. It is easy to miss. Once you park your car, you will be happy to see a structure that houses clean restrooms. Don't miss the jail--used for unruly people; i.e., it is so small and fragile one can only assume it was only used for people celebrating a little too much at the end of the day. Plan to spend some time in the original depot. A US Forest Ranger is the first person that welcomes you as you walk in the door. He or she has a wealth of information about the area, including brochures detailing the many sites one can explore--everything from the Kelso Dunes to Mitchell Caverns National Reserve. Take 15 minutes to watch the film in the little theatre so that you get a better understanding of the entire area. The small museum helps you understand the history of your surroundings, the plants, and the animals that inhabit the area. A newly added upstairs exhibit illustrates how the railroad workers lived. There is always a revolving featured artist exhibit. Now back in your car, the journey continues with an occasional stop to take photographs of the ever-changing landscape. Be sure to stop at Amboy. The owners have done a terrific job bringing this stop on the original Route 66 back to its glory. Twenty-Nine Palms A Welcomed Stop When Driving from Las Vegas to Palm Springs A delightful stop is in Twenty-Nine Palms. The home of the largest Marine Military Training Base in the United States. You might want to stop at the 29 Palm Inn if you are hungry. Their food is organic, the drinks terrific, and you will find the grounds delightful to explore. An interesting factoid, the way to and from Las Vegas to Palm Springs is about equal driving distance, whether you travel US Highway 15 or come back as outlined in this blog. If you choose to take the back road for one of your trips, you will have made an entire circle and seen over 550 miles of this beautiful state. Kathy is an award-winning author, journalist, and travel writer living in Palm Springs, where she created the Palm Springs Insider Guide 760-902-3094 About

  • It Doesn't Hurt to Ask Works for Me

    If you are fortunate like me, I grew up with parents who taught me manners that have served me well throughout my life. These fundamentals included telling the truth. Say thank you and shake hands with people while looking them in the eye. Make sure you learn to ask questions when you don't understand something. And reminding me often, it doesn't hurt to ask. I was reminded so often when I wrote my first book, I used the title, It Doesn't Hurt to Ask: It's All About Communication. Imagine the honor I felt when that book, dedicated to my parents, was named Best Book Finalist by USA Book News. I Owe My Travel Writing Success to Three Things When the pandemic started, I would never have dreamed I would change my career to become a travel writer. Plus, who was I to think my writing ability would open doors to beautiful luxury hotels, spas, and incredible cities living in the shadows of larger cities? What is Travel Writing? How do you get into the field? a. Signed up for Travel Writing Course and Joined a Group Honestly, I didn't have any idea. Thus, I joined a group of travel writers on Facebook and took a travel writing weekend course on Zoom. If you are wondering what these entities are, they have changed ownership, and I cannot recommend them in good conscience. The course gave me the fundamentals and helped me understand it appeared I had what it takes IF I used the skills I presently had and used them in unison. Oh, and I needed to pack a lot of patience and the ability to handle the word, No. b. Adopted a Mentor I watched a woman, Mary Charlebois, in the Facebook Group, very willing to share the knowledge she had gained from her 8-plus years of travel writing and editing travel sites. Sending a private message resulted in a return message. Let me give you a call. What is your phone number? I smile as I write, for that exchange has resulted in a beautiful friendship. Mary's mentorship has taken me to levels today that would have taken years to learn on my own. c. Palm Springs, California, was and still is my focus. Palm Springs is my home, and I am happy I decided to start the Palm Springs Insider Guide. If you listen to any travel writer, you probably will discover they started their career writing for free about places near their home. Once I had the site up, I started writing about my city and looking around for publications that wanted to share what I saw and did in this beautiful desert town. I Use the Thought It Doesn't Hurt to Ask Often Recently, I read an article about why you shouldn't utilize this phrase. After reading it, I understand what the author means. It doesn't work well if these two things are present. a. You are in a bad mood and treat the person in front of you or online poorly. b. If you don't have any track record of proving why you would be the right person. In the case of a travel writer, asking for comped hotel, dining, or travel accommodations with no published stories is sure to result in a no. That's why I encourage you to write for free until you have some articles in various publications. With none of the two caveats in my life, I recently asked for and received another night's lodging and funds for gas for a road trip not previously offered. In another ask, I graciously thanked the person turning me down and added them to my contacts list, for one never knows the answer next time could easily be yes. You have some of my ideas about how I got to this point in my life. I never dreamed I would go to Coachella and write about its fantastic art or have a special tour at the Acrisure. Or attend the opening party for Desert X and the 5-star resort Sec-he in downtown Palm Springs. Keep building relations, and most importantly, do what you say you will do. Trust is built by following up and doing what you say you will do. And remember, don't be afraid to ask. Kathy Condon is an award-winning author, journalist, and travel writer living in Palm Springs, California. 760-902-3094 About

  • Curious About Palm Springs Cacti?

    If you live in the desert, you have established some affinity with certain plants. There are numerous cacti, but a couple of them have become my favorite ones. My curiosity about them gently encouraged me to do some research about them, so I decided to share my findings. The Ocotillo I first noticed the ocotillo when I made my trips to the mailbox. My Home Owners Association planted it at the entrance of our complex. As the seasons changed, the plant kept changing. In the winter, no leaves project the look of a possible “Crown of Thorns.” Its thorns were very sharp and about two inches long. In the spring, tiny bright tear-shaped leaves appeared near the base of each of these thorns. Once the leaves fill in the entire branch, red flowers bloom at the end of these long flowing stems. It depends on the amount of rainfall, but typically, the plant is in full bloom in April. They like an open, very rocky habitat with well-drained soil. The plants grow along hiking trails, rocky slopes, grasslands, and natural washes. They can grow to a height of 20 ft. There is no definitive agreement, but some botanists believe they can live to well over 100 years. The red blossoms of the ocotillo attract both hummingbirds and bees. There is convincing evidence hummingbirds are largely responsible for the reproduction of this succulent throughout the desert. Barrel Cactus This cactus is, obviously, one of landscape designers' favorite plants. They grace the lawns of many of our homes, whose owners opt for low-maintenance care, for they thrive on gravel. It was love at first sight when I drove onto the grounds of Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage. On the grounds of the Annenberg Estate, the educational center has a circle in front of it landscaped with hundreds of barrel cacti. While the barrel cactus can live up to 100 years, its diameter rarely grows beyond 30 inches. It is typically about 2 to 4 feet in height but can grow to be 10 feet tall. It is often called a Compass Barrel Cactus. For reasons unknown, it tends to grow to the Southwest. The spines often are used for needles and tattooing. Overharvesting of Barrel Cacti for candy has resulted in them being “protected status” in some areas. You will notice cacti such as the Saguaro are not prevalent in our area. When you do see one, it has been purposely planted. Once you travel Highway 10 to Phoenix, you will see the desert in that area is more conducive to soil and climate for this majestic slow-growing Saguaro. If you are curious about more of Palm Springs cacti, here's my blog on Moortens Botanical Garden, where they are extremely knowledgeable, but they also have many of our desert plants for sale in a variety of sizes. Kathy Condon is a journalist and travel writer. She is a ten-year resident of Palm Springs and 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

  • 13 Things to Do in Palm Springs from the Viewpoint of a Resident

    One of the reasons I developed the Palm Springs Insider Guide was that visitors assumed we were a place where we only had golf courses and swimming pools. Frankly, until I moved here 11 years ago, I also envisioned Palm Springs as a place where I could expect warm weather and many seniors. Smiling, for Palm Springs, is so much more. As I have learned, you will see many activities for all members of the family within the city limits. Below are some of my favorite things to do in Palm Springs. Where is Palm Springs Located? I have learned there is a Palm Springs, Florida. The subject of this article is Palm Springs, California, located in the southern part of the state, 2.5 hours from Los Angeles and 2.5 hours from San Diego. An International Airport with direct flights from many cities is five minutes from downtown. Most people do not understand that we are in Coachella Valley, which is 45 miles long and extends from the San Bernardino mountains to the Salton Sea. The Valley has nine independent cities, all with their own city governments. Thus, when we learn we have an acquaintance coming to Palm Springs, we ask them the address of the hotel where they will be staying because it could be 45 miles away, not in Palm Springs. 1. Where Do I Stay in Palm Springs? With over 72 small boutique hotels (hotels with under 50 rooms) within the city limits, it can get quite overwhelming how to start your search for a place to stay. I suggest you head to the Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels site, where you can search for the environment you want for your vacation. Thankfully, many of our hotels from the 50s and 60s were not torn down and have now been updated. Yet still maintain the charm the movie stars learned to appreciate on their journeys from Hollywood. As an added incentive, many hotels are easy to walk to the bustling downtown. 2. Stroll Down Palm Canyon Drive Gone are the days when there were empty storefronts. Our independent store owners are thriving. Peepa's offers an array of gifts, Destination PSP offers everything Palm Springs, and Kimbals has women's clothes sure to be perfect for any event when you want to add a bit of sparkle. You can be sure to find that unique souvenir or gift for your grandchildren, pet sitter or birthday gift. 3. Museum Way and Park Showcase Eclectic Art Our newly opened park in downtown Palm Springs is a community gathering place. Large palm trees, plenty of seating, and an amphitheater provide a place to listen to music or take a refreshing break from exploring downtown. No visit is complete without seeing the 25-foot Marilyn statue standing tall beside the park. Nearby view of the famous "Babies" in what is affectionately called the sand pit. Across from the sand pit, the graffiti park is constantly changing. 4. Palm Springs Art Museum I've been to many art museums, but I have to say I believe the Palm Springs Art Museum is one that you will want to return to again and again. You feel good the minute you walk in; that feeling does not disappear as you walk through this spacious museum. Be sure to stop at their outstanding store. Plus, I suggest you head to their website to see if there are any special exhibits or lectures when you are in the area. 5. Architecture and Design Center in Downtown The Architectural Design Center is definitely worth a stop. It is under the auspices of the Palm Springs Art Center and honors the international architects known as the fathers of Modernism in Palm Springs. Many of the structures they designed are opened during our Modernism Week. This event attracts thousands of people at the end of October and a 14-day event in February. 6. Things to do in Palm Springs Windmill Tours in Palm Springs If you flew in, you passed over the giant field of windmills. If you drove in, you went by them. An interesting factoid, they are located in the continuously windiest area in the world. Few people realize that one can learn about windmills by driving through a predetermined route and learning how they operate and provide power to our area. Contact the Palm Springs Windmill Tour for directions and pricing. This tour is an activity the family will enjoy. 7. View Coachella Valley from Palm Springs Ariel Tramway At least once in a lifetime, I suggest you make reservations and take the Palm Springs Ariel Tramway ten minutes up the mountainside to 8500 thousand feet. The car turns as you ascend. Thus, you see the outstanding view and the changing fauna that changes as you view the rugged landscape. My tip: Go up at about 4:30 p.m. when it is light and have a cocktail or a bite at one of the two restaurants. Then come down when it is dark. That way, you get two entirely different views of the Coachella Valley below. 8. Learn about Cacti at Moorten's Botanical Gardens and Cacturium Tucked away near the curve on South Palm Canyon Drive is Moorten's Botanical Gardens. This family-owned one-acre is a quiet oasis where you can browse and admire an array of our desert cacti. Marked paths lead through the garden and to the Cacturium, believed to be the only one of its kind, for ancient cacti thrive under the watchful care of the Moorten family. 9. Agua Caliente Casino The newly updated Agua Caliente Casino has a variety of gaming opportunities. If you love the new giant screen slot machines, you will find many opportunities to find one that catches your fancy. Check out their website for entertainment. If you are hungry, you will find excellent food. Then order your favorite craft beer or cocktail to accompany it. 10. Five-Star Luxury Spa The Agua Caliente Tribe proudly opened its Sec-he five-star spa. There is a genuine excitement for the first time in 10-plus years; we now have hot mineral springs in our city. Before or after a treatment, you can access mineral hot springs, salt caves, outdoor pools, quiet rooms, and co-ed lounge rooms. Get a day pass, bring a friend, and relax in this beautiful new oasis in the middle of downtown. 11. Ride Horses Through the Canyons If you ever want to ride a horse through some beautiful canyons, you can make arrangements to ride one at SmokeTree Stables. Children 7 years and older can ride; thus, it makes a great family outing. This stable has been family owned and operated since 1927. If you have never ridden a horse, they can gladly accommodate you. All tours are guided through the canyons. Reservations are a must and can be made on their website. 12. Spring Air Museum The Palm Springs Air Museum is not to be missed by aviation enthusiasts and is located adjacent to the Palm Springs International Airport. It is considered one of the largest collections of flyable and static aircraft, helping tell the history of 100 years of military history. A visit is even made more delightful because no ropes keep you from touching the aircraft. The volunteers here often have flown some of these planes, so you can be sure to get some personal stories. 13. Restaurants have a Variety of Cuisine Dining in our community is a culinary experience. Because there is such a variety, you will find family restaurants and upscale places to celebrate wins or special occasions. We, locals, seek out Happy Hours, for we are fortunate to have so many patios to enjoy our early evening weather. Once you discover a restaurant you are interested in, I suggest you make a reservation for people are figuring out our talented chefs are creating superb food. Palm Springs Insider Guide Provides Information on Coachella Valley Writing this article caused me to think about the things we have in Palm Springs and reminded me why I decided to start the Palm Springs Insider Guide. On my site, I also write about trips from our city, for we residents explore other California destinations. Yes, I often head down to the other eight cities in Coachella Valley, so you will find information about their attractions which I often experience and continue to enjoy. Kathy Condon is an award-winning author and journalist for numerous publications. She has been a resident of Palm Springs for 11 years and travels the world writing about her experiences. About

  • Palm Springs Day Trip Includes Flowers and Art

    Ready for Palm Springs day trip? Well, here's one I recently took and highly recommend. Plan a trip to The Flower Fields in Carlsbad, California. Then take the road less traveled home through Fallbrook, California. A little over 100 miles from Palm Springs, The Flower Fields of Carlsbad have started to bloom. Through Mother's Day, approximately 50 acres of ranunculus bloom and thrive on the slanting hill less than five minutes from the Pacific Ocean. Preparing for a Palm Springs Day Trip to the Flower Fields Be sure to get your tickets online, for no tickets are sold at the gate. You will also be asked what entry time you want. My suggestion is to arrive early for two reasons: 1. I highly recommend you purchase your entry tickets for early in the morning when the crowds are less. Also, this internationally known attraction is popular so that the early bird can move around the grounds so much easier. 2. Wear a hat and suntan lotion, for the radiating rays of the sun are stronger than you realize. Your Arrival As you walk through the gates, the brilliant colors of the blooming flowers cause you to stop and gaze over the scene spreading out before you. The breathtaking view begs you to capture the setting on your camera but wait. There is so much more to explore. Your journey has just begun. If you have family members who have a challenge walking, you will want to purchase tickets to ride the wagon through the fields. Don't worry. They have stops where you can get off and get up close and personal with the blooms. Once the ride is over, you will want to walk through the various sets built by volunteers and enriched with flowers planted by the Master Gardeners. It is no wonder these fields are a desired and popular sight for weddings after hours. Talk about an Instagrammer's dream. There is more to explore, but I just wanted you to get a sense of these gardens and encourage you to plan a trip there. Take the Trip Less Traveled Home If you love Backroads, here's a suggestion. I put Sage, California, into the GPS, for I saw on the map that it would take me home and through Fallbrook without much freeway driving. (Still smiling, Sage is literally a T in the road.) At the T, turn left and enjoy the country scenes with ranches and vista views. Arriving in Fallbrook Keep driving through the new area of town and look for the sign that says Historic Downtown. Once I parked the car, I was across the street from the Chamber of Commerce and the Arts Center. Delightful staff at the Chamber gave me some pamphlets and urged me to go to the Arts Center next door. Art Center Watercolor Juried Exhibit To say this exhibit is extraordinary is an understatement. It includes 104 paintings with so much detail you find yourself peering more closely at the painting to see the minuscule details. Only watercolorists who had won awards at major watercolor societies in the US could enter this juried exhibit. Meeting one of the buyers of one of the paintings who just wandered into the Fallbrook Arts Center was enlightening. Realism and contemporary forms of subject matter were well represented. I wound my way through the maze of partitions holding these treasured works of art. If you love art, particularly watercolors, I suggest call them for exhibit details or go online to see their schedule of exhibits. More than one person mentioned not to be missed is their Galaxy of Glass exhibit scheduled for the fall. Returning Home As I parked in my carport, I smiled. My idea that morning to come home on a less traveled road proved to be one of great fun and learning. I believe that if you want an exciting life, plan something yet, remain flexible. Follow more of my discoveries at the bottom of the page of my website: 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 Facebook Instagram

  • Things to Do in Palm Springs in the Winter

    A new chapter in your life begins in January 2023, and a new chapter in the life of Palm Springs, California residents. With the month starting with unusual weather and rain badly needed, here are some things I am looking forward to in 2023 in our beautiful community. International Film Festival Palm Springs International Film Festival is the opening of the awards season. The red-carpet event is on January 5, 2023, and causes a flurry of excitement. As the first award ceremony of the year, the world focuses on our selections. It is always fun to follow other award evenings to see if other organizations confirm our selection committee choices. Thousands of people come to this festival from all over the world. This year, 134 films from 64 countries will be shown from January 5-16, 2023. We residents volunteer for there are numerous locations where the films are offered across our theatre venues. We are all looking forward to the restored Plaza Theatre being once again a key location for screening films. Modernism Week Frankly, as a resident of Palm Springs, it is impossible not to get caught up in the excitement of Modernism Week, February 16-23, 2023. We locals welcome the opportunity to finally peek into some historic architectural homes of the 50s and 60s. We often dress in elegant clothes and attend cocktail parties that spill out into the yards of these magnificent preserved or restored homes. Lectures provide us with new knowledge about the community. If you are looking for décor, the Vintage Yard Sale is a Modernism aficionado’s dream place. Concerts in Palm Springs Public Parks Tribute concerts are scheduled in our Palm Springs new public park located in the center of town. This venue is perfect for bringing your chair and enjoying the show. While we have a plethora of restaurants, you would be surprised how fast they are filled to capacity. With so many people in town, we locals know it is essential to make dinner reservations before or after the concert. Exploring Retail Stores in Palm Springs Most of our storefronts are full and display great items if you want or need retail therapy. We, residents, are always surprised at how rapidly the merchandise revolves, so taking time off and just being a tourist in our town is fun. For example, last Sunday, I was one of the first to see Market Market, a new vintage, consignment, and Modernism furniture store in what was once Steinmart. Dining with Friends in Palm Springs Restaurants One of the great things about living in Palm Springs is that most of our restaurants have an outdoor seating area. Thus, heading out in the evening knowing you will be outside under our beautiful sky is a pleasure I appreciate. With new restaurants opening, it is always an adventure being a guest to experience the décor and cuisine offered by our outstanding chefs. A Fun Thing to Do in the Winter in Palm Springs Swimming under Palm Springs Star-Filled Sky Admittedly, I am fortunate to live in a condo complex with a heated pool year-round. There is nothing better than going for a swim, then heading to the hot tub I use for relaxation and my award for exercise well done. Opening of the Aqua Caliente Cultural Plaza The long-awaited Aqua Caliente Cultural Plaza is opened. With the Aqua Caliente Tribe being such an integral part of our community, we now can learn more about its history in their museum displaying its artifacts. At last, we will have a place once again to access mineral hot springs in the Sec he Spa. There is so much I could talk about. For example, the American Express tournament, a stop on the PGA Tour in the middle of January. Then the BNP Paribas Open shines the international spotlight on Indian Wells Tennis Garden in March. With tourists preparing for winter visit to Palm Springs and the Season in full swing, residents are never sure what opportunity will show up at any time. All I know is that after living here for ten years, Palm Springs Winter Activities can still leave me in awe. The mountains, the thousands of palm trees, 350 days of sunshine, and the opportunities which increasingly pop up to offer experiences not available any place else in the world. I trust I have convinced you there are so many things to do in Palm Springs in the Winter. Kathy Condon is a Journalist and Travel Writer. She is a master at digging deep, finding, and sharing stories and attractions from smaller towns near large metropolitan areas. Her reviews of luxury resorts and hotels are attracting the attention of international and local travelers. 760-902-3094

  • Agua Caliente Resort Casino The Show Hosts Tony Orlando

    When you travel to Palm Springs, California, here is something you may want to look into to plan your activities. The growth of entertainment venues in Coachella Valley took a great leap when the Acrisure Arena was announced. It accommodates 10,000 people for the hometown, Firebirds hockey team, and Live Nation entertainment productions. Last night I had the opportunity to attend an event with my neighbor to see Tony Orlando. If you prefer a more intimate space, I suggest you look into The Show, located inside the Agua Caliente Resort Casino and Spa. It is easily accessible from Highway 10 in Rancho Mirage, on Bob Hope Drive. A three-quarters circle is filled with 2,057 comfortable seats, with no poles to see around, and state-of-the-art screens allow you to see performers' facial expressions no matter where you are seated. Three Special Aspects of the Tony Orlando Show I Enjoyed at the Aqua Caliente Resort Casino 1. The Realness of Tony Orlando at the Aqua Caliente Resort Casino Tony walked out, projecting an ah-shucks demeanor, and started with, "I am so happy to be back in the Valley, where I owned homes for many years." He shared how he owned houses and sold them for what he thought was a great deal of money. He recently learned a house he bought for nearly $500,000 and sold years ago now recently sold for $23 million. The audience applauded when he said he intended to make the Valley his home again. What was so endearing, Tony did not shy away from the lows in his life. The stories he shared between songs were interesting and kept you engaged, and wanting him to regale more the stories that comprise the man performing before you. One sensed his 78 years had brought him to a place where he wanted to share: If you have a dream, do not give it up, but don't expect it will always be easy. 2. Obvious Love and Pride in His Band We tend to look at a band and clap when the entertainer introduces them by name, and that is it. I have never seen an entertainer showcase his musicians as Tony did this evening. Not only did you learn their name and background, but each musician became an intricate part of the evening. We learned how his brother begged their dad to buy a piano so he could someday accompany Tony on his concert tours. It has now been 27 years of them working together. Captain, an 18-year-old working with Tony for the first time, brought the house down by playing and singing a Neil Simon song. I couldn't help but think how incredible it was for Captain and Tony to make sure the younger generation felt welcomed in this genre. Still, another segment introduced a gentleman on the keyboard and guitar. He had a severe stroke five years ago. This night his ability to sing in the voice of Cher, Willie Nelson, and Prince was incredible. His rendition of Purple Rain had the crowd swaying with the beautiful visual of the stage bathed with floating purple lights. The other two guitarists and the drummer, with extraordinary vocal abilities, were also showcased in ways I had never seen before. Tony's pride in working with them was incredibly evident, for they, too, were the subject of Tony's stories about their lives, career, and pride in helping him project his music to the world. 3. A Performance to Be Remembered At the Agua Caliente Resort Casino With Tie a Yellow Ribbon as his opening song, he immediately had his audience singing with him. Then, not missing a beat, he turned the performance into an event honoring our war heroes. He went through all the wars with the lights up, starting with WW II. Then as he went through the different wars, the standing veterans visually illustrated the many people who have fought for our freedom. He pointed out we have few WWII veterans alive, but we should honor those still alive. Then he asked the lights to be turned off to honor all those who sacrificed their lives for us. I'm pretty sure there was not a dry eye in the house. While he focused on his songs, the band constantly stretched him with new renditions of other popular groups' music during the 70s. With no intermission, his smile grew as the evening kept the audience singing along with him and tapping their feet. As we filed out of the auditorium, the conversations around us revealed that we were not the only two that found this to be an extraordinary concert, much of it because of the focus on humanity. Feeling so fortunate, I had the opportunity to go to the show in the first place but had no idea I would be touched on so many levels. We agreed he had done everything right. Yes, he has had a few years to perfect his craft. Yet, his words of sincerity and belief that people should follow their dreams exuded from every pore in his body. What a gift he gave to us all, and yes reminded us perhaps, we can all be a little kinder to each other. Kathy Condon is a journalist and travel writer who has been to 29 countries, 16 islands, and 49 states (Alaska is on the list for a future visit). Her goal is to travel and share the stories and attractions she uncovers with her readers. Her articles are published on TravelAwaits, Extended Weekend Getaways, and Wander With Wonder, to name a few. 760-902-3094

  • Washington and Oregon Attractions

    Many of you followed my quasi-vacation to the Northwest, specifically Bellevue, Vancouver, Washington; Gearhart, Oregon; and Astoria, Oregon. My 17-day odyssey included laughter, hugs, exploration of new areas, and fabulous food. My transportation included: Airplanes, which I can happily report were on time and had no lost baggage, a scenic train ride, and a road trip. Now that I have recovered from Travel Fog, it is time to focus on the many articles queried and approved by publications before I left on the journey. Meanwhile, my brain dances with new possible queries, like writing about The Coffee Girls, a place hidden away on an Astoria, Oregon pier and frozen in time. Planning a Visit to Bellevue Washington The planning for the trip began when my friends in Palm Desert, Sheri of California Caftans, and her husband, David, came home from a date. I took care of their dogs that evening. When they came home that night, they took out their calendar and asked when I was coming to stay with them in their Bellevue, Washington, home next summer. We settled on the end of August. Arrival in Bellevue the beginning of Exploring the Washington and Oregon Attractions The August day came, and I flew into Everett Field, Washington. Immediately upon being picked up, David began a tremendously informative tour through easily accessible areas of the Boeing manufacturing complex. Believed to be the largest one-level building in the world, sliding open doors revealed planes in various stages of construction as far as the eye could see. I got out of the car at their home and started breathing in the fresh evening air on the patio surrounded by evergreen trees. I sensed it was going to be a very good six days. Indeed, it was relaxing, filled with laughter, good food, and winetasting. I am grateful to Visit Bellevue for organizing some of our adventures. Amtrak Train Ride to Vancouver Washington The bus ride from Everett to connect with Amtrak was filled to the brim. With its ornate cornices and snow-white interior, Union Station in downtown Seattle was a joy to see again. The train ride was filled with beautiful scenery, following along the Columbia River to my destination of Vancouver, Washington. My friend of 30-plus years, Molly Silva, picked me up and ushered me into my room in her beautiful new condo, again with a lovely patio surrounded by tall evergreen trees. Reconnecting with Friends in Vancouver Washington Vancouver had been my home for 26 years before I moved to Palm Springs 10 years ago. I was thrilled to have breakfast with friends, coffee, dinner, and just quick conversations that resulted from people seeing my posts on Facebook. Checking into the AC Vancouver Waterfront Hotel I was asked to review the AC Vancouver Waterfront Hotel through my travel writing work and was granted a two-night stay. This beautiful hotel perched on the Columbia River's edge open in June of 2022. I quickly noticed the little things, cocktail cubes embossed with AC, Tug the robot ready to serve, a square-shaped toilet, and a spectacular view from my room overlooking the river. Again, more information will come out in my articles about this casual yet luxury feel hotel. Road Trip to Gearhart Beach With the journey of Washington and Oregon attractions on the Washington side on Highway 4, we marveled that there was no traffic, even on a holiday weekend. This destination was truly a vacation for me, an arranged stay with a dear friend of 30-plus years. Her former beach house has now become her permanent residence, and the gardens surrounding it flourish under her green thumb. We made morning trail walks to the ocean beach, dined in the area, and reveled in Mary's knowledge of history and places surrounding the beach towns of Seaside, Cannon Beach, Astoria, and Gearhart. As a trustee of the Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria, her knowledge and tour brought to life the essence of the ships' perilous trips over the world's most dangerous bar where the Pacific Ocean and Columbia River meet. Checked into the Cannery Pier Hotel and Spa in Astoria Oregon On this trip, I was assigned the great duty of reviewing the Cannery Pier Hotel and Spa on the ocean's edge in Astoria, California. On a hunch, we arrived mid-morning and were thrilled we could check into our room with a full ocean view. So much to share with you in the future. Let's say, for now, it was terribly hard to pry ourselves away from this luxurious yet casual, romantic hotel, newly opened after an entire remodel in April 2022. Trip Through Portland Oregon on the Way to Lake Oswego Oregon My final planned stop was lunch in Lake Oswego. I was hoping we would have lunch on my friends' deck, which I knew was surrounded by evergreens, so I could get one last time to enjoy the incredible weather of the Northwest that followed me for the entire time of my journey. Paula and Scott did not disappoint. Greeted with Prosecco and a toast to long friendships, we thoroughly enjoyed a shrimp salad accompanied by fresh garden tomatoes. Let's say all had a good time. Flight Home on United Airlines An early-morning flight on United Airlines from Portland was made stress-free by my friend Pennie's ride to the airport. With no delays in Portland or San Francisco, where I changed planes, arrival was on time for a terrific greeting from Palm Springs friend Rob. Final Part of the Journey With a suitcase in hand, I opened the door to my condo. All was well, even though temperatures had hovered over 110 degrees a fair amount of the time I was gone, while I enjoyed perfect weather in the Northwest. For many reasons, seeing Washington and Oregon attractions was a magnificent trip. I am thrilled I get to relive the adventure and will share more detailed descriptions of the places mentioned above. Now, it is time to settle in, tends to my dog-sitting duties, and write my promised articles for various publications. Kathy Condon is a journalist and travel writer who has been to 29 countries, 16 islands and 49 states (Alaska on the bucket list). 760-902-3094 Instagram

  • Luxury Spa in Palm Desert at the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort

    I developed my website and blog because I was frustrated with how visitors thought Palm Springs and Coachella Valley were only about retirement, playing golf, lying in the sun, and drinking craft cocktails. Thus, I started writing about places I was discovering in the area. When you look at some of my blogs, I think you will understand there are a variety of attractions and places to explore. About two weeks ago, I got a personalized email asking if I would like to experience a massage at The Spa at Desert Springs in Palm Desert. With a road trip coming up, I immediately thought this might be the perfect activity to schedule after a week-long road trip. Last week, the time had come. I was working on emails and kept watching the clock because I didn't want to miss my 3:00 p.m. appointment. Seriously, I do not know what possessed me not to go earlier and relax in the spa before the allotted time. Besides, the resort is a gigantic complex, and I had no idea where the spa was located. I set out on this adventure. I call practically everything I do an adventure, for when one keeps her eyes open, one will notice beautiful things happening around you. The key is to look for the positive things happening. Pulling into the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa Fortunately, the Marriot's signage is superb. I wound my way past the pink flamingos wading in the pond lined with tall palm trees. The signs directed me past the main building, a parking lot, and down to the end of the complex. I smiled because I was running late and was concerned about parking. No problem, there is plenty of parking steps away from the entrance. Checking into the Luxury Spa in Palm Desert I walked into the entrance and immediately felt calmer, for the greeter assured me there was absolutely no problem and all was well. I was escorted to the hallowed area of this luxury spa in Palm Desert to the women's locker room. What struck me immediately was the walnut-colored wood paneling that graced spaces wherever I looked. With my locker assigned, I changed into the provided white robe. If the attendant asks if you want a slide shoe, say yes, for you will be going through wet areas at the pool. Plus, you can wear them in the shower. I discovered I should have asked for a size smaller than I usually wear—a subtle nod, but it felt good--maybe my feet weren't so big after all. Time for a Massage at the Spa Immediately after walking out of the locker room, my masseuse was waiting for me, and we walked down the hallway graced with beautiful wood paneling and apparent new carpet. As I lay down on the table, my anticipation of letting some stress go made me sink even deeper into an appreciation for this experience. A lavender scent permeated the room. For one hour, yes, it was all about me, and I loved every minute of it at the luxury spa in Palm Desert. Time to Explore the Spa Since I hadn't had time to tour the spa before my massage, an attendant showed me the many experiences I could have while luxuriating in this spa. Love saunas? I have never been to a spa where there was a very hot sauna, one you have experienced before, and my favorite is the lavender sauna. Watermelon and Zinc-infused water was refreshing and made you think you were having a craft cocktail without the alcohol. An inside hot tub was steps away from the sauna. Take a step through the door to the outside, and the co-ed pool, used only by spa clients, is waiting for you. Lounge chairs in royal blue and umbrellas were so inviting, but time was running out, for the spa closes at 5:00 p.m. Lounge Areas at the Spa I chose to head to the quiet room. I stretched out on the lounge and sipped more infused water as I listened to the soft music playing in the background. The women next to me took a nap; like me, I believe they felt so safe, relaxed, and very pampered. Next to this lounge area, long subtle colored, gold sheer drapes provide a refuge with comfy sofas hugging the walls and lined with pillows—the perfect place to pull out the book you have been wanting to read. No cell phones are allowed. Need a Bite to Eat When You are at the Spa? The bistro offers healthy food options. If you want to eat poolside, place your order with an attendant. Time to Leave the Spa The shower is roomy and stocked with body wash and hair products when ready. Wrap yourself in a white plush towel and take your swimming suit to the spin dryer. After your shower, creamy, fragrant lotions add to the experience. Checking Out of the Spa Since I was a newcomer to the spa, I was pleased. Dawn, the manager, asked me if I wanted to see a couple more spaces. Again, we walked down the hall, and she opened a beautiful space for rent for ten people. There was a large comfy sofa, a large spa tub, and a patio with tables and chairs if you desired to order a meal from the bistro. The private attached patio has ample space to stretch out and appreciate the California weather. Our second stop was really a couple's space. Two massage tables and a giant tub are there waiting for their guests. Imagine this: they light candles, you can have champagne, etc. Romantic? You bet. When I was driving home, not only was I relaxed my aches were substantially reduced. I hadn't been noticing how my body was crying out for attention. AND I couldn't wait to get home and call my friends about the adventure and discovery I had made this afternoon at the spa. One of them I knew would undoubtedly want to include it on her schedule the next time she visited me. If you need a quiet change of pace, I highly recommend you call The Spa at Desert Springs and make a reservation. Yes, they offer a Day Pass, in which the fee is eliminated if you also schedule a spa treatment. You are welcome. 😊 Kathy Condon is an award-winning author, journalist, and travel writer with numerous articles published online and in magazines. Facebook Instagram

  • Exploring Small Towns in California

    I grew up in the country, and going to Tomah, a small town in Wisconsin, was always a special event in the Hellmich household. Dad would check us out to see what we were wearing, for he was aware we would most certainly run into someone we knew. I'd save my allowance for something special, like a 50-yard crinoline or still another ring. It was a family affair and always a Friday night event. In any case, I now have an affinity for smaller towns. As I continue developing my writing career, I realize I even chose to move nine years to a small town, Palm Springs, California. Did you know there is Palm Springs, Florida? Plus, my last four media trips have been to smaller towns. A coincidence, I think not. Over-Tourism and Over-Writing The word over-tourism keeps popping up. Travelers have toured the major cities, Los Angeles, Seattle, San Diego, Chicago, and New York City, to name a few. Now even newbies traveling to large cities complain about the crowds, the skyrocketing cost of hotels, and the frustration of not being able to get reservations at restaurants recommended by colleagues or friends. As a travel writer, one must pitch an article to a publication. Coming up with a new angle to write about Paris is not an easy task. I'm even noticing writers coming to Palm Springs are seemingly writing about the same thing over and over again. The 5 Best Palm Springs Restaurants, just change the number, and an article is written again. As a person living here knowing many restaurant owners, I certainly wouldn't go out on a limb and name the 5 Best Restaurants and write an article. Articles like "Things to Do in Palm Springs" regurgitate attractions like the Palm Spring Aerial Tramway, Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, and Palm Springs Village Fest. Don't get me wrong, these are great things to see and visit at least once in your lifetime, but there is so much more to our community. Take time to talk with locals, walk our streets, shop in our locally-owned shops, and keep asking questions. Let me share what I mean. Small Towns the Palm Springs Insider Recently Spent Time Exploring Mammoth Lakes California A summer visit exploring the small town of Mammoth Lakes had me taking my first fly-fishing lessons, exploring hotel accommodations, and, yes, even a spa. A journey to the top of Mammoth Mountain on the Aerial Gondola was a spectacular experience, and the Forest Rangers at the top are a wealth of information. What fun to visit the oldest log cabin in the area and meet the proprietors of a unique art gallery tucked away in the forest. We have become friends and met for cocktails in Palm Springs in March. Santa Ynez Valley California While it is not a small town, Santa Ynez Valley is comprised of five small towns: Ballard, Buellton, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez, and Solvang. Wineries flourish in this area, and I can tell you from my experience every town has its own personality. During a three-day stay journey, I repeatedly heard, "We call ourselves Napa Valley without all the people." Buellton California When I accepted an invitation to Buellton, little did I know I could spend three days exploring a town 2 miles by 2 miles, living in the shadows of Solvang, 3.5 miles away. I had a wonderful time. I talked to the locals and could hear their pride in their city. Discoveries such as the Mendenhall Gasoline Museum, Ostrich Land, and Santa Ynez Botanical Gardens features made me smile on my four-hour drive back to Palm Springs as I relived the experience. Half Moon Bay California I am not a sports person or enjoy lying on the beach, spoiled by living in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, for four years with a crystal-clear turquoise color-ocean and an average balmy 80 degrees. Thought how terrific it was to walk the streets of Half Moon Bay, try their famous artichoke bread, and learn about the community's history and local preservation efforts to maintain the quaintness of this thriving oceanside town. Exploring the Small Town of Concord, California Next On Thursday, I am heading to Concord, California, living in the shadows of Napa Valley. This community, 25 miles NE of San Francisco, just raised its profile when it won California State Tourism Award for its marketing of the Taco Trail. I understand it is a foodie's heaven, the arts are thriving there, and the town is attracting events such as the Maker's Mart. As I presently understand, the Mart is a place for inventors/creators to show their creations and talk to attendees. You can be sure I will update you on that event and let you know if my assumptions are correct. I am completing an 11-day in-home dog-sitting gig in Palm Springs. Then go home, do laundry, pack, and head out exploring small towns in our wonderful state. Follow my adventures on Instagram and sign up at the bottom of this blog to be alerted when I add new articles published worldwide. 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 Facebook Instagram

  • Traveling in the high Desert Left Us in Awe

    I have a friend who is a photographer and adventurous as I am. In fact, on this last adventure, she turned and said to me, "We are such cool seniors." We laughed as we followed the dirt road that got rougher and with no perceivable end in sight. Caution needs to be taken when traveling in the high desert. Her daughter had sent her a link to a place we had not explored in the high desert. Since we had both been up there many times, and I was one time the marketing person for the Joshua Gateway Communities, we couldn't believe there was a place neither one of us had heard of, and we had lived in the area for nine years. We set a date, met up, and started our journey from Palm Springs on a recent Saturday morning. With the internet a tad unreliable in the high desert, she used her survival skills and took a snapshot of the directions in case our GPS went out, which it did about two miles from our destination. Street Signs Traveling in the High Desert I couldn't resist having her stop so I could take a picture of this street sign or, should I say, lane sign. How fun, and not something you see every day. The grading of the road obviously caused the road washboard effect. Yet, we wondered why people would take such care grading the roadway up here. Then we looked into the horizon and could see there were some homes on large plots of land. Second homes or full-time residents? There was no way to know. The directions told us to turn on the road to God's Love. Hmmm, was that a hint about what we were to experience? Welcome Sign At the entrance, two signs greeted us. On the Welcome Sign, which was permanent, and another welcoming wedding guests. Really? A wedding out here?? It must be a special place. We still had no idea what was in store for us at this point. We stopped to check in and met a man who was knowledgeable about the area and told us he and his girlfriend led nighttime sound baths. He told us to follow him up the last .8 of a mile. It was getting more interesting all the time. We parked our Car With hat, suntan lotion applied, and our cameras and water in hand, we set out on the final leg of the journey traveling in the high desert. Just a short walk and we looked up, and there was a house made of concrete perched among the branches of a tree with mosaic decorated wall aligning the stairs. The house from the Jetson cartoons was right before us. We proceeded up the hill, turned the bend, and entered a valley surrounded by boulders reminiscent of the ones found in Joshua Tree National Park. In the distance was the teepee the man had told us about and occupied by a long-time area resident. The man at the gate told us to be sure and stop and talk with him because of his knowledge about the area we were about to explore. We smiled as we approached, for a large solar panel was right outside the cement teepee. We timidly approached, but no need. Sitting outside were two gentlemen having lunch. They were open and graciously shared what we were about to see. Yet, it still did not fully register what a unique experience we were about to have on this journey. After warning us about the snakes, (my greatest fear), they sent us on our way and told us the places to explore. First, we came to the pond with a picturesque stone bridge, fish, frogs, and quails coming for a drink. Then we wound our way up a path and came to a manmade small pool with an outstanding tree art installation made of stone gracing the one end of it. I think it may have seen many incidents of skinny dipping there underneath the star-filled nighttime sky. In the distance, we heard roosters and a strange bird sound. It turned out to be peacocks secured in an art designer pen between some boulders. Similarly, the chickens had a pen with a large metal sun mounted at its entrance. There was a table and chair under a tree, surrounded by nature, which became my refuge as my friend set out to capture the beauty of this quiet meditative space. When she returned, I asked if this place was a photographer's dream. She replied, "I could stay here for hours." Yet, we had heard the winds were to pick up, and this was no place to be caught in a windstorm, for it was clear blowing sand could close the roads quickly. As we drove home, we marveled at what we had seen, and both said it was one of the more unique places we had experienced. I'm not sure I need to go back again, but I think my traveling companion will head up there again with a member of her family. A word of caution, this is not a place to travel all alone. It is too desolate if you run into an issue. Traveling in the high desert brings many great rewards. Where is it located? With respect to the residents, I have not shared the name of the place nor its exact location. If you want to know the name and location, please leave your address in the comment section, and I will send you the information. 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 Facebook Instagram

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