We are back in New York after our week out West and spring is definitely in the air. The light has shifted and changed and it is a little brighter and crisper. The shadows seem suddenly stronger. I am hopeful that my winter coat will soon be put away for good and the days will lend themselves to dresses and flip-flops.
Our mother daughter trip was really nice. It has been ages since I could get Lula all to myself. She really loved California. Everywhere we went she imagined herself living. She felt a strong connection to the desert.
I wanted to share a few places to stay and eat and thrift while it was fresh in my mind. We started our trip at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs. It has its charm but is not with out a very hipster scene. We spotted the depressed brother from Little Miss Sunshine checking out as we arrived. It happened to be a super busy spring break/Easter week and the hotel and pool was filled with families and kids. The Ace was originally a Howard Johnson's built in the 1960's. It has a funky vibe. The staff is super friendly and the rooms are no nonsense. Make sure to check out the vending machines in the lobby stocked with cool items from Opening Ceremonyand don't miss the photo booth! The restaurant attached to the Ace is called The Kings Highway, a former Denny's, it totally serves its purpose, dishing up gigantic pancakes, burgers and fries. Local and organic ingredients are used whenever possible. The atmosphere is great but the service in the restuarnt is a little spotty. If the pool gets to be too much of a scene head to the totally hidden Commune pool at the back of the hotel or rent a scooter and head into town which is only minutes away.
The town of Palm Springs has some decent restaurants but we were pretty holed up in the Ace with the exception of our visit toNatures Health Food Cafe recommended to us by our friends at The Wild Unknown. It is a great health food store and cafe with an awesome juice bar. There is little thrift store next to it called Palm Springs High School Thrift, we didn't find very much but one man's junk is another's treasure, so. you never know! Palm Springs can be full of hidden treasures and Mid Century Modern finds if that is your jam.
We stopped by a kind of wacky crystal store called Crystal Fantasy where you can get palm readings or tarot card readings.
After the Ace, we stayed at Hope Springs Resort in Desert Hot Spring's. Hope Springs is a little ten-room boutique hotel on the top of a mountain with a view of Palm Springs. Hope Springs has three natural mineral pools to soak in day or night. The hottest one being 105 degrees, perfect for cooler desert nights and star gazing. This place is seriously mellow, we kind of felt like we had it all to ourselves. they don't have a restaurant, but you are close enough to drive into Palm Springs or Joshua Tree for dinner. We ate a little family run Mexican restaurant right in the town of Desert Hot Springs and it was perfect. Hope springs has a communal kitchen and serves a light breakfast. When we were there they were serving fresh fruit and a frittata. They have a full list of Spa treatments.
Desert Hot Springs has a plethora of thrift stores as does the town of Joshua Tree which is quite close. From Desert Hot springs you can drive to Joshua Tree and enter the Western most entrance of the park. The distance from Joshua Tree to 29 palms is only about 30 miles but it can take you all day if you stop occasionally and hike in. There is no where to get food or water so bring your own and be prepared! The drive through the park to the Town of 29 Palms is really quite beautiful, it is very different in the morning and evening. Yucca trees line the landscape and you will pass the giant boulders if you take this route. Be sure to make time to stop at Keys view for Sunset. You can see the entire Coachella Valley all the way to The Salton Sea from there. It is really stunning. Bring something warm to wear because it gets quite chilly and windy towards evening.
A highlight of our trip was our crystal sound bath at the Integratron. A Dome structure in the desert in lander's California, not far from the town of Joshua Tree. The Integratron was built in 1954. You can read more about it here. Call to make an appointment in advance, they can be full months ahead of time!
From the Integratron website..
" The Sound Bath is a 60-minute sonic healing session that you can experience while resting comfortably in the deeply resonant, multi-wave sound chamber. A sequence of quartz crystal singing bowls are played for you, each one keyed to the energy centers or chakras of the body, where sound is nutrition for the nervous system. Imagine lying on comfy mats in the center of this relaxing and resonant high-energy field, while having your body bathed in exquisite sound for 25 minutes. You have the balance of the hour to relax. The results are waves of peace, heightened awareness, and relaxation of the mind and body. "
I have to say it was pretty cool and like no sound we had ever heard before. The pitch of the sound waves rising and falling completely transports you to another place.
We headed to Pioneer town after our visit at The Integratron, blissed out and mellow. Pioneer Town on first glance was a little hokey but it gives you an idea of what Wild West town would have looked like a hundred years ago.. It's fun for photos at any rate. The real draw in the town is Pappy and Harriets Pioneer Palace. They have decent barbeque and are known for their open mike night and the bands that they pull in from LA. This whole Northern High Desert area is kind of funky and trippy; there is definitely a more hippie vibe than in Palm Springs. The desertvibe is kind of electric out here.
On our way back to Desert Hot Springs we stopped at The Natural Sisters Café in Joshua Tree. We ate a sandwich LOADED with sprouts (very California) and had a Rock Climbers Revenge smoothie. (Weird name for sure but a really delicious combo of bananas, cashews and dates.) This cafe is right at the Western Entrance to Joshua Tree so it is actually a great place to stop and get supplies before heading into the park.
On our last afternoon we hit Gypsy Land Thrift and Angel Thrift in Desert Hot springs, before heading to the elegant Le Parker Meriden for a late lunch and stroll through the 13 acre grounds. At The Parker you can play baci ball, croquet, swim in the pool or play a giant chess game amidst beautiful roses and bouganvilla, it kind of feels very Alice In Wonderland here.
We didn't get to all the things we wanted to do in and around the area, we really needed a couple more days. We are saving the Salton Sea and Bombay Beach and Salvation Mountain for next time.
Here is little list of Things to do in Palm Springs and surrounding area:
Swim/ Stay at The Ace Hotel
Visit the Town of 29 Palms
Stay at 29 Palms Inn or just stop by for a drink and a dip in the pool.
(They have a fairly decent restaurant and super cute Adobe cabins with fireplaces)
Stay at Hope Springs Resort. Super relaxing. Chill vibe. Great Spa Services. Overlooks the mountains.
Visit the Waterfall at Tahquitz Canyon located about twenty minutes from Palm Springs. Hike in. Take a dip.
Listen to some great music at Pappy and Harriet's. Try the barbeque.
Thrift in the towns of Desert Hot Springs and Joshua Tree.
You can pick up a guide to thrifts in the area from the Ace Hotel.
Take ride in the Tramway. The gondola going from palm springs desert up into the mountains!
Visit this very funky Botanical Garden.
Stay at the very modern and secluded The Hotel Lautner in Desert Hot springs.
Visit Salvation Mountain.
Movie to watch before going:
Pick juniper and Sage Brush from the roadside to make your own smudgesticks.
Get lost in all the desert wierdness.
Some good reference material for the area:
This article in Travel and Leisure
This article in the Huffington Post