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California desert getaway: Palm Springs and Indian Wells

By Ron Stern | Global Gumshoe

From the sleepy days when Palm Springs was a laid-back little city and home to numerous celebrities, Greater Palm Springs now encompasses nine cities in a sprawling patchwork across the Coachella Valley. Highway 111 will now take you through Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, La Quinta, and Indian Wells. Visitors can choose from a variety of accommodations, attractions, and culinary delights while still enjoying that relaxed desert vibe.

Here are some of the best places to dine:

  • Citrus and Palm in Indian Wells

This delightful restaurant is located inside the Miramonte Indian Wells Resort and Spa. After a complete remodel and great attention to detail, they have upped their culinary program and are offering healthy cuisine using local and seasonal ingredients.

Miramonte Indian Wells Resort and Spa

Start with their sweet and slightly spicy stir-fried green beans with crispy pork, Thai basil, mint, and peanuts ($6). The most popular entrée is the Mangalitsa pork chop with roasted garlic mashed potatoes and caramelized Brussels sprouts ($39). The chef calls the latter his walking avocado as its composition makes it high in omega 3 fatty acids and uses the good-for-you monounsaturated fats. For dessert, try a desert classic— a date shake topped with toasted coconut ($8).

  • TWENTY6 at La Quinta Resort & Club in La Quinta

Chef de Cuisine Sergio Garza uses his talent and passion for food in the dishes he prepares. The outside terrace next to a fountain is the ideal casual atmosphere to enjoy their signature breakfast: huevos rancheros from locally sourced peppers and cage-free eggs or a fresh breakfast bowl with local Coachella Valley honey.

  • AC3 Restaurant + Bar in Palm Desert

With an open and breezy ambiance, AC3 is part of the Hotel Paseo, the only boutique hotel in the trendy El Paseo shopping district. Serving eclectic fare in a fun, colorful atmosphere, they have salads, burgers, and sandwiches. Try the California salad with grilled shrimp, spinach, orange, grapefruit, and herb vinaigrette ($16).

  • Kaiser Grille in Palm Springs

Situated on the most fashionable corner along Palm Canyon Drive, Kaiser Grille is where locals go to relax and enjoy appetizers, cocktails, and good conversation.

  • Johannes Restaurant in Palm Springs

Having received local and international acclaim, Johannes Restaurant has been a Palm Springs institution for 18 years. Chef Johannes Bacher serves global modern European cuisine in this downtown location. Known for his wiener schnitzel, Bacher offers not only traditional veal but also an entire menu devoted to this classic dish. Pair it with some of their great wines for a splendid evening out.

  • Chi Chi at the Avalon Hotel and Bungalows in Palm Springs

Located a block off the busy Palm Canyon, Chi Chi is an oasis of tranquility nestled among some cute bungalows, citrus trees, and swimming pools. Breakfast offerings include their açai bowl packed full of plump fruits, granola, and bee pollen ($15).

  • Jake’s in Palm Springs

What started out as a gourmet takeout named after the owner’s dog has turned into a full-time eatery. Jake’s is in an area of Palm Springs known as the Uptown Design District, which has seen a resurgence of growth with hip shops and 10 restaurants from which to choose. Jake’s serves American bistro food, and their signature dish is the Miami Vice Salad, chock full of romaine, avocado, tomato, and feta with Key lime caper vinaigrette ($19).

  • Mister Parker‘s in Palm Springs

This place feels like one of those secretive locations that only the locals know about. With its dark lighting and crazy light fixtures and artwork, this French bistro evokes Paris at the turn of the 20th century but with contemporary features. The menu includes everything from escargots to roasted duck and pairs well with their extensive wine menu.

Here are some of the most popular attractions:

  • Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

By far, the most popular, must-see attraction here is the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, designated as a treasured natural and cultural resource by a special act of Congress in 2000. You can see from all angles aboard the world’s largest rotating tramcar whose floor moves 360 degrees as it climbs 8,500 feet into the San Jacinto Mountains.

Palm Springs Aeriel Tram (Photos by Ron Stern)

  • P.S. Walk With Me

Take a leisurely two-mile stroll back in time to when Palm Springs was just a small village and home to the rich and famous. You will learn about the history and architecture that made Palm Springs so desirable and home to some of Hollywood’s biggest celebrities of the day, including Kirk Douglas, Clark Gable, and Liberace.

And here is a handy guide on where to stay:

  • Indian Wells-Miramonte Indian Wells Resort & Spa

Individual rooms are set among the property’s winding, lushly landscaped pathways, fountains, and native trees with great views of the nearby mountains. Rooms are modern and comfortable and contain most amenities.

  • Palm Springs-Hyatt Palm Springs

Centrally located along Palm Canyon Drive, the Hyatt offers clean and well-equipped rooms and suites with views of the nearby San Jacinto Mountains and downtown. They have two onsite restaurants with HooDoo offering handcrafted cocktails and nightly entertainment.

Although it has grown tremendously since its early days, the Greater Palm Springs area still has an easygoing, laid-back charm all its own. With abundant shopping along Palm Canyon Drive and a diverse restaurant mix, there is something here for every budget and lifestyle.

All accommodations, transportation, meals, and attractions were provided at no charge for this review.

— Contact Ron Stern at or visit his blog at This was a sponsored visit; all accommodations, meal, and transportation that were the subject of this review were provided at no charge to the writer. However, all opinions herein are the author’s.

Source: La Mesa Currier

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