You don’t need to travel to Las Vegas to find rejuvenating spas, luxurious accommodations, cozy restaurants and casino action. Palm Springs has become a destination for travelers searching for an alternative to Sin City. A short two-hour drive from Los Angeles or an easy flight to the city’s international airport from other starting points, sheltered by the San Jacino mountains and the famed warm, dry climate, Palm Springs offers a wide variety of resorts, restaurants and outings.
We started our journey in the XC90 Volvo Hybrid SUV. The hybrid model provided great gas mileage, lots of room, a great sound system and a smooth ride from LA to the desert.
High rollers can bet on the beautiful Agua Caliente Rancho Mirage Resort (32250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage, 888.999.1995) for spacious rooms, a variety of dining options, a huge pool deck and an award winning spa. Rooms are modern and designed in a soothing neutral palette accented with chrome, wood and marble furnishings. Large windows provide pretty views of the desert and mountains and a separate table provides a nice workspace. Other amenities include a dual sink bathroom with a large soaking tub and roomy shower and flat-screen TV’s in the bathroom and main room. Guests can venture into the large casino to enjoy table games and slots or head to the 50,000 square foot pool deck for sunning and swimming.
A short trip down the elevator brings guests who desire an outstanding upscale steakhouse dinner to The Steakhouse Rancho Mirage. With soft romantic lighting, dark mahogany walls, plush red oversized booths and orange and red accents, the intimate dining room is a perfect place for a date-night, friends dinner or special occasion. Diners can also opt to sit at a table outside the main room to enjoy the action on the casino floor.
Menu standouts include the massive seafood tower with oysters, jumbo shrimp, tuna tartare, king and snow crab and dipping sauces; Hawaiian tuna tartare with Ahi tuna, avocado, ginger and ponzu sauce; the signature butter lettuce salad; any of their steaks including their ribeye, filet and New York with enhancements such as blue cheese crust, roasted bone marrow and seared scallops; sides including smashed garlic mashed potatoes, duck rat roasted fingerling potatoes, roasted brussels with apple and guanciale and lobster mac and cheese and their decadent desserts including Key Lime pie and Bananas Foster.
Across from The Steakhouse is a perfect spot for more casual dining at the Waters Café. Head to the outdoor patio to dine al fresco with a view of the pool. Enjoy a classic, mushroom or crab benedict, strawberry crepes, omelets or French toast for morning meals or their bacon wrapped jalapeno poppers, BBQ chicken flat bread, fish and chips or chicken pot pie later in the day.
If you are in downtown Palm Springs, Cheeky’s (622 N. Palm Canyon Drive) is the perfect spot for brunch or to enjoy breakfast till 2pm daily with their famous bacon flight featuring five flavored strips of bacon, wide variety of morning cocktails, and signature dishes such as squash blossom enchiladas, chilaquiles and salmon hash.
The newest addition to El Paseo’s restaurants is Porta Via (73100 El Paseo) , a contemporary California bistro serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Slip into one of their large green booths and enjoy the midcentury modern accents including the terrazzo tile floors, brass trimmings, wood chairs and quirky light fixtures. Menu highlights include the tuna tower with Ahi tuna, sticky rice and avocado; burrata and heirloom tomato; caviar service; grilled Ora King Salmon with vegetables and rice; blackened barramundi with green beans, rice and mango habanero salsa; bistro burger and bone-in ribeye.
Head to the award-winning Sunstone Spa at Agua Caliente to indulge in a facial, massage or body scrub. We enjoyed their Vitamin C facial that left our skin glowing and revitalized. Guests can also use their Menthol dry sauna, Eucalyptus steam room, whirlpool and private spa pool.
Shopaholics will enjoy a trip to El Paseo Shopping District in Palm Desert (El Paseo Shopping District, Palm Desert) , the Rodeo Drive of the desert. The street and open air mall features more than 300 shops including an Apple store, MAC, Sephora, Anthropologie, and Williams Sonoma as well as unique retail spots such as Sundance, Kyle + Shahida; Olivier Napa Valley and House of Lolo.
Head to new heights at the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway (1 Tramway Road off Highway 111), offering a bird’s eye perspective of the Coachella Valley and the glorious sunset from the top of Mount San Jacinto, 8,516 feet above the desert floor. The circular tram makes two full rotations during the 15-minute journey with stunning views of the Sonora desert as well as jagged mountain landscapes. A perfect destination for summer as temps usually range 20-30 degrees cooler than in the desert.
A trip to Palm Springs isn’t complete without sampling some of Sam Cobb Date Farms dates (22325 Henry Road, Desert Hot Springs, https://samcobbfarms.com.) This family run farm was established twenty years ago and includes ranches in central and eastern Riverside County. Stop by to enjoy the majestic date palms, sample delicious dates including Sam’s unique Black Gold variety, and buy some treats to bring home.
Whether you head to the desert for rest and relaxation, for a celebratory special occasion or to try your luck at the tables, Palm Springs provides everything you desire.
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