California Travel Diaries | Palm Springs

In a town not so far away from Los Angeles, there is a place that exudes relaxation. Looking for a couple night’s romantic getaway? Look no further…from hot springs, stylish hotels, golf courses and spas, Palm Springs is the place to rid you from all of your worries.

The Basics

When: July 2018
Where: Palm Springs
What : San Jacindo Mountains, Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort, Indian Canyons, Villagefest every Thursday evening,  Moorton Botanical Garden, Palm Desert, Joshua Tree, Coachella Valley for hiking, biking and horseback riding trails or the festival in the Spring!

Thursday 12th July – Day 32

I had an ‘A-ha’ moment when we began driving through Palm Springs. Aesthetically somewhere along the line, this is how I imagined Los Angeles to look like in my head. No traffic, palm tree after palm tree with the San Jacinto Mountains complimenting this already beautiful backdrop. Palm Springs also encompasses the magic of added Hollywood star dust sprinkled throughout the streets on the homes that once belong to the likes of Sinatra, Bob Hope and even Elvis. However in 108 Degrees Farenheit, one thing was for sure, we were definitely in the desert. I was really excited for a change of scenery and although Palm Springs is known for it’s spas, our budget friendly pockets swapped this luxury for a hot tub and pool in our next Airbnb.

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A snap captured on my iPhone driving in the car through Palm Springs

Our next host was an eccentric guy who proudly displayed his Christmas tree (in July), as well as a disco ball hanging from the ceiling. Chatty and welcoming, we learned that he was a chef to the stars, who kindly gave us a long list of recommendations of places to eat during out short stay. It seemed our luck had changed as soon as we left LA as it was restaurant week in Palm Springs. This is a clever incentive to persuade customers to venture outdoors into the heat, aided by some excellent deals; perfect timing for our short visit. For dinner we ate at Ac3 Restaurant and Bar where we had 3 courses for only $90 between two including wine.

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Ac3 Restaurant and Bar

We were keen to also experience Villagefest, the weekly Downtown Farmer’s Market having enjoyed it so much in SLO. However after driving around for a while we were unable to find it, so settled on a quick trip to Vons for some wine and sweet treats instead.

Tip: Villagefest is located here: P: 760-320-3781 – Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, CA, 92262

When we got back from our meal, we were about to crack open the wine when our host tapped on the door, “Room service!”. Feeling somewhat confused for a moment, I cautiously opened the door and there he stood with home baked cookies for us, “Something to satisfy that sweet craving before bed”, he said with a smile. It seemed our host already knew us all too well and the Universe was repaying us. Although this also sounds like it could be the start to a thriller movie, it was very thoughtful and the chocolate cookies he baked for us were delicious; we could see why the guy was a chef to the stars! Although it was still humid outside, we wanted to make the most of the novelty of the hot tub on a Summer’s night, so decanted our wine into some tumblers and sipped it in the hot tub under the stars. I could have definitely got used to weekend breaks like this.

Friday 13th July – Day 33
Our host who at this point you can already tell had a quirky side, was keen to point out a similarly quirky feature – the outdoor shower. He stated that although it was a space to cool off/shower before heading into the pool and hot tub outside, we could use it as our regular shower if we wanted. Of course we still had access to the indoor bathroom, but there was something quite freeing about the option of showering outside, particularly as most of the houses in Palm Springs are bungalows, so there was the comfort knowing there would be no peering eyes. That morning I embraced mother nature before having a quick morning dip in the pool.

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Cacti, Palm Springs

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Palm Springs, July 2018

For brunch we visited a good old fashioned American Diner – Elmers. This was one of the second times we experienced the huge portion sizes that the States is famous for and we were so very grateful for every mouth and plateful! Although it was 42 Degrees Celsius at this point, I needed an excuse to walk off the huge amount of food we had consumed, so took a small stroll (mostly drive) to Downtown Palm Canyon Drive. This is known for it’s string of vintage boutique shops and there are some great finds particularly at “The Shops at Thirteen Forty Five”. Here I am 18 months later, still kicking myself that I didn’t buy the perfect pair of vintage Levi shorts that fitted me so well!  Later that day we went for a drive around the cool streets of Palm Springs and found some Insta-famous spots such as The Pink Door.

During our visit we also wanted to go to the Moorten Botanical Garden but to our dismay it was closed. Instead we drove to the Ace Hotel for a swim and enjoyed a couple of frozen cocktails. These weren’t half bad priced either, as we paid about 50 dollars (including tip) for 4 drinks. During this trip, I could see why Palm Springs is so appealing to escape to. With it’s laid back attitude, Palm Springs is the perfect reset for a day or two.

Later on that evening we had one of the best meals we had out of our whole Californian road trip at another Restaurant Week showcaser… Spencer’s. If you fancy something a bit more elegant with some piano music but comfortable informality this is the place to go! Spencer’s is also dog friendly, very romantic and has won many awards, such as Best Wine List, Best Chef, Best Sunday Brunch and even Best Gluten Free. This meal was an absolute steal of a deal during Restaurant Week!

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Saturday 14th July – Day 34
The following morning we planned to experience the Aerial Tramway, but the 44 degree heat in combination with my potential freakout from the heights, we ultimately gave it a miss. Therefore we enjoyed one last chilled swim in the pool before making the 2 hour drive to our last Californian stop… San Diego!

If you liked this blog post remember to subscribe and check out the below:

The California Travel Diaries | Los Angeles (Part 1)

California Travel Diairies | Los Angeles (Part 2)

California Travel Diaries | Exploring Orange County

California Travel Diaries | A Whistle-Stop Tour of LA (Again)

Dublin | Travel Vlog!

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The California Travel Diaries | SLO

When planning any trip it’s great to read up on as much as you can before you go away, particularly for a road trip. You really don’t want to be stranded staring at your google maps and hoping for the best! Whether it’s reading blog posts, travel guides or watching YouTube videos, nowadays we have so much access to a wealth of information. Quite frankly, you wouldn’t be doing yourselves any favours by simply “going with the flow”, at least not for the whole trip! About this time last year, I began to plan my California summer travels. I too scoured the internet and turned to my good old fashioned travel book, Lonely Planet’s California (thanks to my brother for gifting this to me!). Thank goodness that I did my research too, otherwise I may have missed out on visiting San Luis Obispo – a little gem in the Californian crown of jewels.

Positioned roughly 3 hours between Los Angeles and San Francisco, San Luis Obispo or SLO as it’s affectionately known, is so much more than just a halfway point. Loved by both the old and the young, SLO encapsulates it’s population perfectly. The town has a youthful energy to it whilst also being complimented by it’s peaceful waves. The relaxed pace and the stunning views make it the perfect destination to sit back and relax whilst sipping wine. If you haven’t guessed it, SLO is a very popular spot for Wine Country tasting tours, particularly in late June.

The Basics

Accommodation:

We stayed for two nights with a fantastic South African host who had lived in California for over 20 years. Friendly, warm and welcome – her home reflected her character. Based a 15 minute walk to the town, with free parking and an en-suite bedroom complete with a coffee machine, I would highly recommend this spot to anyone who needs a room in SLO!

Travel:

Getting around by car in Cali is by far the easiest option, however I would happily cycle around SLO maybe even visiting a winery or 2 along the way

To do:

  • Wineries upon wineries
  • Farmers Markets
  • Beaches
  • Nature Trails
  • Bubblegum Alley

Eat & Drink:

  • SLO Brewing company
  • Libertine’s
  • Tri Tip Sandwiches
  • Clam Chowder

Somewhat tired after our day of exploring Monterey and Big Sur, it was a late Thursday afternoon when we arrived at our Airbnb. As we pulled into the neighborhood where we were staying, we fell just a bit more in love with the Golden State. As scenic as Monterey is, SLO was definitely more on our level and our age range. The views remained on par with Monterey, as our host’s house was set behind a backdrop of a glorious mountain. California really is the gift that keeps on giving! We had limited time to see SLO so unfortunately we didn’t hike up the trails surrounding us, but this is a great idea should you be looking for a long weekend in San Luis Obispo. After we freshened up we took a stroll into town, and to our delight the Farmers Market was in full swing. Families, students and holidaymakers were sprawled across downtown, showing their support to local farmers and businesses in buying local produce, fresh fruit and vegetables. I can definitely see why this vibrant county is so popular with college kids! For dinner we shared a couple slices of pizza and a tri-tip sandwich. The best thing was that we could try all of this delicious food on a traveller’s budget! After a walk in the outdoor market we grabbed a drink at SLO Brewing company before making our way home and coming across Bubblegum Alley. Although unclear when this strange toursit attraction originated, thought to be sometime between the end of WW2 and the 1950’s, it’s worth a visit just for the quirkiness of it. The next day we dedicated to exploring more of Wine Country.

Me at Kynsi Wines

  • Kynsi Wines – Our first stop was at this lovely barn setting vineyard. With a family run atmosphere and chilled out vibes, it was the perfect start to our own wine trail.
  • Saucelito Canyon – This particular weekend in June there was a SLO wine tasting event with Saucelito Canyon being one of it’s stops. As a result there were tacos on offer and live music. We chatted to some lovely American’s for a couple of hours over wine, where we absorbed as many tips from them as we could.  Here’s a shout out to Neil, Deb, Bebe and Jim!
  • Biddle Ranch Vineyard – Set in the Edna Valley, we enjoyed some wine outside overlooking the stunning vineyard which is pictured in my featured image of this post. I’ll let that do the talking.
  • Edna Vineyards – The largest and most established of them all. This winery was impressive and beautifully presented, with each item of decor carefully chosen. Although I personally preferred the smaller wineries with a more laid back vibe, the beautiful grounds and good service was worth a visit.

Later that day we made a trip to Avilla Beach, a small town within San Luis Obispo. To our delight we attended another Farmers Market. Although on a smaller scale to the downtown market in SLO, the quality of produce didn’t suffer. If we had more time I would’ve liked to have a spa day and enjoy the mineral hot springs, go shopping or dare I say, sip some more wine! Instead my boyfriend and I enjoyed the views of the oceanfront as the sun came down.

Late afternoon at Avilla Beach

Before we left SLO we made a trip the next morning to Pismo Beach. Unfortunately our timing meant we were there during the “June Gloom” period. Nonetheless we visited it’s iconic pier and renowned turquoise waters that did not disappoint. You can also enjoy horseback riding across the dunes and capture memories that will last a lifetime at Pismo Beach. SLO CAL was named “the happiest city in the world” by Oprah, and I can definitely support this! It is a beautiful and more affordable county with so many stunning beaches and scenic hikes to complete. There is even something for culture and history lovers to do with Spanish missions to see that date back to the 1700’s! With all the charm and glamour that California holds, San Luis Obispo really appealed to me and I became more and more convinced that one day it may just be a home away from home.

If you enjoyed this you should read:

The California Travel Diaries: Welcome to San Francisco

The California Travel Diaries: Sonoma and Napa

The California Travel Diaries: Yosemite

The California Travel Diaries: Monterey to Big Sur