Monday, June 25 , 2018, 6:08 am | Overcast 63º


Judy Crowell: Palm Springs Is All Teed Up for You, Even Without Golf

Magnificent desert resort is a playground of fun at any time of the year

Palm Springs, with its warm winters, scorching summers and renowned Bob Hope Classic, is indeed a golfer’s paradise. Like Starbucks, there seems to be a golf course on every corner, making it the nation’s leading golf destination. But enough about golf.

There’s so much more to see and do here. There’s tennis on one of the many area courts, or watch the pros duke it out at Indian Wells Tennis Garden. A 16-mile hike on the Art Smith Trail, penetrating the mountains and resting in several palm oases along the route. A less strenuous stroll along El Paseo Drive will tempt you with the latest desert fashions and art galleries ranging from traditional to What in the world is that? contemporary.

McCallum Theatre, at 73000 Fred Waring Drive in nearby Palm Desert, brings Broadway to the desert, and for a more vintage evening of song and dance, there’s the Fabulous Palm Springs Follies, with youngsters from 56 to 81 years of age performing music from doo-wop to disco. People magazine says of them, “They sing, they dance, they’re ancient and they draw sellout crowds.”

A mom and her baby share a tender moment in the giraffe exhibit at The Living Desert in Palm Desert.
A mom and her baby share a tender moment in the giraffe exhibit at The Living Desert in Palm Desert. (The Living Desert photo)

The Spa Resort Casino, 401 E. Amado Road, welcomes all willing to lose money. Fantasy Balloon Flights wow with sunrise and sunset rides. Robert Imber educates with midcentury architectural tours to grand Spanish haciendas. Exciting polo takes place on Sundays at both the Eldorado and Empire polo clubs in Indio, with occasional Friday night action under the lights.

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is a must. Leave your bikini behind, grab your parka and hiking boots and stuff your acrophobia into the world’s largest rotating tram for the Swiss-engineered ascent to 8,500 feet above sea level. In winter months, you’ll be greeted by snow, spectacular views, a nice restaurant and the inevitable gift shop.

On firmer ground is another must-do, The Living Desert, Palm Desert’s 1,200-acre zoo and botanical garden at 47900 Portola Ave. — a wonderful adventure for all ages. Zebras, camels, cheetahs and many more creatures dwell happily among wildflowers and exotic cacti. A quarter-acre model railroad, with the largest miniature train trestle in the world, travels through a mini adobe village, the Grand Canyon and many more interesting tiny locales.

If I had to pick a favorite must-do, it would be the Palm Springs Air Museum, 745 N. Gene Autry Trail, where volunteer docents, some of them World War II veterans, enhance your visit through one of the world’s largest collections of flying WWII combat aircraft.

You can thank Bob Hope for the memories of his morale-boosting visits to the troops, climb aboard a warplane, drool over the pristine vintage automobiles or visit the resource library with computer flight simulators.

Luxury hotels include Club Colony Palms Hotel, 572 N. Indian Canyon Drive; Parker Palm Springs, 4200 E. Palm Canyon Drive; and The Ritz-Carlton, 69-730 Highway 111 in Rancho Mirage.

I chose La Quinta Resort & Club, 49-499 Eisenhower Drive, which was originally built in 1926 and is surrounded by the Santa Rosa Mountains. Within walking distance of charming Old Town La Quinta, it has been beautifully updated but still oozes Old World Spanish charm. Rooms, suites and casitas are available — many with their own patios and choice of pools, and all with spirit-lifting, riotous gardens. Resort dining includes the stunning Morgan’s in the Desert and more casual Twenty6 for the most mouth-watering French toast topped with warm blueberries and strawberries.

Did someone call for room service at The Parker in Palm Springs?
Did someone call for room service at The Parker in Palm Springs> (The Parker Palm Springs photo via Facebook)

More dining options include Norma’s at The Parker for fabulous breakfasts; Melvyn’s at the Ingleside Inn, 200 W. Ramon Road, a great throwback to old time Palm Springs; lovely outdoor dining at Purple Palm at the Colony Palms; Lavender Bistro, 78073 Calle Barcelona in La Quita, for romantic, outdoor dining; Amorè for Italian in a grand setting at 47474 Washington St. in La Quinta; The Flame, 78430 Highway 111 in La Quinta, for Japanese hibachi and Brazilian barbecue; Johannes, 196 S. Indian Canyon Drive, for award-winning Euro-Asian-Austrian cuisine; Arnold Palmer’s Restaurant, 78164 52nd Ave. in La Quinta, just because it’s Arnold Palmer’s; Hog’s Breath Inn, 78065 Main St. in La Quinta, just because it’s Clint Eastwood’s; and The Tackroom Tavern at the Polo Bar for the best Kobe burgers in the Coachella Valley.

So, who needs golf? For all those who consider golf a “good walk spoiled,” there’s plenty to love about Palm Springs, without chasing that little white ball around.

— Noozhawk contributing writer Judy Crowell is an author, freelance travel writer and part-time Santa Barbara resident. She can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). This article was originally published in the Ladue News and is republished with permission.

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