A few weeks before Christmas I randomly texted two of my college roommates and said “Do you want to go to Palm Springs in January?” The answer was an overwhelming yes. Though we all adore living in the Pacific Northwest (yes, we are the crazies who actually kind of like the rain) we were all ready for a little burst of sunshine and a break from reality. So we searched for some flights, booked ourselves a condo and headed south for a Vitamin D infused weekend.
After waiting in the worlds slowest rental car line, we were ready to take California by storm. We drove around for a few minutes getting the lay of the land ( Palm Springs is ridiculously easy to navigate, FYI) and after getting a feel for where we were staying and what was in our neighborhood we ventured out for food. My only real requirement of the weekend was that we stop at In-N-Out burger… I had never been before, and getting a “double double animal style” seemed like the perfect way to kick off a girls weekend. There isn’t actually an In-N-Out in Palm Springs Proper, so we did have to drive about 20 minutes… (we later discovered that there is an In-N-Out right next to our destination for the next day… oh well.) It was everything I dreamed it would be.
Since we still had a few hours to kill before checking into our condo, we decided to ride the Aerial Tramway, which was awesome/ terrifying. We stopped at the Visitors center first (because it’s a cool building, and also we wanted commemorative shot glasses) and then headed towards the Mountain (or as I referred to it all weekend “Mordor” I know I know, technically it should’ve been Mount Doom.. but it’s way more fun to say “On to Mordor!” as you thrust your fist into the air… ) At first you sort of see something that looks like power lines and you think to yourself “definitely power lines, because they go straight up the mountain” and then you realize, that no, this is in-fact, the tram and you may or may not be riding to your death. (I mean you know in the back of your mind that it is safe, BUT….) We did survive the ascent to the top of the mountain, but were very ready for cocktails upon our arrival. Thankfully there is a restaurant and full bar at the top, so we were in luck. Moscow Mules, and a little girl time at the top of the mountain were just what we needed. (FYI, the tram, well it swings… fairly aggressively… and for someone who grew up suffering from motion sickness, I had a few fleeting thoughts of “should I have grabbed the puke bag from the seat pocket on the airplane?”) This being a warm winter getaway, we were not equipped to go hiking (and it was only 38 degrees at the top.) but there were lots of great trails we most definetly would have explored had it been warmer and earlier in the day. The views are incredible, and we had a great time bopping around the top of the mountain for an hour or so.
We arrived in Palm Springs on a Thursday, and we were delighted to discover that the Palm Springs Art Museum offers complimentary admission on Thursday nights! Yay! So after we checked into our condo and changed our clothes we ventured out into the evening for a little culture. We browsed the museum for about an hour and a half, and the i-phone photo shoot that took place was pretty epic. It was fun to see some art and be a little silly. Also there was an amazing glass exhibit happening, and though we weren’t allowed to take pictures, the work was really stunning.
At this point we decided to venture out in search of food, and though some of us were really on the hunt for a “Crisp salad” we ended up wandering into this outdoor Greek restaurant. After being seated for about 30 seconds, we discovered that the waiter was actually our kindred spirit, because he took one look at us, and suggested we order a pitcher of sangria, a platter of various dips, a tray of flaming cheese, and kebabs with lemon potatoes. ITS LIKE HE WAS INSIDE OUR HEADS! What more could we ever want in a meal? It was late, and outside, so there are sadly no real photos of this meal, but the flaming cheese will live on forever in our memories and in our hearts.
Our condo was a little quirky, but overall it was pretty perfect for us. (our only real complaint was that the only mirror was in the bathroom… which is a challenge for 3 ladies who like to be fancy.) Originally we thought we would eat in a lot more, however once we arrived we decided to splurge, and our only real “cooking” involved mixing cocktails. The condo itself was in an ideal location, walking distance to all the restaurants we were interested in, had some great local shops close by, and the best part was that it was right above a coffee shop that served Stumptown! It was the perfect level of hipster, and all felt right at home having bearded tattooed men make us coffee every morning. The best part was that at 4PM the coffee shop turns into a wine/cheese/ charcuterie bar… oh yeah, and did I mention it’s also connected to a Tiki bar? Location Jackpot. It was great to wander downstairs to grab coffee before heading pool-side, and was a great place to spend happy hour in the evening.
We had a private patio, and there weren’t tons of other people staying on site, so we basically had the pool to ourselves most of the time. Overall, I would recommend staying at The Twist… though it had its own quirks and charms, it was kind of ideal for our girls getaway.
Friday morning we decided to sleep in and then head to Brunch at Cheeky’s. Everyone we had talked to/ all the blogs we had read said this was a must stop, and we figured the brunch lines would be shorter on Friday morning. We didn’t have to wait at all, and our biggest problem was trying to decide what to order! We of course shared the bacon flight (why don’t more restaurants do this?) and after much deliberation we each ended up deciding on an amazing brunch option. My only minor disappointment was that the blood orange mimosa was a bit on the small side… but lets be honest, I’m a sucker for mimosas of all varieties, and I’m also a sucker for blood oranges, and overall it was delicious. (though those of us who ordered mimosas were jealous that the Bloody Mary’s were served in this awesome giant boot)
After brunch we meandered the streets, stopping in at a few of the vintage shops and lusting over all the Mid-century Modern inspired furniture. We each found some amazing vintage necklaces at a cool little boutique called Bon Vivant and we also admired their amazing collection of Vases and interesting MCM pieces. The two men who owned the store were so sweet, and very helpful, and also very tolerant of us trying to decide which necklaces to get as we “ooohed” and “ahhhhhhed” and tried on countless pieces. I found this amazing brass cuff necklace that I was instantly drawn to, and upon polling my friends it was decided that “yes it was in fact SO my style!”
Next up we mosied back towards our place ( stopped back at Ernest for iced coffee) and then headed out towards Cabazon to see the Dinos. It seemed a little too weird and kitschy to pass up, plus several years ago on one of our last girls weekends we ended up taking a series of epic photo-booth photos that clearly state “We Dig Dinos” So it seemed like a must stop. We didn’t actually go into the museum, but we did take quite a few pictures, and had a pretty awesome time.
We (ok, mostly I) wanted to stop at Hadley’s Fruit Stand to get a date milkshake, and also stock up on tourist souvenirs for my almost 3 year old niece, who just happens to be named Hadley. I’d always heard stories about my parents stopping at Hadley’s to get date milkshakes before my brother and I were born, so it was a little nostalgia pit stop. But it was only about a 15 minute drive, and we got to drive out past the iconic windmills. And lets just take a moment to talk about the windmills. I know we have them in the PNW as well, but there is something so graceful about seeing all the windmills out in the dessert against the backdrop of the mountain. They really were beautiful. (I have no photos besides a few snapped from the back seat of a moving car…)
When we got back to the condo we decided to host our own happy hour down by the pool. We mixed cocktails in plastic water bottles, rolled up our pants and sat with our feet in the hot tub. This was maybe the most perfect part about our vacation, 3 girlfriends sitting around chatting and laughing. I know it feels really cliche to say something like “we picked up right where we left of” or “it felt like no time had passed” but it was just so refreshing to laugh at inside jokes, to be completely unfiltered, to share stories and spastically dance around. These are the women I shared my first apartment with, the women who bribed me to clean up my office space by buying me an R2D2 glue stick. These are the women would read Harry Potter out loud to me on Sunday mornings when we were hungover (because I hadn’t read them, which was a requirement for living in the apartment… a technicality which I avoided since I was the first one to move in.)
This is the part of the trip when we realized that we should’ve hired a photographer, or brought one of the significant others along… because its really really hard to take good group selfies, and all three of us are infamous for making “puppycat” faces… what is a puppycat face you might ask? well just look through most of our photos… We did ask a few random strangers/ waiters/ passerbyers to take out picture, however, you don’t want to be the annoying group who hands a stranger 3 cell phones and makes them take nine billion photos… So its still undetermined if we got a really good group shot… but we tried our hardest.
For Dinner on Friday night we went to Workshop: Kitchen + Bar. we were drawn in by the industrial look and also by a cocktail called “The Palm Springer” which promised to be tangy and sweet like an ex-lover’s kiss without all the residual awkwardness. My new life goal is officially to write awesome cocktail descriptions for cool restaurants (I know, dream big!) (also, side note… the only picture that my father liked on instagram from my entire trip, was the picture I posted of the description of this cocktail. Dad obviously gets bonus creeper points. It’s ok, because he is really awesome.) We shared these amazing vegetable filled enchiladas with green sauce and an egg on top, Duck confit pizza, fries (cooked in duck fat, duh) , and some sort of delicious salad. I really cannot say enough good things about the enchiliadas and the pizza (for weeks now my girlfriends and I have been texting “remember that duck pizza?” YUM!) But for me, the real star of the meal was the butter. I know! I mean, I’ve always loved butter, but sort of went through this conversion to olive oil snobbery, so I didn’t use butter for a really long time, and at home almost always use olive oil even though I really do love butter, but THIS BUTTER! It was filled with toasted cumin and paprika, and all of these wonderful warm earthy spices, and I literally considered just eating the butter after all the bread was gone, but was worried my friends would yell at me (though by now, they understand that this is not atypical behavior for me, so they probably would have just rolled their eyes and started telling stories about one of my weird/ embarrassing food moments) Anyway… the duck pizza was amazing… but seriously, the butter, you want to go to there.
Next we walked down the street to Birba for a nightcap. At this point, I got completely distracted by this rather handsome French Bulldog who was sitting at the bar (no its not a metaphor… there really was dog at the bar) and after about 45 minutes of me making intense and very creepy eye contact with dog the owner finally brought him over and was like “oh I think Frankie wants to meet you!” In reality he was probably thinking “who is this psycho lady who is staring down my dog and kinda making buggy eyes?” My one pet hating friend was not amused by this entire experience, but I was missing #trollbaby just a little bit, and this weird little bat dog at the bar was a perfect distraction.
Saturday was mostly spent lounging by the pool, trying to take group selfies, and refusing to acknowledge that it was the last day of vacation. We had a late lunch at the Colony Palms, which included the best Old Fashioned I’ve ever had (it had smoked rosemary!) , an amazing shrimp cocktail, and the most perfect “Salad” that has ever existed called “Skirts on Fire” (Its a steak salad… but it comes with a quesadilla covered in bbq sauce… WHAT???? I Know. Its genius. Because its called a salad, but really its the quesadilla of your dreams with an awesome salad next to it… still kicking myself for not ordering this… I ordered the Southwestern Green salad, and it was good… but it was not the Skirts on Fire.)
We also spent about 30 seconds in the parking lot of The Ace... I mean, we hail from the land of Hipsters, BUT this was a little too much. We snapped a quick photo and ran away pretty quickly. Hipster overload… (who knew it was even possible? It is.)
The evening was spent back at Ernest and Bootlegger Tiki.… Hipster music, charcuterie, sparkling wine, and tiki drinks for all! (I would highly reccomend the Pod Thai, or of course the dangerously delicious cocktail for two that comes in a giant skull mug, and is, in fact, on fire.)
And that mostly concludes our 3 day antics in Palm Springs. Sadly we ran out of time/ motivation to see the giant Marilyn Monroe statue, and we didn’t get to see much of the famous architecture…but now that we know our way around, I have a feeling it’s only a matter of time before we all head back to sunny Palm Springs for another winter getaway.
Where to Stay: The Twist
Where to Drink: Ernest Coffee , Bootlegger Tiki, Workshop , Colony Palms , Hadley’s
Where to eat: Cheeky’s, Workshop, Birba, The Purple Palm, Greek Islands Cafe
Where to eat: Cheeky’s, Workshop, Birba, The Purple Palm, Greek Islands Cafe
What to see: The Windmills , Aerial Tramway , Cabazon Dinosaurs
One thought on “An Oregon Gal’s guide to Palm Springs: AKA Snowbirding”
Fun! You guys did so much in a short amount of time. 🙂 I’ll have to check out Bootlegger Tiki. Never been there.