Amid all the traveling challenges of COVID-19, we decided to take a vacation within the US. We looked up the top 10 destinations in the month of December and planned a vacation to Palm Springs, California, using visitgreaterpalmsprings.com.
Southern California’s most beautiful, naturally scenic palm oasis contain lush palm groves and more than 100 golf courses over nine cities – Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Indio and Coachella (called Greater Palm Springs). We found it great for escape, adventure and relaxation.
Before starting our fun adventure, we filled ourselves with locally sourced, made from scratch, great vegan food at Chula Artisan Eatery on Washington Street, La Quinta. Preparations of various delicious dishes were very eye catching.
Later, we explored the spectacular views of the Coachella valley, with the historical formation of the Thousand Palm Oasis at the San Andreas fault, on our private Desert Adventure Jeep Tour at Indio, CA. Through the Red Jeep tour company, we drove through the Indio Hills, into a beautiful scene of the San Andreas Fault zone and learned about the active earthquake fault systems along with the labyrinth of geological cuts and canyons. Our guide was very interactive and knowledgeable about the plants, animals, geology, and history of the California desert. It was breath-taking walking through the “fault gouge” and between the steep walls of deep canyons created by the powerful forces of plate tectonics, water, wind, and time. We also learned about the culture and lifestyle of the indigenous Cahuilla people and how they used the desert’s plants for food, medicine, tools, weapons, and more.
The first couple of nights we stayed at Homewood Suites by Hilton in the city of La Quinta, which was beautifully located across the street from the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Its spacious one-bedroom studio was great for the four of us and we enjoyed its fitness center, heated outdoor pool, spa and complimentary hot breakfast. In the evening, the Indian Wells Golf Resort lights up as mini-golfers enjoy Shots in the Night, an after-dark golf experience that mixes mini-golf with colorful lasers, glow-in-the-dark targets, music and food.
Next day, we started our fun at the family friendly attraction of Palm Springs’ Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in the Palm Desert, exploring the wonderfully wild creatures of the world’s deserts, all in one place. We saw cheetahs, striped hyenas, camels and many more desert animals. We fed giraffes and played with Bighorn sheep. They recently acquired two African Black Rhinos – Jaali and Nia – a critically endangered species.
Then we enjoyed a freshly made gourmet vegan lunch at Tanya’s Kitchen in Palm Desert. It was a pleasure meeting Chef Tanya, a very inspiring lady who loves food, nature and is very compassionate towards the animals.
We visited the iconic Sunnylands Center & Gardens at Rancho Mirage, a 15-acre site. The contemporary building houses an art exhibition and the history of Sunnylands and its founders, Walter and Leonore Annenberg, as well as their contribution in American politics. That evening we spent a leisure time at the scenic, sun-drenched boulevard of El Paseo Shopping and dining District of Palm Desert. It was very creative the way every street corner was decorated with inspiring art and rotating sculptures.
That night, we also drove into the downtown district of Coachella to see the extraordinary street art of Walls Murals and astounding sculptures. There are 100 plus thought-provoking sculptures and art collections scattered throughout the Greater Palm Springs area. The Coachella Walls public art initiative celebrates the Mexican heritage and rich culture of farm workers.
The next day, we had a very creative, unique and quality fun time with the family at Old Town Artisan Studio, where we painted our-own-pottery, chosen from variety of artifacts at La Quinta. We had lunch at Shields Date Gardens, Indio and enjoyed a full-flavored refreshing date shake, learning about dates in the process. We took a relaxing postprandial walk through the date grove and botanical garden which showcased various hand-crafted statues depicting the life of Christ.
Next couple of nights, we stayed at Margaritaville Resort, Palm Springs, an iconic tropical oasis very close to downtown. The resort is very beautiful with a comfortable specious room, kid’s activities, firepits near pool areas and dining.
We also experienced a breathtaking journey on the world’s largest aerial tramway up the sheer cliffs of Chino Canyon and enjoyed hiking in the pristine wilderness. The family also visited the Palm Springs Air Museum, which was home to one of the world’s largest collection of flyable aircraft. That evening, we had Italian vegan varieties and pizza at famous Trio Restaurant.
The next day we had a great hiking experience and spectacular photo opportunities in Indian Canyon, Andreas Canyon and Murray Canyon.
A delicious vegan lunch was had, at the lively outdoor terrace seating of Lulu California Bistro ,on the corner of Palm Canyon and Arenas Road. With special freshly made cotton candy from Lulu, we started driving back to Anaheim.
We stayed a couple of nights at Elements by Westin Anaheim Resort and convention center, conveniently located near Disneyland and Anaheim GardenWalk, and enjoyed a very relaxed spacious one-bedroom suite with world class complimentary breakfast and amenities.
At Anaheim, we went to the GardenWalk in Orange County, a family-friendly entertainment, with shopping and dining. The kids gathered lots of fun at Flightdeck with air-to-air combat, in authentic flight simulators and Mission Escape games at Escape rooms at Anaheim. The next day, we visited Muzeo Express exhibits of Holiday trains and museums exploring heritage, culture and arts. We also took in the Modern Times Leisuretown for burgers and wraps. The family trip couldn’t be complete without a roller coaster ride and so we enjoyed a fun filled day at California’s original theme park, Knott’s Berry Farm, with stage shows, street action, music and delicious food.
Our Palm Springs and Anaheim California trip was extremely refreshing, memorable, inspiring, entertaining and educational. I am sure you will all love visiting and making memories.
Lina Shah is a Freelance Writer, Editor, Teacher, Social Worker and Financial Professional. Inspired by her father, she is a multi-talented suburban Chicagoland wife and a mother of two, who also enjoys cooking, social gathering and event planning.