Travel: Palm Springs Hikes

After four years, we made it back to one of our favorite spots: Palm Springs/Palm Desert, California. This trip was the first time we would be there for an entire week, normally we would just stay for 4-5 nights – which honestly is also plenty – but the extra few days for us was definitely a treat.

Since we were staying longer, I wanted to venture outside of our normal PSP vacay routine (which is eat, pool, drink on repeat) and find some hikes to venture out to. Indian Canyons was the first thing that stood out and often a handful of different hikes, plus it’s not far from downtown Palm Springs. And then I wanted to venture out to Joshua Tree Park, since it’s so widely talked about, but we’ve never officially gone – I found this neat Ladder Canyon Hike in Painted Canyon that looked super cool. Spoiler; we didn’t make it out to JTP – our desert-dwelling friends suggested another free hike, that was closer and thought we would enjoy more.

Selfie from the Josie Johnson Vista Park via the Carl Lykken Trail

Murray Canyon Hike

This is labeled as a moderate 4.7 mile hike and is an in and out hike. It cost us $26 to get into the ‘park’ which we were only expecting to pay $10 – so I was a little surprised about that, but the Murray Canyon Hike was worth it. If you want to make a day of it, I’d probably try to plan another hike to get a little more of your money’s worth, as we did not do that.

With temps supposed to get up into the mid-80’s, we made sure to get an early start, which isn’t hard since we were operating on East Coast time. We started our hike just before 9am, which was perfect because we beat the crowd. I would suggest 8:15 or 8:30am if you really want to get a jump on everyone. It took us an hour in and an hour back to complete this hike. It was definitely magical with little ‘air conditioned’ sections through palm tree jungled oasis with streams and mini canyons. There was also so scaling and parts of the trail that were a bit questionable, luckily we caught up with some people to mimic the way.

The end of the trail was just so lackluster – but the journey there is really what you should focus on, stop and soak in. You miss a lot of the same magic on the way out since you’re going the opposite way. But there were some incredible spots, especially the biggest waterfall.

Carl lykken trail (free)

This hike was recommended by our desert-dwelling friends, as it was right behind where they used to live! This free hiking trail is easy to spot, as you can count on a handful or more cars parked along the roadside at the trailhead. We definitely were underprepared for this hike, as we decided to keep going, beyond part 1 which was a short 40-minute steep incline to a picnic area known as Simonetta Kennett Vista Point. This first part was pretty much all uphill, had steep drop-offs while you scaled stone vs. dirt for a majority of the path. We wanted a bit more, so we kept going an additional 2-miles. 🙃 That part of the hike was fairly boring compared to part 1, and didn’t add for much more of a view, but got us additional steps and exercise! This hike is not shaded at all, so wear a hat, dose your body in sunscreen and pack a water bottle.

We ended up venturing to the Josie Johnson Vista Park, before heading back the way we came. Our hike ended with a total of 6-miles and 1,726 elevations climbed. Let me tell you, the mountains around Palm Springs are simply stunning – B and I definitely have a thing for mountain towns. Going down part 1 from the Simonetta Kennett Vista Point to the Lykken Trailhead, was tough on the toes as it is almost all downhill and steep!

Both hikes were super unique and really cool. The Murray Canyon trail took you through a magical desert oasis with views to soak in along the road – while the Carl Lykken Trail offered sprawling views of Palm Springs and the surrounding rolling mountains.

Looking for more Palm Spring adventures and mile long views? Check out my guide for visiting Palm Springs Aerial Tram (note this was written pre-pandemic and doesn’t include any new rules/restrictions). Happy desert living!

Travel: Palm Springs Eats – part 2

One of our favorite things about travel and Palm Springs is all the good eats, cute restaurants, and different memories we create along the way. I will say, eating out in Palm Springs adds up quickly, I feel like everything is a minimum of $18 and goes up from there – another reason to make this trip a 4-5 day vacay instead of a full 7-days! But honestly, we never regretted any meals and got to try out a few new spots, while returning to our old favorites.

A few weeks before our travel to PSP, they dropped their dining in mandates/requirements – so we were able to enjoy a pre-covid kind of life, even though the next best thing about dining in Palm Springs is you can basically sit outdoors anywhere you go!

gigi’s – best experience

Gigi’s was our first dinner in Palm Springs – and honestly, it was incredible. As soon as we were seated by the hostess and offered complimentary champagne (to which we said, yes please) – the experience was great, the food was amazing, and the atmosphere was intimate and magical. Not to mention the service was so attentive and on point – we were so well taken care of by our server and the rest of the staff.

The cocktails were tasty and had their own unique twist. I ordered the How Cosmopolitan and it came out yellow but was so tasty and refreshing, I had to order a second one! B ordered Gigi’s Martini that was served with crispy fried olives – we have never seen that before and it was definitely a yummy treat. When we get back to Gigi’s I definitely want to try the Tea Snack Tower that they offer for their Hors D’oeuvres – because everything on that list looks unbelievable. We had the GiGi’s Onion Dip Bacon Powder with Waffle Chips and Caviar and the Pig In a Blankey Wagyu Beef Sausage with a Mushroom and Caramelized Onion Puree, Wellington-Style, served with a pink truffle mustard aioli (pictured bottom right). I ordered the Wedge Salad for my main dish, while B got the Charred Broccoli Waldorf salad and Crispy Brick Jidori Chicken, everything was amazing. Honestly, our only complaint was the Brussel Sprouts, they were not crispy and only offered big pieces of bacon. I’d love to try their brunch out next time we visit also, but 10 out of 10 at Gigi’s for us.

returning favES

In & Out Burger – We love this west coast chain. From the atmosphere, amazing customer service with friendly faces, double cheeseburgers, and animal fries – we had to hit up this favorite twice while we were in Cali. Not to mention we love supporting companies who don’t buckle to corporate America and the backward narrative.

Wilma & Frieda’s – This is another favorite, especially for brunch. We actually ate here three times – once at the downtown Palm Springs location and twice in the El Paso, Palm Desert location, which we prefer for the views and neighborhood. Ordering their homemade biscuits is a must! We also got to try some of their bakery treats, the W&F Bar was brought out to celebrate my birthday and it was incredible, we also tried their strawberry pop tart and that was incredible too. They also serve delicious and reasonably priced mimosas!

Tropicale – Another incredible spot with a great atmosphere, drinks, and delicious food. The way to go here is definitely small plates to share with the table – although the entrees are also delicious. Heading here early for a happy hour cocktail is also a great go-to, but reservations are a must as they fill up fast! The inside is definitely sexy, but the outdoor space is magical and pink.

Honorable mentions

Copley’s in Palm Springs – This is where we dined for my birthday dinner. Copley’s is known for its incredible and spacious outdoor dining space and offers mountain views. The garden walled entryway is a dreamy welcome and the trees throughout are also magical, as the sunset, the lights lit the patio for a truly intimate evening – luckily we could see our dinner! We started with the Chicken and Lemongrass Pot Stickers to share at the table, they were great. From there, B ordered the Ahi Tuna Special, which he loved and I got the Charred-Grilled Center Cut Pork Chop (pictured below). My favorite part of this, however, was being surprised with our desserts being lit with gold glitter candles that B snuck to the waiter for my birthday – I was so surprised, it was awesome!

The Pink Cabana – This is probably the cutest place we ate at and an influencer’s dream for those in-feed photos. Our family friends also picked and arranged this spot for us. I give the Pink Cabana mixed reviews. The champagne selection wasn’t my fave (but that is kind of a problem in California, IMO), and the appetizers weren’t the best – also sitting outside was great, but once it got dark we couldn’t even see our food, also our server wasn’t the greatest, I think we were too much fun for him. The main courses were however incredible, I got a Wagyu steak special that was served with mushrooms, broccolini, and sweet potatoes. B got the Pescatarian Tagine and only wished there was more of it – he also ordered the Hot to Trot cocktail which he enjoyed, but wished it was a little more spicey!

Starbucks Reserve – We of course had to stop at the Starbucks Reserve in downtown Palm Springs. Steps away from the Marilyn Monroe statue, we had no clue what to expect, but it was pretty cool. I was not expecting craft coffee cocktails (sans alcohol) basically – B ordered The Melrose, which was a cold brew shaken with cherry bitters, and topped with Bordeaux cherries (see the first photo, on the right).

Since being home we’ve gotten back into our gut-healthy eating lifestyle, but as I mentioned we love exploring and trying new food when we travel. From the endless patios, views, trendy spots, and unique food dishes we are always here for it.

B was definitely on an ahi tuna and spicy cocktail kick, while I was all about the meat and desserts. We also were able to dine with our desert-dwelling friends four times while we were in the desert and they are truly such great company, our dinners were filled with multiple cocktails, laughter, and delicious food – and honestly what is much better in life than that?

Check out our Palm Springs Eats – Part 1 from our last trip.

Travel: Palm Springs Eats

We celebrated our one year anniversary with a little trip back to Palm Springs/Palm Desert California.  What better time to head out west when the temperatures are dipping below 30-degrees and snow flurries are becoming a regular occurrence?  After getting our feet wet a little last year on our honeymoon – we definitely knew of a few spots we wanted to go back too and then a handful of spots yet to explore – and a few we had on our list from watching Desert Flippers on HGTV.

Our Brunch Spot.  From meatloaf with an egg on top, biscuits and gravy, french toast or a tradition eggs with bacon, everything is beyond delicious at Wilma & Frieda’s.  A MUST-HAVE is their biscuits, they fall apart and melt in your mouth, plus are served with a fruit jam that just puts it over the top.

Because It’s Just So Good.  I could’ve had In & Out burgers everyday, the double cheeseburger is the only way to go.  Plus the first bite needs to be documented at all accounts – plus with a side of animal style fries, yum, yum, yum! Whether you’re getting this go to or dining in the experience of an old-school diner topped with a delicious meal is a west-coast must.

The Perfect Drink + Dinner Combo.  One of our favorite nights was spent with family friends who live in the desert year round.  We told them to pick the spots and we would come along for the ride!  We started with drinks at the bar at Lulu Bistro (which we also brunched at) to get the evening started with a fun atmosphere and music.  From there we popped over to Tropicale and had the perfect seats out on their patio, which is a must when you dine in there! We ordered a number of small plates, continued to drink, laugh and just sampled a variety of dishes – the calamari was by far one of the best things we had!

A few other honorable mentions that are must visits throughout the greater Palm Springs and Palm Desert area are AC3 at Hotel Paseo – the service, food and atmosphere was incredible it was a good pick.  Spencers was another brunch spot, but came highly recommended as a favorite dinner spot from our desert dwelling friends – the patio again was magical with trees growing up right up into the sky.

We had a great time eating our way through our trip -one night we even grabbed sushi at a Japanese Steakhouse because we were craving it for our actual anniversary dinner!  It was so good, although we didn’t put the Steakhouse name and idea together until we sat down. Every spot we went had a fun yet welcoming atmosphere with bright colors and warm faces – not to mention most of the patios had heaters too, so it was perfect for morning breakfast or late night dinners!

The sad part and good part is there are so many other, trendy, delicious spots that we haven’t even visited yet! The good news is we’ll also have new places to try while still being able to head back to our favorites.  What’s your favorite desert dining spot?

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Travel: California Honeymoon

**This post was written before the recent turn of events with the California/LA Fires; my heart goes out to every single living creature directly and indirectly affected by these sad and destructive fires.  Donate to the Greater Los Angeles American Red Cross to help those affected.

In case you missed our Thanksgiving in Palm Desert, you can catch-up on it here.  Our #emnbhoneymoon was our first vacation that we took together – usually we are with family, so that in and of itself was fun, plus it was our first time in Cali!

We flew in and out of Burbank, which helped save us some money and was also super manageable for being right outside of LA. We had a quick 2-hour trip to the desert each way and were able to explore some more sites around the Hollywood area on our way back to the airport.
Travel - California - the bee life
While we were in Palm Desert, we stayed close to the resort, only heading out to random stores to pick up groceries for various meals.  The pool was right next to our condo and it was the perfect spot for us to soak up the sun, take a nap, and just detox from the world. Mornings started with the sunrise, and usually a long walk around the complex exploring the sites.  We went out to brunch and dinner a few times but the standouts besides Eight4Nine were Trio for dinner and Wilma and Frieda for brunch – WOW, both were so delicious.

Before our flight, we headed back early to the Burbank area so we could check out Venice Beach and both see the Pacific Ocean for the first time! It was neat to check out the area, grab some pictures, walk along the beach and stick our feet in the ocean.  From there we found the closest In and Out Burger, each ordered a double and soaked up some more sunshine as we indulged!  From there we headed to Beverly Hills and took a drive down Rodeo Drive – it was unlike anything we ever imagined and blew shops in NYC out of the water. It was stunning. We didn’t have as much time as we would’ve liked to explore the greater Los Angeles area but we were able to drive around in our mustang convertible and take in the Cali life and all the sunshine before heading back to reality.

It was so fun exploring California – although there are a lot more places we will need to check out since it’s a biigggg state, but our mini-moon was the perfect little getaway after all the wedding excitement.

Where should we visit the next time we are in Cali?! Leave a comment below.