Just Outside LA – Palm Desert “Family Style”


DSC_0001 Palm Trees

You might say “Who needs a getaway from the beautiful warmth and blue skies of LA?”  and “didn’t you just go to the desert last weekend?”  This time we traveled east again to Palm Desert for some family time.  Actually golf was the featured activity, but we also did some “touristy” fun activities with the kids.

“The Desert” as Angelenos call it, encompasses Palm Springs to Coachella, where I swear there is one golf course for every person, fabulous sunsets, and views of the mountains from every angle.

20141108_102743 Golf

We were the grateful guests of my Mother and Father-in-law at the lovely Westin Mission Hills Resort in Rancho Mirage.  The grounds are lovely and restful.  We ventured off to the “Living Desert” one day for taste of the native plants and not so native wild life.

DSC_0500 desert view

DSC_0031 giraffe distance

DSC_0014 giraffe feeding


DSC_0561 leopard

DSC_0054 maria and pete living desert

DSC_0516 butterfly garden

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Have you ever been to the top of Mount San Jacinto?  The Palm Spring Aerial Tram ride to the top of the mountain takes you to another stratus.  Totally different than the desert below and light years away from LA.

DSC_0500-001 tramway

DSC_0002 (1) tram


DSC_0008 inside of tram

DSC_0022 (1) deck

DSC_0052 tree view

DSC_0042 trail map



DSC_0071 (1) fam

DSC_0092 (1) canadian family

DSC_0112 David on a rock


DSC_0098 view


20141110_160937 Pete on cliff


20141110_161105 Maria and David on cliff

The cool weather on the mountain top 30 degrees cooler) was a welcome change and reminded us of our mid-western roots. If we didn’t know better we would have thought we had been transported to Colorado. The smell of the pine and the gorgeous vistas of the surrounding desert and mountains was intoxicating.  Keep in mind this is a just a little over 2 hours from the ocean!

Observation deck

This aerial tram and buidling was dedicated in the early 1960’s.  Don’t you love the mid-century modern vibe of the building.

DSC_0152 mid century building


DSC_0157 ram

A bit “cheesiness” mixed in.  There is a cafeteria style food service called the “Pines Cafe” and also a full service restaurant serving steak and fresh seafood along with a full service bar.  Of course you may bring your own picnic to eat in a rustic setting under the towering pines on the many picnic tables provided.

DSC_0010 sunnylands 2

Another day (Tuesday) we made our way to Sunnylands.  One problem, they are only open Thursday – Sunday.  I’m excited to revisit and tour the gardens (free) or make a reservation to tour this unique house next visit.

So here was “Plan B”  We went to The Shops on El Paseo and The Gardens.  We happened upon this welcoming and very fun gallery named CODA.  At every turn there was a  delightful eclectic mix of art to take in.  How nice to fill your house with original art.

DSC_0014 coda sign

DSC_0020 natalie art

DSC_0017 case house

DSC_0030 Marilyn


DSC_0031 polka dot


DSC_0035 coda

Of course there was shopping to do.  All of the store are already in the holiday mood, with the aroma of cinnamon and stuffing wafting out of Williams Sonoma.  My big purchase?  A box of Maldon Salt.  Dreams of cooking up a storm for this holiday season.  Check out new and fresh recipes coming up on my food blog “I Had a Delicious Time”.

DSC_0038 (1) shopping


Looking forward to many more trips to “The Desert”.  We’ll keep you posted.

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