Fans of Coastal San Diego

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Friday, August 03, 2007

A Visual Journey to the Desert Cities - Palm Springs and More

One of the things I really enjoy about living in San Diego (well, besides great weather, great beaches, great people) is the ability to visit other nearby areas that are dramatically different, but a relatively short distance away.

San Diego certainly has a terrific reputation as a destination! I was just in San Francisco for a one day conference. Everyone I met, from those up in Northern California, in the northwest, or from other parts of the country, commented on what a wonderful city San Diego is. I couldn't agree more. But it was neat to have some validation from folks from other areas.

I recently spent two days visiting the desert cities for the first time (there were a number of people that were shocked I had never been there - guess it is a popular destination for Southern Californians as well) and wanted to share a few impressions, including some photos.

The contrast of the mountains and the desert is remarkable. Coming over the San Jacinto Mountains from the San Bernardino National Forest on the Pines to Palms Highway (Route 74) is a terrific way to enter the desert - the views of the Coachella Valley from the road at the peak of the mountains is incredible and well worth the extra travel time (and it affords you great photographic opportunities) as opposed to taking the 15 (north) to the 215 to the 10 (east).

Yes, it was hot, but it's the desert. When we arrived it was 111 (about 95 up in the mountains), which was such a contrast from the 78 degrees we left behind in Carlsbad, so you have to be prepared for the heat (have lots of water available - it's easy to get dehydrated without realizing it). There are lots of resorts to chose from (we stayed at the Westin Mission Hills) with golf, swimming and other activities and the rates are pretty good if you go during off season.

Shopping is abundant, although there are fewer stores open, especially on Sundays, during the off season. Lots of great restaurants too (we loved Johannes Restaurant in Palm Springs on South Indian Canyon Drive), although some of them are closed in off season too - so call ahead. We also enjoyed Roy's in Rancho Mirage - a great seafood place that oozes Hawaiian fusion (yes, it's a chain - there's one in La Jolla - but it was well worth it). The La Quinta Resort in La Quinta is very charming and a great place for lunch on the terrace (there are several restaurants to choose from).

There seem to be lots of tourist things to do, although we did not have the time. The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens (Palm Desert/Indian Wells) is supposedly a great place to visit and really get a feel for the animals, plants and flowers that inhabit the desert (some of them quite rare). I understand that the aerial tram from the desert up to the top of the mountains is quite a journey, with fabulous views. Next time, perhaps.

A good number of people own time shares or second homes in the area, and it definitely has the feel of a tourist/vacation/second home destination. It's worth the trip if you have not been there. The winter may be a better time if you don't like heat, but be prepared for higher prices, tourists and more residents (who often vacate during the hot summer months).

Enjoy the show! (there's music so turn up your sound if you would like to enjoy it)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeff - maybe we can go back to the desert in January or something? It really was HOT. Your wife, Kay

4:59 PM  

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Jeff Dowler (RE/MAX Associates): Real Estate Agent in Carlsbad, San Diego County, California on