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Things That Make You Go "Cool!"

For a little town, there sure is a lot to do! Let's start with downtown Palm Springs and talk about some of the shops and restaurants; eclectic, upscale, charming gems that are sure to give the little man on your American Express card beads of sweat on his forehead. Here's the skinny on some of our faves.

Shopping

Babs and I were lured into the The Bungalow, a California resort store that carries everything to make a woman look cool, stylish and summery. Some of the the most darling finds were a line of tee-shirts called "Come As You Are", that featured a bitingly cute cartoon girl with sayings like "whatever" and "party girl" displayed on the front. Great hand-made silver jewelry and Roody Kazoody dresses abound. There's a vast selection of sunglasses and straw hats here too, to protect you from the sun while giving you an air of Palm Springs sophistication. 132 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA. Tel:760/327-0282

Paper Lilli Filled with Hollywood memorabilia in the form of ceramic cookie jars,mugs and figurines. Lucy, Marilyn, Jimmy Dean, and Wizard of Oz collectors will love it here! The store is crammed with interesting stuff. They also carry a great selection of collectible watches and unusual souvenirs. The staff has a wonderful sense of humor that's evidenced by the merchandise. If you want a little bit of everything, this is the place! 114. N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA. Tel: 760/327-3373.

Every place needs a good shoe store and Shoe Shack Bootique is it! With hundreds of the latest brand name bootiful shoes lining its endless racks, any shoe addict will be in tootsie wear heaven. The prices are great, too! You're not charged an arm and a foot. 196 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA. Tel:760/325-0633.

The Palm Springs Gallery One of the greatest artists of our day is Thomas Kinkade, known as the "Painter of Light". At age 42, he is the most collected living artist. Kinkade's canvases have a "light" to them, a brilliance that is the soft, soothing signature style of his paintings. His subjects are charming cottages, gazebos, Victorian houses, country and city scenes--all with some sort of light emanating from them. Kinkade believes his deep Christian faith is the foundation of his art. The Gallery features many of his paintings as well as books, notecards and a catalogue of his work. If you can't swing an oil painting, a book of Kinkade's work goes for $16.95. 245 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Suite A-3, Palm Springs, CA. Tel:760/320-1188.

Heusso Gallery An explosion of color featuring a plethora of creations from today's new artists. Enticingly displayed throughout the gallery are paintings, pottery, hand-blown glass and gift items. Here you'll find Kevin Kelly's ceramic pottery, Grace Hoff's cast paper plates and David Scherer's 3-D plexiglass and canvas art. The gallery is popular for "Up Art", the kind of art that gives you a happy optimistic feeling. Heusso himself is a self-styled Californian artist, who considers his home to be western Australia and now lives there. Tracy Heller, whose wife's sister married Huesso, now runs the gallery. Says Heller, "We have very, very serious art--but we don't take it seriously." Asked to describe his gallery in one word, Heller replied, "Crazy!" 189 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA. Tel:760/322-8957.


Much to my delight, Palm Springs has a great little selection of antique and consignment shops. One of the more unusual items we saw was in the Palm Springs Consignment shop. Here we found...(drum roll).....the combo to beat all combos....a
combination sink/refridgerator/stove/oven by Chef from the 1950's, in bright pink no less!

 

I didn't even know these existed! Must have been a housewife's dream come true in those days. Or not.

The shop is filled with vintage jewelry, retro furniture and clothing. What we liked best about this store was the wide variety of merchandise and reasonable prices. The store is set up so you can comfortably browse, whilst deciding between the red vinyl and chrome kitchen set and the faux Renoir. 1117 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA. 92262 Tel:760/416-8820. Website: www.palmspringsconsignment.com.

Life After Shopping

Special Events & Local Attractions

Although the attraction of the shopping here is strong, and it sometimes took force, willpower and the realization that we had reached our charge limit to tear ourselves away, we found some awesome places that gave us a real feel of how truly magnificent Palm Springs really is.

If you do only one thing for a local area attraction, visit the Aerial Tramway. I promise you, it will leave you feeling you met with God.

To get to the tram, you enter from Highway 111 North and drive up a winding road that ascends so high into the mountain, you feel sure there will be angels with harps waiting to greet you. When you finally reach the tram parking area (which is totally on a slant) you begin the trek to the entrance. Inside, you pay your $19.65 for adults, $17.65 for seniors or $12.50 children's admission and gather with your fellow "trammers" in the waiting room to wait for the tram. (It runs every 1/2 hr).

We rode up the mountain with about 20 people, although the car holds almost four times that much. The ride up is, well...tingly. At first you think, "Hey no sweat, this isn't so high." Then, as you continue upwards, you begin to feel a little like Ralph Kramden, "Humina, humina--we're going to the moon Alice!" But actually you're heading towards Mountain Station at 8,516 feet. Once atop Mountain Station, we were rewarded with a panoramic view of Coachella Valley. The view is so spectacular, the phrase I heard most uttered from the people around me was, "Wwwwwwwow!" There's also a restaurant, 54 hiking trails, a cocktail lounge, gift shops, mule rides, cross-country skiing and snow tubing with rentals available. Tel:760/325-1391. Website: www.pstramway.com.



The Windmills are another attraction that will keep you staring. Hundreds of towering windmills make up a surreal looking landscape of white giants. A skilled guide takes you inside this working wind farm on a 90 minute tour. These environmentally friendly turbines are a great contribution to a cleaner and safer world. Admission is $23 for adults under 55. Over 55 it's $20. Children under 5 are free. I 10 & Indian Ave. on the North Frontage Road (20th St.) 1 1/4 miles west. Tel: 760/251-1997. Toll free: 877/449-WIND. Website: www.windmilltours.com.



Being a photography buff, I had to see the Salton Sea exhibit by Christopher Landis at the Palm Springs Desert Museum. Landis' photos capture the sometimes eerie attraction of the saline lake in the Sonoran Desert. The permanent exhibits here include a 20th century art gallery, Mesoamerican art, and Western and Native American art. Actors George Montgomery and William Holden have their collections displayed as well. There's an adorable miniature collection by Eugene Kupjack and an outdoor sculpture garden. A variety of events are offered year round from nature hikes to concerts in the Annenberg Theatre. 101 Museum Drive, Palm Springs, CA. Tel: 760/325-7186. Website: www.psmuseum.com.

All This Activity is Making Me Hungry! Let's Eat!

We never had a bad meal the entire time we were here. The food in Palm Springs is exemplary. No chintzing, shlocking or skimping. They know how to do it right and more importantly, do it right consistently. On three separate occasions we had breakfast at the News Cafe. Normally, as a travel writer I try to eat at as many different places as I can to give my readers options, but I'll tell ya, this is hands down, the BEST breakfast place I've ever eaten at. The first time we were there, I ordered French toast ($4.25) and Babs got an omelet with sausage and cheese ($6.65). Oh! The French toast was taste-bud orgasma! They make it from French bread (hey! French toast from French bread! What a concept!) and they add a little vanilla to the batter. The omelet Babs had was light, fluffy, the sausage was just spicy enough with the cheese melted to perfection. Home fries are made fresh daily, and cooked with those perfect little crusty edges. So I broke my rules and went back, because I seriously doubt anybody can beat these breakfasts. (Now I feel like some eggs and French toast...) 198 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA, Tel:760/320-7252. Website: www.news-cafe.com.

Later, that same day..


Babs is half Greek, so when we passed Mykonos Greek restaurant, we had to stop. We were we ultra happy we did. Babs confirmed that the food here rivaled anything her father cooked and some of it was even better! (Don't tell him!)

Mykonos is owed by the Pappas family. Dino Pappas was our waiter and his attentive service and friendly personality is one of the reasons this restaurant is a Palm Springs fave. Tula Pappas, is the Queen though. She makes all the food from scratch using authentic Greek recipes and doesn't skimp on ingredients. Everything is fresh including the herbs.


We started with a traditional Greek salad. (sm $3.85) It was full of feta cheese, olives, tomatoes and cukes and NO lettuce filler! We continued our feast with the combination plate ($12.25) which was a mixture of Musaka (baked layers of eggplant potatoes, ground beef and Bechamel sauce), Pastitsio (baked layers of macaroni, ground beef and Bechamel sauce) Dolmades (ground beef and rice wrapped in grape leaves) and Lamb Gyros (seasoned lamb). We also tried the Spanakopita ($5.25) that was full of fresh spinach cooked in flakey, filo dough pastry. At one point we were eating so fast, Dino told us to slow down! Dessert was a perfect Baklava (chopped walnuts baked in filo dough drizzled over with a honey syrup). There's indoor/outdoor dining and they'll soon have live Greek music. 139 E. Andreas Road, Palm Springs, CA. Tel: 760/322-0223.

And what would a visit to Palm Springs be without trying some great Mexican food? We stopped in at Las Casuelas Terraza to indulge in some Enchiladas ($6.25), Tacos ($6.25) and fried ice cream ($4.25). There's indoor/outdoor dining, or you can just relax at the bar. Recently added is the Palapa Patio, where live bands serenade you as you sip on one of their famous Margharitas and think to yourself, "Life is good," or "How many of these have I had so far?" 368 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA. 760/325-3213. click for more

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