Every year my best childhood friend, Janine, and I go on a “chick trip” together. It’s a fantastic time for us to catch up, eat well and chill out. This year (2016) we decided to go to Palm Springs, California for a few days, then Hermosa Beach on our last day. Here’s a pictorial overview of our fun adventures each day:
We both landed at LAX because it was much cheaper than flying into Palm Springs airport direct. Once we found each other, we hopped on the Sixt shuttle bus to get our rental car. Sixt in LA now has it’s own shuttle busses and building, which is great. There were no cars available in the level I reserved, so we were given a free upgrade and ended up with a nice, bright red Mercedes GLA 250. With me as the driver and Janine as navigator, we headed east to Palm Springs. Mind you, we both had gotten up around 3am to travel on super-early flights (Janine from EWR and me from ATL), so we were starving. First stop? In-N-Out Burger! This one in Hacienda Heights was different in that we had to walk up to the outside window to order, then we ate outside in a picnic area. It was sooo good.
We stopped at the visitor center as well, which is right behind the sign. It used to be an old, mid-century modern gas station. They kept the cool, architectural lines which made it neat.
From here we went to our lodging, Little Paradise Hotel. This is a small, boutique-type place with only 9 rooms. We were there early, but our room was ready, so we checked-in. We had room 4, which is nicely tucked in the corner of the property. It was beautifully decorated and we had a huge bathroom, well-stocked kitchen (even with a bottle of wine!) and patio space in the front and back. After we got settled in, we went to the grocery store nearby (Ralph’s, which was really nice) and grabbed snacks and other sundries. Then we unpacked and chilled out and later, got ready for dinner. On our way to that, we decided to drive by and see what used to be Liberace‘s house. It was easy to find.
Afterward, we had a delicious meal at Jake’s restaurant.
We awoke early, mostly due to still being on East coast time. It was a gorgeous AM, where I got to enjoy my coffee out by the pool. The view of the San Jacinto Mountains to our west was so pretty, lit from the early AM sunlight.
We enjoyed breakfast in our little kitchen then got dressed to head out to Joshua Tree National Park. In my travels, if I am near a National Park, I make every effort to visit. Luckily, Janine happily obliges.
It was about a 45 minute drive from the hotel and on the way we went through Desert Hot Springs. It was very windy and we saw many windmills. So cool.
There are 3 entrances to Joshua Tree National Park. Of those, I read that the one in Twentynine Palms (North Entrance) was the best, so that’s where we started. At the Oasis Visitor Center, there was a nifty kinetic art sculpture that Janine thought I was taking a picture of. I was actually recording a movie to capture the art in motion. Little did she know that I also captured audio of her suddenly realizing that she left her selfie stick back at our hotel. When we heard it later, we laughed!!!
Nonetheless, we still got a great selfie of us in front of the visitor’s center.
The Park Rangers there were awesome (as per the usual at any NP) and they helped me/us with maps and info on places we wanted to visit inside the park. The park is HUGE and we only got to see a portion of it. The weather was shockingly cool that morning, which made the whole experience of being in that beautiful, dry desert even more epic. Here’s some neat stuff that we saw:
We drove through the park mostly westbound on Park Boulevard, which kept us in the Mojave Desert. The Southeastern part of the park is actually the Colorado Dessert. We exited through the West Entrance, but stopped at the Joshua Tree Visitor Center. There I was able to get additional stamps for my National Park Passport book. I was psyched to be able to get different stamps from two of the visitors centers. Check them out below. I may be able to get back to Palm Springs once more this year and if so, I’m going to try to get the stamps from the Cottonwood Visitor Center too!
On the way back to Palm Springs, we stopped in Desert Hot Springs to get gas. This was where there were zillions of windmills. When I got out to get gas, the wind was CRAZY. I couldn’t get the car door closed! Fighting the powerful gusts wore me out — I couldn’t believe it. The whole experience was so surreal! In this video clip, I’m saying “Here we are in Palm Springs, trying to pump gas. And this is why they have windmills here, ’cause this is INSANE!”
When we got back to Palm Springs, we were hungry, so we went straight to a burger place that intrigued Janine, Smokin’ Burgers. The burgers were good, but huge!
After that, we went back to the hotel for some special pool time. Special why? Because we had a plan to recreate a photo from a sweet card Janine had sent me in the past. We always joked how we were starting to look like the two ladies pictured on the card. Well, Janine found the perfect outfit for her character, so I did too. It was time to see if we clinched it. Believe it or not, we did so on the FIRST try! Photo on the left is from the original card. The photo on the right is us. I love it!!! Afterward, we chilled out and enjoyed lovely pool time the rest of the day. That evening we went to a nice dinner at Trio, then, back at the hotel we enjoyed a pretty, poolside fire.
Slowly, we were becoming more accustomed to the time change. We enjoyed breakfast and fantastic AM leisure time at our hotel. I took photos of some of the pretty flowers while Janine read a book, something she rarely gets to do!
Our next adventure was at the Rock Spa at the Hard Rock Hotel. Janine scored some super deals on 80-minute massages there, so off we went for our 10am appointments. We were a little early so we walked around the Hard Rock Hotel to explore and check out some of the more interesting, iconic items hanging on the walls. Of course, Janine would spy this amazing gem.
Who knew that Elvis had a PBA card?!? Actually, it’s a badge, but the card looked just like the ones Janine used to give out to friends, much thanks to her dad.
After our Swedish massages, we were given Rock Pool access passes and buy one, get one free Simon Says Sangrias at the Simon restaurant. So we had a great lunch, of course with that yummy Sangria!
After that, we headed out to the Rock Pool for a bit. It certainly wasn’t hopping early on a Monday afternoon, but it was nice to take advantage of it nonetheless.
After that, we decided to head back to our hotel for pool time there. When we were waiting for the valet to bring up our car, Janine spotted this CRAZY Lexus IS 250c that someone super-bedazzled with pink satin seat covers and rhinestones everywhere. They even had an old-school phone receiver in their car!
Back at the hotel we hung out by the lovely pool. It was so pleasant! We even got to indulge in spiked fruit smoothies that the management team kindly surprised us with. Nice!
The hotel actually provided us with a nice bottle of wine in our fridge so we decided to take advantage of that, along with some fruit, cheese and crackers in the late afternoon. It was so nice to hang out in our little patio area! It was a perfect place to chill out and chat.
Having had a few drinks that afternoon, we decided to walk to King’s Highway restaurant to a late dinner. It’s located in the Ace Hotel, a funky, re-furbished, mid-century modern, macrame-laden, time warp of a place — not unlike most of the architecture in Palm Springs (perhaps minus the macrame). Upon our arrival, we realized that very popular “Fabulous Bingo” was in full swing. The restaurant was full of intense bingo players, so we weaved through the bar and sat outside by the pool. Out of curiosity, I ordered a Cactus water, which I ended up really enjoying. We also ordered a few delicious appetizers as our dinner. It was a lovely evening outside and our “tapas” type dinner was yummy.
The next morning we walked to Elmer’s for breakfast. If you go, I highly recommend the Classic German Pancake! We walked back to the hotel and packed up to drive back to the coast. Before we left, we stopped at the visitor center again, this time to pick up a few souvenirs. I took a quick photo from outside. I love it!We drove west to stay our last night at Hermosa Beach. Since it is so close to LAX, it is a great place to stay if you have to hop on flights the next day. We stayed at the Grandview Inn, which was just ok, but our view was pretty nice!
We got settled in and walked over to Good Stuff Eatery via The Strand for a healthy lunch. We had a great view of the Hermosa Beach pier and people on The Strand as we enjoyed our salads. Afterwards, we decided to walk the pier. Then we decided to stroll on The Strand ourselves. We headed south and walked and talked and marveled at the fabulous homes we saw along the way. Then we heard an odd sound. It got closer so we turned to look in the direction it was coming from and discovered it was the Goodyear Blimp!!! We continued to walk south for about a mile until we got to the marina at Redondo Beach.
It was here that we discovered a Chart House restaurant. I told Janine that David loved Chart House when he was growing up in California. She said she loved it too. I had never been, so we decided to make it the place for our last dinner together on our trip. We walked back to the hotel, got gussied up and had a nice dinner there while watching the sunset.
The next morning, we grabbed breakfast at Starbucks. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I ended up making my coffee while standing next to Wee Man as he made his! I posted about it on Facebook – lol.
Afterward we walked north on The Strand for a while then made our way back to the hotel. Ugh. Now it was time to pack up, check out and head up to LAX. All went smoothly. We returned the rental car to Sixt, got to the airport and through crazy security in our (separate) terminals, fortunately with time to spare. Janine’s plane took off a while before mine, but when we texted each other later, we realized we landed at around the same time! We both ended up getting home (NJ for Janine and GA for me) around the same time (after midnight), tired, happy, safe and sound.
It was an awesome trip and we are already strategizing and planning for the next one!