Edit ModuleShow Tags

A Family Afar: Palm Springs Then and Now

Our travelling dad learns how to redefine fun for the whole family in a city he loved before kids


Published:

Illustration by Daniel Zalkus

Growing up in Northern California in the ’70s, my view of Palm Springs was from afar. To me, the desert oasis wore a glittering halo of sun-drenched poolsides, with towering palm trees and celebrities on every corner sipping martinis in wide hats and gigantic sunglasses. It was like Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope, Elizabeth Taylor, and Liberace were just hanging out, waiting to play canasta with me under the pool umbrella.

At age 14, friends from Palm Springs whom I’d met at camp invited me down for a visit. In my romanticized perspective I was trekking to Hollywood East, so I packed my steamer trunks accordingly. That first visit surpassed my expectations. Everything was a little brighter, a little more glamorous, a little more Southern California postcard-perfect. I fell in love.

When I moved to San Diego in the late ’80s, Palm Springs became a regular draw. In those days, we thought nothing of lying in the sun slathered in baby oil with lemon juice in our hair. Tanned as a collection of Louis Vuitton bags, my friends and I would slosh our way down Palm Canyon Drive hitting all the bars and cocktail lounges along the way. Although we never did run into Frank or Liz, I always felt welcome and comfortably at home.

All that sloshing and sunning took a hard stop when our kids were born, and our trips to Palm Springs had new meaning. The allure didn’t fade—it just morphed into kiddie pools, floaties, and other kinds of daytime pursuits.

Instead of sleeping in after boozy late-nights, we’d wake up early with the kids and head over to The Living Desert, Coachella Valley’s very own zoo and gardens. Triton and I took great joy in watching our girls grow up under that same glamorous sun. Days by the pool became lunch picnics on the adjacent shady lawn. Evening ventures into downtown became daytime shopping excursions, ducking into Watercress Vietnamese Bistro for a delicious respite from the heat. Rented party houses became comfortable hotel stays at lovely central locations like the Hyatt Palm Springs, where we could push a stroller easily out the door for a sojourn through the neighborhoods.

Now with the girls in their teens, our visits to Palm Springs have become even more enjoyable. We take family outings to explore Mount San Jacinto on board the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, and hop into Red Jeep Tours for a spin around the San Andreas Faultline. The kids actually listen, absorb, understand, and comment on what we’re learning and seeing (especially when we take their phones away).

On our last stay at the Hyatt, we walked and shopped Palm Canyon Drive, ventured over to the festive Tropicale Restaurant for dinner and, yes, lazed by the pool while a nice young lady brought us umbrella drinks.

Full circle? Not exactly. But we did manage to take a ride with Palm Springs Celebrity Tours to catch a glimpse of the homes where Marilyn, Barbra, Frank, Dino, Ava, and Bob all lived at one time. Still no celeb sightings, but that romantic and sunny feeling is present just the same.

I’m still in love—and luckily, so is my family.


Jon Bailey writes the travel blog 2dadswithbaggage.com.

2DadsWBaggage 2dadswithbaggage

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

Sky of Blue and Sea of Green

Our copy chief reflects on the unique relationship his father had with the afterlife

Sophia Loren Comes to Escondido

The legendary actress spares time for a Q&A

Ralph Rubio Is the Fish Taco King

How Rubio turned a recipe on a scrap of paper into the official dish of San Diego
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. The Problem With Bright Red Tuna
    Many Americans still think bright red tuna means it’s fresher (it’s not)
  2. First Look: Animae
    Puffer Malarkey Restaurants unveil 5.5 million-dollar pan-Asian concept
  3. Jason Mraz and his Historic Coffee Bean
    The singer and Bird Rock Coffee Roasters unveil the first California-grown Geisha coffee
  4. The Hunt For San Diego's Best Chicken Wings
    How wings became the No. 1 kickoff food in the U.S., and our hunt for the best
  5. How San Diego Are You?
    Take our quiz to see where you land on the newcomer to old-timer spectrum
  6. First Look: Zinqué
    L.A. success story brings the soul of French zincs to Little Italy
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions

Not Your Grandma's Orthotics

New year, new – shoe? Staying on your feet for long hours at a time just got a whole lot more comfortable with Wiivv’s BASE custom insoles

October is Rideshare Month

Join the Rideshare 2015 Challenge and get there together
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

’Tis the Season for San Diego Fun

Here's where to play and stay this winter in America’s Finest City

We Chat with the Crew behind Hornblower Cruises and Events Aboard the High Spirits Ship

Sponsored by Hornblower
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags