Out & About in the Sun – Palm Springs 2018

What a great day we had! As you heard about in my last post, today is the only day we had firm plans to do something that didn’t involve laying in the sun, swimming, or eating. That planned thing was a trip on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, which we did do, but that’s not all! We also did a little walking tour of a few different neighborhoods that were recommended to us by a local realtor. And of course, we also squeezed in some sun and pool time.

Unsurprisingly, there are lots of neighborhoods in Palm Springs, but Scott connected with a local realtor through a friend we met at an NYC Mariah Carey concert who was able to give us some targeted recommendations. Small world! Scott did some research into the neighborhoods and also found a guided tour of a different area of Palm Springs, but we opted to do our own tour. Instead of walking all over the place though, we drove to each neighborhood, parked, and then walked around so we could snap some photos and get a feel for each neighborhood to see which one (if any) we would be interested in living in. The weather was gorgeous and sunny, but not too warm, so it was perfect weather for walking around! It also helped make this plan of having a second home here a little more real, which is exciting. But again, this isn’t happening tomorrow – we’re planning for the future. 🙂

The first neighborhood we walked through was The Movie Colony East/Ruth Hardy Park. This one felt really established, with homes that didn’t seem to have been touched a whole lot since the middle of the 20th century. Scott felt like it was his favorite and I liked it too, but I didn’t see a ton of houses that really excited me. Check out the pictures and judge for yourself!


The neighborhood signs over the street signs made it very easy to figure out where we were.


Although some houses in Palm Springs have grass, it seems most have some variation of gravel or sand, like this one.


I loved the turquoise accents on this house.


It was hard to get a good feel for some houses because so many of them had big hedges like this.


The landscaping is amazing all over Palm Springs, but I especially loved this huge palm tree!


More great landscaping at this house, too.


No idea what kind of flowers these are (tell me if you know!), but the color was gorgeous.

The next neighborhood we walked through was Sunrise Park. It had a really similar feel to The Movie Colony East, though its winding streets made it feel a bit more unique. The houses felt much the same and there wasn’t anything that felt especially unique about this neighborhood to me.


Another neighborhood, another sign. Love the palm tree!


A nice haze over this house and its great landscaping.


I’m not really into landscaping, but we saw tons of cool plants on our tour.


This neighborhood wasn’t the only one with views of the mountains (they all had that view to some extent, in fact), but this view was particularly amazing.

Next up, Sunmor! I saw several neat houses in this neighborhood and it seemed like a quiet, peaceful place, so that’s a draw. To be fair, we haven’t seen a ton of kids or heard a lot of noise at all since we’ve been here, but Sunmor felt especially tranquil.


This may be my favorite street sign picture.


Great house with really nice landscaping. Love all the huge palm trees! Though the bark they seem to leave all over the place is a little annoying.


Not quite the same view we get at home.


Very clean lines on most of the houses in Sunmor.


Beautiful landscaping!


A cool little piece of history.


This house had a very Brady Bunch feel to it.


They really know how to landscape corners in Palm Springs.

Our final neighborhood was Los Compadres. Here, the architecture switched from mid-century modern to more of a Spanish feel, which was a nice change. Neither of us are married to a specific style of house and we actually both like the Spanish style, so the houses in Los Compadres could definitely be options for us. The downside to it is that it felt like there were more condo-style homes (i.e. – homes that looked very similar or even flat-out the same) and apartments, so it felt a little less “homey” to me.


Would it surprise you to learn that I took multiple pictures of different neighborhood signs to get just the right one? No? Didn’t think so. 🙂


Higher rooflines with Spanish tile roofs were really common in Los Compadres.


More amazing views, literally from the backyards (and front doors) of these homes.


This cactus was so interesting!


Another example of great corner landscaping.

We really enjoyed our tour! As someone who isn’t normally into just walking around to look at houses (even though I do love a good walk), I think it’s a great way to spend a couple of hours in Palm Springs. And we only scratched the surface in terms of neighborhoods, so you could easily spend much more time exploring the area if that’s your thing. Have you explored the neighborhoods in Palm Springs? Leave a comment and let me know what your favorites are!

After our walking tour, we came back to the house for, what else – pool time! The pool actually felt a little chilly for the first time today, but I’m not sure why. Maybe because it was a little windier today? Either way, once we were in the water, it felt great, so I’m glad we got a couple more hours to soak it up. I don’t feel like I’ve gotten a strong enough tan and I’ve GOT to have one to take back to Minnesota, so hopefully I can get some extra sun tomorrow to make that happen.

After pool time, we made the short drive to our one planned event (“planned” meaning we bought tickets ahead of time) – a trip on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. The tram is just a way to get up a mountain (albeit a BIG mountain – the elevation is over 8,500 feet at the top), where you can take advantage of great views, eat a meal at one of two restaurants, have a drink in the bar, and hike over 50 miles of trails (though I wouldn’t recommend trying to do all those things at the same time). Although you can buy tickets when you arrive (as of March 2018, tickets are $26 each), we chose to buy ours ahead of time and I’m glad we did! We bought ours two days ahead of time and the earliest available tram was 4p (they start running at 10a and run, at minimum, every hour), but by the time we got up to the boarding area, we were told the wait time was one hour. Ugh! Thankfully, since we had pre-booked tickets for a specific time, we got on the 4p tram we were scheduled for. So no long wait. Yes! I highly recommend doing the same when you plan your trip here. The only other thing to note in terms of logistics is the fact that you have to pay $5 for parking. They accept cash or credit card though, so you don’t have to go out of your way to have cash on hand. The attendant who takes your payment will tell you which lot to park in (there are several), so all you have to do is go to it, park, and then wait for the shuttle to pick you up. You can also walk up to the main building (where you buy tickets and get on the tram) if you want, but it’s a STEEP walk, so I wouldn’t recommend it. We only had to wait about five minutes for a shuttle, so I recommend just doing that.

As for the tram itself – well, it’s pretty cool. The trip up (and down) the mountain takes about ten minutes and the tram holds up to 80 people, so you can expect to be in close quarters for the journey. This is the largest rotating tram in the world though, so you don’t just stand there – you’re rotated around the tram for those ten minutes! It’s a nice way to get views all the way around, but be alert for people who don’t let go of the handrails quickly enough – both Scott and I found arms in our face more than once. Also, be prepared for some BIG swings as the tram reaches each of the towers along the way. And if you’re afraid of heights, know that you’re going to go really high up and that there will be pretty much nothing below you on your journey. So don’t look down. The journey is totally worth it though as the views at the top are breathtaking. If you want to stay for awhile, you can eat at one of two restaurants – one that’s a casual, cafeteria-style place and another that’s more upscale and takes reservations. And if you’re just wanting to grab a drink to calm your nerves after the ride, there’s a bar for that. If you’re into hiking, you can wind through lots of trails – just be sure to get the last tram back down the mountain! As for us, we really just wanted to see the views from the top, so we only spent about twenty minutes there. If we didn’t already have dinner plans (more on that shortly), I would have been happy to eat up there as well (though I really have no idea what kind of food they serve at either restaurant).

Okay, okay – enough of my jibber-jawing. Onto the photos!


Looking up at the BIG mountain from our parking lot while waiting for the shuttle.


The tram arriving back at the base of the mountain.


Looking back at the main building as we started our journey in the tram.


One of the tram’s towers. It’s hard to capture the scale of the mountain in a photo, but this does a pretty good job. As I said, there’s really NOTHING below you as you’re going up.


See how small the towers look now that we’re almost at the top?


We made it!


Gorgeous!


I had to zoom in on that tree, with all its branches facing one direction. So cool!


All of this area is a state park.


I loved the look of this huge fallen tree.


Considering how much of a desert this area is, it was surprising to see this huge forest.


Extreme close-up on…me!


Of course I pulled Scott in for a selfie, too.


Commemorating the opening of the tramway in 1963.


While we were waiting for the tram back down, I zipped outside again for another photo of the state park.


Scott decided to stay in the inner part of the tram on the way back down.


Another shot showing how high up we were. It’s no joke!


I assume this is an old tram car, now on display in one of the parking lots.

And that was our experience on the tramway! It was a lot of fun and I’m really glad we did it – definitely do it when you’re in Palm Springs! If you’ve been before, sound off in the comments and let me know what you thought. Remember that the big increase in altitude means there will be a big drop in temperature, to the tune of about 40 degrees, so plan (and dress) accordingly. Although there wasn’t any snow at the top today, that’s a very normal occurrence, so don’t be caught unaware. Of course, for midwestern guys like us, the 35-degree weather wasn’t scary, but we did bring light jackets to wear at the top.

Our day out ended with dinner at Rooster and the Pig, a Vietnamese/American fusion restaurant near downtown Palm Springs. They don’t take reservations, so if you aren’t there around 5p when they open, expect to wait. We got there around 530p and found all the tables full (it’s not a big place), but we were able to snag a place at the bar. The food was really tasty! Scott loves Asian food and he said his meal (panko-crusted chicken-stuffed rice ball in yellow curry) was probably the best curry he’s ever eaten as well as one of his top five meals ever. So, if that’s not a glowing review, I don’t know what is! I had the crispy beef egg noodle and we shared the Vietnamese crispy rolls – both were delicious. I have to give this place 10/10 based on Scott’s reaction, so be sure to visit!


I meant to take a picture of our food, but forgot to, so you’ll have to settle for a picture of the restaurant.

And that brings us to the end of our great day! I’m glad we were able to get out and do some neighborhood-exploring, I loved the tram, and our dinner was excellent. Tomorrow is, sadly, our last full day here, so I’m looking forward to soaking in as much sun as possible. Keep your fingers crossed for perfect (warm) weather!

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About thejeffelston

Based in St. Paul, MN and love to blog about travel. Comment, follow, and join me on my journey!