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Aerial TramWay, Palm Springs, California

Louise Speaks:   After touring the local resorts of Palm Springs, and of course seeing Elvis’s honeymoon retreat we headed up to The Aerial Tramway.  This is probably one of the most famous attractions of Palm Springs. 

Aboard the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, www.pstramway.com the world’s largest rotating tramcar, you will experience a breathtaking journey up the sheer cliffs of Chino Canyon. Begin the 10 minute ride at the Valley Station – elevation 2,643 ft. and end at the Mountain Station – elevation 8,516 ft.  No matter what the season, whether you are enjoying spectacular views or hiking in a pristine wilderness, a one-of-a-kind experience can be had by all. 

The tramway did not just happen. It required foresight, planning, financing and, most of all a vision.  For years, it was the dream of a young electrical engineer named Francis F. Crocker who wanted to “go up there where it’s nice and cool”.  Crocker’s dream began in 1935 while he was on a trip to Banning, California, with newspaper publisher Carl Barkow.  Mopping his brow in the heat of the day, Crocker gazed on longingly at the still snow-capped peak of Mt. San Jacinto 10,834 feet high. At that moment, “Crocker’s Folly,” as it was soon dubbed by one newspaper woman, was born.

Francis Crocker’s dream was completed in 1963; the inaugural ride occurred on September 14th with scores of local and state dignitaries and celebrities on hand. In 1966 a 7,800 ft. granite spire in the canyon was dedicated to Coffman who died in August 1967;  Francis Crocker died in 1992. The Tramway announced in 1998 that it was embarking on a modernization program that would see the construction and installation in 2000 of new cars and updating of its facilities. Beginning in September 2000, passengers rode the world’s largest rotating tram cars, constructed by the tram’s original car manufacturer, Von Roll Tramways.  More than 12 million people have been safely transported by the tramway into the majestic mountains overlooking the Coachella Valley since the attraction opened in September 1963.

We only spent about an hour at the top enjoying the views and visiting every lookout station.  The Peaks restaurant offers a wide variety of menu items for both children and adults.  It is also available for special occasions such as weddings and private parties.  We did spend time in the gift shop which had unique gift ideas and of course tons of souvenirs.  Although this was a fun “cool” way to spend the afternoon, and tickets are very affordable, I would only rate the tramway a C.  Maybe it’s because I had been on the tramway before, or maybe I just didn’t find it that exciting .

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Thelma Speaks: Now Louise from this flat lander I enjoyed the ride.  I liked spinning around as we climbed!  You did turn a little pink at first but you made it.  The day we were at the top it was cool and snow was still found.  Some brought sleds up to enjoy the ride.  Hot chocolate was being consumed.  You can eat in the restaurant or get something to take outside from the snack bar.  There are shops to find your tourist treasures and if you want to take a hike, there are paths to follow.  We took the tram down and headed on to our next adventure.  The day we were there the sky was overcast and so seeing downtown was not easy. I agree it was affordable and I enjoyed the ride which is similar to those in other cities. 

I would rate this tram a B as it is a larger spinning adventure to the top of the mountain where you can make your own fun eating or walking, hiking or shopping.


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Palm Springs, California

Louise Speaks:  Palm Springs  www.visitpalmsprings.com is definitely known for the rich and famous.  I think everybody who’s anybody has a home here or at least has some connection.  Palm Springs has first class accommodations, fine dining, and shopping galore.  It is also home to many gay and lesbian vacationers because Palm Springs has a very high gay and lesbian residential population.  Nestled at the base of the majestic San Jacinto Mountains, the City of Palm Springs is the ancestral home of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. The village atmosphere has been preserved and embellished over the years.  The streets  lined with palm trees, invite you to explore boutique shops, art galleries and museums while soaking up the sunshine or dining outdoors among stunning desert scenery.    Swimming, sunbathing, golfing and tennis are still the pastimes of this desert oasis.  Although very hot and dry it still attracts people year round.  Palm Springs has more than 350 days of sunshine and less than 5.2 inches of rain.  Winter temperatures average in the 70s with nights in the mid-40s.  The dry desert heat of summer pushes daytime temperatures into the 100s, which is enjoyed by sun seekers.  There are several Indian casinos within easy driving distance for those who care to roll the dice.

Upscale resorts with world-class golf courses and spas are sprinkled throughout the Palm Springs and neighboring communities.  There are several hotels and resorts that made Patricia’s book     “1000 Places To See Before You Die” .
One of those mentioned was The Viceroy www.viceroypalmsprings.com . Nestled around three courtyards with pools and manicured gardens, the Viceroy Palm Springs offers an exceptional full-service spa and luxury accommodations, including deluxe hotel rooms, suites and private villas. The   downtown Palm Springs hotel and spa resort is also home to Citron restaurant, one of the desert’s most distinctive gourmet restaurants and cocktail lounges. For chic events, romantic garden weddings and private retreats in Palm Springs, the downtown hotel can provide every service you can dream up.

Another place where you might choose to stay and relax and to find a more traditional type of romance is      The Willows Historic Palm Inn www.thewillowspalmsprings.com . Just a few mere moments from the excitement of downtown Palms Springs yet worlds away from all the hustle and bustle of every day life, romance and relaxation  may be found at  the  deserts  most  unique hidden treasure.  Originally a millionaire’s private hideaway, the Willows is a dream of peace and serenity brought to life by skilled craftsmen who nearly a century ago magically transformed a rugged and barren hillside into a veritable oasis of rare beauty and ineffable charms.  This was the honeymoon choice for Carole Lombard and Clark Gable.  The Willows is a restored 1930 Mediterranean villa with eight sumptuous suites tucked into the hillside of the San Jacinto mountains,

Yet another popular place, and my personal favorite, is the Korakia  www.korakia.com  The Korakia Pensione offers a unique and relaxing getaway from day-to-day reality. Crafted after a Mediterranean-style pensione, Korakia blends the silhouette of Tangier with a whisper of the Mediterranean.  Begin your day with a complimentary full-cooked breakfast in the Moroccan courtyard.  Soothe your soul poolside, or seek healing through yoga or pamper yourself with a spa treatment. You may choose to curl up with a vintage book from the library.  No matter what you choose you will see why Forbes Traveler named Korakia one of the “Sexiest Hotels in America.

After a relaxing night in any of these resorts and hotels, it’s time to site see and see what Palm Springs is all about.  You could spend the better part of  day touring the movie stars homes, both past and present, in the Movie Colony.  You can also have tours of the inside of these homes should you choose to see the chip in the sink where Frank Sinatra once threw a bottle.  Or how about a tour of the home were Elvis Presley and Priscilla spent their honeymoon in 1967…it’s even got a circular bedroom fit for a king.  You can  rent this home for your own honeymoon,   www.elvishoneymoon.com

A weekend in Palm Springs is not really long enough to get the feel or the excitement this city has to offer.  Yes it is in the desert, and yes it is hot, but the night life, the tourist attractions and so many places to see, I can’t say enough good things about Palm Springs.  That being said, I rate Palm Springs an A.

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Thelma Speaks:  Palm Springs is a wonderful place to visit and enjoy not only the homes of movie stars but the hotels and resorts that are so calm and peaceful.  We were able to visit each of the places Louise mentioned and I was struck by how relaxing they were.  The grounds were perfect and the employees were very friendly and helpful.  I would enjoy spending time at any of the above mentioned.  Bob Hope’s mushroom house sitting high on top a hill is also a site to see. 

For shopping and dinning there are several great spots downtown.  Your shopping can find you in small shops with speciality items and clothes for the beach or summer fun.   If you want to sit outside and enjoy the weather there are tables waiting for you to dine or just enjoy drinks with friends.  People are seen strolling through the downtown area until late in the evening with many places to meet friends.  Palm Springs is a great place year around and for the sun worshipers a summer hot spot.

I love going to Palm Springs so I would rate this spot as an A.  Can’t wait to return and enjoy more places around town.