Leah Explores … Palm Springs

I have a confession to make; I have actually been to Palm Springs twice before, but never actually done anything more than sit by the pool and go to Walmart to collect camping supplies for Coachella. I decided it was time to rectify that situation and head into the desert. My mum was here for a few weeks, and as has become our tradition during her summer visits we try to go away as much as possible. We’d already been to Galiano Island and in previous years have gone down to Las Vegas, mainly because it’s cheap to get to from Vancouver and because we can eat, drink and lie by a pool there. This year we mixed it up a bit and decided upon a change of scenery, so we headed into the blistering Palm Springs sun.

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Beautiful Palm Springs

Stay:
I stayed at The Monroe which was pretty conveniently located at the north end of Palm Canyon Drive, which is the main strip in Palm Springs, so to speak. I found the hotel through booking.com and it had the dream combination of being reasonably priced and well reviewed! It was absolutely perfect for our stay as it had free parking, decent rooms and a great sized pool – win!

Eat:
I had so many delicious meals in Palm Springs, which actually surprised me a bit because I wouldn’t automatically think of it as a foodie haven … until now.
Lulu’s California Bistro
This place was huge, and had a menu big enough to rival The Cheesecake Factory, and some very strong cocktails.
Norma’s at The Parker
The Parker is one of the most beautiful places I have ever stepped foot in, and on top of that I had the most delicious french toast here, and it was honestly as thick as a ream of paper, no lie!
Workshop Kitchen + Bar
Super hipster, and super delicous, offering farm to table yumminess, tucked away in a cute little courtyard.
Koffi
There are a couple of these coffee shops dotted around the city, their muffins and iced coffees were amazing.
Great Shakes
Does what it says on the tin. I had the white chocolate cherry, and it was ridiculous in the best possible way!
Trio
Kind of like Lulu’s but on a slightly smaller scale. Their tagline is “Where Palm Springs eats” and that was good enough for me.
Ice Cream and Shop(pe)
Offering unique and delicious ice cream options with some cute gifts to shop at the same time. I had the pomegranate chip and it was beyond good.
Kings Highway at Ace
Cool vibes and a great menu full of food you want to eat. Their BLAT (bacon, lettuce, avacado, tomato) was absolutely scrummy!

* I’d read so many great reviews about Cheeky’s but sadly it was closed for August so I didn’t get to try it this time.

Do:
For such a tiny city I was really pleasantly surprised by how much there was to do in Palm Springs. Don’t get me wrong I was more than content to lie by the pool all day in the blistering sun, but also had the urge to go and do a bit of exploring. Looking back I feel like I had a nice balance of exploring and relaxing.
Aerial Tramway
The aerial tramway takes you all the way to the top of San Jacinto Peak. What makes this different from other gondolas and tramways is that this one rotates 360 degrees on the way up providing stunning views of the Coachella Valley and surrounding mountains. Once at the top there are stunning views to take in, as well as some hikes and all the classic National Parks information and learning centre.
Cabazon Dinosaurs
This place is so random and so completely unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. The concept is really simple; humongous dinosaur statues by the side of the road. We didn’t bother to pay and go in, but just had a quick look around and took a few photo’s. It’s only about a 20minute drive from Palm Springs and I’d definitely recommend it as something quirky to check out.
Salvation Mountain
It’s a bit of a drive (about 90 minutes each way) but in my opinion, so utterly and completely worth it, plus you get to drive past the Salton Sea which is kind of cool. This place is magical and unlike anything I have ever seen before. I first saw Salvation Mountain in the movie Into The Wild and it’s periodically popped up over and over again throughout the years, I’ve had a hankering to go there ever since. I don’t think I could ever do justice to how special this place is, so I will just say that if you ever get a chance to go there, please do so.
Moorten Botanical Garden
I stumbled across this place whilst doing some Pintrest research before leaving, and it actually ended up being one of my favourite things from the whole trip. It is so unique and being able to look at the hundreds of different types of cacti all in one place is really cool. Plus this place is home of the worlds first ‘cactarium’ which is a beautiful greenhouse filled with cacti bathing in muted light!
Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center
We stopped by here on out last morning in Palm Springs, because the bigger Palm Springs Art Museum wasn’t open yet and this place was, plus it was en route to the airport. There is free admission and it’s small enough that you can make your way around in around 30-45 minutes without rushing. This faction of the museum features temporary exhibits, and had some cool mid-century furniture on display whilst we were visiting.

I had such a great time in Palm Springs, and I know my mum did too. Palm Springs is such a bewitching place and is most definitely on the laid back side of things. There was a huge choice of great places to eat, and plenty of things to see and do that were all a bit different to things that you normally find to do when on vacation. To me Palm Springs is the kind of place where you can completely tailor your trip to suit your interests, which is kind of the perfect destination.

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Leah Explores … Harrison Hot Springs

Every year myself and two of my best friends go away for the weekend. It can be a bit challenging as we all work together so there is always a bit of human Tetris involved for us to all get the weekend off but we always manage (well done Laura!) This year we decided that we wouldn’t go anywhere too far away and wanted to stay in Canada, because of the US exchange rate right now. We settled on Harrison Hot Springs, a tiny lakeside town about 90 minutes outside of Vancouver. We’ve all been before, but not for a while which made it fun to rediscover this little gem of a place.

Stay
As I’ve already said Harrison is tiny, there are some small hotels and campsites around, however, most people, ourselves included, opt to stay at the Harrison Hot Springs Resort and Spa. This place reminds me of Kellermans from Dirty Dancing; everything is there and there are definitely some people who do not leave the resort. And to be fair, you don’t really need to. It has a spa, pools, bar, restaurant, shops and a coffee shop. There were some nice touches too, for example they had free afternoon tea out by the pools one day during our time there. Our stay was really enjoyable and I would definitely stay there again.

Do
Harrison is definitely a place for both relaxing and for being active, it’s such a small place that you will inevitably end up doing both. As the name suggests the town is home to some Hot Springs which definitely lend themselves to the relaxing aspect of the trip. On the other hand there are loads of trails around the area as well as abundant water sport options, and a ridiculously fun looking inflatable Total Wipeout style obstacle course out on the lake. Our stay coincided with the annual ‘Sasquatch Days’ which included war canoe races, activities and entertainment, and takes place every June.
We did the easiest hikes called the Miami Bridges trail which is a very leisurely (and flat) 0.5km meander through some trees, past some water and back to the hotel car park. Of course, when in Harrison you have to search out and take a picture with Bigfoot, see below. We also sat by the pool, enjoyed some cocktails and walked from one end of the town to the other, which takes about 10 minutes. It’s also worth taking the short stroll down to the source of the Hot Springs which is located a little way down from the hotel.

Harrison Hot Springs is so close to Vancouver that it makes it a perfect place for either a weekend getaway or even for a day trip. Like I said there isn’t a lot to do but that is the beauty of visiting Harrison. In all honesty we didn’t really push ourselves to do too much exploring, and that was kind of the whole purpose of the trip to relax and escape from the city for a few days. The hotel is so big that for the short time we were there we didn’t feel the need to venture into town for any food or drink. All in all I really enjoyed my few days there and will be back in the future for more relaxing and hiding away from reality, and maybe some more energetic hiking.

More information about things to do and places to stay in Harrison Hot Springs can be found on the Tourism Harrison website. Happy exploring!

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