A Fun Palm Springs Winter Vacation

Palm Springs, CaliforniaI don't know about you, but I hate cold weather! Austin doesn't get that cold in January but cold enough to drive us out of state in search of warmer weather, golf, and more fun activities. So this year, we decided to head to Palm Springs, California for 3 weeks. Some good friends from Dallas, who stay in Palm Springs for 6 weeks during the winter, invited us to stay with them, which helped make our decision very easy!

A couple days after a fantastic Christmas with family and friends we hit the road for Palm Springs which is 1274 miles from Austin and 18 hours and 55 minutes and 32 seconds - and that's without food, gas, and pee pee stops, which we make a lot of! Since we hate long drives, we planned on taking 4 days to get there and see and do some fun stuff along the way.

Chuys in Van HornOur first stop was Van Horn, Texas - seven hours from Austin and in the middle of nowhere with a population that's declined to around 2000 hardy souls. There is nothing to see and do that we could discover in Van Horn so we ate and slept and hit the road early the next morning. However, we did have a good Mexican meal at Chuy's (one of the three best restaurants in Van Horn) and it's well know for when John Madden (the Oakland Raiders football coach and sports caster) stopped in his bus (he never flew) to visit his friend. John now has a dining room at Chuy's dedicated to him, a mural with his bus, lots of pictures of him and some fellow Oakland Raiders, and a table in a corner with the only table cloth in the restaurant!

The next morning we set off for Bisbee, Arizona, for New Years Eve. Another boring six hours of driving, but it was worth driving an extra hour to get to Bisbee, which is a very quaint old mining town loaded with bars, some restaurants, and unique shops. Our hotel room overlooked Brewery Gulch which in its heyday in 1890 boasted nearly 50 saloons and was considered one of the liveliest spots in the west. Historic taverns still retain the rich character and boom-town flavor of this period as do the narrow streets that run up and down the hills through town and past colorful and unique period homes. We had a fun New Year's Eve bar hopping to six different taverns - fun lively people and some good music. With a fuzzy head, the next morning we enjoyed a tour of the Queen Mine. You can read more about our fun visit to Bisbee.

New Years Eve in Bisbee, AZQueen Mine TourBisbee Bar

Downtown TombstoneRestaurant  in TombstoneOne the way out of Bisbee we stopped at the historic town of Tombstone for lunch. Tombstone was a rough and tumble silver-mining town made famous by the 1881 O.K. Corral gunfight and legends like Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday. The main street and all the buildings are preserved, the road is still dirt and home to gun fight reenactments, fun bars and saloons, stage coach rides, plus inns and restaurants that date from the 1900s. We wondered through the "Boot Hill" graveyard, toured the old Bird Cage Theater (referred to by the New York Times in 1882 as the wildest, wickedest night spot between Basin Street and the Barbary Coast), enjoyed lunch and music in Big Nose Kate's Saloon, and watched Wyatt Earp and Doc Holiday in a daily reenactment of the famous gunfight at O.K. Corral. Tombstone is truly a historical American landmark and an excellent example of our 1880 western heritage.

Next stop was Buckeye, Arizona for a round of golf the following morning at Verrado Golf Club's Founders Course on the outskirts of Phoenix. Wow, what an outstanding course that plays through the foothills of the White Tank Mountains and meanders through the desert filled with ancient saguaro cacti, old growth Ironwoods, and plenty of wildlife plus unparalleled views of the Phoenix valley. Read our review of The Founders Course - a must play if you're in the area.

Founders Course at Verrado Golf Club

And we finally arrived in Palm Springs and over the next fifteen days we:

    • went to a different bar/restaurant every day between 3 and 5 PM for happy hour with appetizers, live music, and dominos (by the end of the fifteen days I swore I would never drink again) - some of the bars included: Smoking Burger, Bongo Johnny's, Kaiser Grill, Tommy Bahamas Grill, Moxie's, Oscars (a very lively gay bar), Village Pub, and others
    • after apps we still had to go to dinner and try a new place each night, we enjoyed some good grub at Ruben & Ozzies (eclectic), Blue Coyote (Tex Mex), LuLus (California Bistro with happy hour prices on food and drinks in the bar until closing), Rooster & The Pig (hip Vietnamese fusion), Village Pub (bar food), Shanghi Reds (seafood), Fuzion Five (Vietnamese), Rio Azul (Mexican), Sam's Place (Italian), and more - needless to say with all the apps, drinks, and meals I gained ten pounds and was ready for a home cooked meal

Beer Palm Springs Barbeer flight

    • took several hikes, the most enjoyable of which were the Araby Trail and the North Lykken Trail with great views of downtown Palm Springs, the desert, wildlife, and Bob Hope's and Steve McQueen's home - unfortunately, a missed step caused an unintentional meeting with a cactus
    • enjoyed riding bikes throughout Palm Springs and past beautiful lush golf courses, big homes, spectacular colorful landscaping, unique christmas decorations, and through a desert canyon

biking by a golf courseChristmas decorations in Palm SpringsAraby trail

    • walked the streets and window shopped, toured an art festival, visited the Indian Indian Wells Tennis CenterWells Tennis Garden Center (home to several big tennis tournaments including the BNP Paribas Open), and stopped by the Casino to loose a few bucks
    • went to two very good films during the Palm Springs Film Festival - Heroic Losers (struggling residents of a small Argentinean town are bilked out of their life savings on the eve of Argentina's economic collapse, they set out to recover their money by any means necessary in this fast-paced caper comedy) and BabyTeeth about when cancer-stricken 16-year-old Milla (Eliza Scanlen) falls in love with troubled drug addict Moses, she finds the taste of first love often comes with bitterness, and her parents quickly realize they face an impossible choice in this quirky, fresh debut
    • played golf at two outstanding golf courses both of which have hosted the Bob Hope Classic and gotten several accolades - SilverRock Resort and Classic Club

    Classic Club Golf CourseSilverrock Resort

    In the middle of our second week in Palm Springs, we drove an hour and a half to visit the quaint small town of Borrego Springs in the middle of the 600,000 acre Anza Borrego Desert. We enjoyed a two night stay in a unique resort, De Anza Del Zorro Desert Resort & Spa; played two superb golf courses one of which was rated the #3 Best Resort Course in California just behind Pebble Beach: enjoyed two fun hikes one of which was through a narrow slot canyon; ate too much at a couple good restaurants; lost three games of pool; and saw several of the 130 life size metal sculptures (ranging from a miner to wild horses to serpents to dinosaurs and turtles) spread through out Borrego Springs desert. To learn more, read one or both of these articles - De Anza Del Zorro Resort and a an article about a previous visit to Borrego Springs.

    Rams Hill Golf CourseLa Casa Del ZorroOne of the metal sculpturs

    All to soon it was time to start heading home. To break up the trip, our first stop was Buckeye to play the Victory Course at Verrado Golf Club - loved it, very scenic, excellent conditions, and some fun and challenging holes. I left the desert 6 of my new golf balls!

    Victory Course at Verrado Golf Club

    After golf we drove to Tucson to visit some good friends who I've known since 6th grade and played golf at El Conquistador's Canada Course - read our review to learn why we rated this course a 9 out of 10!

    El Conquistador Canada Course

    The next morning, with tears in our eyes, 10 extra pounds, a sun burned face, several pounds of bunker sand in the car, an empty bottle of Advil, and a loss 10 golf balls, we got in the car and started the 13 hour drive home!

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    Texas Outside has been alive & well since 1996 - that's ancient by today's internet standards! Texas Outside was originally developed by Lone Star Internet which is an Austin based web development company with an excellent reputation & client base. In March of 2006, we purchased Texas Outside & made a commitment to add new, exciting, & informative content on Texas outdoor activities & fun things to see & do.

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