Palm Desert Vacation

If you’re looking to get away on a relaxing vacation, lounge by the pool, maybe do a little shopping and be in the hot sun, I know just the place….Palm Desert, CA! (Or Palm Springs). My husband and I traveled to Palm Desert in the middle of May with four of our close friends. This was our first trip flying somewhere new since our honeymoon to Thailand back in January 2020, 16 months ago. (Wow that is wild to think about!)

Palm Desert is full of restaurants, colorful shops, swimming pools and many luxury cars! Oh and golf, lots and lots of golf. My husband said the courses here were some of the nicest golf courses he has ever played on.

The six of us stayed at Embarc Palm Desert which was right in the center of everything and close to the main strip, El Paseo Shopping District. The community was right next to a couple of golf courses and had multiple pools to lounge by. This was great for the guys to head to golf in the morning and the girls to go for a swim.

We went out to eat almost every night which was new for us since we hadn’t dined at a restaurant in so long with covid restrictions. My three favorite restaurants from the trip were:

  • Guillermo’s Restaurante – Delicious Mexican food! The chips, salsa, guac, margs…all amazing. I had the chicken fajitas and would recommend.
  • Ristorante Mamma Gina – Incredible homemade pasta and Italian food. They even gave us a complimentary slice of cheesecake for desert!
  • Wilma & Frieda’s Cafe – Everything you can imagine for amazing brunch food and drinks. Short rib eggs benny, churro waffles, home-made buttery flakey giant biscuits with raspberry jam. Yum!

One memorable night was when we out to eat at the The Nest in Palm Springs. We sat out on the patio in 70 degree weather (my favorite temperature) and watched live music while eating dinner. As we were getting ready to leave, one of our friends recognized a woman at the bar from the show: The Real Housewife of Orange Country, Elizabeth Lyn Vargas. My sister-in-law and I went up to her and got a photo. Even though neither of us watch the show, we pretended like we did and pretended like we knew who she was 😀 (She was very friendly and we can now say we had a celebrity spotting).

On our second to last day my husband and I took an early morning drive to Joshua Tree National Park which is about an hour away from Palm Springs. The park is full of beautiful scenery, places to camp, rock climbing and lots of trails to explore. In mid May it was 100+ degrees outside so we didn’t do much hiking but enjoyed driving through the park and taking in all the sites.

About a 20 minute drive from Joshua Tree is a place called Pioneertown which was such a unique town to visit. This historic landmark is an Old Western Town built as a 1940s movie set that has all the Westworld feels. Surround by frontier stables, saloons, a jail, and a church along a dirt road; it truly felt like a step back in time into the wild wild west.  

We were there for 6 nights and like any vacation the time always flies by! Most of our days were spent relaxing in the sunshine, eating out at a bunch of different restaurants and spending time with each other at the resort.

The best part about any vacation is who you spent it with and I had a great time vacationing with my favorite people!

Beautiful Weekend Getaway to Lopez Island

If you live in Washington, chances are you’ve heard of the San Juan Islands. The islands are between Washington State and Vancouver Island, Canada. Surrounded by scenic shorelines, mountain vistas, endless Evergreen Trees and beautiful views. This is definitely a place to visit for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

The three most popular islands are Orcas, (where my husband and I went for our mini honeymoon – read about that trip here), San Juan and Lopez Island. About a 2 hour drive north from Seattle, you’ll head to Anacortes to catch a ferry and will then experience one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the state (seriously, the views are incredible!). I highly recommend making a ferry reservation so you are guaranteed a spot to board. Depending on which island you choose to visit, the ferry lasts about 45 minutes to an hour and a half.

My husband and I initially planned our trip to Lopez Island for our friends wedding. Being the planner that I am, I booked us a place to stay last year when we received the save the date in the mail. Unfortunately due to COVID-19, the wedding was rescheduled. We still had our reservation booked. So we decided…why not? Let’s keep our reservation and go there anyway since we’d never been. We also decided to bring our pup Edgar to make this trip a little family weekend getaway.

We stayed at a quaint Garden Cottage next to Lopez Center. If we ever go back to Lopez Island, I will definitely be booking this spot again! The charming cottage was within walking distance to the beach, the farmers market (which we quickly realized is the place to be Saturday morning) and close to the main restaurants. We spent our time at the cottage sunbathing in the garden and listening to the sounds of nature while drinking mimosas.

When we got off the ferry, the first thing we noticed about Lopez Island is how flat it is. This makes it a great place for bike riders who want to explore the island without a car. You could even do this as a day trip – bring your bike on the ferry no reservation needed, bike around and then catch the ferry back that night. We brought our bikes on this trip but didn’t bike around as much as we wanted since we had Edgar. The one time we brought him with us on a short bike ride, he saw a bunny and zoomed away racing as fast as he could trying to catch it (luckily he didn’t but I did end up chasing after him in a panic).

Lopez Island aka Bunny Island is full of so many bunnies! Tommy and I saw over 100 hopping in the fields, crossing the roads and burring themselves in burrows. Edgar especially enjoyed watching (and chasing) them.

Not only are the roads perfect for bikers and the endless bunnies surrounding the fields great for nature lovers, but Lopez Island also offers many trails with family friendly hikes. Tommy and I went to IceBerg Point in the morning which is a short trail that takes you out to a gorgeous cliff surrounded by water. We even saw a couple of sea lions. In the evening we went to Shark Reef to catch the colorful sunset that lite up the evening sky.

Overall if I had to pick between Orcas and Lopez, I prefer Orcas Island. It felt like there was more energy compared to the Lopez Island vibe, which is definitely more laid back and slow paced. The restaurants and stores close very early. The main grocery store closed at 7:30pm and the ice cream shop closed at 5pm. I don’t know if this is their COVID-19 hours or if this is the norm. There isn’t as much to do on Lopez Island but that is typically the reason people travel there in the first place. To relax and unwind, which we definitely did.

Sunshine, the smell of salt water, sand in our toes, garden flowers, beautiful views and our pup running around in absolute heaven made Lopez Island a great little weekend getaway.