Where to Stay in Palm Springs

palm-springs-hotel-title-image-revisedPalm Springs is so hot (haute) right now.  No, like it’s literally 110 degrees.  And like, literally the most trendy place you can vacation.  I grew up going to the desert to visit family so there is something so natural about being there for me.  There is nothing like that first blast of hot air as you get out the air-conditioned car upon arrival.

Palm-Springs-signLiving in Orange County, Palm Springs is a little over an hour away and super easy to get to.  What once was a place that I went with friends or my husband has turned in to a place our kids like to go as well.  This post is not particularly family focused I simply wanted to share my favorite hotels in Palm Springs.  These are not listed in any particular ranking.  For me, choosing the hotel is based on many factors such as who I am traveling with and the overall mood for the trip.

ace-hotel-palm-springsI love the Ace Hotel.  And yes, so does everyone else.  This is the most hipstery of the bunch but also just really well done.  I have never had anything other than a great time here.  I have stayed her with girlfriend’s, my husband and my family all on separate visits.  The atmosphere is totally casual and relaxed.  The rooms are well-appointed with good amenities.  Concrete floors, slat walls and cool furnishings abound.  If you go, be sure to book a room with a patio.  It gives you the extra space to hang out and have friends over if you go in a group.  For families, they offer an awesome room that has a king size bed and two twins along one wall.  The staff is always friendly and my soul feels good here.  And they play really good music at the pool and serve adult snow cones.  Done.  This is not downtown so you will need to take a car to get to some of the best restaurants.  But there is a great little Koffi shop within walking distance across the street.  You should plan on eating at least on breakfast at King’s Highway, the hotel coffee shop.  They get it right every time.

Riviera-Hotel-Palm-SpringsAnother place I find I return again and again is The Riviera.  This one is a short drive from downtown Palm Springs but on many visits, I never leave the property.  The vibe is all Hollywood Regency here with crystaly chandeliers and amazing patterns all around.  There is something about the beds at this hotel!  I sleep really good when I stay here.  The pool tends to get really crowded on weekends making renting a cabana worth while.  The spa services are fantastic and the on-site restaurants are delicious.  I’ve never taken my kids here but I do see families there every time I go.  Be sure to take special note of where your room is located as all of the buildings look remarkably similar with that graphic wallpaper.  You may find yourself walking in circles, just sure you’ve found your room at 2 o’clock in the morning, only to determine that you haven’t.  Not that this has happened to me…

alcazar-hotel-palm-springsThe Alcazar is newer to town and a nice little place.  It is totally no frills with a slight nod to design.  The rooms are all white with sparse, rustic furniture.  The pool was small and quiet when we stayed here, but that was mid-week.  It might GO OFF! on the weekends.  I love the location.  While you are not directly downtown, you have two amazing restaurants, Cheeky’s and Birba (both run by the hotel) a short corridor away.  There are several other dining options within walking distance making it the perfect place to stay and play with no driving required.  I stayed her with my mom and she enjoyed it very much.  I don’t recall seeing a single handle bar mustache or PBR.  Well maybe at Birba…

Viceroy-PSAh, the Viceroy.  I haven’t stayed here in years!  But I have been back several times to eat at Citron, the on site restaurant.  This hotel also has a bit of that Hollywood Regency vibe.  Everything is on a smaller scale here.  The lobby is tiny and the rooms are comfortable but not especially spacious.  There are two pools on site which get crowded very early during summer, weekend mornings.  If you are with a group, be prepared to get there early or not sit all together in one group.  I have not had any spa services here but several of my friends have fond memories of their time there.  This hotel is within walking distance to the downtown nightlife and restaurants which makes it really fun for going in a group that wants to spend a night on the town.

the-saguaro-palm-springsWho doesn’t love the bold use of color at The Saguaro?  The rooms here did not excite me much.  They were brightly colored but not particularly special.  But the rest of the hotel is awesome.  There are delicious restaurants on site as well as a nice sized pool and bocce ball.  If you feel up to braving the 100 degree weather, you can rent a bike and ride around town (although the hotel is not downtown and the only thing in the area is a shopping center across the street with a grocery store and a few fast food restaurants).  Or hang out in the lobby and play a game of ping-pong.  I love the atmosphere here and their margaritas and guacamole are my fave! I have not brought my kids to stay here yet but totally would.

parker-palm-springs-hotelThere are several other places I have stayed in and around Palm Springs.  And there are several that I really want to check out. The Parker (above) is one of those places.  We have eaten there and played around the grounds, but never stayed overnight.  I hear great things about it.  And if the Jonathan Adler designed lobby is any indication, I know that I would love the rooms.

The Korakia looks ridiculous.  In a good way.  And I would love to check it out this year.  The Colony Palms looks small but fun. Their pool area has an amazing maroon and white striped cabana that is calling my name.  The Hard Rock is taking over what used to be Hotel Zoso in early fall.  You KNOW that is going to be a good time.

For families I also recommend looking in to renting a house with a pool (NOTE:  the north end of town gets crazy windy and can really hamper your outdoor time and make swimming pools pretty chilly).  Having a kitchen makes it really nice for handling meals and snacks with kids.  Looking for a little pampering during your stay?  Hire this private chef to cook you dinner one night!  One of the best meals I’ve ever had.

Where is your favorite place to stay in Palm Springs?


10 Year Anniversary Trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

leopard shoes luggageA few weeks ago my husband and I celebrated our 10-year anniversary in Cabo San Lucas.  We knew we wanted to go to a beach and it needed to be super easy to get to.  A neighbor suggested the Dreams Resort, an all-inclusive destination, and we were sold.  The flight was just 2 hours from Orange County, CA and which is the perfect amount of time for a flight for my opinion.

Cabo-AirportIt has been YEARS since I have been to Mexico.  Growing up we took a vacation to Baja every summer and the last time I had been to Cabo was in elementary school.  Stepping off the plane, in what appeared to be the middle of the desert, I couldn’t help but grab my camera and start taking pictures.  Note to self: never do that again.  Someone rushed at me immediately to tell me to stop.  He was kind of mean.  And I instantly started sweating thinking about ending up in Mexican jail.  I imagined I wouldn’t find too many margaritas in there.  And then there was a baby mouse running around part of the airport.  And remind me to do a separate post about how to exit the airport without being harassed by people trying to sell you tours…

lobby-and-view-at-the-dreams-resort-los-cabosThis picture does not do the lobby and entryway justice.  When you first pull up to the front of the hotel, you see the gorgeous blue water through these enormous arches.  This picture above was taken on our way out to go home and it had been dreary and rainy all morning, hence the green astro turf stripe.  It made me want to go put a swimsuit on and jump in the ocean.

our-room-at-Dreams-all-inclusive-resort-Cabo-San-LucasOur room was awesome and we had a good-sized balcony and table where we could hang out.

dreams resort CaboThis was our view.  It was AWESOME!  The weather was pretty near perfect.  Almost every day was warm without being too humid.  Except for the day before we went home.  I thought I was going to die.  It was SO humid and I was SO sweaty and it made me cranky.  So we swam up to the bar and that made it better.  I didn’t get a good picture of the pool but you can sort of see it through those palm trees above.  The pool was HUGE.  It had built-in tables and benches, and infinity edge that overlooked the ocean and a nice little swim up bar.

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August 15 : Where to eat in Orange County, CA #IGTravelThursday

Where to eat in Orange County, CA You may remember from last Thursday that I started a new travel feature via a linky party with Skimbaco.  I never used to think of myself as a travel blogger but when I go through my year and my instagram feed, I get around.

Today I wanted to share my favorite spots to eat at in Orange County, CA.  If you are coming from out-of-town, I think these are some of the best places in my county.  And if you are from here, well, then you KNOW just how amazing these places are.

Starting from the top left, moving right:

Baskin Robbins : Yes it is a nationwide chain, but sometimes you just need a consistently good ice cream sundae.

Dave and Busters at the Outlets at Orange (previously The Block) : I recently got to eat a ton of their new menu and it is SO good!  Then go play the games with your adult friends and act like kids or take your kids and watch them play in pure joy.  Get the chocolate fondue for dessert.

Lucca Cafe : My new favorite restaurant.  Small plates for sharing allow you to try a number of dishes.  The food is great, the wine is delicious and the atmosphere is easy and relaxed.  I can’t wait to try their brunch!

Paul Martin’s at The Irvine Spectrum : A great place for a good burger and a yummy drink.  With the entrance being on the outside of the Spectrum, it seems like it is less crowded at peak times than some of the other restaurants.  Which is great for me since I really enjoy the food and the service is always great.

Sidecar Doughnuts : See my post on these delicious gourmet donuts and then go grab a few dozen for yourself.

Cucina Enoteca at The Irvine Spectrum : An absolute favorite.  I have had many a lunch on the patio with friends and date nights here.  My favorite is the Gorgonzola Walnut Mousse served with toast, the Giant Meatball and their Moscow Mules.

In-N-Out : This is the first place the locals take their out-of-town guests.  Good quality hamburgers and friendly service in the iconic red and white retro-ish buildings.

Mesa at The Camp : This is one of my all time favorite restaurants in Orange County.  I’ve been lucky enough to try most things on the menu and they are all spectacular.  My fave appetizer is the Tempura Green Beans, my fave salad is the Heirloom Apple Salad and you should totally get the Short Ribs for your main course.  The desserts are down played here but have been some of the best I’ve had in my life and change pretty frequently.  They favor artisanal cocktails and the atmosphere is truly something special.  With a retractable roof, video projection system and live music most nights of the week, this is something that must be experienced.

Five Crowns in Corona Del Mar : See my tasting menu experience and then go check it out for yourself.  I’m a huge fan of the chef, Greg Harrison, and General Manager, Jim Colombo, who have updated not only the menu but attitude of the restaurant and dining experience.  For sure try the Pimm’s Cup and let the staff guide your ordering for a truly memorable night.  Also check out their gastro-pub next door, Side Door.

Now, go follow my friends Lala and Nicole and see what their posting for #IGTravelThursday this week.  And follow along with some of the organziers :  House of Anais, Hines Sight, and Luxury Travel Mom.


Drinkwel is the Vitamin for People who Drink

*I asked to review this product because I really hoped it would work for me.  Drinkwel graciously sent me some to try.  All opinions are mine.

drinkwel the hangover helper

Dearest Drinkwel,

I love you.  Will you be my best friend forever?


I am not a lush.  But I like a drink or two.  Especially in summer when I’m on vacation without my kids.  BUT!  I get the worst hang overs.  So when I came across Drinkwel online, I felt like I needed to try it.  During the summer I usually take several mini trips.  This year Drinkwel came along with me to my girl’s trips in Scottsdale and Palm Springs.  And it will go with me and my husband to Mexico in a few weeks.  And I’ve used it several times in town.  The verdict?  Consider me a huge fan.

hangover helperSo how do you use it?  Well, it’s a supplement that helps how your body handles the toxins from alcohol.  You take 3 capsules with lots of water before you drink and then another 3 with lots of water before you go to bed.  I’m not going to get all technical and tell you how it works, you can check that out over on their website.  All I know is that when I took it, I felt GREAT the next day.  I want to disclose that I was not hammered on any occasion so I can’t say how it works if someone were to REALLY indulge.


This doesn’t make me feel like I should just go ahead and drink way more than I usually would.  But it gives me a little reassurance that the next day I won’t be relegated to bed.  Or the couch with kid’s asking me to do ridiculous things like make them breakfast.

Sharon + Drinkwel = BFF 4EVA

There are several ways to buy Drinkwel including the 90 capsule bottle and also travel packs that are super easy to take on a night out with you.  Have you tried it?  I would love to know what you think!

*All opinions are mine. As always.  Forever and ever.  Amen.

BFF Playdate at Knott’s Berry Farm

*I’d like to disclose that Knott’s gave me two tickets to the park and early admission.  The opinions and fun times are all mine.  It’s ok to be jealous.

knotts boardwalk roller coastersLast weekend I was invited by Knott’s Berry Farm to come and see their expanded Boardwalk area and the newly refurbished Log Ride.  While I usually bring my family to these events, this time I decided to change it up a bit.  I barely get to see my best friend with all our kids (7 between us!), activities, family obligations, etc.  So I thought that she and I could use a day of fun at an amusement park.  No kids.  Just us.  How rad is that?!

t on log ride at knottsT and I got up early and headed to Knott’s.  We ate a quick breakfast and then headed straight to the Log Ride.

updated log ride at knotts berry farmThe Log Ride opened in 1969 and helped to cement Knott’s as America’s first theme park.  The multi million dollar refurbishment kept all the old charm but just freshened it up.  It looks brand new while looking pretty much the same as before.  Does that make sense to anyone but me?  This has always been one of my favorite rides.

xcelerator at knotts berry farmWe decided that we would try to ride as many of the 5 rated attractions (5= an aggressive thrill ride) as we could before we had to get back to real life.  I was pretty devastated when Knott’s took out the Soap Box Racers and replaced it with the Xcelerator.  But I decided to give it a ride anyway.  While the Log Ride is certainly a thrill ride, this was our first legit roller coaster of the day.  This thing was FAST!  And tall and it goes upside down.  It was crazy awesome.  I had tears running out of my eyes (I wasn’t crying it was just cold I swear!) and was a little afraid that one of my contacts was going to blow out of my eyes.  It was THAT fast.  And so fun!  We both screamed like little girls.  I totally want to go on this again.  Sooner rather than later.

having fun at knotts berry frams boardwalkNext we checked out the Boardwalk area.  We rode the new Coast Rider.  After the Xcelerator we pretty much scoffed at this ride.  We were really snide and made comments like, “how cute.”  But it showed us.  It starts out all nice and then whips you around the first turn high above Western Ave.  T and I both may have let out a very loud “SH*T!” at the exact same time.  It was a pretty fun little ride and perfect for those who are tall enough to ride but are not very experienced roller coaster riders.  Then we headed over to Riptide, another level 5er.  The Boardwalk area is a great place for kids who are too big for Camp Snoopy or need a bigger thrill.  There are still height requirements (like 44″ to ride alone or 36″ plus an accompanying responsible person for the Surfside Gliders) but older kids would LOVE this area I think!

safety signs on roller coastersGrowing up I don’t remember seeing all these warning signs before riding each ride.  You look at things a little differently as a grown up.  I guarantee you that all of these rules were followed.  We held on all right.  There was no chance we were going to raise our hands in the air like we just didn’t care.  Once the park opened to the public it got a little crowded and we had to wait in some lines.  This was the perfect opportunity for T and I to chat and catch up.  There were no distraction, except some ill-chosen fashions and we were able to really enjoy each other’s company.  I had missed that!

cowboy fries at knotts berry farmAfter riding the Silver Bullet (OMG!  LOVE THIS ONE TOO! Except I irrationally felt like my feet were going to get chopped off because they just kind of dangle as you fly through the park) and Ghost Rider (which I hated.  It should be called Brain Dislodger.) we decided to grab some food.  There are tons of choices throughout the park.  And as two girlfriends do when out to lunch without their children we contemplated having some day wine.  But Spurs Chop house wasn’t open so we settled on some cowboy fries.  Totally going to make these at home.  So delicious!

funnel cake at knotts berry farmWe wrapped lunch up with a funnel cake.  Duh.  After those amazing fries we really weren’t able to get through much of the funnel cake.  A fella that looked like he was in high school saw that we were about to throw a large portion of funnel cake away and asked if he could have it.  Even though I had already put our paper trash on top of it.  T and I were so close to mom-ing him, but we caught ourselves.  That is some other mother’s problem.

la revolucion at knotts berry farmAfter lunch we headed to Fiesta Village because I had seen La Revolucion from our ride on the Supreme Scream (I have never heard myself scream that loud before).  T was nervous since we had just stuffed ourselves but I was pretty confident that we wouldn’t barf.  I was right.  And it was awesome!

fun day for adults at knotts berry farmIn the early afternoon we had to call it a day and head back to our families.  I know that there are tons of family attractions at Knott’s but I have to say that being there with a grown up friend was so fun.  I’ve also talked to my husband about heading back at the end of summer with some other adult friends for a fun afternoon of coaster riding.  Who’s with me?

Sorry for the iphone photos.  I decided it was unwise to take my legit camera on roller coasters.

*I received two tickets to Knott’s Berry Farm.  Now is the perfect time to head to Knott’s to check out the new Log  Ride and the expanded Boardwalk area.  All opinions are my own.