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Palm Desert Restaurants and Activities?

Discussion in 'Marriott Vacation Club' started by JIMinNC, Oct 10, 2018.

  1. JIMinNC

    JIMinNC TUG Member

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    We'll be making our first trip to Palm Desert in a little over a month, staying at DSV I.

    For all the Palm Desert veterans out there, would love to have some restaurant and activity recommendations. Already notionally planned to do are Joshua Tree National Park, at least one round of golf, and the Palm Springs Air Museum. Any other "must do" items? We like scenery, great photo ops, and interesting local sites.

    As far as restaurants, where should we plan to dine? Preference would be locally-owned restaurants/chains instead of national chains (since we we can eat at them anywhere). When we vacation we tend to like nice, somewhat higher end, but maybe not always "absolute highest-end" spots - so upper mid-tier to upper tier spots would be our focus. We like all kinds of food - steaks, seafood, Italian, southwestern, Mexican, Asian, etc, - but like to sample the best local styles/dishes when traveling when possible. One dinner will be our 26th wedding anniversary, so we would love some recommendations of a signature spot for that meal. Within reason, cost isn't an issue for that night - a great atmosphere and great food is the priority.

    Thanks for any ideas.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018
  2. Luvtoride

    Luvtoride TUG Member

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    Jim, you will love Palm Desert! We own at DSV II and miss going there (was last there 5 years ago). Must do activity in addition to what you listed include the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway up to the top of the mountain. Amazing change in climate and great photo opportunities.
    Also, Thursday night street fair in Palm Springs is a neat event with lots of great vendors and entertainment.
    The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is also a fun place to spend a half day (morning before it gets too hot).

    As for restaurants I will give you two of our favorites:
    - Castelli’s Italian restaurant is a classic (and classy) restaurant with great service and excellent food. You will enjoy it!
    - John Henry’s -here’s my Yelp review from 2012...

    12/4/2012
    This was my wife's turn to pick a restaurant in Palm Springs/ Palm Desert area and she sure picked a winner! What a diamond in the rough off the beaten path (ok combining cliches) and a thoroughly enjoyable evening for our party of 6. Everyone enjoyed their entrees with only 2 duplicates ordered. Highlights included the beet salad, chop chop salad, Rack of lamb, macadamia crusted sole and roasted chicken with apricot sauce. These were all delicious and most dishes came with excellent mashed potatoes and sliced glazed carrots. Desserts were also worth trying. We didn't have the apple pie ala mode, but the ice creams and rice pudding were great!

    Eating on the nicely laid out patio area with heaters ( not really needed on this unseasonably warm night) with efficient professional service made the atmosphere special. Any special requests were accommodated. The clientele was diverse and not all "seniors" on the night we were there. Also, the prices were quite reasonable. One of the best and least expensive dinners we've had during our vacation in the desert! A definite must try!

    Have a great time. I’m sure others will give you more great recommendations!


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
    Superchief likes this.
  3. VacationForever

    VacationForever Tug Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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    We have a few favorite restaurants, French Corner Cafe - absolute favorite lunch/salad place where we usually end up there 5 days out of a week, Koutouki and Catalan come to mind. Our friends recently strongly recommended Guillermo's and we plan to check it out when we will be there in January. Mitch's is a high end/price restaurant and while food was fine we found the food forgettable for the price.
     
  4. clifffaith

    clifffaith TUG Member

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    Gotta go to Sherman's for Jewish deli food. Fabulous brisket and cabbage rolls, marvelous cakes -- my favorites are the San Jacinto cake and the cannolis. Two locations in the area.
     
  5. VacationForever

    VacationForever Tug Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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    Oh... I forgot about Babe's BBQ Restaurant. If you like BBQ ribs, that is a good place too.
     
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  6. Steve Fatula

    Steve Fatula TUG Member

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    For the wedding anniversary, I would go to our favorite but definitely pretty high end - http://www.levallauris.com

    You will not be disappointed, but bring money!

    If you want to see and learn more about the area, take a Jeep Tour such as these: https://red-jeep.com. If you like movies and actors / actresses, take a "Hollywood" tour in Palm Springs. For shopping, definitely go to El Paseo.

    There are literally more things to do there than you can imagine. We've been going for over 20 years now and still find more things.
     
  7. JIMinNC

    JIMinNC TUG Member

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    Thanks for the link. Looks like a great menu and wine list.
     
  8. Steve A

    Steve A Tug Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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  9. cp73

    cp73 TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    Jim, here is my list. I go out there all the time. Be sure to go to Sunnylands. You must make reservations and buy your tickets now. Also I have enjoyed the tour of famous homes in palm springs. Indian Canyons is also a great place for photos and hiking. I was just there again last week. Its only about 20 minutes from the resort. Tons of good places to eat. Other have suggested many of them on my list.



    Hiking:

    Araby Trail right off the main highway 111 - Its about 20 minutes from the resort - can be done in about an hour to however far you want to go. This hike gives you a nice view of the valley and it goes right by Bob Hopes house which is unique and makes this hike worth it. I usually stop slightly above his house but the trail goes on and on. If you take it just to his house its about 1 - 1.5 hours round trip. Bring a water bottle. Great view of the valley.


    Indian Canyons - this is about 30 minutes from the resort in Palm Springs. Great place with lots of places to hike. Its on an Indian reservation so there is an admission charge. Its pretty unique and worth seeing. You can spend as long as you like there. I would say a minimum of 2-3 hours. They do have a concession stand inside, or you could pack a lunch and bring in. Plenty of trails to hike. First when you enter go to the canyon on the right. There is a nice stream you will follow along the trail which is shaded for half of it. After that easy 30 minute hike drive to the other main canyon. There is a snack/gift shop there. Take the path down to see the canyon with all the palm trees and walk/hike from there.


    Joshua National Park - about 1 hour from resort. Its huge and becomes an all day event. Take lunch with you and drinks/cooler. No food sold in Park; outside they have some fast food places miles from main areas of the park. Very unique for a National Park. Enter park from main entrance. That is the side where fast food restaurants, gas, & concessions. There is nothing near the south entrance except desert.


    Palm Spring Tram - in December- February likely to have snow at top. Check weather before you go. About 30 degress cooler at top. All day event. In Palm Springs area. Steep tram ride to top. Fantastic view from top and lots of easy trails to hike at top. Also they have a restaurant where you can eat. Once you get to top your in the forest. Its interesting going from desert to mountain forest in about 20 minutes.


    You can get additional information on all these hikes & places on-line. The front desk may also have information on them.



    Other things to see and do:

    · Sat & Sun they have a flea market at the College of the Desert in Rancho Mirage. During the summer its very limited due to the heat.

    · On Thursday nights they have a Villagefest on the main drag in Palm Springs; Arts, crafts, entertainment. Interesting way to spend a couple hours walking around in the evening.

    · The Living Desert – good for kids; a zoo with the desert animals. Avoid on hot days in summer.

    · The McCallum Theater – check the schedule to see who/what is playing; they have all sorts of entertainment, nice place to go see an event. Very casual dress.

    · Indian Casinos’ – there are a few Indian Casinos that offer gambling. There is a nice one right off the freeway in Rancho Mirage and another large one in downtown Palm Springs. There are a few others.

    · Shopping – On El Paseo there are high end shopping stores. Nice to walk around and restaurants in that area. There is also a Costco and Walmart near the resort.

    · Outlet Mall in Cabazon. You will drive by the outlet mall on your way into Palm Desert from Los Angeles. Its about 25 miles before you get there. You will see it. Lots of shops by all the major retailers. Lots of deals. If your into shopping you could spend most the day here. Not my favorite place.

    · Sunnylands Annenberg Estate – check out on internet. Huge estate/retreat. Many Presidents have stayed here. Reservations are needed for tour. Historical place. Very interesting and would highly recommend. However tough to get into without reservations way in advance. Its close to the Marriott in Rancho Mirage.

    · Tour of Movie Stars Homes in Palm Springs – did this tour and really enjoyed it. There are a couple of companies that offer this bus tour.


    · GOLF-There are two golf courses at Desert Springs. There maybe a special rate if your staying there. If you call they can tell you that. Shadow Ridge which is about 2 miles away has a 18 hole course. There are many big tournaments played at the courses in the desert. Check out http://www.palmsprings.com/golfyou can see all the courses and pricing. Its a golfers paradise. PGA West has six championship courses where big tournaments are played in March.


    · Tennis – There are several courts at DSV for tennis. I believe DSV I is no charge. If you’re a tennis fan be sure to drive by on Hwy111 & Washington the stadium where the BNP Baribas Tennis Tournament is played in March. It the 5thlargest ranked tennis tournament in the world. In fact the owner, Larry Ellison of Oracle, wants to make it one of the four majors or the fifth. Already it draws more than Australian and French Opens. And the stadium is the second largest tennis stadium in the world. Only second to Arthur Ash stadium at the US Open in New York.


    · Pickleball – fastest growing sport in the country. No pickleball at the JW yet, just a matter of time. Pickleball Nationals will be played at Indian Wells tennis facility (see above) beginning in November 2018 and for the next 5 years to start. Construction of pickleball courts to begin in 2018 after tennis tournament concludes. It should be a real winner and the nicest facility in the country. Can’t wait to see it.


    · Movie theaters – there are lots of movie theaters in the area with all the current releases playing. Also an artsy theater at the mall (Monterey and Highway 111) near the resort with movies. There is also an international film festival in Palm Springs in January.



    Favorite restaurants


    Guerrimos at El Paseo (Palm Desert)- nice mexican food; best in the desert in my opinion, and I love Mexican food. Get Carnitas About $20 a person; best Carnitas ever. They also have a rolled shrimp ring which is excellent and unique. Don’t recall the exact name of it, but ask, its popular. Excellent Margaritas and guacamole and chips. Order either of those and you wont go wrong.


    Las Casuelas – they have three Mexican restaurants in the desert areas. If you eat at the one in Rancho Mirage eat outside on the patio. There is one in downtown Palm Springs that gets a lot of people activity. Food is ok, typical California Mexican food.


    Jackalope Ranch in Indio - eat at the bar area outside on patio....worth seeing; Your going here for the great atmosphere sitting outside. If you eat inside the restaurant is more expensive; go for the outside bar area you can pretty much get same food just a lot less expensive. Food is good; December could be a little too cool for the patio. They have misters in the warmer months. Summer too hot for sitting outside but you can sit in the bar area inside.


    Babes barbecue at the River (Entertainment Center) in Rancho Mirage - excellent barbecue; get the baby back or beef ribs; Many other good restaurants also at the River, such as Cheesecake Factory, Yardhouse, and Flemings.


    Gorilla Burger - great hamburgers - on Country Club very close to resort. Same strip mall as Pa Pa Dans & Shermans. As seen on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives (DDD) in 2017.


    Papa Dans Italian - good Italian reasonably priced; excellent pizza. Same shopping center as Gorilla Burger. They also will deliver to the resort; We have had pizza delivered when we don't want to go out. Also nice to eat there. Reasonably priced.


    Sherman’s Deli; been here for lunch but they also serve breakfast and dinner. NY style deli. Excellent pastrami and roast beef. Worth going to. Pricey for sandwiches but excellent. They also have a location in Palm Springs. Also on DDD in 2017.


    Tylers in Palm Springs – great hamburger place in downtown Palm Springs. A favorite of locals and tourists. Right in the heart of downtown. Open for lunch. Be sure to have some potatoe salad.


    Zobo and Meesters – breakfast and lunch place located in Cathederal City. Excellent barbeque on weekend. Recently on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives in 2017


    Wilma and Freedas – great breakfast and lunch place on El Paseo. Also on DDD in 2017. Always seems to have a long wait. Go at off times to avoid wait. Great food and bakery.


    Outback Steak House - chain restaurant on Highway 111. Steaks reasonably priced.


    Bills pizza in Palm Desert on Hwy 111 and Palm Springs. Excellent pizza, get one of their specialty pizzas.


    Castelli’s – great Italian in Palm Desert on Hwy 111. Lots of locals go here. More pricy than Papa Dan’s.


    Si Bon – my favorite new restaurant as of last week (3/18). Great Belgin food. Close to resort at corner of Country Club and Monterey next to Albertsons. Really good. Look up on Yelp for more info. Probably highest rated in desert.


    If you want high end; there is Ruth Chris, Mortons, Maestos, Flemings, and many other high end chain steak houses. In addition they have a few unique to the desert such as LG’s, Chop House & Sullivans. Been to Sullivans several times, my favorite is the rib eye and banana foster.


    We went to LGs (12/17) for New Years and were really impressed (La Quinta) We had a party of 8 and everyone loved it. Steaks were fantastic and the restaurant had lots of rooms with great seating. Its now our favorite steak restaurant in the desert.



    I think you will really like Palm Desert and the surrounding area...Its a great place. Let me know if you have any other questions.
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018
    susan diane, ricki999 and Luvtoride like this.
  10. BJRSanDiego

    BJRSanDiego TUG Member

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    I go to Palm Desert two or three times a year. So, I have been enjoying the list of restaurants presented - - some are familiar and some are not. So, I'll suggest some others...

    For my last anniversary we went to the Cliffhouse restaurant in La Quinta. It is higher end but good value for the $. Check out their on-line restaurant. Also, tell them that you are celebrating an anniversary and you are likely to get either an appetizer and/or a dessert (often a Hula Pie).

    Mama Gina's Italian on El Paseo is always fun. Good food at good prices. If you are hungry and want a bigger meal go the the restaurant part. If you want a slightly smaller portion go to the bar area. Prices are quite reasonable.

    Morton's is high end in the restaurant but if you aren't interested in a 3000 calorie high end meal, just go to the bar for "bar bites" during happy hour. 3 small filets for $8, wedge of lettuce for $7. We usually get out of there for perhaps $40-50 including drinks. Ruth Chris' during happy hour (bar) is quite reasonable.

    I have hiked in Joshua tree a few dozen times. There are a lot of interesting hikes in the park of various levels of difficulty and time. I love walking back to some of the old gold mining sites. Silver Bee (perhaps 1.5 mi round trip), Lost horse (3-4 miles IIRC), Mastedon mine, etc. Another hike that is fun is the 1000 palms hike. Depending on where you go, it can be between 1/2 mile and perhaps 3 or 4 miles. Pretty easy and you see water seeping out of the San Andreas fault.
     
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  11. TravelTime

    TravelTime TUG Member

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  12. VacationForever

    VacationForever Tug Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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    We like the Palm Springs Thursday night market. Lots of fun stuff to see and our favorite Peruvian artist, Juan Quevedo, sells his wares there... seriously great art. His artwork is on display in museums all over the world and in the White House. We own 9 of his pieces, all bought at the Thursday Night Market.

    You can see some of his work here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/32858357@N04/sets/72157610408042305/
     
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  13. mjm1

    mjm1 TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    Jim, others have shared a lot of great ideas.

    I would second Mamma Gina's at 73-705 El Paseo in Palm Desert. As mentioned, the bar menu is good and less expensive and the full restaurant is also very good. For very casual Mexican food we like Mamacita's at 74991 Velie Way, Palm Desert. It is very close to DSV1, toward Highway 111. It is very casual and is located in an area that has auto repair shops, etc. The food is very good and is reasonably priced. We also like Acqua California Bistro in At the River, which is located at 71-800 Highway 111 in Rancho Mirage. They have a great 3 course meal for less than $20 and the food is very good. The early bird pricing is from 3-5pm. At the River is an outdoor shopping mall.

    Another activity if you like war history is to visit General Patton's Museum in Indio. The address is 62510 Chiriaco Rd, Indio.

    Have a great time.

    Best regards.

    Mike
     
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  14. JIMinNC

    JIMinNC TUG Member

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    Thanks for all the replies so soon!

    I looked at some of the web sites/menus and, so far, the ones that intrigue me the most are Le Vallauris, Il Corso, Castelli's, and Guillermo’s Mexican Restaurante. Jackalope Ranch also looks like it might be a fun, unique place to go. Koutouki and Catalan might work if we decide we want to try something Mediterranean or Greek. Catalan's menu especially reminds me of some of the places we dined in Spain last month.

    Keep 'em coming!
     
  15. jlp879

    jlp879 TUG Review Crew: Expert TUG Member

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    I am a huge fan of all things mid-century modern and Palm Springs is the place for all that. If you have any interest in art and architecture from that era, you are in luck because over the next couple weeks is the fall preview for Modernism week.

    The main Modernisn week happens in the spring, but this gives a taste of what the area offers.
    https://tickets.modernismweek.com/e/fall-preview/
     
  16. b2bailey

    b2bailey TUG Member

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    Thanks for this link.
    I live in the desert anf had not realized all the tour offerings available.

     
  17. gnipgnop

    gnipgnop TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    What is the best tour company to use? In particular the "Tour of Movie Star Homes and Joshua Tree National Park".
     
  18. JMSH

    JMSH TUG Member

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    I did not read through all of the reply's but just a couple of suggestions; Arnold Palmers restaurant in LaQuinta, The Vue restaurant at Indian Wells golf course for Sunday brunch and Palm Springs Village Fest/ street festival on Thursday nights.
     
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  19. b2bailey

    b2bailey TUG Member

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    To the OP, lots of good info here. If you want more, I suggest you start a thread under travel rather than specifically under Marriott. Also, just to confirm you plan to rent a car while you are here. Lots of ground to cover.
     
  20. JIMinNC

    JIMinNC TUG Member

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    Thanks for all the great advice. It helped us have a great week at DSV I.

    We played golf twice - once at the Desert Springs Palm course and once at the somewhat easier Cimarron Golf Club. Desert Springs was tough for golfers of our ability, but it was still a very enjoyable round on a well-manicured and beautiful course. Cimarron is not quite up to Desert Springs standards in course condition and service level, but it was a little cheaper, and the somewhat less penal layout meant a score more like what I shoot at home!

    We spent a day at Joshua Tree, a day at the Palm Springs Air Museum and downtown Palm Springs, went to Palm Springs Street Fest on Thursday night, and spent a couple of days enjoying the sunshine and 75-80 degree temperatures just relaxing at the Palmeras pool over at DSV II. We also went over to the JW one evening after dinner for a drink in their atrium bar and a ride around the property in one of their boats. We wanted to do the Sunnylands Annenberg Estate as some had suggested, but the estate was closed for a private event for all but one day of our stay, and tours for that one day were already booked by the time we looked for tickets a couple weeks before the trip. We also passed on the Tramway for this trip, since the temperatures at the top were in the 30's and low 40's in the daytime. Seemed like a better thing to do during a warmer season.

    The restaurant recommendations were the most helpful. We had a great meal every night.

    - Guillermo's Restaurante - the best Mexican food we've had outside of Mexico

    - Mamma Ginas - great Italian food and outstanding service.

    - Arnold Palmer's Restaurant - great ambiance, service, and outstanding surf and turf. Cool atmosphere for Arnie fans with all of the photos and memorabilia. This wound up being our anniversary dinner. We had strongly considered Le Vallauris, as Steve suggested, but my wife ultimately decided playing golf followed by dinner at Arnie's would make for a great anniversary.

    - Las Casuelas Terraza - ate at the Palm Springs location so we could also walk around during the Thursday night Street Fest. Excellent Mexican dishes and margaritas

    - Tommy Bahama's - A chain, but since we didn't know what time we would make it back from Joshua Tree, we couldn't make a reservation anywhere, so opted to just join the wait list here. Only had to wait about 15 minutes despite a quoted 35 minute wait. Good food in a laid back atmosphere.

    - Castelli's - another excellent Italian spot. Their Seafood Portiofino was delicious.

    - Roy's Rancho Mirage - another chain, but my wife loves Roy's since it makes her think of Hawaii. Made this our last dinner on Sunday night before we flew home on Monday.

    The thing that impressed me as much as the food was the quality of the waiters we had. Most had decades of experience, and several had been at the same spot for 10+ years.

    We came away very impressed with the Palm Desert area, and Desert Springs Villas I as well. The renovated unit we had was very well done. I can see where the separate entry for the lock-off suite would not work for families with young children, but the large unit and the huge balcony overlooking the 1st green and 2nd fairway of the Palm course was great for us. Since this was an II exchange we had a full 2BR, even though it was just us, so all we really used the lock-off for was the convenience of having two showers/bath rooms to use if we needed to get ready for dinner quickly.

    One thing that surprised me was how early it got dark this time of year in Palm Desert. Sunset was about 4:40. Here at home in NC, sunset isn't until about 5:20. Palm Desert is just a bit closer to the eastern edge of the Pacific time zone than we are to the eastern edge of the Eastern zone.

    We will definitely return to Desert Springs, although we might try to go next time during Daylight Savings time so it doesn't get dark so soon. Maybe October or March/April.

    Thanks again for all of the great advice!
     
  21. Steve Fatula

    Steve Fatula TUG Member

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    It really is a great place. That's why we love it so much. No, there are no beaches, but it makes up for it in many other ways. Maybe you can hit Le Vallauris next time! Glad you enjoyed your trip so much. It is very true about the waiters. How many places do you go where you live that do not have newbies constantly.
     
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  22. VacationForever

    VacationForever Tug Review Crew: Rookie TUG Member

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    Me too! ;) We go there for a couple of weeks at least once a year and sometimes twice.
     
  23. etplitt3TS

    etplitt3TS TUG Member

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    I love these Palm Desert / Coachella threads. I learn something different with each new post.

    We go to Palm Desert every fall. For us it is like an adult Disneyland. One fun thing that we do every trip is go to Las Casuellas Terraza to see PS Sound Company perform. They play Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday. My wife loves good music, dancing and Mexican food.


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  24. cp73

    cp73 TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    Jim so glad you had a good time. I was impressed with all the great restaurants you hit for only staying a week. I truly enjoy it out there. I was at Guillermos early this month during the Pickleball Nationals at Indian Wells. Its my favorite Mexican food place also, including Southern California. Sounds like you also had a great time. Hopefully you will return again. The months you suggest are great months. I would also include late September, October and March, April, and May and great times to consider. Next time also try to make reservations at Sunnylands months before you leave. I still think DSV I is the best of the three resorts out there. And I agree that the renovations and updating of the rooms was nice. I will be out there again for New Years and then back in April with grandkids for their Easter break.
     
  25. cp73

    cp73 TUG Review Crew: Veteran TUG Member

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    I can't recall the tour company we used for Movie Star Homes, but I think when we were there their were only two that offered it. We went with the one who's times meet our needs. I would check trip advisor for recommendations. Always have just driven to Joshua tree in our car and toured on our own. I am sure a tour would be more informative but not needed. The park ranger their has lots of info on what to see. About 50 minutes from DSV.
     

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