BY Gerrye Wong

Once a visiting motorist comes into the valley of the Greater Palm Springs area, it is a magical sight to see this flat corridor between rows of mountainous terrain.  Seen past the numerous windmills which help generate electricity throughout the area are the mountainous cliffs of Chino Canyon where we found the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.  Marketing Manager, Greg Purdy welcomed us, saying the temps up on top are up to 30 degrees cooler than the Palm Springs area below, so on a hot humid day this November, we decided to board the world’s largest rotating tramcar for the 10 minute ride that takes us over 2 ½ miles up the mountain to the pristine wilderness of the Mt. San Jacinto State Park and the Wilderness area.  It was exciting to see the mountainous cliffs close up as we passed the cliffsides of Chino Canyon from the slowly rotating tram cars which gave us spectacular vistas of the valley below through its many open air windows.


When construction of the Tramway back in the 1960s began, the tramway was an engineering challenge which earned its title of the “Eighth Wonder of the World.” With ingenious use of helicopters to erect four of the five supporting. Twenty years later the Tramway was designated an historical civil engineering landmark.  At the Tram’s Mountain Station at an elevation of 8,516 feet travelers are able to enjoy viewpoints, hike over 50 miles of trails, watch two documentary films or visit the natural history museum.  We saw many families with young children walk the easy half mile loop trail while other serious hikers and campers continued on to other scenic spots to either camp or do extensive hiking.  We dined at the Peak Restaurant which enabled one to have a marvelous meal while feeling one is at the top of the world.

I would recommend any visitors to Palm Springs area to make the Aerial Tramway one of their selected destinations for a unique experience riding on the world’s largest rotating tramcars.  Since it opened in 1963, over 20 million people have traveled the route at the Valley Station of only 2643 feet to end up at the Mountain Station with elevation of 8516 feet in just a 10 minute ride. Visitors of all ages will feel the thrill and pleasure of such an experience.


There is so much to see and do in the Palm Springs area, I wanted to try a new experience so Joyce Kiehl, Director of Communications at Greater Palm Springs Visitors Bureau recommended a new tour given by the Tallgrass Hiking & Tours Company for an Agricultural tour.  It was an eye opening experience to see how large the agricultural industry is in the Coachella Valley only barely up to an hour beyond the bright lights, shopping bliss and myriad of golf courses and private resort areas of adjoining towns of Palm Desert. Nancy Cohee, owner of tallgrass hiking and tour company,  led our tour herself,  announcing she had lived in the Coachella Valley  for over 30 years and was a tour guide for 25.

Cohee drove us on our agricultural journey, telling us there were 450,000 full time residents in the valley, and for farm workers, they can remain in the area as the crops here are producing year long.  We saw in the fields various sizes of lettuce, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, bell peppers and many variations of fruit trees. The agricultural lands, of about 60-70,000 acres produce their yield worth $6M in pre-pandemic times, 22-1816.

The most interesting feature of the agricultural tour was seeing the date palm trees and how they are prepared and harvested for a date production. It was interesting seeing a worker climb up a 20 foot ladder and then even climb higher so he could machete away the full array of branches needed to be trimmed. We saw how the date crop is bagged for safety while it is growing and learned how it takes 7-10 years before a date palm tree begins producing .  Once productive, however, each tree could produce from 150-300 pounds of dates every year.

I would recommend this tour to anyone who is interested in the agricultural lands of the valley surrounding Palm Springs. Tallgrass Tours has both specialized tours as well as hiking tours, so they are a perfect company to contact when you arrive in town to see what special facets of the community you can learn about, whether hiking or riding it.  She even took us to see marvelous murals in the town of Coachella.

Established in 2012, from what I experienced, Nancy brings a love of the desert and the desire to share the Coachella Valley with visitors. Info: www.TallgrassHikingandTours.com.  Whether you want to experience the area by foot or car, check out their tours.


For more outdoor activity, visit the Living Desert Zoo and Botanical Garden.  Families and adults alike were roaming around the various displays of plants and animals, and the miniature train display was the largest I’ve seen in an outdoor setting. There are shows and activities going in the mornings, and with things opening up now, this is a perfect outdoor place for families of all ages to enjoy the wildlife in nice natural fresh air settings.  A bit of walking up and down but plenty of benches available to take it at a leisurely manner, and there were even pushcarts for those incapacitated who had a handy partner willing to do the pushing. Friendly volunteers were throughout willing to tell you more about the wallaby Australia exhibit. The giraffe feeding area  and a new one on rhinoceros was opening up also.


After a busy day, there is nothing better than treating yourself to see the nightlife of Palm Springs and no better place to find it would be at the historic Purple Room Supper Club in Palm Springs  A very busy popular supper club well known by the natives for wonderful evening entertainment, we  went there on a night that featured songs of the 50s starring owner Michael Holmes and Darcy Daniels.

Entering the very busy intimate dining room, we faced a large stage where in front were tables where happy diners were already patiently waiting for the show to begin.  We had a Date Night Wednesday menu to entice us to a wonderful meal which we could enjoy prior and during the rousing entertainment of hearing familiar ballads sung by the stars of the evening.  A very relaxing night enjoying familiar tunes by well seasoned performers while savoring a wonderful meal besides.

Michael Holmes performs on Sundays in his famous show, A NIGHT WITH JUDY where his impersonation of Judy Garland is known far and wide as one of the best ever seen.  Reservations are made months in advance so if you want to see this act, one must plan ahead before coming into the area.  Meeting Michael that evening, we found him as charming off as on stage, a true performer reminding us of the informal days of the Rat Pack entertainment nights.  So if you want to cap off your stay in Palm Springs with some glitz and glamour with a night of wonderful music, do plan to stop in at the Purple Room Supper club.   We were pleased we chose it – and will plan to return every time we come back to wonderful Palm Springs for winter ESCAPE!!


Oh my, my favorite San Francisco Symphony once again has a full schedule for everyone to get into the holiday spirit with their concerts this year.  I love the concerts where SFS will perform live accompaniment for such iconic holiday films Love Actually and Home Alone again. Their Holiday Soul concert will spotlight Yolanda Adams and the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir while for the kids John Mauceri and Alan Cumming will be featured with The Nutcracker & the Mouse King. A Cool Yule Christmas will be a favorite for oldies like me with holiday favorites of Frank & Ella (you know who!).  If you want real Holiday Gaiety  the SF Symphony will welcome such local personalities as Peaches Christ, Coco Peru and Fou Fou Ha! with many others of their associates for, I am sure, an exciting and fun filled evening concert. Of course there will be the traditional concerts of Handel’s Messiah and Holiday Brass and to cap it all off, Darren Criss will join the San Francisco Symphony for a special New Years Eve event.    End this year on a happy holiday note and what better way than singing, humming and tapping your feet along with the rhythms of a San Francisco Symphony concert. I have always found the best road to get into the holiday spirit is enjoying the music of the San Francisco Symphony programs while viewing their lovely huge Christmas trees adorning the Louise B. Davies lobby. Tickets for holiday concerts going fast, so sign in at sfsymphony.org/holiday.  Join me there?







Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *