Another Visit to Rancho Mirage in the California Desert
We took a couple of days to escape the cooler temps (60 and rainy when we left) and the May Gray in Carlsbad and had a quick getaway in Rancho Mirage, one of the 10 desert cities about 2 hours from the coast. It's not summer yet so the temps in the desert are pretty comfortable (it was 93 this morning when we left to drive home, and mid 80s yesterday) as opposed to 100 - 120 in the summertime.
We always take the drive through Temecula and then the 2-lane road (74 to Aguanga, then 371 [Cahuilla Road] through the Anza Valley, then 74) through the mountains since it's much prettier, and about the same time as driving the freeway.
View down to the Big Horn area of Palm Desert
The latter part of the drive through the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Forest is particularly pretty, with some amazing distant vistas, especially when you get to the edge of the mountains and head down into the desert on the Pines to Palms Highway, with about 20 switchbacks on the 7 miles or so down the mountain.
The desert is dramatically different from where we live by the coast, and while the cities themselves are pretty dense, you can drive for miles through the mountains and hardly see any houses. The desert cities (my faves are Palm Desert, La Quinta, Rancho Mirage, and Palm Springs) make for a great getaway, with a ton of activities and things to see and do year-round, indoors and out (obviously more indoors or in your air conditioned car when it's 117 degrees outside!).
Be aware that high season is the winter when you get most of the crowds; summer is quieter but some restaurants and retailers are not open.
Our time was limited but gave us the opportunity to relax, sit by the pool for a hour or so (we stayed at the West Resort Villas in Mission Hills, Rancho Mirage), take walks, enjoy some great dining, have fun with my camera, and take in the weekly Art Walk in Palm Springs - about 6 blocks long - that takes place every Thursday night from 6 - 10 pm.