Cece's Palm Springs Top Ten
Hadley's Fruit Orchards (in Cabazon, off the I-10, 16 miles west of Palm Springs). A beloved pit stop since 1931. These people invented trail mix. You can purchase an unholy variety of dates here-- Medjools, apricot-stuffed Medjools, Deglets, Deglet Noors, Honeys, Khadrawis, Golden Princesses, Barhis, Thoorys, Zahidis-- but order the classic date shake and be done with it.
Albert Frey's Tramway Oasis Gas Station (2901 North Palm Canyon Drive, Highway 111). Sixties modernist icon, now the Visitor's Center. If you're driving in from Los Angeles, it's the first thing you'll see. The roof is a parabola of steel I-beams and corrugated metal that juts out over what used to be the gas pumps. If the Jetsons were real, this is where they'd fill their tanks.
Sonny Bono statue (155 South Palm Canyon Drive, Plaza Mercado). Sonny Bono served as mayor of Palm Springs from 1988-1992, and was a driving force in its revitalization. Go pay homage to the man who outlawed bikinis on Palm Canyon Drive. You can even pose for pictures on his lap: the life-sized bronzed likeness sits on the edge of a bubbling fountain, a big smile on his face. And no wonder. Sonny Bono gave the world "I Got You, Babe," and Cher, who headlines many a Top Ten list herself.
Korakia Pensione (257 South Patencio Road). A Moroccan jewel in the shadow of Mt. San Jacinto, decorated with doors from Afghanistan, couches from Thailand, and showerheads from Mexico. The villa was the hidewaway of Scottish painter Gordon Coutts, who built it in 1924 to recreate a favorite place in Tangier. After his death, it fell into disarray: astroturf, linoleum, and acoustical tiles appeared. In 1989, it was brought back to life, and then some: no TVs, no DVD players, just the outdoor fireplace, the billowing white curtains, the brilliant blue pool, and thou. Korakia means "crows" in Greek.
Melvyn's Restaurant and Ingleside Inn (200 West Ramon Road). Guests here have included Howard Hughes, Salvador Dali, and Norman Vincent Peale. Still the best place in town to sit around the piano and listen to show tunes with mob bosses, wheelchair-bound B-actors, post-operative trophy wives in head-to-toe silver lame, and miscellaneous hipsters, just taking in the show. Order a Manhattan, and be assured the bourbon will be top-shelf and poured with a liberal hand.
Indian Canyons (South Palm Canyon from Highway 111, two miles to the tollgate). The canyons are the ancestral home of the Agua Caliente tribe of Cahuilla Indians, and still considered ritual lands. The Andreas Canyon trail is an easy two-mile hike that follows a stream wandering through California fan palms. The lush environs will make you think jungle, not desert.
Swiss Miss Houses (Las Palmas district). Fifteen of these Alpine-style A-frame houses, designed by the father-and-son team of George and Robert Alexander, are said to exist. Imagine a Tahitian hut crossed with Heidi's cottage in the Swiss Alps, and you get the idea. The most famous Alexander house in Las Palmas, however, was Peter Lawford's. Located in close proximity to Marilyn Monroe's Palm Springs home, it was a place JFK was said to have visited more than once. A must-see for conspiracy buffs.
The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies (the historic Plaza Theatre, 128 S. Palm Canyon Drive). The all-new fourteenth season show will pay homage to the late, lamented Chi Chi Club, where everybody from Sophie Tucker to Sammy Davis Jr. performed. The long-legged lovelies in the show, as always, are in their 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s, and the host, Ray Markowitz, has the suavity of Cary Grant and the patriotism of John Wayne. Word to the wise: hit Melvyn's (#4, above) for a drink prior to showtime.
See's Candies (323 Palm Canyon Drive). Dark Scotchmallows. For any occasion. You won't be sorry.
Patsy's Clothes Closet (4121 East Palm Canyon Drive). Vintage leopard-skin. For any occasion. You won't be sorry.