"Palm Springs--There is much to entice visitors to this City and the Coachella Valley

by Joe Hilbers

Now and again we feel the need to spend sometime in the desert. So recently we once again made the short trip to Palm Springs and environs.

Our discovery of the Westcott Hotel was like a look into the Palm Springs of an earlier era. It dates back to the 1930s but has evolved gracefully into the adults only bed and breakfast it is today.

The ambiance includes the art deco of that earlier era and there are artifacts and photographs that add to the scene. Here we were pampered in decadent luxury. If the staff of the Westcott forgot anything in the way of amenities we never discovered it

We were captivated with the serene, laid back style and feeling of escape from the real world. Yet the Westcott is only five blocks from Highway 111, and two miles from downtown, museums and points of interest.

Upon entering the Westcott the first view is the enticing pool that centers a court surrounded by the rooms. For us it was our oasis from the busy schedule of events and activities of our planned four day visit to Palm Springs.

In addition to the modest pricing of the rooms and the many amenities there is the free breakfast, free parking, and the evening happy hour with cocktails and appetizers. At all hours there is fresh fruit, snacks and refreshing drinks.

Manager Michael Skinner is the perfect host always available to add helpful advice and maps to the nearby attractions. With Owner Mathew Westcott at helm they make a great team. It was soon apparent why The Westcott has been named best bed and breakfast in Palm Springs several years in a row. The Westcott is located at 530 E. Mel Avenue, Palm Springs. Telephone 760 992-5410.

Tearing ourselves away from this Hollywood era resort was not easy but we did have an agenda including the Palm Springs Air Museum which we wanted to visit and write about.

We were wearing our cap which proclaims us as a World War ll veteran. With my group becoming ever more short of supply the Museum docents immediately took charge and led me up to the second floor where the museum has a huge number of files containing veterans oral histories. Here they wanted to add my wartime personal experiences to their collection. Unfortunately I was with a group of Writers who were on a tight schedule of events so time was too short. However I explained that my personal wartime saga was already written and could be found on my website www.vittlesvoyages.com. It is entitled “Battle of the Bulge, One Private’s Story”.

The Palm Springs Air Museum is dedicated to American Air Power of World War ll. Divided in four hangers are the Army Air Corp planes that battled Germans over the skies of Europe and in the second the Army Air Corp and Navy planes that won the skies over the South Pacific from the Japanese.

Recently planes that took part in the conflicts in Korea and Vietnam have been added to the collection which makes the Palm Springs Air Museum one of the ten best in the world.

The planes flown in Europe on display include an English Spitfire, victor of the Battle of Britain, as well as the P 51 Mustang whose legendary performance finally mastered the Luftwaffe over the skies of Germany.

One of the planes on display is the B 17 bomber which conducted the raids into the heart of Germany. I always look with special interest at a B 17 since as a Prisoner of War I was on the receiving end of a most unforgettable bombing raid conducted by these planes.

Besides the Hellcats and Torpedo bombers that played havoc with the Japanese in the Pacific War there are miniatures of U.S. Navy submarines, aircraft carries, cruisers and battleships of that era. Illustrating some of the battle scenes are the paintings of Artist Stan Stokes.

The Palm Springs Air Museum is located at the International Airport at 745 N. Gene Autry Trail in Palm Springs. The Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Besides the exhibition of airplanes both indoors and on the tarmac there are continuous movies and videos and an extensive library. There is always a series of special events including exhibitions of both historic and modern aircraft. For more information call 760 778-6262 or check the website www.palmspringsairmuseum.org. There is an admission charge with free parking.

The Palm Springs Cultural Center proved to be the perfect setting for our group of writers who were being hosted by the Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels. The Center is relatively new to the City being founded in 2007 with its mission to produce arts and cultural programs. Then in January 2018 the Camelot Theatres Building officially became the Palm Springs Cultural Center. Greeting us was Michael Green, Chair for the Hotel Group as well as Executive Director of the Cultural Center. We were there to learn about the history of Palm Springs which included the Agua Caliente Tribe of Cahuilla Indians, who have been residents for countless centuries, as well as the early white families who arrived to attempt farming.

The farming was not successful but the mild climate soon attracted people especially those with health concerns. What then followed was the discovery of Palm Springs by cinema celebrities changing it to be known as ‘Hollywood’s Playground’.

So what followed for our group was the City’s famed Celebrity Tour. With a guide, who has become famous for his own expertise, we were off on a comfortable bus to seek out the homes and hideouts of Hollywood’s most famous stars. Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor and the list continued as we drove through luxurious neighborhoods where the homes occupied not just lots but often acres. The guide would point to an Estate with 12 bedrooms and as many baths. Others with guest cottages, the name cottage being used loosely. Some homes, like that of Liberace, can easily be recognized as displaying the artistry of the owner.

Tours are very much a part of the scene in Palm Springs. The Visiting Palm Springs Travel Guide lists twenty three possible tours available with every thing from a Desert Tasty Tour to a Sky Watcher Stargazing adventure. If you would rather walk than ride the Palm Springs Historical Society offers Walking tours. Some of these tours follow the route we took in the bus being listed as “Frank Sinatra’s Neighborhood” or “Rat Pack Playground”.

On a trip with a planned agenda there are always the places you wanted to visit but lacked the time and this was true once again. One was the Living Desert Zoo/Gardens which is located in Palm Desert. There are live animals like Giraffe and Camels and many hiking trails. It is also perfect for children.

The other we wanted to visit was the Palm Springs Art Museum. Its hours on the day we wanted to visit simply did not match our availability. We did visit the Art Museum in the distant past and then I recall how fascinated I was with Western American art and the Native American and Mesoamerican art and artifacts on display. Now there is a huge collection of modernist and contemporary painting and sculpture.

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Last Update:<5/7/19

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