When it comes to pet travel, the Palm Springs area really knows how to throw a dog a bone. In fact, some people say hoteliers in the region are more likely to roll out the welcome mat for dogs than kids. I'm not sure about that, but during a weekend visit, my pups were wined and dined and treated like royalty. We went on tours, ate together and shared a room at a luxury resort. It was doggone fun. The tab: $378 for two nights (off-season) at the La Quinta Resort & Club, and $82 for meals.
My dogs, Darby and Piper, couldn't wait to bolt out of the car when they saw the grounds at La Quinta Resort & Club, with 45 lush acres of gardens, grass and landscaped walkways. "Yes," I silently cheered, "there are even doggy-bag stations." La Quinta, an iconic desert classic that opened in 1926, is about 20 miles east of downtown Palm Springs. It recently underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation and had on its prettiest face when we arrived in December. Bougainvillea, roses and citrus trees brightened the grounds, and the room was spacious and chicly decorated, with a large doggy bed and bowls awaiting. Big spenders can decamp with their families and friends to villas that include pools or spas. That wasn't on our agenda, because my four-legged roomies wouldn't agree to split the check (49499 Eisenhower Drive, La Quinta;  564-4111, www.laquintaresort.com. Doubles from $259 per night December to March; $119 April to August. Resort fee $27 a night; $100 nonrefundable pet fee).
A water bowl and dog treats appeared as soon as we sat down at Sherman's Deli & Bakery (401 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs;  325-1199, shermansdeli.com). The restaurant's patio has been seating patrons and their dogs for decades. The hot pastrami sandwich ($12.95), cabbage soup ($7.95) and cream cheese and lox platter ($15.95) are longtime favorites.
Moorten Botanical Garden (1701 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs;  327-6555, moortenbotanicalgarden.com) offers two-legged visitors an oasis of tranquillity and four-legged visitors an interesting place to sniff and prowl (on a leash, of course). This small, private arboretum opened in 1938 and features enormous cactuses that have had nearly 75 years to develop, plus birds, tortoises, desert relics and 3,000 varieties of plants. It's a deal at $4 per person, $2 for ages 5 to 15.
I had always wondered about the thousands of windmills I see when I drive through the pass on Interstate 10. I think they're unsightly, but I was willing to be convinced that they had a purpose, so I contacted Palm Springs Windmill Tours to become educated (62950 20th Ave., Palm Springs;  531-5834, windmilltours.com. $35 adults, $17.50 kids. Pets OK on some tours.). I learned there are about 2,100, according to company president and tour guide David Hixon, and they produce "enough energy to power a city the size of San Francisco," he said. My dogs weren't impressed, but I was. I'll try to ignore them the next time I drive through.
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