Winter Wonderland Fun Comes To The River!

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By Denise Ortuno Neil                                                                                          rsz rinkriver logo slider

Ah the beauty of winter, snow falling, kids all buddle up in their cold weather ware all ice skating outdoors in holiday delight. Ok, now picture the holiday outdoor ice skating without the snow, and maybe kids wearing shorts instead of bulky winter ware, and maybe 80 degree weather. If you can picture all of that, then you have the right idea of what The Rink at The River in Rancho Mirage will look like this holiday season from November 22nd, through January 8th 2017. The popular shopping center is bringing the desert some winter wonderland fun, right before our eyes.

Ice skating in the Coachella Valley is not a new idea. I recall participating in indoor ice skating at the Town Center Mall (now Westfield Shopping Mall) when I was a kid in the 80’s, and most recently at Ice Castles in Cathedral City, although admittedly not as proficiently as when I was younger. But outdoor ice skating in the desert? That is something very special and unique indeed.

The Rink at The River sponsored by Renova Solar, will be positioned in the water area on the west side of the Cheesecake Factory, in the vicinity of Acqua California Bistro. The 50 by 70ft rink will be complete with skate rentals and even lessens for those not used to gliding around on ice. The water is frozen within the built platform and is chilled by a huge 24 by 8ft chiller. Something like you would find in your ice box, but heck of lot bigger.

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The Rink is an Atmospheric rink, as described by The Rivers Director of Programming and Marketing, Tammy Pshebylo, “It is straight for ambience, you couldn’t play hockey on it for instance” said Pshebylo. However, what winter thirsty attendees can do, is skate around and enjoy a little holiday fun smack dab in the middle of the Coachella Valley. Fun!!

The Rink will offer skating during the day and at night seven days a week. There will be special events including the Grand Opening on Tuesday, November 22, as well as a Holiday Spectacular and Tree Lighting ceremony on Tuesday, November 29th, plus many others.

The Rink at The River is certainly a special treat for us this holiday season in the Coachella Valley, where we can slap on a pair of skates, and tootle around the ice, all while wearing shorts! Cheers to a very Happy Holiday Season at The River in Rancho Mirage!

For more information visit

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Everything Apple and Fall Fun in Oak Glen

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By Denise Ortuno Neil                                                                           rsz imag0819

It’s the picturesque essence of the fall season, with apples, deciduous trees, and a cozy mountain town ambience, Oak Glen, California has it all. One of best parts of Oak Glen, is that it’s just a short drive away from the Coachella Valley (40 min or so), and offers up a great little day trip get-a-way for some fall fun, apple picking, lip smacking cider, and even some out of this world apple donuts.

I remember first going up to the Oak Glen area when I was a kid. My family and I would jaunt up to the quaint place as a day respite from the desert heat in the summer, and for apples and extra cold weather (in comparison the desert) in the fall. It’s a memory that I not only cherish, but have cultivated into a yearly tradition, especially during apple season.

There are two specifically popular seasons in Oak Glen, one is in the spring when the weather warms and the raspberries grow, and the other is in the fall for their apple harvest season. Their fall season is undoubtedly the biggest draw to Oak Glen, for it is just exudes an immensely inviting, warm seasonal feel…. adorable!

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There are many apple orchards to visit in Oak Glen, but for me, there is one that is always on my radar which I am very partial to, Hudson’s Snowline Orchard & Winery. It is off the main 5 mile loop that houses most of Oak Glens attractions, set slightly down a wandering road that looks like you might be entering some enchanted forest, or possibly a road to an English cottage…it definitely gives energy to the imagination.

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Once the road has left the rear view mirror, you will find that an apple orchard has grown right before you, it is lovely and almost magical. Snowline looks like something from far in the past, and rightfully so as it was established way back in 1898 (no, that is not a typo). I believe that its age is part of the lure of Snowline, it complements the apples in some way. The orchard has had four families that has owned it in its 118 years, most recently is the Hudson family, who have had Snowline for the last 36 years. They have continued the tradition of Snowline, and added a new aspect to the orchard, now producing and offering wine and hard cider (adult apple cider). Visitors to the orchard can try their new products in Snowlines tasting room.

If you’re looking for a variety of apples, than Snowline has a great many to choose from, all bagged up and ready go, or you can pick some yourself. Apple picking is a great family feature at Oak Glen orchards. And of course there is the cider, it is incredible! Snowline apple cider is considered one of the best in Oak Glen (I must agree). Their cider comes in three different flavors, original apple, apple raspberry, or cherry apple. They are all delicious, I mean it is as if you are biting into a juicy apple with each sip.                                           rsz imag0831

Snowline also offers their apple donuts. They are made with apple cider, and tossed with a cinnamon and sugar mixer. Served hot, and bite size, their donuts are in demand, resulting in having to wait in line for the pleasure of the sweet dough to dissolve in your mouth. So worth the wait!

On the weekends and weather permitting, Snowline has BBQ available, accompanied with some outdoor live music. The BBQ is excellent, and the items for purchase include Pulled Pork (my fave), Brisket, Ribs, Hot Links and more. I suggest having a side of their light and fresh coleslaw made of course with apples.

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The only problem with Snowline and other apple attractions in Oak Glen, is that apple season only goes for so long, starting in September and ending at the beginning of December (Snowline closes December 1st). Apple season enthusiasts such as myself have to wait a whole year to enjoy all of the apple fun once more, but it’s a hearty suspense, and so welcomed when it finally becomes apple season again.

I will definitely make it up to Oak Glen before their apple season goes dormant until next year, to enjoy some cider, BBQ and stuff my mouth with apple donuts. It’s a wonderful place to skip over to for a day trip from the desert, and to bring back treasures of everything apple and to accentuate the fall season state of mind.

Hudson's Snowline Orchard & Winery is currently opened 7 days a week from 9am-5pm.                                                                              


For more information about Snowline Orchard & Winery visit

For more information about other Oak Glen attractions visit

Escape Room Palm Springs

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By Denise Ortuno Neil                                                                          rsz fp escaperoom

If you think that you could solve a series of puzzles in order to be released from a captive situation in a given amount of time, you might want to think again. Such was my experience at the unique desert attraction, Escape Room Palm Springs, which puts your problem solving skills to the test in a fun, heart pumping environment.

I’ve always loved those TV shows where you have to do things in a certain amount of time, be it finish a maze, a plate of food, or in the case of Escape Room Palm Springs, get out of a themed room. It seemed easy enough, so I thought, but it turned out to be an absolutely exhilarating challenge.

Opened since February 2016, Escape Room Palm Springs is the creation of computer and game savvy, Mark and Dominique Fruchtman. The concept is to bring a group of people together in a themed room, give them clues to decipher a puzzle, so they can escape the room in an allotted amount of time. Twisted fun! There are four different rooms, the Saw Room (inspired by the horror film, for adult ages 18 and up), the Dark Shadows Room ( help a vampire back to his coffin before dawn), the Mystery Room ( Da Vinci Code meets the Twilight Zone) and the Titanic Room ( find the key before the ship sinks). The rooms are like walking onto a movie set.

As a special for Halloween for the month of October, the Saw Room is modified into a "Scary Saw Room" where something or someone may be lurking in what is usually an actor/staff free zone. Extra twisted!

My boyfriend and I arrived with anticipation for the experience that we were about to enter. We were greeted by the owner Dominique Fruchman who quickly put our minds at ease that everything was going to just fine. We were then ushered into an orientation room with our game master Holly, and she explained what we would be doing. Then, we were guided into our theme room. I chose the Saw Room. As mentioned, for Halloween the room is geared up with a little something special  to make it just a bit spooky. Usually, the Saw Room is best with 10 participants, but on this night, it was just the two of us. Without giving out specifics of the puzzle, all that I can say is that it was an extreme challenge, filled with clues that we needed to find and figure out in order to solve the puzzle. But unfortunately, the buzzer (45 minutes) went off before we could figure out how to get out….but of course they let you out anyway.

Despite the fact that we didn't beat the buzzer, we still had an Amazing time, and found ourselves talking about it for the rest of the night, and on into the next day. I recommend this experience to anyone looking for unique fun in the Coachella Valley. I can’t wait to go back and experience another room. Big thanks to Dominique, Holly and Austin for a night that we won't soon forget!

Escape Room Palm Springs is opened Tuesday through Friday nights from 6pm to 9:30pm and Saturdays and Sundays from 12pm to 9:30. Tickets are $30 per person. It is great for families, friends, couples, and even business groups. The attraction ups the ante in Coachella Valley amusement for not only Halloween, but all year round. 

For more information and tickets visit or call 760-779-8888


A New Beginning for JC's Patio Cafe

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By Denise Ortuno Neil                                                                                                        rsz imag0787

Set quietly aside from the main stream restaurant brands on El Paseo in Palm Desert, sits a charming dining spot that has been delighting locals and visitors in the know for over 26 years, JC’s Patio Café. Now, longtime owners Steve and Kate Leech, are passing the baton of their long established business to the very capable hands of local restaurateurs, Casey and Michelle Hutchinson.

JC’s Patio Café is tucked away in the Plaza on El Paseo shopping nook, which is undoubtedly part of its charm. Upon entering the restaurant, it is hard not to notice the collage of photos that line the entry wall, evidence of 26 years of success and patron admiration. The patio shaded with colored umbrellas is the focal point of the café, and is highlighted by a flowing fountain, exuding the soothing sounds of falling water. The restaurant has not only survived in what can be an unpredictable business, but through changing tides has actually thrived, all with a word of mouth mentality, and minus any social media presence. Impressive!

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It’s no wonder that JC’s Patio Café has withstood the test of time in their cozy cutout on El Paseo. Like with most long lasting restaurants, the recipe is a simple one, add great food, an inviting atmosphere and sincere friendly service, and people will be sure to want more. JC’s Patio Café has all those components!

The restaurant has been owned and operated by Steve and Kate Leech. The couple purchased it from the former owners who had only had it for a short time. The Leech’s had been vacationing to the Coachella Valley for years, and after a successful run with businesses in Orange County, decided to settle in the desert for a slower pace of life that they had enjoyed while visiting for so long. 

After a more than successful run, the couple has once again decided to shift gears and retire, to enjoy all that the desert has to offer and that they may have missed over the years while owning a business. But the transfer of business wasn’t a seamless one. The Leech’s took care to find just the right people to take over their beloved café, and they found them in Casey and Michelle Hutchinson.

The Hutchinson’s have had their own brand of restaurant success in the desert with their popular spot, Sunshine Café in Cathedral City. They had the popular eatery for 17 years until the economy turned. They are excited to venture into owning a restaurant once again, and one with such a wonderful reputation and following is a bonus.

JC’s Patio Café has a vast menu and is opened for breakfast and lunch and offers a full bar. Their breakfast items include Blueberry Pancakes, Quiche (Lorraine or Spinach), Greek Scramble (Spinach, Tomato, Scrambled Eggs, Feta Cheese), plus many more. Enjoy their lunch selections such as fresh cold sandwiches or wraps with Turkey, Roast Beef, and even Shrimp, hot sandwiches which include a French Dip, Salmon Burger (Grilled Salmon Patty, Tartar Sauce, Lettuce, Tomato, Onion on a Ciabatta Roll), or the Fresh Mozzarella (Warm Fresh Mozzarella, Tomato, Basil, with a Basil Vinaigrette, on Ciabatta or French Roll) just to scratch the surface. Their salads are made with their own house made dressings, a delectable trademark of the café. rsz imag0786

The transfer of the business will be shared until the spring of 2017, when the Hutchinson’s will take over completely. One aspect that they will be changing is that they will start opening for dinner, as soon as late November. Perhaps even offering wine tastings and special events. The café will be perfect for dinner service with their romantic patio underneath the starlit desert sky.

It has been an amazing experience for Steve and Kate Leech as owners of JC’s Patio Café, and they have given the community a unique place to dine under the shade of umbrellas in the heart of Palm Desert. Now it will be Casey and Michelle Hutchinson who will carry on with the charming spot, bringing their own special touches to the café, all the while continuing on with its friendly, delightful tradition of being a local dining gem.

For more information call 760-568-0733   

Hayman & Summers Offers Outdoor Living Style

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By Denise Ortuno Neil                                                                                               rsz haymansummers color

Gorgeous desert temperatures are just around the corner in the Coachella Valley, and that means that we will be spending much more time outside enjoying them. Hiking, biking, golfing and many activities await. One of the most important and most frequent outdoor activities is spending time in our own backyards. To get the most out of your outdoor, come visit the exclusive patio furniture showroom at Hayman & Summers in Rancho Mirage for the best in outdoor living furniture and accessories.

Opened in 2010, the Hayman & Summer’s showroom was originally located on the deserts own version of “Rodeo Drive”, El Paseo in Palm Desert. They are committed to give their clients not only the best in high end luxury patio furniture brands and accessories, but also in custom, customer care and assistance. Their staff is well versed in the brands that they offer, and work closely with their clients to help put together the perfect outdoor living space.

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Brands such as Dedon, Tuuci, Les Jardin, Rausch Classics, and many more grace the Hayman & Summers showroom floor. The brands that they carry reflect modernist, contemporary, chic design. Inventory that is usually only exclusive to wholesalers and professional designers in hubs that include, Europe, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago, are available directly to clients in the Coachella Valley.

In 2014, Hayman & Summer’s moved their showroom to a spacious location in Rancho Mirage on Hwy 111, next to Lamp Plus and Pirch. The vast space has allowed them to bring even more elite brands to their clients, making the selection of luxury outdoor furniture an eye catching and exciting experience. Clients can find everything from outdoor sofas, dining tables, loungers, bars and stools, artwork, lighting, canopies and a myriad of other outdoor furniture and accessories exuding supreme style.

With beautiful Coachella Valley temperatures coming our way, stepping out into and enjoying our own outdoors at home will take precedence. To bring your outdoor living space to life with impeccable elegance and design, visit Hayman & Summer’s in Rancho Mirage.

Hayman & Summer’s is located at 71-905 Hwy 111, Suite A, Rancho Mirage Ca, 92270

For more information visit  or call 760-836-0800   


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