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By Jane Cassie
For Travel Writers' Tales

Enjoying a little pool time at GVP

When Old Man Winter makes his annual appearance, my husband and I snowbird south to Hemet, California and The Golden Village Palms (GVP) RV park becomes our home away from home. Although there's more than enough summer-camp-type activities to keep us content, this year we venture beyond this lush playground and discover there's even more just beyond our RV door.

College Of The Desert is a bargain-hunter's delight

To Market: Tasty produce and pastries line up next to beaded jewellery and souvenirs. Outdoor markets are big in this region and the prices are downright cheap! On Saturdays, check out the artisans and farmers who congregate in downtown Hemet, then head south-east to Winchester Flea Market where you'll find everything from flowering trees to tweeting cockatiels. If you're into driving a little further, veer into Old Town Temecula. Or do an about face to the College of the Desert (Palm Desert). With over three hundred vendors you're bound to find that one-of-a-kind treasure. And when it comes to markets, there's nothing quite like the Palm Springs Villagefest. Every Thursday night, the swanky Palm Canyon Drive transforms into a happening heyday. Veggies, flowers and gems unite with snacks, sweets and socializing. It's a huge crowd-pleaser!

If you don't want to stray very far from GVP, no worries. A farmer's market comes every Tuesday, so goodness is guaranteed for your entire stay.

Glorious Golf - There are lots of courses within a short drive and most are a third the price that we pay here in Canada. Echo Hills, a recently-reconstructed nine-hole par 3 charges less than ten dollars a round. On Thursdays, Golden Era, rolls out the verdant carpet. Thirty dollars /couple gets GVP guests circling its regulation-length nine holes-and that's driving a cart. Seven Hills is another steal. In the afternoons their eighteen-hole, par 72, is a mere twenty-two dollars. Even higher-end courses, like our favourite, Diamond Valley Golf Club, are dirt cheap! This gorgeous gem, backed by the San Jacinto peaks, sprawls over four-hundred and fifty lush Hemet Valley acres. GVP also offers an organized golf program and by signing up, all guests get a deal on green fees and assurance of tee times.

Hiking in the sliver thin Ladder Canyon

Hiking the Hills: The San Jacinto, Santa Rosa and San Bernardino mountains spring up from Riverside County and are home to countless hiking trails. The well-marked routes through Simpson Park and around Diamond Valley Lake can be done at a leisurely pace. Or bump the exertion up a notch on steeper routes like Whitewater and Ladder Canyons or the pine-canopied trails just beyond the mountain town of Idyllwild. Devil's Slide is one of these popular pathways that'll kick your heart rate into overdrive. (snow permitting!)

Taking in the sunset and valley vista atop the hills a short walk from GVP

A weekly group hike is organized through GVP. And if you'd rather stick close to the homestead, the boulder-studded hills behind the resort's provide a great workout and valley panoramas.

Up up and away on the Palm Springs Aerial Tram

Additional Must-Do's: For hiking without all the hoofing, hop aboard the Palm Springs aerial tram (world's largest of its kind). You'll be whisked to the 8,500 ft ridge top in just ten minutes where there's a network of trails ranging from casual rambles to challenging ascents. And before making the descent, re-fuel at either the casual Pines Café or savvy Peaks Restaurant where delicious options are accompanied by Coachella Valley vistas. If staying grounded is more your thing, Desert Adventures provides the thrill without the uphill. Take a jeep ride through narrow canyons or an echo tour into Joshua National Park. While being riveted in the present, you'll step back to the past, when learning about the Cahuilla people who once ruled this land.

At Western Science Centre we check out a giant mammoth

You want more history? Estudillo Mansion, a stately brick residence originally built in 1884, zeros in on San Jacinto Valley's more recent happenings and Hemet's state-of-the-art Western Science Centre goes right back to the area's ice age roots when giant mammoths and mastodons roamed these lands.

Pickleball is poular at GVP

Yes, there's something for everyone in and around the city of Hemet-but that's only if you can steal yourself away from all the fun stuff at Golden Village Palms. Pickleball, volleyball, shimmering pools. Add in tribute bands, comedy nights and special events to the chock-a-block full calendar and what do you have? A community of happy campers. It's no surprise that GVP was ranked one of the best RV parks in 2014 by the Good Sam RV Travel Guide and Campground Directory. It's the perfect snowbird getaway. And, for us, it beats any summer camp! Recommendation: The adjacent, Hampton Inn and Suites offers a discounted rate to friends and family who are visiting RVers at GVP.


More information:

Things to do:

City of Hemet:



Palm Springs:

PHOTOS by Brent Cassie

1 Enjoying a little pool time at GVP
2 College Of The Desert is a bargain-hunter's delight
3 Hiking in the sliver thin Ladder Canyon
4 Taking in the sunset and valley vista atop the hills a short walk from GVP
5 Up up and away on the Palm Springs Aerial Tram
6 Pickleball is poular at GVP
7 At Western Science Centre we check out a giant mammoth

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