While living in or visiting the Coachella Valley, it’s nearly impossible to miss Palm Desert, the geographical center of the nine desert communities. With unobstructed mountain views, 350 days of sun a year, and an environment that encourages an active lifestyle, the city is a magnet for retirees, families, and snowbirds alike.
Consumers enjoy options such as the fabled El Paseo (4): a shoppers’ paradise and home to such retailers as Saks Fifth Avenue, Apple, Louis Vuitton, Kate Spade, Lucky Brand Jeans, Coach, and Cole Haan. Also available is Westfield Palm Desert (3) , the only regional mall in the area.
Palm Desert is also “education central,” with three college campuses: College of the Desert (1) ; California State University, San Bernardino; and University of California, Riverside (5).
The city’s must-see attraction is The Living Desert Zoo and Botanical Garden (6) , a wildlife park devoted to desert flora and fauna from around the world — and the proud exhibitor of a collection of model trains that will delight the whole family.
Add to this the arts and culture offerings of McCallum Theatre (2) and it’s easy to see why many consider Palm Desert the heart of the Coachella Valley.
■ Views from Palm Desert range from Mount San Jacinto to the west and past the Salton Sea to the southeast of the city. For a romantic moment from sunrise to sunset, check out Vista Point up the corkscrew road known as Highway 74.
■ Locals know who to see and where to go for fresh, innovative natural skincare products — “Cosmetic Chef” David Parke at The Body Deli. www.thebodydeli.com
■ Palm Desert Civic Center Park — a lushly landscaped setting complete with waterfalls and lagoons — is home to sporting facilities for tennis, basketball, volleyball, and baseball, as well as a dog park, skate park, children’s playground, and the city’s new three-pool Olympic-qualifying aquatic center. www.cityofpalmdesert.org
The Living Desert Zoo and Botanical Garden
Whether you live in the Coachella Valley full- or part-time, or just come a-calling now and then, you know this place is more than simply location, location, location. It’s a feeling, a lifestyle, and most definitely a privilege. It’s also one of the “greenest” deserts around, not only because of the profusion of golf courses and verdant botanical gardens, but also for its collective commitment to sustainability evident in exemplary conservation measures, including recycling programs and xeriscaping implemented by cities, resorts, and residents.
What many consider “Palm Springs” is actually a collage of nine quite distinct cities that together fashion a one-of-a-kind resort destination. Included in this potpourri of paradise are Desert Hot Springs, Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, La Quinta, Indio, Indian Wells, and Coachella — municipalities that make life under our beloved sun, blue sky, and majestic palms ever merrier.