BMW Performance Center

Best Adrenaline Rush in the Desert

Get behind a wheel negotiating tight corners and putting the pedal to the metal at the BMW Performance Center.

Steven Biller Attractions, Current PSL

BMW Performance Center

BMW Performance Center in Thermal.

Free-climbing the north face of Mount San Jacinto or free-falling from an airplane over the desert might compare, but otherwise, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more white-knuckle thrill than clocking six exhilarating laps around a circuitous track at the BMW Performance Center at The Thermal Club. After a BMW Performance Center instructor brings you up to speed on a warm-up lap, you’re on your own, negotiating tight corners and putting the pedal to the metal on the fast straightaways. Whether you sign up for one-on-one instruction, a two-hour “performance drive,” or the hourlong M Track Drive in the most powerful and responsive M series vehicles at the BMW Performance Center, you’ll learn a ton about driving and be treated like royalty. And the smile on your face will last for days.

You can play golf or soccer golf at The Lights at Indio Golf Course.

Best Place to Play After Dark

We had one rule: No happy hour drinking before tee time. As darkness fell on The Lights at Indio Golf Course, everyone in my foursome laced up their boots for a round of footgolf — a mashup sport that’s played with a regulation size 5 soccer ball and scores exactly like golf: The player who finishes nine or 18 holes with the fewest shots wins.

To many golfers’ dismay, several courses around the Coachella Valley offer footgolf, which has an international governing body and its own world cup. But only The Lights at Indio offers nighttime play. (Tee times begin at 6 p.m.) You need not be a soccer player for this game. But everyone in my foursome can bend it (almost) like Beckham, and we didn’t want anybody using their buzz as an excuse for sloppy play.

If you prefer a top-of-the-line golf club, head to Indian Wells Golf Resort for Shots in the Night, which offers two challenges: a driving range with illuminated targets that flash when your ball (which also glows) makes contact and a laser-enhanced putting green with a variety of games and activities. Unlike footgolf, the “glow golf” experience encourages food and drink consumption to round out the music and party vibe. Shots in the Night goes dark for summer, resuming play on Oct. 13. Be sure to reserve a green or a hitting bay ahead of your visit.

Best Row of Poker Machines

Experienced players know that Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa in Rancho Mirage has the Coachella Valley’s best row of video poker machines.

Enter from the main parking garage, veer to your right toward the new restaurant areas, and you will run into a row of eight machines, four on each side. Often, you will have to wait to play. These are 25-cent, deuces-double poker machines, a rarity now in most casinos. They were recently moved here from the center of the casino. They are progressive machines, meaning that everyone playing is adding to the big payoff, which would be a $1,000 royal flush. But it is never that small, except for an hour or so after somebody hits it. Other nice payoffs, such as four deuces plus an ace for $500, and four deuces for $250, keep it interesting.

On a recent trip, the royal flush payoff was up to $2,197, and the machines were all in use. Smart video poker players start to jockey for seats when the royal payoff gets past $1,500. Legend has that it once reached $5,000. — Bill Dwyre