Best Street Party
Cul-de-Sac Experience, Modernism Week Fall Preview
During this fan-favorite event offered during Modernism Week’s autumnal offerings, a secluded circle in Canyon View Estates transports visitors to the 1960s with era-appropriate vehicles, music, and models in period garb roaming around the iconic neighborhood designed by Dan Palmer and William Krisel. It’s like going back in time (without the need for a DeLorean). The next time warp is set for 2021.
Best Tuna Sandwich
Newporter, Aspen Mills Bakery
Before the Newporter, our relationship with the tuna sandwich was like that of a dentist: We weren’t going out of our way to see it more than twice a year. Now, we struggle not to make daily visits to this Palm Springs bakery (with outposts in La Quinta and Rancho Mirage) to savor their chunky white albacore tuna salad served between two slices of jalapeno cheddar bread.
• Best of the Best 2020: Discover Who Made the Cut in Each of the Nine Desert Cities.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY LA QUINTA RESORT & CLUB
Best Massage for Wine Lovers
Wine Down Massage, La Quinta Resort & Club
You’ve heard of aromatherapy, but what about vinotherapy? Spa La Quinta’s unique wine-centric massage experience begins with a taste of four different wines, lightest to darkest. Choose your fave, then a therapist matches that flavor profile with accompanying Zents essential oils used during a full-body rubdown. Afterward, sip an entire glass in the spa’s tranquility garden.
Best Mai Tai
Mai Tai a la Royale, Bootlegger Tiki
Don’t judge this mai tai by its kitschy Polynesian surroundings. At this downtown Palm Springs tiki bar — located on the former site of Don the Beachcomber — the Mai Tai a la Royale is actually a posh affair: avocado butter-washed green Chartreuse, agricole rhum, China-China, pistachio, orgeat, and lime. If that’s not fancy AF enough, it’s served with salmon caviar.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY BOOTLEGGER TIKI
Olive Oil Candle, T&T Innovation Kitchen
For the Coachella Valley’s most illuminating accompaniment, light a path to JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa’s gastronomic extravaganza, where bread service comes with a flaming globular ball of butter served atop a pool of olive oil, garlic, and herbs. The candle is completely edible and its warmth ensures a smooth spread with every knife swipe.
Best Appetizer That Could Be a Main Course
Chiles Gueritos Rellenos de Camarón, El Mexicali Café
You’d hardly be first to say you could make an entire meal of the Chiles Gueritos Rellenos de Camarón at this authentic Mexican eatery in Indio. And you won’t be the last. Those in the know will drive an hour (without complaining) for a plate of these grilled yellow peppers stuffed with fresh shrimp. Squeeze the lemon to your liking — and then figure out what to order next.
PHOTOGRAPH BY GEORGE DUCHANNES
Best Birding Site
Big Morongo Canyon Preserve
Take binoculars and a guidebook to Big Morongo Canyon Preserve in the Little San Bernardino Mountains southeast of Morongo Valley. A habitat consisting of riparian woodland and freshwater marsh, the preserve is a birding haven with 254 recorded species, including one of the largest populations of brown-crested flycatchers and summer tanagers in the state.
Best Freaky Radio Program
Desert Oracle, KCDZ 107.7 FM
When night falls Fridays on the desert, a cult-like following of listeners within range of KCDZ 107.7 FM in Joshua Tree tune into Ken Layne’s radio show for strange and chilling tales of Bigfoot sightings, secret military UFO programs, missing hikers, and other myths and conspiracies about the mysterious Mojave. There’s a podcast for those who miss the broadcast.
Best Face Masks
Protective gear is our new reality. However, that doesn’t mean we must sacrifice fashion. The chic El Paseo boutique in Palm Desert answered that call by designing washable masks made with stylish, comfortable fabrics — many of which to complete Grayse ensembles. Each mask includes an organza carrying bag and a bottle of lavender coconut oil antibacterial spray.
Best Sunday Drive
Follow 111 to the east coast of the Salton Sea and stop at the International Banana Museum in North Shore before heading to the renegade art installations in Niland, home of Salvation Mountain, Slab City, East Jesus, and Bombay Beach, where artists have turned empty lots and dilapidated houses into a drive-in theater, opera house, museum, and banned book library.
PHOTOGRAPH BY NATE ABBOTT