Dramatic scenery, lush golf courses, majestic estates, excellent dining, sensory spa treatments, natural beauty, serene escapes, and vibrant nightlife combine to create the ultimate resort experience. The Coachella Valley is more than a destination; it’s a vibe and a lifestyle. It’s color and calm, sophistication and sensuality. It’s everything you could imagine and more. Nine distinct cities make up Greater Palm Springs. This potpourri of paradise includes Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Desert Hot Springs, Indio, and Coachella. These diverse municipalities merge into one exciting experience.
Downtown Palm Springs
Greater Palm Springs CVB
“It’s the magic air … like nowhere else on the planet — sensual, warm, healing, calming. A true remedy for long life and health.” — Suzanne Somers
The ancestral home of the Cahuilla Indians, Palm Springs pulses with the presence of its original inhabitants. Whether visiting downtown’s Spa Resort Casino, “taking the waters” of the resort’s spa, or hiking in the lush Indian Canyons, an aura of spirituality permeates the land. The city itself is probably best known as a hideaway for celebrities who flocked here during the 20th century.
Over the years, Palm Springs grew into a destination with a global reputation for first-class resorts and hotels, modern architecture, great restaurants, eclectic shopping, and year-round fun. Top events include Palm Springs International Film Festival in January, Modernism Week in February, and VillageFest every Thursday night on Palm Canyon Drive. Complete your visit with a ride on Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to enjoy the refreshing beauty of the San Jacinto Mountains.
For those who live to shop, retailers of every stripe comprise the Uptown Design District on North Palm Canyon and along the downtown strip. The restaurant scene continues to grow, with excellent dining at venues such as Trio, Lulu California Bistro, Cheeky’s, and Zini Café Med joining long-standing establishments such as Le Vallauris and LG’s Steakhouse.
As one of the first and arguably the most famous desert resort destinations in the United States, Palm Springs has a celebrity vibe that’s hard to beat.
Tips & Fast Facts
• See compelling exhibitions and an outstanding permanent collection at Palm Springs Art Museum.
• The popular Palm Springs Festival of Lights Parade engages more than 80,000 holiday revelers each December.
• Marvel at The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies, a talented cast of “mature” singers and dancers (minimum age 55) performing at the historic Plaza Theatre. After (or before) visit the 26-foot sculpture of Marilyn Monroe located catty-corner from the theater.
• Spend the day perusing clothing and retail items with a midcentury modern flair in Palm Springs Uptown Design District. Later, dine at one of several Uptown restaurants.
1920s — Hollywood celebrities discover Palm Springs as the perfect place to play in the sun.
1938 — The city incorporates.
1964 — Palm Springs Municipal Airport opens (now Palm Springs International Airport).
1984 — Palm Springs Convention Center is completed. In 2005, a $34 million expansion and renovation takes place.
1990 — The inaugural Palm Springs International Film Festival launches, the brainchild of then Palm Springs Mayor Sonny Bono.
2012 — Palm Springs lives up to its Hollywood East reputation with the debut of the annual American Documentary Film Festival featuring special guest Oliver Stone.
Cathedral City Civic Center
City of Cathedral City
Cathedral City’s assortment of independent shops and restaurants draws people like a magnet to its excellent location between Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage. Other attractions include the IMAX Theatre, Mary Pickford Theatre, and Big League Dreams Sports Park — where the playing fields resemble scaled-down famous ballparks such as Boston’s Fenway Park, New York’s Yankee Stadium, and Chicago’s Wrigley Field.
Boomer’s recreation complex, featuring miniature golf, go-karts, bumper boats, a rock wall, and a game room, brings out the kid in everyone. Cool folks love Desert Ice Castle, a fullservice skating facility. Or you can play in the Fountain of Life in the city’s Town Square or mountain bike along the Santa Rosa Mountains to the south of the city.
Tips & Fast Facts
• Cathedral City was named after a canyon that reminded an explorer of a European cathedral.
• Noted as among the top 10 retirement bargain spots by US News & World Report.
• Desert Memorial Park is the final resting place of former Palm Springs mayor Sonny Bono and Rat Packer Frank Sinatra.
• Perez Road Design District offers housewares and furniture shops with midcentury modern and vintage merchandise you won’t find at big-box stores.
• Cathedral City has an expanding art-in-public-places program, with sculptures adorning a variety of locations.
1981 — The city incorporates.
1991 — Downtown revitalization begins.
1997 — Big League Dreams and Patriot Park are built.
1999 — Mary Pickford Theatre and civic Center are built.
2011 — Desert Ice Castle opens in new location on Perez Road.
The Annenberg Retreat at Sunylands.
© The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands
Rancho Mirage is among the most affluent and well-managed communities in the desert, with 80 percent of homes located in gated enclaves. The city also boasts an enviable roster of celebrities, families, and vacationers. Many flock to Restaurant Row and The River at Rancho Mirage to shop, drink, dine, and go to the movies. Gamers seek out Agua Caliente Casino • Resort • Spa for 24-hour entertainment. For more cerebral undertakings, the architecturally significant Rancho Mirage Public Library offers special events, lectures, and exhibits. Rancho Mirage focuses on health, with distinguished facilities like Eisenhower Medical Center and Betty Ford Center. One of the biggest bonus additions is The Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands, the spectacular Walter and Leonore Annenberg estate, center, and gardens, which is open for tours, conferences, and special events.
Tips & Fast Facts
• Study up on the city’s adopted animal: the bighorn sheep.
• Be moved by exhibitions at The Tolerance Education Center.
• Take in one of the desert’s most spectacular views from the 18th hole of the Westin Mission Hills Resort and Spa’s Pete Dyedesigned golf course.
• Splashtopia and Lazy River offer water fun all day long at Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa.
1963 — The Walter and Leonore Annenberg estate, with interior décor by silent film star William Haines, opens its doors and becomes known for being one of the most coveted invites in the country.
1972 — LPGA’s Colgate Dinah Shore begins, now known as Kraft Nabisco Championship. It’s designated an LPGA “major” event in 1983.
1973 — Unincorporated areas known as the “Cove Communities” merge as the City of Rancho Mirage incorporates.
1982 — The Betty Ford Center, specializing in the treatment of drug and alcohol dependency, opens.
2008 — The 16-story Agua Caliente Casino • Resort • Spa opens with great expectations — and lives up to them.
2012 — Sunnylands Center & Gardens opens to the public.
Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert.
Palm Springs Art Museum
The oasis offers considerable shopping options, including Palm Desert’s elegant El Paseo and its wealth of fine stores.
Palm Desert is considered the geographical center of oasis communities. With stunning mountain views, 350 days of sunshine a year, and an environment that encourages an active lifestyle, the city attracts a wide variety of people. Consumers enjoy considerable shopping options, including elegant El Paseo and its wealth of fine stores, such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Apple, Louis Vuitton, Kate Spade, Lucky Brand Jeans, and the recent addition of Bang & Olufsen. Nearby Westfield Palm Desert represents the only regional mall in the area.
Palm Desert is also education focused, with three college campuses: College of the Desert; California State University, San Bernardino; and University of California, Riverside. The city’s must-see attraction is The Living Desert Zoo & Botanical Garden, 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 and Palm Desert’s continued popularity among locals and visitors is easily understood.
Tips & Fast Facts
• El Paseo offers a mile-long indulgence of art, sophisticated retail, and great dining.
• 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.
• Check out Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert featuring exquisite exhibitions and sophisticated events.
• Palm Desert Civic Center Park — a lushly landscaped setting complete with waterfalls and lagoons — offers sporting facilities for tennis, basketball, volleyball, and baseball, as well as a dog park, skate park, children’s playground, and the city’s three-pool Olympicqualifying aquatic center.
1920 — Palm Village emerges from Old MacDonald Ranch after date palms are planted.
1940 — Shadow Mountain Resort attracts Hollywood celebrities and the rich and famous.
1973 — The City of Palm Desert incorporates.
1976-79 — Construction of a flood channels allows for the building of residential homes and the Palm Desert Town Center, currently Westfield Palm Desert.
2005 — The debut of Fashion Week El Paseo ushers in a new tradition on the West Coast fashion calendar.
Indian Wells Tennis Garden
Indian Wells Tennis Garden
This beautiful city boasts a high percentage of very well-off retirees, resulting in a “private club” feel for those who live here. With a property owner I.D. card, residents enjoy an array of perks, from discounts at hotels, spas, and restaurants to special invitations to parties at the BNP Paribas Open, The Living Desert Zoo & Botanical Garden’s WildLights, and more. Fortunately, Indian Wells shares its wealth, including the Indian Wells Tennis Garden (host of the BNP Paribas Open and Indian Wells Arts Festival), Indian Wells Golf Resort and IW Club, and Desert Town Hall Indian Wells lecture series. Four deluxe hotel properties lie within the city’s borders: Hyatt Regency Indian Wells Resort & Spa; Indian Wells Resort Hotel; Miramonte Resort & Spa; and Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa.
Tips & Fast Facts
• When President Dwight Eisenhower first vacationed here in 1954, he was so impressed with Indian Wells that it became his winter residence.
• The upscale golf shop in the IW Club boasts one of only nine Callaway Golf Performance Centers in the country.
• Although The Living Desert Zoo & Botanical Garden’s street address is in Palm Desert, the park spans both cities.
• BNP Paribas Open is the fifth largest tennis tournament in the world.
1960 — Indian Wells Country Club hosts the first Bob Hope Desert Classic.
1967 — Indian Wells is incorporated, becoming California’s 400th city.
1986 — Indian Wells Golf Resort begins construction.
1993 — Desert Town Hall Indian Wells speaker series begins.
2000 — Construction on the Indian Wells Tennis Garden begins.
2011 — The Hyatt Grand Champions undergoes renovation.
Old Town La Quinta
Largely surrounded by the Santa Rosa Mountains, La Quinta offers a distinctive backdrop for such world-class events as the Humana Challenge (formerly Bob Hope Classic) at SilverRock Resort’s Arnold Palmer Classic Course, and La Quinta Arts Festival. The city’s fairy tale story began in the 1920s with the creation of La Quinta Resort & Club, which now includes restaurants, golf courses, tennis courts, a spa, and more. Old Town La Quinta, located within La Quinta Village, is alive with sidewalk cafés, concerts, art shows, a weekly organic farmers market, and more. La Quinta Museum features traveling and historical exhibits, and La Quinta Public Library boasts one of the top circulations in Riverside County. The city is known for arts and culture, natural beauty, and an Old World atmosphere with a distinctly 21st century focus on health and wellness.
Tips & Fast Facts
• Frank Capra wrote the screenplay for Lost Horizon at La Quinta Resort & Club.
• Merv Griffin’s estate sits on 40 acres and is available for party and event rentals.
• La Quinta has 14 parks, including the Lake Cahuilla Recreation Area, which features fishing, camping, picnicking, more than 25 golf courses (SilverRock Resort is the only public facility), and miles and miles of trails.
• La Quinta’s commitment to public art is evidenced by the many installations throughout the city. In Old Town La Quinta, fi nd Art Under the Umbrellas once a month during season.
1926 — La Quinta Resort & Club opens, putting the area on the map. The resort features more than 600 guest suites and casitas, 25 swimming pools, a deluxe spa, three golf courses, and tennis courts.
1982 — La Quinta is incorporated, making it the Coachella Valley’s youngest city.
2004 — Old Town La Quinta emerges as a central hub.
2005 — SilverRock Resort opens, featuring a championship municipal course, the Arnold Palmer Classic Course, home of the Bob Hope Classic beginning in 2009
2010 — The Eisenhower George and Julia Argyros Health Center opens, giving East Valley residents access to a 92,000-square-foot medical complex that offers urgent care, laboratory, pharmacy, imaging, radiation, and oncology services.
Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
Greater Palm Springs CVB
As the largest and one of the fastestgrowing cities in the Coachella Valley and the second county seat for Riverside County, Indio is a force in the area. The increasing popularity of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and Stagecoach Music Festival, both held at Empire Polo Club, have contributed to much of the city’s current girth. But the “City of Festivals” does not stop there. Millions of people come here annually for a host of additional events, including the Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival, Southwest Arts Festival, and International Tamale Festival. Other favorite attractions include Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, Coachella Valley History Museum, Coachella Valley Wild Bird Center, and the Cabazon Cultural Museum. The Indio Chamber of Commerce offers self-guided tours through Indio’s murals, a series of 12 outdoor panels commissioned to honor the city’s history and people.
Tips & Fast Facts
• Night golfing is available at the Indio Municipal Golf Course — the only place in the valley offering after-dark play.
• Indio is home to award-winning teen and senior centers.
• “Indio” is Spanish for Indian.
• A not-to-be-missed short film, The Romance and Sex Life of the Date, screens continuously every day at Shields Date Garden.
1876 — The Southern Pacific Railroad chooses Indio for its primary Coachella Valley station, giving birth to a community.
1930 — Indio is the fi rst city in the Coachella Valley to incorporate.
1959 — Indio becomes known as the “Hub of the Valley,” promising urban renewal, commercial opportunities, and steady growth.
1999 — The first Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is held.
2010 — Downtown revitalization results in the growth of Indio Performing Arts Center. Construction of College of the Desert Indio campus moves forward.
City of Coachella
Coachella marks the desert’s easternmost city, where 80 percent of the land remains undeveloped and the median age of residents is 24. Coachella is one of the fastest-growing cities in the state with a population that is 98 percent Hispanic. The area’s casinos on Indian reservations — Spotlight 29 Casino, and Augustine Casino — bring the majority of visitors to Coachella, but it’s said that the authentic Mexican food brings them back.
The city’s crowd-pleasing fiestas include Cinco de Mayo, Mexican Independence Day (Sept. 16), and a day honoring the Virgin of Guadalupe (Dec. 12). A weekly Saturday morning farmers market features plentiful Coachella crops, such as grapes, citrus, corn, carrots, artichokes, and peppers.
Tips & Fast Facts
• Great Mexican restaurants in the city include La Cazuela, Jalisco’s, and Las Flores.
• Together with neighboring cities Indio, Thermal, and Mecca, Coachella produces 95 percent of the nation’s dates.
• Director Frank Capra (It’s a Wonderful Life) is buried in the Coachella Valley Cemetery.
• Ernie Ball Inc. manufactures guitar picks, strings, and other accessories in its facility in Coachella, shipping products internationally.
1876 — The city is founded as Woodspur, when the Southern Pacific Railroad builds a rail siding.
1901 — The citizens vote to rename their 2.5-square-mile community Coachella.
1910 — Coachella Valley High, the oldest secondary school in the valley, opens.
1946 — The City of Coachella incorporates.
2001 — A significant annexation of property takes place, which increases the city’s area to 32 square miles.
Two Bunch Palms Resort & Spa
City of Desert Hot Springs
Desert Hot Springs
Healing hot mineral waters are discovered in 1913 at the foot of the San Bernardino Mountains. Almost 100 years later, “California’s Spa City” attracts visitors globally. Water naturally heated underground to as much as 180 degrees has resulted in more than two dozen spas and spa hotels, including the celebrity-studded Two Bunch Palms Resort & Spa, soothing Miracle Springs Resort, and DogSpa and Wellness Center, for traveling with your pup.
People are drawn to the small-town atmosphere, award-winning tap water, proximity to Joshua Tree National Park, and stunning elevated views of Palm Springs, causing the population to double in the 1980s. Desert Hot Springs’ annual spa tour and holiday parade are two of the area’s favorite events.
Tips & Fast Facts
• Pioneer Cabot Yerxa worked on his residence, now Cabot’s Pueblo Museum, until his death in 1965. Today, daily tours are offered of the hand-crafted home.
• The San Andreas Fault separates Desert Hot Springs (which is on the North American Plate) from other area cities, which are on the Pacific Plate.
• Two Bunch Palms Resort & Spa was featured in the 1992 movie The Player.
• Spas listed on Tripadvisor’s list of top 10 Best Hidden Gems include El Morocco Inn & Spa, Living Waters Spa, and Sagewater Spa.
1913 — Homesteader Cabot Yerxa discovers hot water on Miracle Hill.
1937 — The first scientific analysis of Desert Hot Springs’ water confirms its therapeutic value.
1941 — Desert Hot Springs is founded by L.W. Coffee.
1963 — The area is incorporated as a city, with 1000 residents.
1965 — Cabot’s Pueblo Museum is designated a state historical site.
1999 — Desert Hot Springs High School opens, and the city’s tap water wins its first award in an international competition.
— David A. Lee & Daniel Vaillancourt contributed to Communities.