They call it the Playground of Presidents: a 25-square-mile stretch of palm-dotted land in the central valley. Richard Nixon spent the day of his pardoning at the historic Sunnylands estate. Barack Obama unplugged at Thunderbird Country Club. Gerald Ford lived here in Rancho Mirage through the final decades of his life.
The city’s history, however, traces back to the rough-and-tumble Gold Rush days as prospectors routed through the desert in search of a score. By 1915, their wagon trails had been supplanted by scattered ranch homes and Bradshaw Highway, now Highway 111.
After the war, Hank Gogerty opened an airstrip and the Desert Air Hotel in the area now occupied by the Rancho Las Palmas shopping center. The fancy fly-in retreat drummed up an elite patronage, spawning the development of country clubs and private golf courses. In 1973, Rancho Mirage officially became a city.
These days, efforts are focused on conservation and community, recreation, state-of-the-art technology (including a newly built observatory), and programming like free concerts and movies at the city amphitheater.
Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa
32250 Bob Hope Drive
A luxurious resort with a cool desert attitude, the AAA Four Diamond and Forbes-recommended Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa in Rancho Mirage offers a perfect mix of elegance and exhilaration. Exceptional room accommodations, 71,000 square feet of the area’s best gaming, award-winning dining, the Forbes Four-Star Sunstone Spa, and an outdoor oasis with sparkling pools and luxury cabanas await.
The Steakhouse, winner of the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence consecutively since 2007, features the finest prime steaks and fresh seafood. Now also serving Sunday brunch, an unrivaled dining experience.
Meanwhile, The Show, a stunning venue of just over 2,100 seats — all with expansive views of the stage — offers a lineup that reads like a hall of fame. For the finest in luxury, boxes offer catering, private bars, and bottle service.
Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa
41000 Bob Hope Drive
Discover ultimate relaxation at Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa. Nestled between the San Jacinto Mountains and an array of palm trees, Omni offers the ideal Palm Springs getaway. The 240-acre property combines timeless comforts with classic conveniences and modern technologies.
Splashtopia, the resort’s 2-acre water park, has two 100-foot waterslides, a sandy beach area, interactive fountains, and a family pool. For grown ups who want to get away from it all, the adults-only Azure pool beckons with shaded loungers and food-and-drink service.
Those inclined to spend an afternoon on the fairway have 27 holes on three rotations at their disposal. The Ted Robinson–designed course is appropriate for all levels; however, if you’re looking to brush up your golf game, instruction is also available.
Visit the spa for a treatment infused with herbs and plants native to the California desert. Then retreat to your room for a midday snooze — the 240-acre property has 444 guest rooms and 22 luxury Spanish Colonial–inspired suites.
At on-site restaurant BluEmber, breakfast includes Benedicts and chilaquiles and dinner is a global fusion of New York steaks, Scottish salmon, Korean barbecue, and Moroccan stir-fry. As day turns to dusk, find a seat by the patio fire pits and wind down with live entertainment.
Let Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa make the most of your next chance to wander.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY @BEARLEADERCHRONICLE
68900 Frank Sinatra Drive
Driving up the serpentine road that leads higher and higher into the San Jacinto Mountains you’ll immediately sense The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage working its magic.
A modern oasis embraced by desert warmth, the resort’s natural surroundings reveal a casually elegant ambiance. Away from the down-valley bustle, guests can surrender to the serenity of a relaxing spa, indulge in fine dining, or participate in an assortment of on-site activites like guided hikes, open-air yoga, and lawn games.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY THE RITZ-CARLTON, RANCHO MIRAGE
Meandering gardens lead to luxury rooms with sweeping valley views. Equipped with 55-inch flat-panel TVs, Frette bed linens, and Asprey bath products, the accommodations tempt visitors to forgo exploration and linger in their suite.
However, carve out time to visit the day spa for a locally inspired treatment like the Desert Wildflower Poultice massage, which incorporates indigenous plants and herbs.
With two restaurants, The Ritz provides an unparalleled culinary experience. Sip a signature cocktail crafted with freshly made syrup and small-batch spirits on the outdoor terrace at State Fare Bar + Kitchen, or opt for a window table at The Edge Steakhouse, an upscale restaurant that boasts some of the most breathtaking views of the Coachella Valley.
PHOTOGRAPH BY @BEARLEADER
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY THE RITZ-CARLTON, RANCHO MIRAGE
Westin Mission Hills Resort & Spa
71333 Dinah Shore Drive
Swanky accommodations bundled in comfort are at the core of Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa, but its heart is made of pure fun. In fact, the resort has an actual Director of Fun whose only job is to make sure your kids and your inner child have the time of their lives.
Set on 360 acres, the Westin Mission Hills blends Mediterranean architecture with picturesque mountain views and a natural desert landscape. There are 512 well-appointed rooms ranging in size from 400 to 1,500 square feet.
While you’re working on parring your course at one of the property’s two championship courses, drop the youngsters at the Westin Family Kids’ Club Discovery Room, which features games, arts and crafts, resort animal feedings, and lots more, including an on-site babysitter.
Take a dip in one of the three pools and make sure to take a ride down the awesome 75-foot-water slide at the Las Brisas pool. Post splashing, how about a yoga class or a relaxing treatment in the spa?
Evenings are for family movies and fun in Oasis Den or The Hideaway Arcade. If adults want alone time for a romantic dinner in one of the restaurants, followed by one of the fantastic events the resort provides, Kids’ Night Out is just the ticket for little ones to enjoy their own supervised fun-filled evening while mom and dad enjoy the resort.
And don’t forget the dog. A superabundance of festivity awaits the whole family, even the four-legged variety.
PHOTOGRAPH BY NEIL HUSVAR
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY WESTIN MISSION HILLS RESORT & SPA