Palm Desert City Guide
Nestled in the warm Coachella Valley amidst the mountains of two national parks, Palm Desert is a destination for those who love sunshine and the finer things in life. The Coachella Valley has always been a mesmerising place. Once the hangout of legends like Sinatra and Elvis, today it draws both young and old looking for fun.
There's a little something for everyone, with music festivals for hipsters, luxury boutiques for jet-setters, golf for mature visitors and water parks for families. And in the heart of it all, Palm Desert packs the best of everything. Public parks, golf courses, hiking trails and swimming pools offer a limitless choice of outdoor activities for any taste and style. There's also al fresco dining, high-end shopping and art galleries for those who like their entertainment a tad more cultured. It's easy to get pampered and spoilt in Palm Desert, so don't bypass this city as it is perfect for any holiday, no matter how short or long.
Shopping in Palm Desert
El Paseo, a colourful boulevard lined with palm trees and dotted with modern sculptures, is one of the main commercial thoroughfares in Palm Desert. A concentration of nearly 300 retailers makes this boulevard a place to shop for virtually anything, from furniture to fashionable apparel. There are high-end shops, antique dealers and art galleries. When you get tired of your shopping spree, you can take your pick from the numerous restaurants serving diverse cuisines.
At weekends head to the College of the Desert Street Fair. The fair welcomes visitors every single Saturday and Sunday, all year round, and while it's not as glamorous as El Paseo, you quickly see why it's such a popular shopping destination. Hundreds of vendors display their merchandise at the open-air market, selling everything from clothes, to flowers and home décor, and that's not all. There's a farmer's market, too, as well as street food and live entertainment. It's a fine mix of market browsing, eating out and amusement.
A City for Outdoor Fun
Given the all-year balmy weather that Palm Desert has been blessed with, it's hard to imagine not being outdoors all the time. That's why the city hosts a whole array of outdoor activities and sports events, such as major tennis and golf tournaments, along with an annual golf cart parade that fills the streets of the city with music bands and colourful carts. Those who prefer to practise rather than just watch sports have a lot of choices. Horse riding, cycling, golf and swimming are just some of the activities you can enjoy in this sunny part of America. Best of all, the hiking trails in the surrounding countryside and mountains are worth exploring as much as the streets of the city.
There's plenty of culture to enjoy in Palm Desert. The constantly changing statues along El Paseo create an open-air gallery that is free for all to enjoy – locals and visitors alike. You can take your pick from classical and contemporary music shows at the McCallum Theatre, or head to the Art Museum, which opened doors in 2012, to catch exhibitions of leading international art. Since most shows are visiting or temporary, there's something new to see every time you return. The museum garden is yet another outdoor sculpture display, so you don't even have to go indoors unless you want to hide from the sun.
Chances are you will want to make the most of the beautiful weather and you have plenty of places where to do that. Palm Desert is dotted with green spaces, gardens and parks equipped with sports facilities and children's playgrounds. Civic Center Park, the largest green area in the city, is a lot more than turf on which to lay out a picnic blanket. Concerts in the Park, an informal and free series of music events, are held here in spring and autumn, while the park's Aquatic Center, which boasts several open-air pools equipped with slides, is the perfect spot for a family day out.
The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is the other popular family attraction in town. Combining a zoo and a botanical garden, the venue is dedicated to desert animal and plant species from around North America and Africa. There's plenty to see and do, from feeding animals, to strolling trails and watching fun live shows that are geared to the interests of younger visitors.
When night falls, you can take your pick from more than a hundred restaurants all over the city, unwind in a wine bar or listen to live music in a cool café. With al fresco dining being the norm, rather than the exception, you can do some stargazing while savouring your meal.