$223 per night
Expected price for:Aug 26 - Aug 27
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It’s little wonder that glamorous Palm Desert in southern California is so popular with visitors. This modern desert resort city about 120 miles from Los Angeles experiences some of the USA’s warmest weather and boasts upscale shopping, posh spas and boutique hotels, many showcasing the sleek, modernist architecture first popularized in nearby Palm Springs. Located in the Coachella Valley, the city’s stunning backdrop of towering mountains and desert landscapes is matched by its impressive line-up of sports events and facilities. With museums, galleries and a major annual music festival on its doorstep, Palm Desert also has a distinctly arty side.
Shopaholics and diners looking for upmarket eateries will find downtown Palm Desert irresistible. This glitzy area where several hotels are situated bears the hallmarks of the modernist aesthetic the Coachella Valley exudes. Occupying low-rise, glass-and-steel structures designed by architects celebrated for their retro panache, there are chic bars oozing Californian cool, fine dining restaurants and laid-back coffee hangouts. Featuring more than 150 businesses, elegant El Paseo Drive is Palm Desert’s answer to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. This modern shopping boulevard runs parallel to State Route 111, which threads Palm Desert and Palm Springs together with the other main cities in the valley as well as Palm Springs International Airport. Along its landscaped two miles sit boutique shops and fashion outlets frequented by full-time inhabitants, seasonal “snowbird” residents escaping colder climes and international visitors alike. Major malls along El Paseo Drive have further cemented its reputation as an Inland Empire shopping hotspot. These include Westfield Palm Desert, The Gardens on El Paseo and Desert Crossing.
After all that shopping and dining, relaxing Palm Desert can also be the perfect place for a spot of pampering. Located in a south-sloping suntrap valley framed by lofty mountains, Palm Desert occupies a once-barren landscape shaped by volcanic activity and the restless tectonic plates along the San Andreas Fault. This unique climate and geology make the city and its hinterland fertile ground for swanky spas and wellness centres offering beauty treatments, sunlit swimming pools and soothing hot spring waters.
Whether swinging racquets or clubs is your thing, Palm Desert is popular with sporty types. Civic leaders have promoted the city as the “world’s golf capital”. It’s hard to argue when there are at least 30 courses within 10 miles. In fact, the wider Coachella Valley region boasts more than 125 golf courses, despite the arid nature of the terrain in this part of California. Golf enthusiasts can even choose a resort hotel with an on-site golf course. Additionally, tennis aficionados can enjoy the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in the neighbouring city of Indian Wells. This impressive tennis complex boasts dozens of courts, including a 16,000-seater stadium, which hosts major annual events regularly attracting the globe’s top tennis talent. In between these events, members can book time on the courts. Tennis professionals are also available for those wishing to sharpen up their game.
The beauty and serenity of the city’s desert location have always appealed to arty types and a hip, happening crowd on retreat from hectic LA. Culture vultures can browse numerous art galleries along El Paseo Drive or explore the collection of modern American art and sculpture on display at the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert at the road’s western end. The city also has a penchant for public art, and many examples are dotted throughout.
As the hometown of much-admired bands like Queens of the Stone Age and Eagles of Death Metal, Palm Desert has a natural flair for live music performances. In Fred Waring Drive, travellers can catch shows at venues like the McCallum Theatre, which once hosted Johnny Cash. Meanwhile, Indian Wells Tennis Garden has welcomed stars like Tom Petty and Andrea Bocelli. Furthermore, thousands of revellers flock to nearby Indio for the annual Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival each spring. This glitzy multi-genre event at the Empire Polo Ground is heralded as one of the USA’s foremost music festivals owing to its scenic splendour, illustrious line-up and high-comfort format. Radiohead, Morrissey, Björk, Kratfwerk and Major Lazer are among the artists to have played the festival down the years.
A colourful tapestry of Sonoran Desert and mountain scenery surrounds Palm Desert, making it an ideal playground for outdoors enthusiasts. Although holidaymakers shouldn’t underestimate the desert heat in the summer, myriad safe opportunities do exist for enjoying hiking, biking and horseback-riding trails at recreation areas like those around the Salton Sea lake. Visitors with a head for heights can savour terrific views of the Coachella Valley aboard the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. This rotating cable car takes passengers from the desert floor at Palm Springs to the forests of the San Jacinto Mountains. The fascinating 2.5-mile climb spans five vegetation zones, and visitors can expect to experience much cooler temperatures at the top or even patches of lying snow in midwinter.
Animal lovers will adore the Living Desert Zoo & Gardens in Palm Desert. Showcasing desert plants and animals plus exhibits on Native American culture, this interesting attraction features big cats, reptiles and meerkats. Meanwhile, the unique desert flora and fauna of the Joshua Tree National Park is roughly one hour’s drive away.
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