As we travel the country, I am always excited to visit a place that I have heard about but never seen. Palm Springs was definitely in that group for me because it is a popular retirement destination and I am always curious if that might be a place we would ultimately settle. We have driven past Palm Springs and seen the many windmills but that views doesn’t come close to describing this area. Actually once we got off the highway we haven’t seen a windmill and instead have been in a lush desert oasis.
Palm Springs is actually a series of small towns that run along the mountains. Each one has it’s own vibe but they also share the Coachella Valley identity. There is money in this area (we saw two different people driving Rolls Royces) but there are also working class families especially in Indio and Coachella.
After looking at the options we decided to stay at the Elks Lodge in Indio. It has over 50 sites with 30 amp, water, and an onsite dump station. It also has a great restaurant open daily and a large lodge with a game room. The $25 a night was MUCH more palatable than the $60+ for RV parks and since Lee got an unexpected work trip out of town I wanted a place to stay that was affordable and safe. The Elks definitely fit the bill.
We weren’t really sure how to explore the area, so ultimately started at Palm Springs and worked our way down on Palm Canyon Drive. It turns out this is a cool route to take as it goes along the mountains and the original downtown of Palm Springs. The downtown is a great mix of original 60’s buildings and some newer developments definitely designed to capture an Urban Living crowd. The people we saw were a mixed age group and it was hard to tell if they lived here or were vacationing.
I also recommend driving by The Gardens in El Paseo which has very high end shops including Tiffany and Gucci. This area was definitely wealthy with lots of country clubs and high end car dealerships. One thing I thought was odd was those dealerships were largely packed with vehicles. We had seen barren car lots all over the country but these were practically pre-COVID full. Draw whatever conclusion you want from that 🙂
Another great stop along the road was the Palm Springs Art Museum. We didn’t go inside but did look at the outside art installations including a super coup giant statue of Marilyn Monroe.
High on my list of things to see was a visit to the Desert Memorial Park to see Frank Sinatra’s and Sonny Bono’s graves. Lee is a huge Sinatra fan and I really wanted to see Sonny Bono’s so off we went. Turned out both sites we relatively unassuming so it took awhile to find them, but we saw both and paid our respects. I really loved the simple epitaphs on both of them.
Another fun thing to do in this area is visit a Date Farm and get a date shake. There aren’t as many of these open to the public as I hoped so we visited Shields Date Farm. Turned out this was a great choice as it had a cool gift shop, restaurant, and garden. The dates shakes were yummy (tasted slightly nutty) and we walked in the free gardens as well. The gardens had all kinds of local plant life along with statues showing the life of Jesus along the way. It was all very well done and absolutely worth a visit if you are in the area.
In particular I liked the information about the date palms. Turns out there are males and females. All the males do is pollinate and one can cover around 50 females. The females are broken into multiple limbs which are pretty cool. They also had examples of date ladders which were moved as the trees grew taller. Nowadays cherry pickers are used.
I also enjoyed the flower section. It’s nice to see blooms in December. Again they focused on plants that can handle the desert heat which we learned can reach 120 in the summer. YIKES!! The weather is fantastic in the winter though and I can see why people snowbird here.
I really like the area although the summer heat is definitely to extreme for me to settle here. Next up a trip to Borrego Springs!
Next up we head south of Joshua Tree to explore Palm Springs and Coachella Valley.
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