Located just 100 miles southeast of Los Angeles, Palm Springs is a booming community boasting 83 square miles of desert land and a current population of 45,000 people. Most visitors arrive by driving from Los Angeles via the Interstate 10, which runs along the north side of Coachella Valley.
Drivers generally take either the Indian Canyon Drive/Palm Springs exit, which gives an up-close view of the giant windmills, or the earlier Tramway exit. Coming in via the Tramway exit, there is a startlingly abrupt transition from pasty desert to brilliant, emerald-green lawns. This transition marks your entrance into the Racquet Club area of Palm Springs, which has catered to Hollywood stars since the mid-1930s.
Throughout all regions of Palm Springs and its surrounding desert cities, visitors enjoy an array of restaurants, shopping and top-notch attractions.
Downtown Palm Springs
Downtown Palm Springs, also called 'The Loop' and 'The Village', is where nearly every visitor to Palm Springs will spend a considerable amount of time, enjoying shopping, dining, as well as strolling and people-watching. The Plaza Theater , home of the Palm Springs Follies , is in this district, along with the historic Village Green buildings and the Hyatt Regency Hotel . This district also hosts dozens of restaurants, including Muriel's Supper Club and the Kaiser Grille , as well as several gay nightclubs, among them Hunter's , which enjoys a worldwide reputation.
South Palm Springs
South Palm Springs is located along South Palm Canyon Drive and offers a mixture of moderately priced hotels, restaurants and residences. The Smoke Tree Ranch and Stables is located in this area, which is adjacent to the main portion of the Agua Caliente band of Cahuilla Indian Reservation, where the Indian Canyons , a popular hiking attraction, are located. The Canyon Country Club is also in this area.
Palm Springs Residential Areas
One ritzy residential area is Little Tuscany, near the former Racquet Club, featuring many deluxe homes built in an Italian style. If you are on the Palm Springs Celebrity Tours , this area may be on your itinerary. Another stop for stargazing tours is the Las Palmas area, still the favorite haunt of many wealthy Palm Springs residents. Off-limits is the enclave of South Ridge, permanently patrolled and protected behind a locked gate. Comedian Bob Hope is the best-known occupant. Meanwhile, the Movie Colony area, also once popular with the Hollywood set, is now undergoing a renaissance of remodeling.
Desert Hot Springs
Like Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs began with warm water bubbling up out of the earth. Several hotels take advantage of this great natural gift, including the Miracle Springs Hotel and Spa , the Desert Hot Springs Spa Hotel and the Two Bunch Palms Resort and Spa. This community is located on the far side of Interstate 10, just northeast of downtown Palm Springs.
Though the individual Chambers of Commerce do not like to admit it, the other desert cities surrounding Palm Springs tend to blend into each other along Highway 111. Unless you keep a sharp eye on the decorative markers, it may be difficult to know when you have left Palm Springs for Cathedral City.
The community of Cathedral City has several golf courses and some shopping. Much of the everyday business of nearby Palm Springs is transacted here. There are several good hotels, including the Doral Palm Springs Resort and some less-expensive options. The new IMAX Theater is located here as well.
Proceeding along Highway 111, Rancho Mirage blends into Cathedral City, offering abundant dining choices on "Restaurant Row." You will find Stuart Anderson's Black Angus, Chart House, Kobe Japanese Steakhouse and many others in this area. In addition, the Mission Hills Country Club, Tamarisk Country Club and the Ritz Carlton are among the upscale offerings in this area.
Palm Desert & Indian Wells
Palm Desert features the deluxe shopping region of El Paseo , where fine stores offer art, clothing, crystal and more. In fact, this street is often called 'The Rodeo Drive of the Desert', named after the famous Beverly Hills shopping district. In addition, The McCallum Theatre is located in the Palm Desert community, along with The Living Desert Wildlife and Botanical Park .
Just after Palm Desert, Indian Wells offers the Indian Wells Country Club , the Miramonte Resort and the Hyatt Grand Champions Resort . Exclusive residential communities abound as well.
Farther along 111, golf Mecca La Quinta hosts several private courses, including the PGA West Arnold Palmer Private Golf Course , which is one of the locations for the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic . There is the La Quinta Resort and the La Quinta Golf Course as well. Exclusive housing areas cling to the edges of the golf courses.
Serving as a gateway into the more agricultural portion of the Coachella Valley, Indio is the location for the annual Date Festival held at the Riverside County Fairgrounds. Devane's , a restaurant owned and operated by actor William Devane, is located here, along with the Indio Fashion Mall , a popular mid-range shopping stop. In addition, The Landmark Golf Club hosts The Skins Game annually.
Throughout Palm Springs and its surrounding cities, visitors enjoy quality dining, luxurious resorts and world-famous golf courses. It's no wonder why this community consistently draws countless tourists from around the globe.
Palm Springs began by appealing to the high-living Hollywood crowd, which made this town Los Angeles' desert retreat. For many years, the cuisine was predominately meat and potatoes or Italian, and while both of these cuisines still flourish, there is considerably more variety available today.
Many of Palm Springs' best restaurants are found on 'The Loop', formed by North Palm Canyon Drive and Indian Canyon Drive. Everything from decades-old landmark dining essentials to opened-last-week hot spots can be found within easy walking distance. Many places urge reservations, but it's also tempting to simply wander between them until one strikes your fancy, fits your budget and has a table available without an extensive wait. The Loop also offers many casual eateries, diners, ice cream shops and coffeehouses, perfect for quick snacks or a reviving espresso.
The Kaiser Grille offers finely prepared dishes, some with an Italian flair. As with almost all restaurants, outside dining is available and provides a great perch for people watching.
Mexican food is a favorite, with a number of places thriving for years. One of the most fun spots is Las Casuelas Terraza , offering excellent food and live music most of the day. The festivities begin in the morning with table-strolling mariachis and carry on until late at night in the bar, which features a heated dance floor. Another Palm Springs institution is Del Rio's Taqueria, offering outdoor dining in a beautiful courtyard atmosphere at the corner of Tahquitz Canyon and Indian Trails. The pavilion bar is a quirky black-light marvel, specializing in agave-based tequila margaritas, very easy to drink and very hard to survive unscathed. Each table also sports a wine-bottle size container of the restaurant's proprietary hot sauce, made mainly of scalding-hot Habanero peppers. Like the margaritas, the hot stuff is easy to taste, but much harder to survive as the heat develops on the tongue.
An excellent choice for casual American dining is Hamburger Hamlet at the corner of Palm Canyon and Tahquitz Canyon Way. Prices are low and the quality is outstanding. The house Lobster Bisque can hold its own against much more illustrious competition. According to the host, the Hamlet meets all requirements for a three-star restaurant rating, yet it's still a place you can take your kids. Another cheerful family dining choice is Ruby's , a 1950s-style diner featuring hamburgers, sandwiches, Mom-style main dishes, ice cream drinks and desserts.
Meanwhile, the five-star Le Vallauris offers 'French-California' cuisine in a French country patio atmosphere or a lush, chateau interior dining room, all just moments away from the Palm Canyon district. The prestigious Zagat Guide named Le Vallauris the "Best Restaurant" in Coachella Valley.
Off The Loop
Searching for the spirit of famed Palm Springs resident Frank Sinatra? His old haunts include Riccio's and Melvyn's at the Ingleside Inn . If you hope to catch a glimpse of additional Hollywood stars, Melvyn's has also been named the 'Best Place to See Celebrities', offering an extensive photo collection of famous diners.
Heading out of Palm Springs along Highway 111, Cathedral City offers The Wilde Goose, which features continental cuisine and wild game dishes including venison, quail and the occasional elk or wild boar.
Restaurants are cluster along this stretch of highway coined "Restaurant Row" by the Rancho Mirage Chamber of Commerce. Favorite spots along the row include Kobe Japanese Steak House , housed in a dramatic building re-creating a Japanese-style inn, and Stuart Anderson's Black Angus.
Whether you choose to dine in downtown Palm Springs or at one of the surrounding desert cities, you are likely to find a delightful atmosphere and delicious cuisine. Enjoy your dining adventures in Palm Springs, where vigorous competition helps assure excellent quality and value throughout the city.
Palm Springs draws numerous tourists from around the globe year after year. What keeps these visitors coming back to this desert haven? Most guests praise the world-championship golf courses, although others rave about the shopping, restaurants and shows offered in Palm Springs. Whatever your preference, you will find a variety of pleasurable attractions along these tours of Coachella Valley.
Tour One: Downtown Palm Springs
Begin your tour on Highway 111, after exiting from Interstate-10. Continue along Highway 111 until you reach North Palm Canyon Drive. Charming eateries are found along North Palm Canyon Drive. Consider stopping at Crosswalk Cafe , a casual venue with fresh baked breads and goodies. Meanwhile, Hamburger Hamlet is an ideal lunchtime spot for families.
Once you reach the intersection of North Palm Canyon Drive and Tahquitz Canyon Way, take a brief detour westward to find Museum Drive. Along this strip, visit Palm Springs Desert Museum with its exquisite sculpture gardens, and Annenberg Theater where traditional opera and ballet concerts are performed.
Back along Palm Canyon Drive (which becomes South Palm Canyon Drive after the Tahquitz Canyon Way intersection), visit the Plaza Theater , a 1930s movie house that has been transformed into a modern-day theater facility. The theater hosts scores of popular attractions including the Palm Springs Follies , a wildly popular show starring only folks over 50 years of age. Near the theater, The Blue Guitar draws large nighttime crowds with blues music and a hardwood dance floor.
Slightly further south, visitors will enjoy a stretch of historical landmarks. The Agua Caliente Cultural Museum showcases artifacts from early Native American tribes. In addition, the McCallum Adobe and Ruddy's General Store , two of Palm Springs' earliest establishments, both now serve as museums.
Palm Canyon Drive eventually turns eastbound, newly dubbed East Palm Canyon Drive. Merv Griffin's Givenchy Spa & Resort is located along this stretch of land. One of the most exclusive and luxurious resorts in Coachella Valley, this establishment hosts Fashions at Merv's Place, a monthly show featuring the latest trends of upscale Palm Springs boutiques.
When East Palm Canyon Drive meets Gene Autry Trail, turn north to find Palm Springs Air Museum , an incredible display of historic planes, highlighting an extensive collection of World War II aircraft.
Tour Two: Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert
While Palm Springs offers countless attractions, its surrounding desert cities also feature notable tourist spots. After visiting the sites along the Downtown Palm Springs tour, simply drive eastbound along East Palm Canyon Drive into Cathedral City where you will find popular attractions for families. The Desert IMAX Theater shows 3-D movies on a screen that spans six stories in height. Cathedral City also features top-notch public golf courses including the Cimarron Golf Resort and Cathedral Canyon Country Club .
Once you enter Rancho Mirage, visit this community's popular museum for youngsters. The Children's Discovery Museum of the Desert offers dozens of interactive exhibits for kids including an archaeological dig.
Nearby Palm Desert features the most popular attractions on this tour, found along the famed El Paseo Avenue , also called “the Rodeo Drive of the desert.” The Gardens on El Paseo is an elaborate shopping center offering everything from clothing and luggage to pottery. Meanwhile, Coda Gallery features contemporary works of art including paintings, sculptures and glass masterpieces.
While El Paseo reigns supreme among the Palm Desert venues, the city hosts a few other notable attractions. The Living Desert is a delightful display of flora and fauna accompanied by a vast range of wild animal species. In addition, McCallum Theater is located in Palm Desert, showcasing cultural and musical events.
Tour Three: Eastern Desert Cities
While Palm Springs and its surrounding desert cities boast a variety of attractions, many tourists come simply to play golf. An abundance of golf courses dominate Coachella Valley. Some of the finest courses are found along PGA Boulevard in La Quinta where the PGA West Resort Courses are located. Tee off on a course designed by Jack Nicklaus or other top-name golfers. In addition, view world-famous golf tournaments such as the Bob Hope Chrysler Classic , which is hosted by the Arnold Palmer Course.
Golfing action continues in the community of Indio. While this town is significantly less upscale than La Quinta, the community has earned a favorable reputation for quality public courses. In fact, Indio's Landmark Golf Club hosted the prestigious 1999 Skins Game, an annual professional tournament broadcast on network television. In addition to public golf courses, Indio also hosts the annual Riverside County Fair and National Date Festival .
Whether you are looking to tee off on a world championship golf course or simply browse through upscale shopping boutiques, select a tour through Palm Springs and its surrounding cities. Each tour offers different highlights, but you will always find variety and sunshine along these tours of the Coachella Valley.