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  • Writer's pictureKathy Condon

Plan your Visit to Palm Springs

Updated: Apr 16

Palm Springs Caliente Tropics Resort

Are you really going to Palm Springs? Let me explain.

As a resident of Palm Springs, I have friends who call and tell me excitedly that they are coming to Palm Springs. They have their hotel and look forward to spending time with me.

I smile at the other end of the phone and ask, What is the name of your hotel? Since there are hundreds of them in Coachella Valley, I have often never heard of the hotel. I ask: What is the address?

They say I don't know, but I will check. An email later, I have the address of their vacation spot in Palm Springs. The only problem the actual address is Indio, California, a one-half hour drive from here.

Coachella Valley Travel Tips

Palm Springs does have an International airport. Personally, I believe that is what causes the confusion about this area, which is all being called Palm Springs. However, the Coachella Valley is actually composed of nine separate cities, all with their own City Government. They have their own identity and are very proud of it.

This is the only city East of Highway 10, the main artery between Los Angeles and Phoenix. Here, you can experience hot mineral baths. Palms Springs Spa Resort Casino is in the process of building a new Spa, so its mineral spring is presently capped. Two Bunch Palms is a luxury resort where the LA crowd comes to get away from it all. The famous Cabot Pubelo Museum is not to be missed.

This has become the hip place to visit because many activities revolve around outdoor activities, including many restaurants with outdoor dining. This community is very LGBTQ-friendly and very dog-friendly. The city was perceived as full of only retired people, but not anymore. Lots of music, a terrific art museum, and lots of shopping make for a diversified travel experience. Let’s not forget hiking.

This city is experiencing a rebirth. Once known as the place where the worker bees lived, it is becoming a city with a booming downtown square, art galleries, and numerous activities for families. It is also the location of my favorite luxury movie theatre, The Mary Pickford D Place.

This city has always seemed to keep its cache as a city where the rich and famous live. It still is for Thunderbird is often in the news because of the Obamas' visits. The Library is one of the finest I have ever experienced. One of my favorite places, Sunnylands, is located on the famous Annenberg Estate.

Reflection Pool at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage

This city has our magnificent venue, the McCallum Theatre, where our major art attractions perform during the winter months. The Living Desert is a must-see for any visitor to Coachella Valley. If you want to experience Rodeo Drive without going to Beverly Hills, you should plan a shopping trip to El Paseo.

The drive on Hwy 111 through this city is breathtaking. The road is lined with magnificent palm trees with entrances to golf courses and gated residential communities. You will want to drive slowly so you can check out the entries landscaped to perfection in any season. The Indian Wells Tennis Garden is located here, the home of BNP Paribas Open and WTA Indian Wells Open.

When I want to go to someplace to feel like I have been on a journey from Palm Springs and want to relax, this where I go. Old Town beckons you to slow down. This city is also the site of one of our major international art shows which occurs in March. The grounds of the Town Hall Complex, with its magnificent park and permanent art, are enough to make anyone feel like you have arrived in Paradise.

This is my go-to place for two reasons. Shields Date Garden makes the best date shakes, in my opinion in the Valley. A short block away you can experience my favorite Happy-- Happy Hour place Jackalope Ranch. The ambiance in their garden is spectacular and totally unexpected in our desert. It is also home to the Coachella Music and Art Festival and Stagecoach Country Music Festival on the Polo Grounds.

Indio Polo Field and Site for Coachella

It is known as the City of Eternal Sunshine. It is mostly a rural and agricultural community. If you want to see groves of date palm trees, orange and lemon groves, this is the place to soak it in.

There you have it. Nine separate cities with, in my opinion, totally different personalities. The only way you will know which city you are in is IF you keep a lookout for the cities welcoming signs. There is no natural space between them.

I trust this explanation will help you when you plan your stay or deciding on things to do in Palm Springs. Yes, now I know you now understand the difference…just wanted to see if you were still alert.

Kathy Condon is a travel writer and blogger. She is the Founder of the Palm Springs Insider Guider Her book It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask: It’s All About Communication was named Best Book Finalist By USA Book News 760-902-3094

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