Nothing Says “Vacation” like Palm Springs, California and the Surrounding Coachella Valley

I have spent many happy weeks in the Palm Springs, California area. Nothing says “vacation” to me like barren mountains with the silhouettes of palm trees. Running past date and citrus groves, I learned to appreciate what the low desert has to offer in the autumn and winter. Additionally, the manicured golf courses and immaculately cared-for gardens are uplifting and somehow unexpected despite the fact that these scenes are known the world over; it’s just difficult to comprehend such greenery can coexist with the surrounding barren climate. Driving down Highway 111 is a feast of sculpted landscapes from Indio to Palm Springs proper. Indian Wells, exclusive Rancho Mirage, and Palm Desert are just a few other towns in the sprawling Coachella Valley of which Palm Springs is a part.

In addition to sculpted, manicured beauty, there are also pockets of the natural flora and fauna. These can be found in the Indian Canyons — oases in the desert with indigenous palms. A few years ago, I was able to reach one of these oases on horseback — a great way to see natural beauty of the area.

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Another place to see the natural beauty of the area is from the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. In a two-and-a-half mile ride in the world’s largest rotating tramcar, you will see the San Jacinto Mountains and the Coachella Valley with a birds-eye view. There is a strange thrill watching the terrain and plant life morph from low desert to alpine during the ascension. It is a good thirty degrees cooler at the end of the tram ride, and pine trees abound! — a truly unique experience. If you would like to linger at 8,500 feet, there are two restaurants.

Swimming, Golf, & Tennis

Is life by a pool your idea of the perfect vacation? Virtually all of the exclusive home exchange options IVHE.com has to offer in the Palm Springs area have a pool on their respective properties. Golf and tennis are often part of the amenities, and if not, very nearby.

I spent many treasured hours playing tennis, swimming, hot-tubbing, and on a putting course near Dwight Eisenhower’s former home in the Coachella Valley; the weather in the autumn, winter, and spring is perfect for such activities, and it truly helps one to unwind.

Fun Dining to Fine Dining and Everything In Between

Known for its exclusive dining, Palm Springs offers an array of gustatory pleasures for the sophisticated palate. However, it’s good to know that if you need something more of the people, the Palm Springs area offers this as well. Consistently voted Palm Springs’ “Most Popular Restaurant,” Las Casuelas Terraza offers tasty Mexican cuisine at reasonable prices (there is more than one Las Casuelas, but Las Casuelas Terraza is mine and my family’s favorite). The Spanish tile roof is welcoming as well as the staff, and the happy Latin colors are sure to lift your spirits For the best family dining, it’s best to go at lunch; at night for a romantic ambiance, try the Terraza patio. The buoyantPalapa patio offers live music and a bar. Why not try one of the seventy-five varieties of tequila?

To Date or not to Date

I have learned that you either love dates or you don’t — there doesn’t seem to be a lot of in between. I myself became a convert of the Medjool date after several visits to Palm Springs — I never had been a fan before. Now, I can’t leave Palm Springs without taking some home.

Ever since the first date tree was brought into the Coachella Valley in the early twentieth century, Americans have had an uneasy relationship with the date. Foreign to their palates, Americans simply weren’t consuming them as hoped. It is widely accepted that in the 1940s, Russ Nichol had a great idea and created the “date shake,” which is now a Coachella Valley phenomenon. Even if you don’t like dates, the date shake seems to be a winner with almost everyone.

Harvest Your Own Citrus

One of the fondest memories I have of my time in the Coachella Valley is picking tangerines and grapefruit and then eating them for breakfast. This may seem trite, but walking through a citrus grove on sandy soil in the sun, picking the fruit, and then enjoying the “fruit” of your labors is an extremely satisfying experience. If you are so inclined, this can be done in Indio.

Art Galleries

Like many vacation destinations in America, Palm Springs has its share of lovely and unique art galleries. I purchased an intricately made glass sculpture for my husband before we were married which still has a home in our living room. My mother, ever on the lookout for beautiful art, invested in a Cybis porcelain bust of a child’s head which remains in her living room. If you are looking for art, chances are you will find something you love.

Spring, Autumn, or Winter?

Most of the year is beautiful in the Palm Springs area. Around Thanksgiving (November) is my favorite time to go. The community is animated, but not too crazy with tourists, and it’s a lot of fun to be in a mild climate just as the weather is getting cold in the Northern Hemisphere. The liveliest time to go is the spring; young people and Hollywood types seem to favor this time as summer-like weather bursts onto the scene in the Coachella Valley. It can be a real see-and-be-seen scene!

IVHE Has Several Luxury Home Exchanges in the Palm Springs Area

There are several luxury home exchange options in the Palm Springs area. Each home is unique, and choices vary from a smaller condo up to one of the most luxurious homes I have seen on IVHE, The Frederick Lowe Estate. Also view more exclusive home exchanges in California.

After lingering in Palm Springs a while, one can see that it is obvious why the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuillla Indians chose to settle the area; everything from hot springs, oases, to high mountain peaks exist. With over 300 days of sunshine per year, how could you not want to visit Palm Springs at least once during your travels?

Thank you to travel writer Sona Schmidt-Harris sonag_2000@yahoo.com