In California’s Coachella Valley, there are so many activities to choose from in the desert environment, your most difficult decision may be not what to do, but what not to do.
The eight main cities found in Coachella Valley and areas that surround them offer an abundance of recreation and shopping opportunities to its visitors.
With 350 days of sunshine, outdoor activities thrive. Here are some of my top choices of things to do in the desert:
There are 122 golf courses in the valley, meaning it has more golf courses per capita than anywhere in the Western States. Every level of player will find a course here that suits his/her needs.
For reduced rates, play weekdays and twilight times, which usually start after noon. We have used the services of Stand-By Golf, where you can receive anywhere from 10 to 50 per cent off the posted rates. Book online or call 760-321-2665.
Three of our favourite courses in the valley are Eagle Falls and Terra Lago in Indio and Silver Rock Resort golf course in La Quinta.
Take a golf lesson
There are as many golf instructors as there are courses in the Coachella Valley, so visiting the desert provides an ideal setting to learn the game or to improve your skills. I did some research before choosing Barry Clayton, director of instruction at the Mission Hills Resort. Barry provides excellent instruction to simplify the golf swing. His credentials include being named the Desert Chapter PGA Teacher of the Year for 2003, 2006 and 2007 (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Every course will provide opportunities for lessons from their professionals. To avoid disappointment in the quality of lessons, make a point to meet with the pro and discuss expectations.
Watch the pros play golf and tennis
The desert is a great place to catch the professionals in action.
The Bob Hope Classic (PGA) takes place Jan. 18 to 24, 2010, and The Kraft Nabisco (LPGA) runs March 29 to April 4, 2110. For tickets, call 1-888 MR B HOPE and 760-3424546 for the Nabisco.
Professional tennis players take centre court at Indian Wells Tennis Garden from March 8 to 21, 2010. Information for tickets can be found at 800-999-1585.
Take a hike
The winter months provide endless opportunities for hikes in the Coachella Walley and surrounding areas. One interesting area teeming with trails, springs, dunes and ancient palm trees is the Coachella Valley Preserve. The many palm oases found along the trails are fed from water that seeps from the San Andreas Fault. It is located 10 miles east of Palm Springs and information for hikes can be obtained from the visitors centre.
Another spectacular hiking area is Joshua Tree National Park. The huge park includes areas of the Mojave and Colorado deserts and is about a half-hour drive from Indio. Even if you are not an avid hiker, the geologic display is worth the drive.
The park has hikes of all lengths with each one offering dramatic desert views. The giant boulders found throughout the park offer challenges to the many climbers who visit the park. For more hiking information, call 760-862-9984 or go to www.deserttrailshiking.com
Pamper yourself with a desert spa
Spa vacations are extremely popular, offering quick treatments or stay spas of a night, a week or even longer.
There is something for everyone with the motto being “Know before you go.” Spas specialize, offering sessions for stress release, beauty treatments, alternative health or nutrition counselling. Spas offer therapeutic and restorative services in many different forms. Acupressure, aromatherapy, facials, salt glows, body scrubs are just a few options.
The spas in the valley are legendary. Prepare to be pampered. More information can be found at www.Spasofthedesert.com
There are many options for shopping in the desert from deals to designers.
El Paseo, found in Palm Desert, offers some famous high-end shops including Saks Fifth Avenue, Gucci, Coach, Ann Taylor and Escada. You will also find Banana Republic, Talbots and Williams and Sonoma in this area of town.
For bargain prices, drive 20 minutes west of Palm Springs to the Cabazon Outlet Mall and Desert Hills Premium Outlets. Shoppers here will find brand name stores with 30 to 70 per cent off retail prices.
For a huge assortment of golf and tennis equipment, find Pete Carlson’s Golf and Tennis shop in Palm Desert (73741 Hwy 111).
Enjoy the arts and entertainment
There is a lively arts scene in the valley as well as famous music and entertainment festivals (Palm Springs International Film Festival and Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival).
The valley also offers gaming and entertainment at the seven Indian casinos found in the area.
Mona Knudslien is a recently-retired Red Deer teacher and school administrator. Her column appears on Saturdays.