If fortunate enough to descend into the Palm Springs International Airport in daylight, the view out the window hints that the desert is something special.
The green fairways of golf courses and streets lined with palm trees are a stark contrast to the glittering desert sand and sun-burned San Jacinto Mountains. The brilliant blue pools look inviting from the air, as they glisten in the bright sunshine of another perfect desert day. The oasis is the Coachella Valley and Palm Springs is the first stop.
Even the walk through the open-air airport indicates this place is different. Leave Calgary or Edmonton on a cold November day and just over three hours later, bask in the warmth of the desert sun. An average temperature for November is 26C.
Palm Springs is the city where it all started. The Rat Pack, Bob Hope and Dinah Shore were only a few of the parade of stars from the golden era of Hollywood who escaped to the desert looking for rejuvenation, recreation and pampering.
It is no wonder that movie stars and so many others flock here during the winter months. Cobalt blue skies, swimming pools, mid-century modernism, breathtaking scenery, golf courses, fine dining, spas and stories of the rich and famous make the desert an enticing place to visit.
The Coachella Valley is much more than the city of Palm Springs. Travel down Hwy 111 where the cities of Desert Hot Springs, Rancho Mirage, Cathedral City, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, Bermuda Dunes, La Quinta and Indio melt one into the other to form the magic of the valley. It is difficult to tell where one city ends and the next begins. All of them have something to offer in the way of dining, entertainment, recreation, spas, casinos or shopping.
The valley is most popular with visitors during the winter months when snowbirds flee to the warmth of the desert. December and January average a daytime high of 20C and cool down to 5C at night. When the winds pick up, especially in the evenings, it can be pretty chilly, so be sure to bring some warm clothes at this time of year.
The summer months are a totally different experience. It is a dry heat, as they say, but temperatures will be in the 40s. Most visitors avoid the extreme heat of the summer so resorts and motels offer great discounts during these times.
I have played golf in July, teeing off just after the sun rises over the nearby mountains. If you love golf, it is something to consider as courses have great discounts and enticing deals to lure customers out of swimming pools onto the courses. I would avoid August, as humidity rolls in and this makes a walk outside almost unbearable.
Places to Stay
From small, quaint, remodelled motels to large resort spas, there is no shortage of places to stay in the Coachella Valley.
If staying in the Palm Springs city area, consider one of many smaller boutique hotels. These hotel/motels were built in the 1940s and ’50s and have been remodelled and redecorated, highlighting the mid-century design classic to Palm Springs. SmallhotelsinPalmSprings.com provides a comprehensive overview of the many boutique hotels in the area.