From vintage shopping to holiday splendor, the desert is an idyllic escape with endless options for entertainment and fun. Here are our top ten things to do in the desert this season.
1. Stroll Palm Springs VillageFest
Every Thursday night, historic Palm Canyon Drive turns into a giant block party, with live music, gourmet eats, artisan booths, and open-late shopping. Find fresh produce and flowers at the farmers’ market, along with handcrafted treasures, jewelry, clothing, and unique gifts.
2. Study Architecture
Greater Palm Springs boasts outstanding midcentury modern architecture designed by luminaries like Donald Wexler, Albert Frey and E. Stewart Williams. The curious can take a self-guided tour or join architecture buff Trevor O’Donnell on a guided excursion exploring the style and glam of Palm Springs circa 1940–1960.
3. Pedal for a Cause
Gear up and join the peloton of cyclists on the 19th annual Tour de Palm Springs on Saturday, January 21, 2017. This exciting ride, with routes ranging from 10 to 100 miles, supports local charities. Marching bands, jazz musicians, and cheerleaders propel and entertain the riders and enthusiasts.
4. Spend the Holidays at La Quinta Resort & Club
Experience the magic of the holiday season at this desert jewel. Enjoy a Thanksgiving feast with all the trimmings at Morgan’s, experience the 48-foot tree-lighting ceremony with Santa (November 26), or spend Christmas in “Bedford Falls” with carolers, roasted chestnuts, and outdoor screenings of It’s a Wonderful Life, a nod to director Frank Capra, who was a frequent La Quinta Resort guest.
5. Vintage Shop
Palm Springs is home to a vintage bonanza. Find furnishings and Mark Shaw celebrity prints at Kerson; vintage record players, Eero Saarinen tulip tables and chairs, and ’60s-era paintings once owned by Sinatra and Elvis at Modern Homes; or glassware, tiki accessories, and baubles at Dazzles.
6. Jazz it Up at The Grooves at the Westin
This epic concert series features a lineup of world-class musicians performing smooth jazz on the Masters Plaza at the beautiful Westin Missions Hills Resort in Rancho Mirage. Acts include Jazz in Pink (October 29), Steve Oliver and guests (November 12), Sax Pack (November 26), and Jazz All Stars (December 10). Look for VIP receptions with the artists, three-course pre-concert dinners, and overnight stay packages at the luxe resort.
7. Take a Boat Ride To Dinner
At the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort in Palm Desert, electric Duffy Boats transport guests to the Mikado Japanese Steakhouse for sushi, sake, and teppanyaki; or to Rockwood Grill, where diners savor New American cuisine in a stunning garden setting.
8. Explore Joshua Tree State Park
At this otherworldly 800,000-acre desert, discover stark terrain populated by giant boulders, cacti, and its famed eponymous tree. The 2.2-mile Old Mill Hike reveals evidence of the early settlers and mines, while a trek to Keys View offers panoramas of Coachella Valley and sprawling Palm Springs.
9. Dance Under the Full Moon
The Ace Hotel in Palm Springs celebrates the full moon with a drum circle, dancers, tarot card readers, and more.
10. Feed a Giraffe
Palm Desert’s The Living Desert glimmers as a unique oasis dedicated to preserving, conserving, and interpreting the desert and its wondrous plant and animal life. Mingle with butterflies, ride a camel, meet the meerkats, or get eye to eye with a giraffe during a daily feeding. During the holiday season’s WildLights, a dazzling display of lights, music, and holiday cheer enlivens the park.