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Sheri’s Palm Springs Area Blog

Whether it be real estate updates, restaurant reviews, events, or highlights of unique homes in Palm Springs, follow Sheri as she covers all that Palm Springs and the surrounding area has to offer.

Best Sweet Treats

While you're in the mood to indulge, try the Best Chocolate Chip Cookie, Best Place for Tea and Chocolate, Best Date Shake, and Best Horchata Latte.

EMILY CHAVOUS FOSTERBEST OF, CURRENT PSL, RESTAURANTS

 

the sandwich spot palm springs

These scrumptious chocolate chip cookies are made fresh daily at The Sandwich Spot in Palm Springs.
PHOTOGRAPH BY MOLLIE KIMBERLING

What is it about a fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie that’s so irresistible? Natalie Keenberg, one of the friendly faces behind the counter at The Sandwich Spot in Palm Springs hits the nail on the head for me: “It’s just nostalgic,” she says. The version at this lunchtime hot spot is one of my favorites. Their approach — a “house secret,” according to Keenberg, from the recipe logs of late owner Corey Saldana, who grew up baking alongside his mother — results in an extra-wide and uniformly slim chocolate-chipper that’s slightly crisp around the edges and perfectly soft and breakable at the center. Though The Sandwich Spot has privately owned locations throughout California, and in Reno, Nevada, you will find Saldana’s cookie only at this outpost. “The cookie is a mainstay, and we make them fresh daily,” Keenberg says.  “It’s the perfect size for sharing. Or not sharing.”

The Real Italian Deli, with locations in Palm Desert and Palm Springs, takes an altogether different — but equally delicious — approach. “Our baker makes a really thick cookie,” says manager Jairo Quintanilla Flores. “You’re going to want a glass of milk.” It is taller and thicker than most, which means the center stays doughier. If for some tortuous reason you must resist immediate consumption, that doughy center translates to a cookie that’s still soft the second day.

Like the one at The Sandwich Spot, this crumbly confection often sells out. So take your lunch break early and order an extra if you can.

calirosinateashoplaquinta

Cali Rosina Tea Shop in Old Town La Quinta.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MOLLIE KIMBERLING

BEST PLACE FOR TEA AND CHOCOLATE

Regulars who pop into Old Town La Quinta’s restaurants, galleries, and boutiques may not have realized they needed a specialty tea shop, where dozens of hot and iced drinks join a global assortment of loose-leaf teas and chocolate bars. But they got it.

The door to Cali Rosina Tea Shop swings open and closed almost nonstop as co-owner Jodie Smith pours samples of the freshest, fruitiest, most flavorful iced teas into tiny paper cups for customers wracked with indecision. The spa-worthy Poolside blends lavender, lemon, and coconut. More lemon squeezes into Palmer drinks flavored by strawberry, peach, hibiscus, and mango. From ceremonial-grade matchas with homemade coconut cream to the ice-blended Cold Frosts, drinks receive sweetener only by request (choose agave, maple syrup, or honey).

About 270 artisan chocolate bars in gift-ready sleeves surpass any assortment for miles. — Lisa Marie Hart

chocolate
BEST DATE SHAKE

I first had a date shake on a dare at The Malt Shop near Lake Arrowhead when I was about 10. I loved it, especially the bottom of the glass, where the date gravel gathered. I have since discovered some significant differences in this unique, SoCal classic. There’s Hadley Fruit Orchards’ well-priced ($4.95) but insipid shake in Cabazon and Oasis Date Gardens’ excellent, super-datey shake, but the latter is still curbside only, closed on weekends during the summer, and too far to drive to unless you’re on your way to the Salton Sea. Shields Date Garden, of course, invented the date crystal in 1936. This translates to a smooth, date-infused concoction. It’s dark and creamy and a pretty good deal at $7.95 for a 22-ounce shake. My favorite is from Lappert’s Ice Cream, with locations in Palm Springs and Palm Desert. They make them in front of you with three scoops of vanilla, three scoops of date ice cream, and a couple scoops of date paste crafted from Coachella Valley dates. Add some whole milk, blend, top with whipped cream, and Bob’s your uncle. The difference is in the quality of the ice cream, and Lappert’s is heads above the competition. OK, $8.95 for 16 ounces is pricey, but if you only indulge in a date shake once or twice a year, like I do, it’s worth it. — Kent Black

lappertsicecream

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY LAPPERT'S ICE CREAM
Lappert’s Ice Cream has locations in Palm Springs and Palm Desert.

BEST HORCHATA LATTE

 Sixth Street Coffee in Coachella is known for its coffee as well as its community of coffee aficionados. But their caffeinated selections don’t stop at americanos and cold brew. The specialty lattes here are some of the best in the Coachella Valley, ranging from lavender-rose to chocolate Mazapan, but it’s the iced horchata latte that has us singing this coffee shop’s praises. Horchata is a beverage that’s popular in Mexico and Spain and is made by steeping grains and nuts in water and then sweetening the mixture with sugar and spicing it up with cinnamon. Adding a shot of espresso gives this sweet beverage a much-appreciated kick, making it a perfect caffeinated refresher. — Catherine Downes

SixthStreetCoffee

PHOTOGRAPH BY MOLLIE KIMBERLING
Horchata Latte at Sixth Street Coffee in Coachella.

26 Spots to Enjoy a Taste of Summer in the Desert

From cool libations and frozen treats to international cuisine and farm-to-table creations, Greater Palm Springs offers a variety of taste experiences.

EMILY CHAVOUS FOSTERCURRENT GUIDE, RESTAURANTS

tommy bahamas restaurant palm desert

Tommy Bahamas Restaurant in Palm Desert.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY TOMMY BAHAMAS RESTAURANT

DINE WITH A VIEW.

Fancy a side of vibrant views with your dinner? Grab a table on the outdoor balcony at Tommy Bahama Restaurant, at The Gardens on El Paseo in Palm Desert, where you can try Hawaiian-inspired cuisine set against a magical mountain backdrop. Or take the elevator to the top floor of the Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs for dinner at 4 Saints, which features California fare along with sweeping views of the city. The Edge Steakhouse at The Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage indeed rides the edge of the mountaintop, 650 feet above the valley floor, providing next-level views alongside a fine-dining menu that includes charred octopus, foraged mushrooms, and house-aged steaks.

bootleggertiki
IMBIBE LATE-NIGHT.

Looking for a nightcap after dark? In Palm Springs, Bootlegger Tiki serves up colorful handcrafted creations with gorgeous garnishes amid classic Polynesian décor. El Paseo’s stylish, speakeasy-esque Libation Room mixes inventive craft cocktails like a cherry-wood-smoked old fashioned with small plates that are sure to satisfy the munchies. Both deliver dark and sultry vibes.

shieldsdategarden

PHOTOGRAPH BY DANIELA STALLINGER
Shields Date Garden.

COOL DOWN WITH A FROZEN TREAT.

A visit to the Coachella Valley should always include downing a date shake, so be sure to visit the almost century-old Shields Date Garden in Indio to sample this creamy local concoction. For artisanal gelato, pop into Palm Springs’ Gelato Granucci, scooping rotating flavors including amaretto, pistachio, and options infused with locally made treats like Joshua Tree Coffee and Brandini Toffee. And though it’s no longer affiliated with the Hawaii-based chain, you’ll still find fun aloha-inspired flavors like lychee and caramel coconut macadamia at Lappert’s Ice Cream in Palm Desert and Palm Springs.

boozehoundspalmsprings

PHOTOGRAPH BY JENNI-KATE RODGERS
Boozehounds in Palm Springs.

ENJOY AN AFTERNOON APERITIF.

Sip a midday refresher with your four-legged friend at Boozehounds in Palm Springs. The hot spot welcomes dogs on the expansive patio and even offers Fido his own food menu. If you’d rather people-watch along Palm Canyon Drive in downtown Palm Springs, pull up a stool and order a marvelous martini at Lulu California Bistro, smack in the middle of it all.

SHARE SMALL PLATES WITH A GROUP.

When you want to sample a little of everything, there’s no better route than tapas-style bites. You’ll find a full menu of them at Palm Springs cocktail bar Truss & Twine with cuisine like Sichuan-style chicken wings, citrus-marinated olives, and deviled eggs. Sidle up to the bar at Willie’s Modern Fare in Rancho Mirage and pair your cocktail with sharables like a charcuterie plate for two, mini beef tenderloin, and roasted beets atop whipped black-pepper crème fraîche.

wallysranchomirage

PHOTOGRAPH BY JAIME KOWAL
Wally's Desert Turtle in Rancho Mirage.

CELEBRATE AN OCCASION.

Whether it’s an anniversary, engagement, or just a chance to finally get together with friends and family again, many swanky spots are worthy of a special celebration. In Palm Springs, go classic French on the starlit patio at Le Vallauris, have an old-school experience (while listening to crooning piano players) at Melvyn’s Restaurant, feast on innovative seasonal fare at the industrial-style Workshop Kitchen & Bar, or indulge in a top-notch omakase of melt-in-your-mouth fish at Sandfish Sushi & Whiskey. For fine cuisine down valley, try the caviar service at Wally’s Desert Turtle or prime steaks, seafood, and sides at Mastro’s Steakhousein Palm Desert, which hosts live music nightly in the lounge.

babesbarbqueranchomirage

PHOTOGRAPH BY JAIME KOWAL
Babe's Bare-B-Que & Brewery.

DRINK LOCAL.

The desert’s beer scene is getting frothy with options like Thousand Palms’ Coachella Valley Brewing Company, where brewers use local products including citrus and honey to create their IPAs, lagers, and sour beers. At three La Quinta Brewing Co. taprooms, you can sample valley-themed brews like the Heatwave Amber Ale, Even Par IPA, or Poolside Blonde. In Rancho Mirage, Babe’s Bar-B-Que & Brewery pours award-winning housemade suds to wash down a menu of sticky ribs, scratch-made tamales, and lobster mac and cheese.

kobejapanesesteakhouse

PHOTOGRAPH BY DANIELA STALLINGER
Kobe Japanese Steak House in Rancho Mirage.

GO INTERNATIONAL.

Specialties from dim sum to dumplings and short ribs to sea bass satay rule at Palm Springs modern Chinese eatery Roly China Fusion, with an art-covered dining room and poolside patio. For a taste of Thailand, order cuisine like pad see-ew and Panang curry at nearby Thai Smile (also in Palm Desert). For live-action eating, book a front-row seat at one of the teppanyaki tables at Kobe Japanese Steak House in Rancho Mirage.

carrots

PHOTOGRAPHS BY JAIME KOWAL
citrusandpalmrestaurant

Citrus & Palm is inside the Miramonte Resort & Spa in Indian Wells.
EAT FARM-TO-TABLE.

For scratch-made seasonal dishes centered around produce from local farms, head to June Hill’s Table, hidden within The Polo Club in Indio, where you’ll spy veggie-topped pizzas, stir fries, fresh fish dishes, and a quinoa tabbouleh. Miramonte Indian Wells Resort & Spa’s restaurant, Citrus & Palm, touts fresh Med-inspired cuisine like Faroe Island salmon, a vegetable tagine, and a Brussels-and-quinoa salad you can enjoy on an olive grove patio. The chefs grow their own citrus and herbs on-site.

ASK AN EXPERT

Fresh Picked in Greater Palm Springs
Agriculture is a major industry in the Coachella Valley. So, what are the top crops?

“Ninety-five percent of dates grown in the United States are grown right here. The Coachella Valley grows and harvests crops 11 months out of the year, including everything from citrus and table grapes to okra and eggplant. Driving around the eastern valley can be an incredible sight — come to the east end, see the beauty, feel the earth, and smell the abundance of crops. When people interact with their food, there is a visceral reaction that leads to a newfound appreciation of what it takes to stock the grocery store shelves.”

Mark Tadros, date farmer and president, Aziz Farms; co-founder, CV Harvest Box

Best Bar That Looks Like an Airplane

And where to enjoy the Best Happy Hour? Hit The Lounge at Hotel Zoso in Palm Springs.

DERRIK J. LANGBEST OF, CURRENT PSL, RESTAURANTS

PS Air Bar Palm Springs

PS Air Bar in Palm Springs.
PHOTOGRAPH BY GEORGE DUCHANNES

After a tough takeoff at the start of the pandemic, the aviation-themed PS Air landed a reputation as the Coachella Valley’s most talked about bar over the past year. That might have something to do with the fact that it’s not exactly easy to find. (Hint: To board PS Air, go to Bouschet, the beloved wine shop owned and operated by Tom Beatty and Dennis Costa, and find the bar entrance behind the counter. No TSA screening required.) The secrecy is part of the allure — as is the high-flying attention to detail: authentic 737 seats, floor lighting, riveted tables, and a vintage bar cart from which jetsetters are served cocktails such as the Black Box and Mile High. For in-flight entertainment, book one of the dining experiences like the Sunday Disco Boozy Brunch starring drag queens dressed as — you guessed it — flight attendants.
hotelzoso

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY HOTEL ZOSO
The Lounge at Hotel Zoso in Palm Springs.

BEST HAPPY HOUR

Hotel Zoso, the pyramid-shaped downtown Palm Springs hotel built in 1984 that had a brief existence as a Hard Rock property, received a much-need glow-up this year, adding a weekly pool party, a nightclub, and an overhauled restaurant. The most delicious — and generous — update is the daily happy hour in The Lounge, a sunken venue in the lobby offering a well-priced array of beer, wine, craft cocktails, and bites like churros, bison wings, and flatbread topped with smoked pork butt and prickly pear sauce.

Curiously, the happy hour menu also includes a chicken hominy soup that’s totally delicious. Soup for happy hour? Only in Palm Springs.

• READ NEXT: Looking for More Best of the Best for 2022? Check Our Directory.

Things to Do in August 2022

Splash House brings music festival feel to Palm Springs, and comedians Jim Gaffigan and Jim Jeffries both make tour stops in the desert.

Splash House Palm Springs 2022

Margaritaville Resort Palm Springs is 
among the venues 
for Splash House.
PHOTOGRAPH BY BLAKE DARYAIE FOR SPLASH HOUSE

SPLASH HOUSE 2022: AUG. 12–14 & 19–21

Don your neon speedo and daisy chains and follow the beat to any of three downtown Palm Springs resorts — the Renaissance, Margaritaville, and Saguaro — for waterside sets by your favorite DJs. Splash House 2022, which happens annually in June and August, has attracted such artists as Bonobo, Justice, Rüfüs du Sol, Bob Moses, Odesza, and Tokimonsta. Your Splash House 2022 festival wristband gets you access to free shuttle service, so you can venue-hop and experience the whole splashin’ shebang. After sundown, the Splash House 2022 open-air after-party thumps all night long at Palm Springs Air Museum amid sweeping hangars and vintage planes. Need a place to crash? Hotel packages sell out fast, but you can put yourself on a waitlist in case any additional rooms at the participating resorts become available.

TASTE OF SUMMER: THROUGH AUG. 12

The city of Rancho Mirage celebrates local flavor during this annual event featuring special discounts at city restaurants and fundraisers for area nonprofits. Learn how to eat, drink and give back.

LEON POLK SMITH: 1945–1962: THROUGH AUG. 28

Palm Springs Art Museum celebrates the rich colors and pleasing geometric shapes that define Leon Polk Smith’s abstract paintings. The late Oklahoma native became enraptured by fine art as a college student in New York City.

GONZALO LEBRIJA: THROUGH OCT. 2

View two decades’ worth of photos, videos, sculptures, and paintings by Mexican artist Gonzalo Lebrija at Palm Springs Art Museum.

PATTERN PLAY: THROUGH NOV. 20

Palm Springs Art Museum exhibits joyful drawings, textiles, wallpapers, and other creations from the mind of Jacqueline Groag, a British designer who catered to the post-WWII hunger for fun and vibrant clothing and housewares.

CABOT’S PUEBLO MUSEUM MIXER: AUG. 3

The Greater Coachella Valley Chamber hosts a mixer for local businesses and people who want to learn more about them at Cabot’s Pueblo Museum in Desert Hot Springs. The event includes a continental breakfast, museum tour, and plenty of networking opportunities.

MAN MAN: AUG. 4

Led by singer and pianist Honus Honus, this sway-inducing experimental rock band is known for its variety of instruments, which might include everything from xylophone and marima to spoons, smashing plates, and fireworks. It’s exactly the type of show you’d expect at Pappy & Harriet’s in Pioneertown.

JIM GAFFIGAN: AUG. 5

The six-time Grammy nominee known for clean comedy and dad jokes brings his “Fun Tour” to Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa in Rancho Mirage.

RAMBLIN’ 
JACK ELLIOTT: AUG. 6

The King of Folk fêtes his 91st birthday (which happens five days prior to the show) with a special performance at Pappy & Harriet’s.

TOUR DE BIG BEAR: AUG. 6

You need not head to France to pedal your way to a prize through beautiful mountain scenery. This cycling eventoffers routes for all riding levels, beginning with a zippy family fun ride and extending up to 100 miles.

IDYLLWILD ART IN THE PARK: AUG. 13–14

Escape the heat in the quaint mountain community of Idyllwild, and browse artisan-made treasures such as ceramics, glass art, jewelry, and wood carvings. Make a day of it with lunch in the charming downtown area and a hike at Idyllwild Nature Center.

RAMONA BOWL FLEA MARKET: AUG. 13–14

Whether you’re seeking a striking painting for above the dining table, a vintage film camera in great condition, or the perfect pair of retro cutoffs, you just might end your search at this monthly market at the Ramona Bowl Amphitheatre in nearby Hemet.

TAILGATE FEST: AUG. 13–14

Country faves including Jake Owen, Billy Currington, Chris Janson, the Eli Young Band, LANCO, Blanco Brown, Chase Bryant, and Ashland Craft take over the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, about an hour and 15 minutes from Palm Springs.

BANDA MS: AUG. 19

Named after Mazatlán, Sinaloa, where this group was formed, and specializing in banda music (similar to mariachi, ranchera, and norteño styles), Banda MS brings the heat to Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio.

LOVEDRIVE: AUG. 19

Fantasy Springs Resort Casino prepares to “Rock You Like a Hurricane” during this 
free outdoor concert featuring Lovedrive, a Los Angeles–based Scorpions tribute band.

PONY BRADSHAW: AUG. 25

Acoustic Americana crooner Pony Bradshaw wants to leave behind a body of work that informs future generations what life was like in our day. Hear his soulful sound at Pappy & Harriet’s in Pioneertown.

POISON: AUG. 26

If you wish you could tell ’80s glam-rockers Bret Michaels, C.C. DeVille, Bobby Dall, and Rikki Rockett, “I Won’t Forget You,” and give them “Something to Believe In,” head to Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa in Rancho Mirage for their latest tour.

JIM JEFFERIES: 
THE MOIST TOUR: AUG. 27

The Australian stand-up known for the FX series Legit and Comedy Central’s The Jim Jefferies Show brings his provocative and belief-challenging tour to Agua Caliente Resort Casino Spa.

MDOU MOCTAR: AUG. 31

Discover a new sound and a new favorite artist during this show at Pappy & Harriet’s. A truly prodigious guitarist and songwriter hailing from a rural village in Niger, Mdou Moctar’s groovy rhythms fuse traditional Tuareg melodies with the familiar flavor of Eddie Van Halen, who he grew up watching on YouTube.

Dining Around The Desert: Slice Italia, La Quinta

New La Quinta Restaurant

Slice Italia opened up on July 5th, 2022 in the old Bucatini space.

Slice Italia strives to deliver the best N.Y. Style Pizza and Italian dishes in a casual and fun atmosphere in the Coachella Valley. Slice Italia is the best of both worlds! They combine a New York pizzeria with a full-service, full-menu Italian restaurant. Slice Italia is the place to come for a quick slice, salad, or sandwich during your lunch break or to bring the family for dinner to order off of their "Build Your Own" pasta menu where the possibilities are endless. With flat-screen TVs throughout the restaurant and located right next to the movie theaters, Slice Italia is the place to come for a bite before the movies or to watch your favorite sports teams play.
Michael and I stopped in on Wednesday, and they had a decent crowd, lots of staff on the floor, and our favorite chef, Nina, on the line. Nina has been there since it was Bucatini, and we were delighted to see her.
The menu has a good selection of salads, heroes, pasta, seafood, and chicken dishes, along with a few things that seem odd for an Italian place such as Fish & Chips, Fish Tacos, Pulled Pork Sandwich, and an All American Burger, but if it works, it works. They have another location in Rancho Mirage, so it's not their first rodeo.
I had the Pesto Cream + Chicken featuring ziti pasta, pesto cream, chicken breast, and mozzarella. It was outstanding! It was a very generous portion, and I took half of it home. It was just as good the next day.
Michael had the Cajun Shrimp Pasta made with cheese tortellini, peppers, onions, mushrooms, and tomatoes in a cajun cream sauce. None of his made it home!
We had a couple of glasses of the Conundrum Red and it was very reasonably priced.
We are really pleased to see what seems like it will be a great neighborhood restaurant take over the Bucatini space, and we are looking forward to going back again soon to check out more of the menu.
46-660 Washington St.
La Quinta, CA 92253
Sunday - Thursday: 11 AM - 8 PM
Friday - Saturday: 11 AM - 9 PM

Your Guide to the Beautifully Bizarre Joshua Tree National Park

Camp, hike, and rock climb your way through California’s High Desert.

California’s Joshua Tree National Park embodied many of our pandemic fantasies. East of Los Angeles, the nearly 800,000-acre desert has inspired everything from the iconic U2 album The Joshua Tree to the fictional planet Tatooine in Star Wars. Spanning two very distinct deserts—the Mojave and the Sonoran—Joshua Tree’s hiking trails and campgrounds are wedged between oases (palm tree-dotted desert groves), cactus gardens, canyons, and sculpture-like boulders.

“People come to Joshua Tree for their own special reasons,” says David Smith, park superintendent with the National Park Service. “Sometimes it’s wilderness, other times people come here for the music history, the diversity of raptors, or just the epic landscapes. People come to Joshua Tree to find themselves."

And whether you find yourself in the spiritual sense (Mormons actually named the Joshua trees after biblical prophet Joshua) or are simply here to embrace the beauty of this otherworldly, Dr.Seuss-like desert, Joshua Tree offers pretty much has everything you need to get your fix, from hiking, biking, and rock climbing to camping in UFO-shaped “homes.”

While the park is a patchwork of natural beauty, there are certainly a few less-trodden trails and sights not as easy to find on most maps. Here’s where to look to see Joshua Tree in all of its natural glory—and where to stay and stargaze when the sun goes down.

It’s not hard to see why Joshua Tree National Park attracts more than a million visitors each year. | cb_travel/Shutterstock

The best time to visit Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree is open (and beautiful!) year-round. Come in the spring or fall for the best weather (but keep in mind, the park gets extra busy January through April, so book your Airbnb early). If you visit in the hot summer months, plan outdoor activities early in the morning or later in the day when the air is cooler.

On average, most people spend about four hours in the park, but given Joshua Tree’s abundance of jaw-dropping geological sights and trails, one could spend days exploring the otherworldly landscape.

It’s worth stopping at the roadside attractions leading up to the park. | Flystock/Shutterstock

Fuel up in the funky artist towns nearby

There are over 100 miles of roads within the park and not a gas station in sight, so fill up beforehand. The quirky towns surrounding the park—particularly Joshua Tree, Twentynine Palms, and Yucca Valley—are your best bet for grabbing a bite and a beer after a long day in the park.

Populated by UFOlogists, solitude seekers, antique dealers, and offbeat creatives drawn to the pull of the desert, there are plenty of unusual adventures to be had in these towns. Be sure to stop by Pioneertown, which served as a film set for old Westerns in a past life and today houses the area’s most famous bar and music venue, Pappy & Harriet’s.

Cycle through the park’s backcountry dirt roads. | Kit Leong/Shutterstock

Getting into Joshua Tree National Park

The park’s larger than Rhode Island, which means there’s a lot of ground to cover. Of the three main entrances, the Joshua Tree entrance (known as the West Entrance) is often the busiest. The North and South Entrances near Twentynine Palms and the Cottonwood Visitors Center, respectively, are far less crowded. Get there early; parking lots tend to fill up by mid-morning.

Just drive up to one of the park’s entrances and pay at the booth. A seven-day vehicle permit runs $30. Alternatively, $55 gets you a pass valid for a full year—or, if you think you’ll visit more than one national park in the next 12 months (and you should!), NPS offers an $80 pass that scores you entry to any park for a year.

The reward: spectacular rock formations on either side. | My Good Images/Shutterstock

Hit Joshua Tree’s best hiking trails

Once you’re all geared up with the right shoes and as much water as you can carry (seriously, it’s hot), it’s time to hit the trails. Skull Rock Nature Trail is one of the most popular in the park. From the Jumbo Rocks Campground, it’ll take you winding through about 1.7 miles of desert until you arrive at Skull Rock, an enormous boulder with two eye sockets carved into it by years of water erosion. It’s a pretty mild route and great for beginners.

The second trail you should hit is the Wonderland of Rocks, which—can you believe it—is a wonderland of rocks! Pebbles, stones, and giant boulders are yours to traverse for 5.5 glorious miles. Given the terrain, it’s considered a difficult trail, so be sure you’re up to the task.

Sara Combs from The Joshua Tree House has written an entire book about Joshua Tree with her husband, Rich. She recommends three underrated hiking trails: Willow Hole Trail, which covers 6.8 miles of relatively flat land; Pine City Trail, a moderate, four-mile trek where you’ll see a sprawling rock canyon and very few other humans; and North View Trail, a six-mile hike that can be tricky to navigate at times (download a map!), but will drop you into steep canyon aisles and desert dry washes lush with Joshua trees.

There’s also a ton of trails for riding horses and mountain bikes, if you prefer something speedier than hoofin’ it yourself. The winding roads through the park are perfect for motorcyclists, as well—just watch for desert tortoises crossing the road.

There’s really no bad view here. | Andrey Zheludev/Shutterstock

Check out Joshua Tree’s most Instagrammable sites

The aforementioned Skull Rock is a great one, and then there’s Arch Rock, a 30-foot-tall formation that’s a favorite of night photographers looking to capture the Milky Way on camera. Though it’s not technically in the park, it’s worth seeking out Giant Rock, an enormous, free-standing boulder that has a bizarre backstory involving Hopi shamans, an espionage conspiracy, and a UFO convention. You know, desert things.

Around sunrise or sunset, wander over to Keys View, the highest lookout point in Joshua Tree. Views look out across the Coachella Valley, and on clear days, you can see as far as the Salton Sea and Palm Springs. If you’re entering from the north, stop to check out the towering rock formations in Indian Cove, considered some of the best in the park.

Desert daggers are just the start. | JeniFoto/Shutterstock

Scope out the unparalleled plant and animal life

You’re probably familiar with the park’s tall and spiky namesake: the Yucca brevifolia, more commonly known as the Joshua tree. (In Spanish, the tree is known as izote de desierto, or desert dagger.) It’s important to remember that since these trees are endemic to this 1,235-square-mile expanse of desert, they’re strictly protected—so no touching!

Visit the Cholla Cactus Garden (at sunset, if you can swing it) to walk amongst hundreds of beautiful cholla. Swaying in the desert breeze, they almost resemble coral (and, much like coral, should be left alone). You’ll also probably spot the ocotillo plant, which is technically a succulent but is most closely related to blueberries and tea.

Joshua Tree National Park is more known for its flora than fauna, but there’s plenty of wildlife in and around the park. Birding is especially popular, with native species like roadrunners, raptors, and tons of migratory flocks. Predators like bobcats, coyotes, and snakes are also found in these parts, in addition to California’s state reptile, the desert tortoise.

Even beginners can get their climbing fix here. | Greg Epperson/Shutterstock

Find out why Joshua Tree is a rock climber’s paradise

Whether you’re new to climbing or navigate cliffs like a pro, Joshua Tree’s 9,000-plus climbing routes mean there’s something for every skillset. (We also feel the need to note that most of the routes have fantastic names like Yabba Dabba Don’t, Breakfast of Champions, Room to Shroom, Dangling Woo Li Master, and Possessed By Elvis.)

If you’re a beginner or intermediate climber, head over to the Quail Springs area, home to the affectionately named Trashcan Rock. One of the most popular climbing spots due to its relative ease (and cool shade that covers it during the afternoon), expect to wait in line for your go. Intersection Rock is also great for novices, while The Eye is one of the best for the views (it ends with a tunnel that opens up to sweeping shots of the desert).

If you want a challenge—seriously, these climbs will be intense—push your skills to the limit with Big Moe, a classic climb known to test even more experienced climbers; Lost Horse Wall, for some of the longest routes in the park; or make the 1,500-foot-steep scramble up Saddle Rock for great multi-pitch climbing.

Gear up at Joshua Tree Outfitters (their storefront is currently closed due to COVID-19, but equipment rentals and guide books are still available by appointment) or Nomad Ventures. If you think you’ll need some help navigating the climbs, consider hiring a guide from Cliffhanger Guidesor book a group rock climbing class with Vertical Adventures.

You’re looking at some of the clearest night skies in the country. | Digati Photography/Shutterstock

Settle in for some stargazing

Joshua Tree National Park is a silver-tier International Dark Sky Park, which means nighttime can be pretty extraordinary. Even though its location is pretty remote, the western part of the park gets a fair amount of light pollution from nearby Palm Springs. Stick to the central part of the park, especially along Pinto Basin Road—it’s the perfect place to admire the Big Dipper, Milky Way, and shooting stars.

Sleep in everything from a classic camper van or tent to a giant UFO. | Felicia Lee/Shutterstock

Where to lay your weary head at night

Of the 520 campsites in Joshua Tree National Park, about half are first-come, first-serve. The other half take reservations through Recreation.gov. It's notoriously difficult to score weekend spots, so during peak times, look for reservation-only campsites. Book the Cottonwood campground for stargazing, or White Tank Campground, which is dotted with some awe-inspiring rock formations that are millennia in the making.

If you’re more of an indoorsy person, Joshua Tree is famous for its off-the-wall Airbnbs, meaning you can sleep in, say, a giant UFO or a converted 1950s Spartan trailer.

Getting off-the-grid is part of the charm. | ThroughLensPhotosNVideos/Shutterstock

What to bring and other essential tips for visitors

Sunscreen and water are must-haves year-round. The National Park Service stresses that there are no water sources inside the park, so again, pack a lot of water—and then pack some more. Binoculars, sturdy hiking shoes, snacks, a flashlight, and hats are also recommended. If you find yourself in need of additional supplies, Coyote Corner, a combination gift shop and general store, sits just outside the park. They sell everything from camping supplies to locally-made goods.

To avoid being one of the approximately 60 search-and-rescue operations Joshua Tree has every year, it’s recommended to explore the park with a buddy and always let people know where you’re going. Cell phones don’t work in most of the park, so if communication is crucial, bring a satellite phone and a printed map to get around.

Over 80% of Joshua Tree is officially designated wilderness—emphasis on wild. Be respectful of wildlife to avoid an encounter with an angry critter. And if you remember one thing about your visit to Joshua Tree National Park, it should be “leave no trace.” Be sure to leave the park as pristine as you found it to help preserve its natural beauty for generations to come.

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Beth Demmon is a contributor for Thrillist.
Tiana Attride is a travel writer and editor based in New York. Follow her on Instagram.

This Seemingly Apocalyptic Desert Lake Is Alive with Art

If an acid trip was a place, this magical barren landscape would be it.

An armchair in the middle of Bombay beach
An armchair sits alone in the desert. | Mika.laujin/Shutterstock

Despite first impressions, the Salton Sea is far from lifeless. The apocalypse has, in fact, not visited this often-overlooked section of Southern California, but you'd be forgiven for thinking otherwise—what with the rotted beach houses, discarded boats, and piles of dead fish (we’ll get there).

If your California dreams lean more Tahoe villa than desert oasis, you probably haven’t experienced the largest lake in California. Located about 60 miles south of Palm Springs, the Salton Sea was created in 1905 when the Colorado River flooded the Imperial Valley, which sits 227 feet below sea level (not the first time this valley flooded). The sudden appearance of a lake ushered in resorts, fancy houses, and even The Beach Boys. The area was dubbed the “Salton Riviera” back in its 1950s heyday, netting more annual visitors than Yosemite.

Bombay Beach Marina
Bombay Beach once attracted beach-goers from all over the world. | J Carr Photo/Shutterstock

By the 1970s, however, the lake was drying up. The accidental water mass had no natural outflow, and thus no stabilization system. It soon grew saltier than sea water. The runoff started killing off the fish, and those ever-present vacationers finally said, “Maybe let’s go to Yosemite instead.” The Salton Sea has since become legend among abandoned places enthusiasts, seemingly tempting fate even further by straddling the San Andreas Fault.

But here’s the thing: The Salton Sea still has a local population—a point driven home by Estamos Aquí, a documentary made by young residents. From the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians who have always been there to transplants who settled there more recently, the Salton Sea is no ghost town. Somehow, despite the fact that the lake continues to shrink—and solutions to mitigate the resulting toxic dust just aren’t coming together—life is flourishing.

trees in the Salton Sea
Keep an eye out for the Salton Sea’s striking blue water. | Judd Irish Bradley/Shutterstock

Enter Salton Sea’s thriving arts scene. If you dig an oddball desert aesthetic that’s less corporate than Coachella and less tech bro-ey than Burning Man, the Salton Sea promises to deliver. Head south on California 111 past the date farms, keep an eye out for the sparkling blue water, ignore the dead fish smell, and immerse yourself in this bizarro little piece of the world. Here are just a few of the wonders that await.

Bombay Beach Drive In
The Bombay Beach Drive-In” looks like a post-rapture drive-in theater. | RMF/Shutterstock

Bombay Beach

Bombay Beach is basically the Art Basel of the Salton Sea. The community of 215 is littered with large-scale art, thanks to the Bombay Beach Biennale, a yearly (yes, the name contradicts that) three-day celebration that brings more than 150 art installations to town. Festival founders Lily Johnson White, Stefan Ashkenazy, and Tao Ruspoli—the latter of whom runs the coolest Airbnb at the Salton Sea—created the event, which includes everything from sunrise opera performances to a banned-book library.

An abstract art plane fuselage at Bombay beach
“Lodestar” by Randy Polumbo arcs into the sky. | Paul Briden/Shutterstock

You can visit Bombay Beach anytime to see the art that lingers long after the festival. One of the most captivating installations, “The Bombay Beach Drive-In” by Stefan Ashkenazy, Sean Dale Taylor, and Arwen Byrd, consists of rusted cars facing a blank screen (like a drive-in movie theater, but post-Rapture). Another must-see is “Lodestar” by Randy Polumbo, a crashed plane that kind of looks like a carnival ride.

Head down to the beach and you’ll see a swingset out in the water. It’s “The Water Ain't That Bad, It's Just Salty” by Chris “Ssippi” Wessman and Damon James Duke. (Side note: A lot of people wade out to this and take thirst traps.) Back on the sand, among all of the fish bones, you’ll find “The only other thing is nothing” by Michael Daniel Birnberg—also known as MIDABI—a metal sign that says exactly that.

Welcome to the Ski Inn, the lowest bar in the Western Hemisphere. | Ski Inn

There are many other installations, including a 40-foot-long fish/aircraft (“Da Vinci Fish” by Sean Guerrero, Royce Carlson, Juanita Hull-Carlson, and John Murphy) and a door that leads nowhere (“The Open House” by Keith Jones and Lee Henderson). After checking them out, grab a cheap drink at the Ski Inn—the lowest bar in the Western Hemisphere—before moseying along.

Salton Sea History Museum
The colorful North Shore Beach & Yacht Club in 2013. | Salton Sea History Museum

The North Shore Beach and Yacht Club

Bombay Beach’s dried-up lake bed is scattered with discarded boats that have been reimagined as canvases, but a little less than 20 miles in the opposite direction lies an under-the-radar attraction for architecture buffs. The North Shore Beach and Yacht Club originally opened in 1959 as a ritzy hangout and a fixture of the Salton Riviera scene. But like much of the area, it became battered by both time and the elements, ultimately throwing in the towel in 1981 and sitting empty for decades, gathering dust and graffiti.

Today, it’s on the National Register of Historic Places and, following a multimillion-dollar restoration process, it’s been reimagined as the Salton Sea Museum and community center. So why all the attention for what could have otherwise been the abandoned shell of a marina? Because it was designed by Albert Frey, the father of desert modernism (think retro motels with breeze blocks or those Mad Men episodes where Don goes to California). Designed to look like a submarine, the North Shore Beach and Yacht Club is outfitted with nautical porthole windows similar to the ones Frey installed in one of his own homes. People pay for architecture tours in Palm Springs without realizing that one of Frey’s coolest designs is hidden in plain sight over at the Salton Sea.

Entrance sign to Slab City
melissamn/Shutterstock

Salvation Mountain and Slab City

Located 20 miles south of Bombay Beach, Salvation Mountain stands tall, looking like what people who’ve never dropped acid probably imagine an acid trip to be like (we guess). The rainbow-painted, 50-foot clay mound is outfitted with a yellow staircase, flowers, birds, hearts, and colorful stripes (Fun fact: Kesha filmed a music video here). Salvation Mountain was created by Leonard Knight, a Korean War veteran who found Jesus while reciting the Sinner’s Prayer in a van in San Diego.

A colorful artificial mountain
Kevin Key/Shutterstock

Knight originally wanted to spread the Good Word via hot air balloon, but upon discovering the California desert, he instead decided to build his own colorful mountain. He toiled away at the mess of paint and clay during the day and slept in his truck at night until his work was complete. Knight passed away in 2014 at the age of 82, but Salvation Mountain lives on, still bearing the words of that prayer he spoke in the van all those years ago: “Jesus, I'm a sinner, please come upon my body and into my heart.”

Salvation Mountain and a sign that says Respect the Art
The local community is fiercely protective of their creations. | Grindstone Media Group/Shutterstock

Venture beyond Salvation Mountain and you’ll find yourself in Slab City, the self-proclaimed “last free place in America.” This rogue settlement rose up from the parched desert after World War II marine base Camp Dunlap was demolished, leaving behind the concrete slabs that give the settlement its name. The sprawling and extremely unofficial town is populated by snowbirds, artists, and dedicated desert rats who all have one thing in common: A desire to live very, very off the grid.

Historic motel on the north shore of the Salton Sea
An abandoned motel beckons passersby. | Bob Reynolds/Shutterstock

Residents—technically squatters—have no running water and no access to electricity. Some say they have no laws. What they do have, however, is a vibrant community situated in a harsh, unforgiving environment. Summer temperatures can soar above 110 degrees while winter winds bring an unholy chill, but the people remain. These days, there’s even a library, a hostel, and a solar-powered music venue. If the Salton Sea gives you apocalyptic vibes, Slab City is proof that even in a post-apocalyptic landscape, art, human spirit, and creativity can flourish.

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Krista Diamond is a freelance/fiction writer who lives in (and often writes about) Las Vegas. Her writing has been featured in The New York Times, HuffPost, Eater, Business Insider, Fodor’s, and Desert Companion.

Dining Around The Desert: Zin American Bistro, Palm Springs

Open since 2004 in Palm Springs

I'm late to the party with knowing about Zin in Palm Springs as it's a favorite of my team member Betsy Justice.

Since opening in 2004, Zin American Bistro has been the place to go for wine, creative, fresh, locally sourced cuisine and craft cocktails. Their heated and cooled large patio is perfect for Champagne brunches, relaxed lunches and late night dining.

With 17 consecutive Wine Spectator Awards, including five consecutive Best of Award of Excellence and the incredible pricing, their wine list is one of the best in the valley.

Michael and I found ourselves in Palm Springs last week and since it was restaurant week, we decided to take the opportunity to try a  place that was new to us.

Although they have a very nice patio, it was the hottest day of the year at that point and we elected to sit inside at the bar.

Michael started out with a Barrel-Aged Old Fashioned made with Redemption Rye, Mandarine Napoleon Liqueur Orange Bitters and a Luxardo Cherry, and I enjoyed the Watermelon-Mint Gimlet with Racquet Club Vodka, Local Watermelon Juice, Mint and Lime. Both were very well made and we'd have them again.

The Restaurant Week menu was three courses. One of us had a Half Wedge Salad, Country Fried Chicken with creamed spinach, mashed potatoes, and country gravy, while the other one had Cantaloupe Gazpacho and Classic Moules Mariners & Frites. You can likely figure out who had what. For desert we shared Creme Brûlée and Cheesecake. We also shared a nice bottle of Turnbull Sauvignon Blanc which was perfect for the weather.

The regular menu has a wide variety of items from Chicken Schnitzel to Braised Short Ribs, to Cauliflower Steak and White Cheddar Mac & Cheese.

It's a pleasing atmosphere, right on the main drag with very good service, and excellent food. We'll be back!

Read more about Zin America Bistro and view the menu here...

HOURS & LOCATION

198 S. Palm Canyon Drive,
Palm Springs, CA 92262

760.322.6300

Lunch Everyday

Monday, Thursday, Friday,: 11AM - 3PM

Brunch / Lunch

Saturday & Sunday: 9AM - 3PM

Dinner

Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday & Sunday:  Beginning at 4:30PM

Happy Hour

Monday - Saturday 11am - 3, 4:30 - 6

Open holidays with special prix fixe menu.

Reservations strongly recommended for dinner

Please call 760-322-6300 to be placed on Brunch waitlist

Talus – A Bold New Vision of Community, Hospitality & Sustainability

Courtesy of Christine Loomis, Desert Golf & Tennis

Planning a getaway to the Coachella Valley? May we suggest late 2022 or 2023—that is if you want to be among the first to experience the newly imagined TALUS La Quinta, an ambitious rebranding of a resort and residential community that aims to set an extraordinary new standard in desert hospitality. To say there’s a high level of anticipation and excitement surrounding the long-delayed development at SilverRock is an understatement.

NOTE: You must have one of our team accompany you on your first visit or introduce you in order to retain your right to your own representation to look after your fiduciary best interests. Contact Sheri Dettman & Associates for information.

Phase 1 of the 525-acre development includes two luxury hotels, spas, private residences, a new golf clubhouse, extensive dining options and more. The luxury Montage Hotel will feature134 casita-style guest rooms, while the Pendry Hotel, a “lifestyle” brand, will offer 200 guest rooms. In between the two will be a 70,000 square-foot conference center, which will open concurrently with the Montage Hotel.

Randy J. Duncan, general manager and director of golf at SilverRock, says the completed project will elevate golf across the desert. “SilverRock opened on Valentine’s Day, 2005. Since then, it’s been a golf course, clubhouse, golf operations and some F&B, all surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of acres of undeveloped land. When this project is complete, it’s going to be the mecca of the desert. The quality and high standards Montage brings to the community will have a positive impact on the golf experience. I’m excited about the future.”

Work is moving full steam ahead. The Montage is slated to open in Spring 2023, while the Pendry will welcome its first guests in 2024. Both properties are part of Montage International. Jeff Yamaguchi, VP of real estate with TALUS, says the first of the 29 single-family Montage-branded homes will be ready in November 2022. Delivery of the first Pendry-branded condos is scheduled for February 2023. These 55 condo units will be built in 11 three-story buildings, five residences or “stacked flats” per building.

The design aesthetic across TALUS celebrates Desert Modernism, a low-profile style that welcomes the desert landscape in. Montage staff will manage the homes and owners can opt to put residences in a short-term rental program, providing another option for out-of-town guests wanting more than a hotel room for their Coachella Valley stay.

The new golf clubhouse is scheduled to open at the start of the next fall season. Golf and F&B operations will move to the new clubhouse, leaving historic Ahmanson Ranch House ready for its transformation into an exciting new dining venue.

What won’t change is the Arnold Palmer-designed golf course, which completed a significant renovation several years ago. It will remain open to the public—and to hotel guests when they arrive. And residents of La Quinta, wherever they live in town, will still have the La Quinta Resident Program available to them. Duncan says retaining the resident program was always in the plan. “Elements of the program may change,” he notes, “but the program will remain.”

TALUS La Quinta has been described as a community-focused around wellness, activity and sustainability, within the context of respect for and enjoyment of the natural desert landscape. “TALUS is your wellspring in the desert, alive with opportunities to nourish body, mind and soul,” it says on the website. Another spot proclaims, “You feel powerful, yet unusually peaceful as you connect with the cadence and rhythm of the land. It’s the next chapter of SilverRock, a place to truly be alive and well.”

It may be marketing hype, yet the passion of developers for this project makes one wonder if a community, this community, actually can offer all that up in a tangible, meaningful way. Yamaguchi says TALUS absolutely can and will. “There’s a distinct energy derived from the mountains and the land. ‘Talus’ is defined as a gathering of rock fragments at the base of a mountain, and that was the inspiration behind the name change. Our goal is to create a gathering place and a unique assemblage of experiences for every family generation.”

When asked about the more esoteric goals of the project, Yamaguchi’s passion is clear. In terms of sustainability, he says solar energy is a core element of the residences. And though recycled materials won’t feature in construction until after Phase 1, he points out that they’ve reduced concrete and steel in the residential construction in favor of expansive use of glass, which simultaneously helps connect residents to the outside environment and reduces energy costs. “Glass helps keep homes warmer in winter by allowing heat in, and in summer, the double-paned glass will make the homes both cooler and more energy-efficient,” he says.

The health of residents and visitors was also a consideration in construction and hospitality practices. “We’re putting in an air purification system attached to HVAC, which filters out particles down to .03microns,” Yamaguchi notes. “Given the events of the past 18 months, air quality is a huge consideration for everyone. We want to create an extra level of confidence for residents and their guests by providing a safer, healthier living environment.” Most exciting is the vision for a farm in the next development phase. “We’re hoping to create a farm where we’ll grow products for culinary and spa programs, and also create an opportunity for organic composting,” Yamaguchi says. “Additionally, we want to curate a farm-to-table culinary experience that will be available to residents, hotel guests and people in the local community. “Agriculture,” he continues, has been integral to the Coachella Valley’s history and identity. With the evolution of plant-based palates and dietary requirements, we think it’s time to make it a priority going forward.”

Another goal is to-take wellness to the next level by establishing regimes and protocols that tap into the spiritual aspects of wellness. There are no concrete plans on that yet, but Yamaguchi says they’ll likely come toward the end of next year.” In the end, he says, “We want TALUS to be a sanctuary, a place where you not only connect with the land, the sky and the mountains but also where you reconnect with family and rejuvenate your soul.”

That’s a tall order for a desert golf resort. But TALUS La Quinta is focused on setting a new standard altogether. “To be able to bring this level of luxury hospitality to the valley is really exciting and really important,” Yamaguchi says. “The Coachella Valley has never had a 5-Diamond, 5-Star resort; given the history of this destination, that’s hard to believe. We believe TALUS will change that.”

Hype? Maybe. But our bet—and hope—is that TALUS La Quinta will live up to everything it’s meant to be.

Contact Sheri Dettman & Associates for a private introduction to the Talus La Quinta homes and development.

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