Palm Desert, California

Palm Desert has it all: premiere shopping, gorgeous parks, challenging golf courses, lavish resorts, beautiful mountainscapes plus 348 days of sunshine. Visit once to “Feel the Warmth” and return annually as a loyal snowbird.

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1 Palm Desert Civic Center in Palm Desert, California

As you pass the Palm Desert Civic Center on Fred Waring Drive, this Council Chamber building looks appealing but maybe not worth investigating. That is a mistake. Turn on San Pablo Avenue and park behind the Civic Center. Tucked among the City Hall and Sheriff’s office is a visitor center. They will tell you about all of the amenities worth enjoying. They include a gymnasium, YMCA, community center, sports fields and the best park in Coachella Valley.

43900 San Pablo Ave, Palm Desert, CA 92260

2 Lakeside Amphitheater at Civic Center Park in Palm Desert, California

The Palm Desert Civic Center Park is incredible! The 70 acres of this immaculate greenspace offers fun and relaxation for everyone. Stroll around the walking paths to enjoy the scenery, ponds, outdoor art and a date grove. Young kids favor Playland and Tot Lot. Teenagers gravitate to the skateboard courses. Families laugh together at the picnic pavilions and splash together at the Aquatics Center. Athletes compete on the basketball, volleyball and tennis courts or the softball fields.

43900 San Pablo Ave, Palm Desert, CA 92260

3 Messenger of the Puul at Civic Center Park in Palm Desert, California

The Cahuilla Indians have passed along legends for millenniums. One story features an owl that can predict the future. The mythical bird is perched on the shoulder of this 9.5 foot, bronze sculpture of a Cahuilla shaman. A shaman is a person with connections to worldly spirits. “Messenger of the Puul” was sculpted by Curt Mattson and erected in the Palm Desert Civic Center Park in 1992.

43900 San Pablo Ave, Palm Desert, CA 92260

4 The Dreamer at Civic Center Park in Palm Desert, California

In 1889, Oscar Wilde wrote in an essay: “Life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” The Irish playwright would have smiled at this scene in the Palm Desert Civic Center Park. On the left is a 1991 sculpture by David Phelps titled, “The Dreamer.” On the right is a man relaxing in almost the exact same pose.

43900 San Pablo Ave, Palm Desert, CA 92260

5 Holocaust Memorial at Civic Center Park in Palm Desert, California

Located in the Civic Center Park is a moving Holocaust Memorial. These are two of seven bronze sculptures standing on a two-tier Star of David. Each represents a type of victim at the hands of the Nazis. On the left is “A Rabbi.” He prays over some of the bodies of the 11 million people who were killed. On the right is “The Defiant Man.” He is one of the few prisoners who lived to tell about the atrocities. The memorial was erected in 1995 and the sculptor was Dee Clements.

43900 San Pablo Ave, Palm Desert, CA 92260

6 Snyder Lagoon at Civic Center Park in Palm Desert, California

This tree-lined, artificial lake is one beautiful example why the Palm Desert Civic Center Park is so popular among families. The waterfowl are already here, so what are you waiting for? Join them! This lagoon is named for Walter H. Snyder. After a 30 year career with Lockheed Corporation, he “retired” in Palm Desert yet served on the city council for 17 years and was major for three terms. He was a major contributor to the city’s development before dying in 2010.

43900 San Pablo Ave, Palm Desert, CA 92260

7 Palm Desert Public Library in Palm Desert, California

The Palm Desert Public Library is one of 33 branches of the Riverside County Library System. It is located on Fred Waring Drive on the campus of the College of the Desert. The 12 foot, kinetic sculpture along the south façade is called, “Perpetual Motion.” Artist Bruce Stillman molded his public art from stainless steel in 1996. Other sculptures around the building include, “C is for Cat,” “Giraffe,” “Scroll Fence” and “Reminiscing.”

73300 Fred Waring Dr, Palm Desert, CA 92260

8 McCallum Theatre in Palm Desert, California

The McCallum Theatre is the premiere performing arts center in Palm Desert. The venue became possible in 1998 after significant contributions from celebrities such as Bob Hope and Gerald Ford. It has also hosted several stars like Elizabeth Taylor, George Burns and Oprah Winfrey.
The theater is located on Fred Waring Drive, named after a popular 20th century bandleader and the major investor of the Waring Blender.

73000 Fred Waring Dr, Palm Desert, CA 92260

9 Shops on El Paseo in Palm Desert, California

Just off of Highway 74/Monterey on El Paseo Street are four blocks of high-end boutiques including designer brands such as Gucci, Burberry, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany and Ralph Lauren. After giving your credit card a workout at the Shops on El Paseo, have a meal or enjoy happy hour at the Daily Grill. This restaurant is a favorite among locals and chronic snowbirds. There are also several other restaurants serving fine cuisine.

73130-73160 El Paseo, Palm Desert, CA 92260

10 Charger Red Horse Sculpture in Palm Desert, California

Behind the Melissa Morgan Fine Art gallery near the Shops on El Paseo is this giant red horse sculpture. “Charger” made his first appearance during the 1994 El Paseo Sculpture Exhibition. It later became the symbol for a local restaurant. Although the eatery closed in 2005, the 8 foot high, 16 foot long public art remained on display. Ted Gall created this exciting steel statue.

45400 Pines to Palms Hwy, Palm Desert, CA 92260

11 Before I Die Blackboard in Palm Desert, California

Some things in life are so simple yet naturally engaging. A great example is this blackboard at the Shops on El Paseo. Beneath the title, “Before I Die …” people write in their aspirations. Some are major goals while others are silly. A crowd stood in front of the board – smiling, nodding and occasionally laughing – while reading the entries. Then one woman grabbed a piece of chalk, wrote, “Stop Working,” and got a proud hug from her husband.

73040 El Paseo, Palm Desert, CA 92260

12 Fluttering Rainbow Sculpture in Palm Desert, California

There are several fine art galleries catering to a variety of tastes and budgets along the Shops on El Paseo. Before walking inside, you can appreciate several outdoor sculptures. This colorful butterfly created by Arizona-based Stephen Fairfield is named, “Fluttering Rainbow.” Fairfield specializes in solar powered art.

73130 El Paseo, Palm Desert, CA 92260

13 Historical Society of Palm Desert, California

What better place to learn a city’s history than at a Historical Society? Visit this 1949 fire station on El Paseo and hear how Palm Desert was originally called Sand Hole. The first few homes were built during the 1930s at Palm Village. The area served as a training camp for troops under General Patton during WWII. Then the Henderson brothers – Clifford, Randall, Phil and Carl – began converting 1,600 acres of desert into their vision of a resort community. Although children might be bored with these stories, they will love the 1973 fire engine parked in front of the Historical Society of Palm Desert.

72861 El Paseo, Palm Desert, CA 92260

14 Golfing in Coachella Valley in Palm Desert, California

It is hard to believe California has the fewest golf courses per capita than any other state: one per 32,679 people. This dearth of links is not a problem in the Coachella Valley. There are over 120 courses to choose from. They range from municipal courses to exclusive private clubs. A beautiful example is the Desert Springs Golf Club. Their twin, 18 hole courses were designed by Ted Robinson. This highly-ranked property is managed by Marriott. The Santa Rosa Mountains in the background are lovely to admire while waiting to address the ball.

74-855 Country Club Dr, Palm Desert, CA 92260

15 JW Marriott Desert Springs in Palm Desert, California

In a major tourist city such as Palm Desert, it is not surprising to learn the number one employer is a resort. The JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort features a spa, six restaurants and two golf courses. This flowered waterway surrounds the largest of the hotel’s five pools. An enjoyable alternative is booking a villa at Marriott’s sister property. These units provide more living space and kitchen amenities.

74-855 Country Club Dr, Palm Desert, CA 92260

Blooming Ocotillo in Palm Desert, California

When driving around the lush resorts and golf courses of Palm Desert, it is easy to forget most of the Coachella Valley is a barren desert. Although 100,000 acres support irrigated agriculture, much of the land is dusty and rocky interspersed with creosote bush and saltbrush scrub. During a wet spring, however, something magical happens: dormant plants bloom. These are the crimson flowers of an ocotillo. Their scientific name is fouquieria splendens. They are more commonly called a candlewood, coachwhip or Jacob’s staff.

16 Golf Course Communities Around Palm Desert, California

There are about 50 golf course communities in and around Palm Desert. Most of these gated properties feature luxury homes encircling the links. These clubs are expensive. The initial membership is often in the six figures plus a monthly home owner fee and golf dues. An example is The Club at Morningside in Rancho Mirage near Palm Desert. The 160 acre property has an 18 hole, Jack Nicklaus Signature Course.

39033 Morningside Dr, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270