"Presidential Repose" Top 5 Page for this destination Palm Desert by atufft

Palm Desert Travel Guide: 125 reviews and 232 photos

Retirement Home for Celebrities and Presidents

Palm Desert is the newer shiek country club community in the Coachella Valley. Originally, Palm Springs attracted attention, Bob Hope and his golf classic, Sonny Bono as mayor (and later congressman from the district), Frank Sinatra, Diana Shore, and other hollywood generated celebrities created the image of this desert region as a easy going winter retreat for the elite. Now overgrown, Palm Springs has become a seedy downtown filled with transients, while the celebrity focus has shifted southeast from I-10 to newer upscale Palm Desert and Rancho Mirage. It's here that Presidents Eisenhower and Ford spent the last days of their lives safely away from the public limelight. Just two hours east of Los Angeles, Palm Desert and other cities within the Coachella Valley provide a wonderful winter country club oriented retreat that's also close to the urban action of arguably America's greatest city for private celebrity filled parties. As a result of the concentration of the retired rich and famous in Palm Desert, the city's wealth in golf course can only be matched by it's wealth in art galleries, museums, restaurants, and an easy to walk downtown.

Early Palm Desert--a Realestate Boomer Town

The boom in growth, particularly for retirement condos, continues today, doubling the city's population at least every decade over the past 30 years. But the transition from remote a desert landscape had it's surge mostly after World War II under the influence of realestate tycoon Clifford Henderson, whose bronze statue sits on the main drag, El Paseo. This several block long downtown of upscale shopping, galleries, and restaurants resembles at least in concept the three block shopping district known as Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Surrounding the El Paseo are a series of broad boulevards of fast moving traffic that lead to a large number of gated "country clubs" that each typically include a golf course, tennis courts, swimming pool, and a large number of homes and condos. Originally almost exclusively a racially white demographically, Palm Desert has in recent years attracted the upper class from any of a number of American and international elite regardless of racial or cultural background. In recent years, Palm Desert has even been a cradle of the stoner rock movement, with the group of musicians known collectively as the Palm Desert Scene.

Desert Wonderland

The wildlife and botanical haven Living Desert Zoo and Gardens is one example of a such a heavily endowed city. The zoo contains a substantial number of endangered desert species from around the world, and the carefully irrigated botanical backdrop features a wide range of desert plant specimens. In addition, the mountains that surround Palm Desert and other cities of the Coachella Valley provide ample opportunity for hikers interested in the desert. Palm Desert has a renowned warm winter/hot summer climate. Its' average annual temperature is 88F (26C) but summer highs are above 100F (30C) and frequently exceed to 120F (40C). Because the valley has under 5 inches of annual precipitation and over 330 days of sunshine per year, it will continue to remain a wonderland for those who love the sun.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Great winter get-away within the borders of the USA
  • Cons:Overly relaxed senior citizen and golf course scene
  • In a nutshell:Palm Desert is an easy to appreciate town for a long winter weekend
  • Last visit to Palm Desert: Feb 2007
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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Reviews (18)

Comments (9)

  • travelgourmet's Profile Photo
    Mar 14, 2011 at 2:52 PM

    Alan, wonderful photos and tips on this great desert town. Stayed at the Marriot Desert Springs Resort for a golf tourney. Beautiful hotel. I also get my date shake at Shields. Regards, L

  • Yaqui's Profile Photo
    Apr 17, 2009 at 10:21 PM

    Wonderful page. We just spent spring break in Palms Springs and we roamed all the area. Lots of wonderful history and such a constrast between, Palm Springs, Ranch Mirage, Cathedral City and Palm Desert. It was fun.

  • rewelch's Profile Photo
    Dec 31, 2007 at 9:16 AM

    Thank you for the coverage of our artist Corby. Palm Desert has one of the most amazing art collections in the country and we highly recommend people take the public art tour. R E Welch Gallery appreciates the exposure of Corby's work. Thanks!

  • phm3c's Profile Photo
    May 5, 2007 at 12:39 PM

    I really enjoyed the close-up photos of the animals you saw at the Palm Desert Wildlife Zoo, especially your shot of the jiraffe family.

  • KimberlyAnn's Profile Photo
    Apr 22, 2007 at 10:01 PM

    Champagne--lucky you. The Art Museum and the Living Zoo sound very interesting. Nice tips, as always.

  • tiabunna's Profile Photo
    Mar 5, 2007 at 4:04 AM

    Well presented page on a place which I'd have to say is, um, different. I guess the advantage of living there is that the weather is usually perfect for playing golf - though personally I'd sooner be out in the desert!

  • mary2u99's Profile Photo
    Feb 25, 2007 at 10:59 PM

    I love the desert and the mountain. The shopping is fun too. :-)

  • calcaf38's Profile Photo
    Feb 25, 2007 at 5:11 AM

    What an odd place. Thank you for sharing your new page. I'm glad you had a good time with your parents.

  • SLLiew's Profile Photo
    Feb 24, 2007 at 6:03 PM

    Bring back memories. The desert landscape is spectacular - unearthly - lunar or martian :)


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