Coachella Valley

Sunshine, warmth, and the smell of orange trees blooming in the yards. It’s just what we needed for our Airbnb stay during the month of March in Indio, California. On this stay we have a full-size home rather than the usual apartment or condo. We enjoyed greeting the day with coffee and watching the sun rise from our patio overlooking a pond - which was a water hazard on a golf course. Other than soaking up the warmth, a bit of running, bike riding, and hiking in the many trails at La Quinta Cove, here are a few other diversions:

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree is made up of diverse ecosystems containing large Joshua tree forests (big Yucca plants), interesting rock formations, and vast desert . We drove 1.5 hours from Indio and entered the west end of the park, stopped here and there (Keys View, Jumbo Rocks Campground, Cholla Cactus Garden) and enjoyed the views as we drove out the east end. We did not have any expectations as to what this park entails other than seeing stands of Joshua trees. While they were interesting to see, the geology of the park was captivating.

Keys View – On a clear day you can see the entire Coachella Valley. We were fortunate to be there on one of the few clear days.

Jumbo Rocks Campground – A fun area to walk through with fascinating rounded boulders and mini canyons.


Cholla Cactus Garden – Cholla cactus is also known as teddy bear cactus, be warned though – you can look but don’t touch because the spines inject themselves into you! Of course, there were people, adults I might add, touching them and sure enough bleeding from the injected spines.


Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Anza-Borrego is the largest state park in California and second largest in the contiguous US. It is home to dense Ocotillo forest, vast arid landscapes, bighorn sheep, and Desert Indian relics.  But we were here to see the spring flower bloom after the recent rains. While driving into the park we stopped in Borrego Springs at the Christmas circle (round-about with park in center) to wander through the small farmer’s market. We love finding markets as we travel and this made our day with fresh-made tamales eaten on-the-spot at a picnic table nearby. It was a nice setting under the shade of palm trees while we listened to 70s rock and roll music playing at the nearby gazebo. On our way back from the visitor’s center, we stopped and had date milkshakes at a local ice-cream shop in Borrego Springs. It was in the mid 90s which limited our walking around, but all in all, we had a very nice day.

Sunnylands Center and Gardens

Sunnylands is in Rancho Mirage near Palm Springs. It is part of the 200-acre estate at the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands which is considered the Camp David of the west for US Presidents to inspire solution driven meetings facing the US and the world community. Presidents have been meeting here since the Eisenhower presidency. We toured the 15-acre site where visitors can learn about the Annenberg’s, their estate and the newly opened 2012 gardens. It's free to the public and what I found to be a lovely example of repetition in garden design – perhaps one of the best I’ve seen. Having done many garden designs myself, I was impressed with what Sunnylands had accomplished.

Thanks for joining us on our journey.
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