La Plaza is the hub of downtown featuring dining and shopping along Palm Canyon Drive
Courtesy Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism


Glamorous and busy, with weather ranging from perfect to broiling, the Coachella Valley is a thriving tourist destination.

A roadrunner is running in front of my car. Am I hallucinating? Am I in a cartoon? My wife and I are in front of a house we have bought in Rancho Mirage, Calif., by a beautiful golf course. I brake and point a finger out my windshield. I announce orally, brilliantly, “A roadrunner is running across our road.”

“Welcome to Palm Springs,” says my wife.

We have since sold that home. But I remember that being my introduction to life in Palm Springs, the beginning of my education about it — including the knowledge that when people say “Palm Springs,” they might mean neighboring communities Cathedral City, Coachella, Desert Hot Springs, Indian Wells, Indio, La Quinta, Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage or — as it reads on an Interstate 10 sign that later became the name of a Broadway play — “Other Desert Cities.”

I grew up an Illinois boy. Roadrunners did not run on our roads. (Except for a clunky Plymouth car named the Road Runner.) I later began living in Los Angeles. I saw nothing on the roads there but cars. Cars, cars and more cars.

Let’s try Palm Springs next, I proposed.

I knew little about it. Elvis honeymooned there. JFK was supposed to stay at Frank Sinatra’s compound there, then reneged. Liberace lived there. Sonny Bono became mayor there. Betty Ford began a substance-abuse center there. It looked pretty, sunny and clean there. I had grown up so cold; I liked the concept of warm. Gee whiz, honey, I won’t mind if the temperature in Palm Springs once in a while gets up to 100 — let’s live there 365 days a year!

That summer, when the mercury on our new house’s patio thermometer climbed to 119, I had to concede: “Hmmm. I wasn’t looking for this warm.”

Conclusion: It is pretty, sunny and clean. But you’d better think twice about whether you can take Palm Springs’ weather between May and September.

Ah, but on the other hand, say hello to winter there: spectacular, paradise-perfect, pinch-me, 72-today, 72-tomorrow winter.