Earlier this year, Jeff Idelson began a coast-to-coast journey in Cooperstown, N.Y., where he is president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. “Cooperstown is renowned as ‘America’s Most Perfect Village,’ but Palm Springs in January has to be America’s most perfect weather,” he says. “Going from 8 below to 80 above is about as good as it gets.” (A bonus being Idelson’s getting together for golf and good food with desert residents and baseball Hall of Famers Johnny Bench, Ralph Kiner and Don Sutton.)
IF YOU GO
Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival
The Living Desert
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
BNP Paribas Open
LPGA Kraft Nabisco Championship
Palm Springs Air Museum
The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies
While Palm Springs is an enticing place to live, the region has a variety of activities that are ideal for tourists.
There is the wildly popular Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Held annually in Indio in April (this year from April 11-13 and April 18-20), it always sells out. Acts booked this year include Arcade Fire, Bastille, Beck, Lorde, Muse, OutKast, Pharrell Williams and Queens of the Stone Age. A week later, on April 25-27, it is followed (at the same site) by a country counterpart, the Stagecoach Festival, which this year lined up performers ranging from today’s Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan to yesterday’s Michael Nesmith and Brenda Lee.
There is a unique zoo, The Living Desert, in Palm Desert, where you might see a hyrax, an addax, an oryx or a bat-eared fox. There is the Palm Springs Air Museum, with its World War II aircraft and its Memorial Day ceremonial flyby, when thousands of red and white carnations are dropped from a vintage B-25 bomber to honor veterans of the Persian Gulf, Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan. At the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, a tourist favorite since 1963, you can take a rotating cable-car ride up a mountainside to an elevation of 8,516 feet.
There is the BNP Paribas Open, a prestigious professional tennis event, which each March brings to Indian Wells the likes of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. A pair of pro golf tournaments are fixtures: the LPGA Kraft Nabisco Championship, a springtime tradition at Mission Hills that has been a classic for women’s golf ever since singer Dinah Shore first endorsed and popularized it; and the Humana Challenge, a multicourse men’s PGA Tour stop in La Quinta that for decades bore the name of comedian Bob Hope.
Oh, and speaking of Dinah, there is “The Dinah,” as its regulars call it — its more formal name is The Original Dinah Shore Weekend — which every April brings tens of thousands of visitors to Palm Springs. Parties seem practically nonstop, and entertainers have included Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Pat Benatar and, this year, Mary Lambert.