Some of the mysteries of the desert had revealed themselves to me during my visit to the desert at the Coachella Valley Preserve. Inside this protected area, the Thousand Palms Oasis originated where water seeps up from the San Andreas Fault. Given my interest in geology, it was fascinating to be standing right on top of the renowned fault line that bisects California and that is the cause of so many earthquakes. After my visit to the Thousand Palms Oasis I drove through a barren landscape at the foot of the San Bernardino Mountains back towards Palm Springs. The friendly lady in the tourism office in the town of Indio had recommended that I visit “River at Rancho Mirage”, an outdoor shopping and dining destination in one of the affluent towns in the Coachella Valley. This outdoor shopping centre features a variety of outdoor patios, waterfalls and beautiful landscaping. Even if you are not in a shopping mood, just sitting down and relaxing with a coffee would be a very pleasant experience.
On a sunny and warm March day in the California desert I continued my visit to River at Rancho Mirage, a shopping and entertainment centre that is anchored by the Century Theaters at the River, a state-of-the-art multiplex cinema. P.F. Chang’s China Bistro welcomes its patrons with two gigantic statues of Chinese war horses, and the pond in front of the Cheesecake Factory invites visitors to sit down and enjoy the plaza like atmosphere.
Much of California’s architecture is Spanish-inspired and various ponds and water features make this shopping complex a very pleasant place to hang out. The River at Rancho Mirage features seven large restaurants, including Babe’s Bar-B-Que & Brewery, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Maki Maki California Japanese Cuisine. Cafes and ice cream stores also entice the visitor to linger and enjoy the pleasant ambience.
After visiting the River at Rancho Mirage shopping complex, I continued with the same theme and drove a few minutes to the town of Palm Desert whose main attraction is El Paseo, an elegant shopping street with plenty of galleries, upscale boutiques, jewellery and home décor stores. More than 300 shops cater to the desires of shopping aficionados from all over the world; this has earned El Paseo the nickname “the Rodeo Drive of the Desert”.
El Paseo is located parallel to Highway 111, the main thoroughfare that connects cities such as Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells and Indio, all important destinations in the Coachella Valley. Big names like Gucci, Ralph Lauren and Burberry are all represented here. Various events are held regularly at El Paseo: every first Friday of the month, the El Paseo Art Walk allows participants to explore the various kinds of art on offer here and extended shopping hours make shopping even easier.
El Paseo, the elegant shopping street in Palm Desert, is full of galleries, upscale boutiques and home décor shops. Its origins date back almost 70 years when entrepreneur Cliff Henderson purchased 1,700 acress of pure desert in Palm Desert, which only consisted of a few homesteads at the time. His dream was to turn this land into an opulent shopping district. He began his project in 1946 and built a grand boulevard – El Paseo – that was adorned with impressive palm trees. Today, El Paseo has become a popular shopping and dining destination with visitors from across the world.