After Wimbledon, Indian Wells is my next favorite tournament. Maybe that was because when we were there it was 98 and there was a snow storm at home, but it also is the most beautiful venue. It is so sunny and brightly colored with the most accessible practice courts to see everyone warm up. We just happen to see what will be the best match I will ever see. Federer/Rafa! I still can’t believe I was watching them, yet better, together on the same court at the same time. Still hard to wrap my head around.
Just a few feet away watching Rafa practice.
This is an unusual venue compared to a Slam or other events. It has top level tennis just like a slam, but it’s in a venue that is slightly smaller with much more and easier access to this tennis. The food options are world class restaurants with the most beautiful Moet Champagne bar. It’s set in a world famous resort town with access to national parks, golf clubs, and shopping.
Yes! That is Fed and Rafa. I still can’t believe I saw this!
The best thing about this tournament is the access to the best tennis has to offer. Not only are the stadiums great to see tennis, but the practice courts are so accessible. And there is a field next to them where players relax and play all sorts of lawn sports, but mostly soccer. These are put in the middle of the complex, and are situated in a grid instead of one long line of courts, so they are 3 courts by 2 courts with the field attached. There is access to watch by the side bleachers, but also from all around other spots. The main stadium has outside patios around the perimeter on the second level with tables and sun umbrellas. Once side is directly across from the practice courts. I grabbed a couple of tacos and a table and ate lunch watching Venus, Novak, Caroline, Stevie Johnson, and even Roger over the course of an hour. Most of them practicing at the same time. Talk about tennis sensory overload!
Then over the course of the next 3 days, we saw the best the sport has to offer battling it out. We started with Kerber and ended with Stan. Additional note – Palms Springs airport is small, so watch who is there when you fly. We checked into our flight as Angelique Kerber and her camp checked in right next to us.
The tournament has the best food. You can go for world class chefs or fun stadium food. It was the first time I ate at Nobu, and I highly recommend it. The crab tempura just melts in your mouth. There is also Spago and a place that sells hotdogs with mac and cheese on them.
There is also the Moet Garden. It’s a good sized lawn with a shaded bar in the middle and lawn couches set up with hoods for shade. These couches point toward the large viewing screen on the outside of the main stadium so you can sit back and sip in style while not missing a minute of the action.
Palm Springs is know for it’s Mid-century Modern style. It just takes you back to martini sipping days of the 50-60ies. What a fun style! And we ate at two places with wonderful food all wrapped up in that mid-century modern look.
Trio came highly recommended and it didn’t disappoint. It’s where Palm Springs Eats and I can see why. Everyone was friendly and there is a great menu, offering fine dining to comfort food. I had sea bass with risotto and my husband had butternut squash ravioli. I ate every bite. They have a Prime Rib Tuesday that we will definitely hit up next time we are in town. This is a place you can’t miss if you visit.
LuLu California Bistro was the other place we ate in downtown Palm Springs. It has an open front so you can take in all the warm Palm Springs air, but still stay in the shade. There is a lot of seating and such a buzz. We grabbed small bites for lunch and skipped dessert, but we saw dessert. They have an over-sized cotton candy that’s served in a giant 1920’s coupe styled champagne glass. It’s definitely a sharing dessert.
We stayed at the Agua Caliente Casino and Resort It’a about a 15 minute drive from the Tennis Garden. Since we made our plans far in advance we had a really good rate on our room that made the drive very worth it. The resort has a lot to offer right there, great rooms, huge spa, casino, entertainment (Duran Duran was playing the day we left), pool with rentable cabanas, and many dining options. We really enjoyed our stay.
The rooms were clean, spacious, and modern with the best walk in shower. We didn’t take advantage of everything the resort had to offer, but did some things. Each morning we went down to the lobby to get a quick breakfast from the cafe, but one morning we did have a leisurely breakfast outside by the pool in one of the many restaurants they had. We had one pool day where we rented a cabana for the day. It had a TV, couches, refrigerator, and very attentive valets. Unfortunately the TV didn’t get any of the tennis coverage so we had to watch on our phones (Note to resort – get Tennis Channel!!!!). So we enjoyed a sunny day by the pool thawing out from the east coast cold.
The resort was a wonderful place to call home for the week.
Things to See and Do
There is so much to do and see in Palm Springs, it’s hard to pick. Since it was our first trip there, we decided to hit up the big sights as well as a couple of hidden local gems.
Our last day there we packed the two biggest attractions in one day. Joshua Tree National Park and the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway up to Mt. San Jacinto State Park. We should have put them each as a main attraction on their own separate days.
What amazing views in this park. We headed into the park with A LOT of water (have to constantly drink water here) and hiked one of the short marked trails around Skull Rock. It was beautiful. There are several camping spots and people were camping there with just small tents, it doesn’t have to be a big production to camp out there. But we quickly realized to get up the mountain in the state park, we had to cut this shorter than we would have liked.
The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway up to Mt. San Jacinto State Park one of 3 rotating tram cars in the world and we have had the luck to see another when we went to the Basel Swiss Indoors tournament. It was so strange to go from the intense dry heat of the dessert up the mountain to snow within minutes. I got sunburn 1 hour before I was making snowballs with my jacket on. We hiked around the mountain and then settled in for a nice dinner overlooking the city. Once dinner was finished and the sun set, we headed back down.
My college roommate told me about this art gallery I had to visit, Shag. His art generally reflects the excess lifestyle in an animated art style. And it has all the mid-century modern feel that just is Palm Springs. However, he has done some work most Disney fans will recognize. He was commissioned to produce the anniversary posters for Disneyland. I fell in love with his work, and could only bring a few items home with me, but you can shop his art and other household items online.
Wow! This is just a little one room museum, but it’s packed with nostalgia and memorabilia of days gone by. It has wall to wall home goods from the 1930s an 1940s. And all are original items in their original packaging. Boxes of laundry detergent, candy bars, all sorts of things that will remind you of your grandmas house. If you have time it’s a quick stop in the middle of town, and so worth it.
Can’t wait to go back!
I don’t know when we will be able to get back to this tournament, but I know this is one I will visit again, and again, and again. I can say it was my best tennis experience to date outside of the tennis mecca Wimbledon. But it may just tie it.