Re­cre­ational play­ground in the sun

Travel Guide to California - - GOLF - BY CHRISTO­PHER P. BAKER

Palm Springs, Palm Desert, La Quinta, Ran­cho Mi­rage, Barstow, In­dian Wells, Nee­dles, Sal­ton Sea, Mo­jave, Indio

There aren’t many places where you can golf while wear­ing shorts in the morn­ing, snow­shoe in the af­ter­noon, and laze by the pool with a cock­tail in the evening. Which ex­plains why more than five mil­lion vis­i­tors a year de­scend on Palm Springs and the sur­round­ing desert re­gion.

Be­gin with lush palm oases, hot min­eral springs and awe­some land­scapes. Add sub­lime win­ter weather plus a to-see-and-do wish list from bik­ing and bal­loon­ing to casi­nos and spas. And top off with an eter­nally cool desert life­style that re­calls the 1940-60s, when Hol­ly­wood stars turned the area into a world-fa­mous win­ter re­treat. Wel­come to a re­gion where the sum­mer never dies, the Modernist ar­chi­tec­ture is retro-chic, and the rein­vig­o­rated youth­ful spirit feels as re­fresh­ing as a chilled mar­tini.

An easy 90-minute drive from Los An­ge­les, “Palm Springs” is un­der­stood as the en­tire Coachella Val­ley, com­pris­ing eight “desert re­sort com­mu­ni­ties” clus­tered at the foot of the San Jac­into Moun­tains. They merge into one another along High­way 111—one of Cal­i­for­nia’s great ur­ban drives. The phys­i­cal set­ting is out of this world. Ma­jes­tic moun­tains soar on three sides, glistening with snow in the win­ter sun­shine. There’s no short­age of ac­tiv­i­ties and at­trac­tions. The din­ing is fab­u­lous. The spas are among Cal­i­for­nia’s best. And the re­gion boasts sev­eral ritzy casi­nos. Mu­se­ums cater to WWII avi­a­tion buffs, art fans and na­ture lovers keen to ex­pe­ri­ence desert ecol­ogy. El Paseo gives Bev­erly Hills’ Rodeo Drive a run for its money in its qual­ity and range of bou­tiques. Palm Springs’ mu­sic,

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