Guest article with photos by Ellen Germain
My husband and I just got home from spending a terrific week in Palm Desert, California. We flew into the Palm Springs airport, a 20-30 minute drive to Palm Desert. We stayed in a fabulous timeshare villa at the beautiful Marriott Desert Springs Hotel. We were here to see the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament which is always held the first two weeks in March. It’s the fifth largest tournament after the Grand Slams and is one of the most popular to attend. It was held at the Indian Wells tennis Garden, a short distance from Palm Desert.
The tournament features men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles and women’s doubles matches. There is a day session and a night session. We wanted to go during the first week because all of the top professional tennis players in the world are there and we can also see the qualifying rounds. Be prepared- we found security to be very tight. Anything carried into the tournament must be visible through a clear bag. There are many restaurants and shops there.
It’s very hard to get an autograph or picture with a top tennis player but if you stand along the fence close to the restricted area where the players go after a practice session or match, you might get lucky. While my husband and I were there the top players including Iga Swiatek and Jannik Sinner who signed autographs and/or took pictures with their tennis fans. The only player that did not walk to that area was Carlos Alcatraz which was disappointing to the many people waiting there for him to approach. If you are visiting Palm Desert at the beginning of March you should make it a point to go to the tournament. We spent 2 wonderful days at the tournament and saw a lot of great tennis matches.
If you are an autograph seeker like I am, a good tip to know is that many players go to the Renaissance Hotel for breakfast around 8am. My husband and I got pictures with Mario Berrettini and Felix Auger-Aliassime and had a nice conversation with Taylor Townsend who was there with her 2-year old son. In addition to seeing the BNP Paribas Open Tennis tournament which was our reason for going, there are so many other activities to enjoy.
One of these activities is the Desert Smash tennis exhibition held at the La Quinta Resort & Club. This event is held right before the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament begins. It’s a wonderful event that raises money for a children’s charity. Some of the top tennis players who participated in the event this year were Victoria Azarenka (who was there with her 6 -year old son), Frances Tiafoe and Casper Ruud. Pink was one of the guest entertainers playing doubles with the Professionals. Pink has only been playing tennis for 2 years but she played well. She interacted with the crowd and everyone enjoyed watching her play.
Another wonderful event is the La Quinta Art Celebration held at the La Quinta Civic Center in March. This year it was held March 2-5th, 2023. Jury selected world class artists from across the nation and world exhibit their artwork. In 2022 it was voted the #1 Fine Art & Fine Craft Art Event in the Nation (Art Fair Sourcebook). There is wonderful entertainment at this event. We thought we were at a concert listening to the musicians and singers who were performing there. Don’t miss this event if you are an art collector or just want to spend a few hours admiring beautiful paintings and sculptures.
The College of the Desert Street Fair is another weekend activity. It’s held every Saturday and Sunday from 8am-2pm. This fabulous street fair is not to be missed. There are numerous booths and a whole range of items are sold. There are many food concessions and the entertainment is also enjoyable. Barbie’s Closet was my favorite booth. You can follow her on Instagram @promqueensonly. It’s best to get to the street fair early to avoid the crowd and get a better parking space.
El Paseo Shopping District in Palm Desert has been compared to Fifth Avenue and Rodeo Drive. Numerous designer boutiques, furniture shops and art galleries line both sides of this beautiful street. The restaurants are also fabulous. We had the most delicious pizza at Kitchen 86 El Paseo. My husband and I just wish this restaurant was located in Upper Saddle River New Jersey where we live. We also enjoyed our delicious meals at Pacifica Seafood Restaurant and the Daily Grill Restaurant. Mares Menswear of El Paseo is a fabulous men’s clothing store.
While we are on the topic of restaurants, there are numerous fabulous restaurants throughout Palm Desert. Two that I thought were great include Papa Dan’s and Fresh Agave Mexican Bar & Grill. The food at both restaurants was delicious and the service was wonderful, too. If you enjoy going to the theatre then go to the McCallum Theatre for the Performing Arts. The schedule includes Broadway productions, opera, and classical and rock music.
The Palm Desert and La Quinta California area is a wonderful vacation destination because there is something for everyone there. We enjoyed our visit and you will too.
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