By Jill Klosterman, Travel Correspondent
Contemporary Mediterranean Estate with Views of the Santa Rosa Mountains
Rambunctious sparrows dart from vines of bougainvillea, which climbs a trellis propped next to what looks like an Italian villa. The thorny green foliage serves as a base for the birds' reconnaissance missions to inspect nearby tables for leftover crumbs and provides their shady haven from the desert sunlight that spills over the Santa Rosa Mountains. Close at hand, 15 more villa-style structures sprawl out in the valley property, covered in terra-cotta roofs. In its architecture and aura, Miramonte Resort & Spa resembles Tuscany, but in place of Italy's rolling countryside resides rugged mountain terrain.
Within each Luxury room, a color scheme of olive, sand, and nutmeg bolsters the Mediterranean feel. A plush comforter tops each Desert Dream bed, which also sports overstuffed pillows and crisp white linens. A 42-inch flat-screen TV adorns the opposite wall, positioned alongside a sitting area garnished with a selection of teas and gourmet coffee. A private patio branches off of each 450-square-foot hideaway, leading to a communal herb garden that sprouts plants such as sage, basil, and rosemary.
In addition to flavoring the air, these herbs—as well as citrus fruits and olives from on-site groves—add zest to the fresh, seasonal fare served at The Grove Artisan Kitchen. Executive chef Robert Nyerick crafts a tasty menu of farm-to-table cuisine made with locally sourced ingredients including organic produce and freshly plucked fruits of the sea. Nearby, The Well Spa features indoor relaxation suites. Visitors can practice yoga, receive a massage, or dive for taffy in the saltwater pool. Resort guests also enjoy easy access to three championship golf courses as well as the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, which doubles as an entertainment venue that has hosted the likes of celebrated celebrities and musicians over time.
Palm Desert, California: Recreational Oasis amid Rugged Mountains
In Palm Desert, the heat necessitates a leisurely pace. Tony, a local golf pro, begins his day with the newspaper and a strong cup of coffee at The Pastry Swan Bakery, located at The Shops on El Paseo about 3 miles from the resort. At sunrise, Tony and a handful of friends mosey to the café for inventive breakfasts such as beer-battered crepes and Nuxy Grahams—nondairy ice-cream sandwiches forged with creamy cashews. "We have beautiful weather here in the desert during golf season," Tony says with a smile, before turning back to his crumpled newspaper. "I don't think anything in the world can match it."
The Living Desert gives travelers a chance to savor the climate while strolling grounds that abound with desert flora and fauna. Friendly nubian goats nuzzle up to visitors in Village WaTuTu, and bearded dragon lizards and rare soul-patched dragon lizards sun themselves in a semiarid woodland display. Gritty rock footpaths wind through the zoo, and a shuttle ferries guests to cactus groves, butterfly gardens, and other animal exhibits.
Palm Springs—Coachella Valley's flagship city—sits about 16 miles north on Highway 111. The Palm Springs Art Museum fills its whitewashed galleries with works of traditional and contemporary art. Geometric figures and bold colors figure in the Blast from the Past exhibit, and Native American basketry and pottery add texture to the Denney Western American Art Wing. About 4 miles north of the museum, the Indian Canyons abound with intriguing organic and geological features, including some man-made bedrock mortars and metates once used to prepare food. A winding footpath leads through rocky gorges and parched deserts before ending up at a prime picnicking spot beside a babbling canyon stream.