Sitting at the heart of Coachella Valley in Riverside Country, California is the popular resort city of Palm Desert, promising sun, sports, and magnificent views. Located about 14 miles east of the resort city, Palm Springs, and 122 miles east of LA, Palm Desert stretches for 27 square miles including land and water bodies and has an approximate population of 50,000 permanent resident. The city has seen one of the fastest expansions in the State with numbers growing from 11,800 in 1980 to about 41,000 in the following 2 decades.
One of the primary contributors to Coachella Valley’s popularity, Palm Desert is a favorite winter holiday destination among ‘snowbirds’ from norther and eastern US, and Canada. According to estimations, close to 31,000 tourists and visitors flock to Palm Desert annually during the winters. It’s also popular among retired individuals, many of whom become permanent residents, as well as those looking to make affordable but high-value homes for themselves and their families. There has been a significant increase in permanent residents in recent years.
Palm Desert’s location and surrounding geography has a strong influence on its climate, as is expected. Visitors can expect a warm climate most days of the year and the warmest winters anywhere in west United States. Climate is mostly dry with temperatures rising as high as 120°F during summer days and dropping not below 82°F during night-time. Winters see daytime highs between 73°F and 84°F with average annual highs of 89°F, lows of 62°F and a mean annual temperature of 76°F, making it one of the warmest cities in the US. The area sees average precipitation of less than 5 inches annually and around 350 days of sunshine. The mountains that enclose the area generate a thermal belt along Palm Desert’s southern foothills, giving the area its own unique climate, with temperatures during winter nights being significantly higher than surrounding areas.
Palm Desert began as Old MacDonald Ranch and later changed its name to Palm Village during the 1920s when a decision was made to plant palm trees across the area. The area was first known as the Old MacDonald Ranch, but the name changed to Palm Village in the 1920s when date palms were planted. Historians from the area note that primary settlers of the area before the 1950s were Cahuilla Native American farmers from the San Cayetano tribe that’s now extinct. Certain members of the Montoya family of Spanish and Cahuilla ancestry held prominence and political influence.
The area saw major residential development in 1943 with the relocation of an army maintenance camp in the area, which was later turned into an indulgent shopping district, much like Rodeo Drive, and the area renamed to El Paseo. Real estate development was initiated in 1948 by the Palm Desert Corporation, and the area once again renamed in 1951, this time as Palm Desert.
The population, during the census of 2010 was recorded as 48,445 with recent estimates suggesting the current number to be north of 50,000. According to the survey, 70.4% of the residents were non-Hispanic white, 12.1% were Hispanic white, 3.4% Asian, 0.1% Pacific Islander, 0.5% Native American, 1.8% African American, 2.5% Mixed race, and 9.1% of the residents were from other races.
Community and Business
Because of its status as a premier holiday destination the biggest employers in the city are hotels and resorts, especially JW Marriot Desert Springs Golf Resort and Marriot Desert Springs Villas that hire 2,304 people between them. Following hotels and resorts are security companies, Universal Protection Service hires 1,500 people and security provider, Securitas, hires 700 people.
Palm desert has much more to offer than just warm weather and scenic views as it’s also a popular shopping destination, a status it has gradually been earning for itself ever since the opening of Westfield Palm Desert in 1983. Other developments soon followed Westfield with Town Center Plaza, One Eleven Town Center, and Desert Crossing bringing the biggest outlets and all of the nation’s favorites to Palm Desert.
Holding particular appeal is the extravagant El Paseo Drive shopping street in downtown Palm Desert. Both sides of the street and the surrounding area are littered with an assortment of luxury retail outlets, posh boutiques, fine-dining restaurants, art galleries, and impeccable landscaping. The allure of the shopping district is such that its often pitted against Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. El Paseo Drive finds itself located parallel to State Route 111, the primary freeway running from Indio to Palm Springs.
Being a resort city, Palm Desert offers a variety of gaming and outdoor activities, with close to 30 golf courses and a number of tennis courts spread across the city. In 1954, Shadow Mountain became the first sports center to develop a golf course and tennis courts in the city, with Marrakesh following suit in 1954. Palm Desert Greens and Palm Desert Country Club opened their gates in 1961 and 1962 respectively, although the latter, being located 5 miles to the east of the city, wasn’t officially annexed until much later in 1992. Desert Willow Golf Resort, the municipal golf course of Palm Desert offers championship courses of Firecliff and Mountain View; the former earned itself 13th position in Golf Magazine’s 2010 list of ‘the Best Courses You Can Play in California’.
Because of the sheer amount of golf clubs located in and around the city, it’s not a surprise that Palm Desert has emerged as ‘The Golf Capital of the World’.
All the shopping and the golf, however, does not overshadow the area’s primary appeal, the raw beauty of the desert. Palm Desert offers easy access to the Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument to the south, and the Coachella Valley National Wildlife Refuge to the north. There are also over 14 public parks, including Cahuilla Hills, Civic Center, Community Gardens, Ironwood, Magnesia Falls and Palma Village within city limits.
In addition to hotels and resorts like Desert Willow and Marriot Desert Springs, the city also has a number of motels, and close to 5,000 motel rooms around the city to cater to its tourist population.