A Guide to a Road Trip Filled with Dinosaurs, Trail Mix, a Chateau and a Mustang
Written By: Lindsay DeLong Her Way or the Highway Coachella Valley road trip
Photographed By: Michael Wesley
Styled By: Amanda Gerardo
Models: Alana Noland & Jenny Purtee of Brand Model & Talent Agency
Other than the obvious reasons, part of Southern California’s beauty lies in the fact that no matter where you are, you’re always within two hours of either the beach, the mountains or the desert. You can be on a surfboard in the waters of Huntington Beach on Friday, shredding powder on the slopes of Big Bear on Saturday and come Sunday, if you find yourself driving a classic red convertible Mustang with the top down en route to La Quinta, you’re truly owning California. Road trips are a vital part of SoCal living and of all the destinations our state has to offer, the Coachella Valley is essential viewing. There are more than a few must-sees along the way as you coast through each town and we’ve got you covered. Behold, what to see and do when you’re high-tailing it to the desert.
First things first, you’re officially on a road trip and you’re actually going to need that classic car. Set yourself up with a timeless beauty and learn all the old car intricacies: how to get that drop top down for maximum wind-in-hair effect, how to tune the radio to your favorite oldies station and, most importantly, where exactly that gas tank is located—trust me, it’s trickier than you’d think! Once you’ve got that freeway situation under control, it’s a straight shot toward road trip bliss.
Classic Mustang Rentals
1745 Newport Blvd
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
Want Fries With That?
You’re officially in the 909 now and as any true 909-er will tell you, there’s no place like Baker’s Drive Thru. The Inland Empire lives and breathes Baker’s. You can’t go wrong with a supersized Papa Meal. Their hearty burgers and hand-dipped real ice cream milk shakes even give—gasp!—In-N-Out Burger a run for its money. However, if that last statement caused your SoCal heart to skip some beats and your mouth is already salivating for that Double-Double, go for it—In-N-Out is just a few exits away and the 909 will probably forgive you.
Your first official stop should be the Desert Hill Premium Outlets. It’s the perfect excuse to add a shopping spree to your trip. Discount stores range from Balenciaga to Billabong, Jimmy Choo to J. Crew and Armani to Asics. Everything is already on sale so why wouldn’t you buy that new jacket? And bathing suit? And extra-soft velour bodysuit with matching sneakers? You need it and it’s a good deal. Sold! With over 180 luxury outdoor stores, Cabazon’s outlet mall is the largest collection of outlets in California, making it a sure thing you’ll find prime gifts for everyone in your hot little speedster. There’s no guarantee all your new loot will fit in it though!
With a mall the size of Desert Hill, it’s to be expected that parking can be a nightmare. Try finding parking on the back end rather than the front or middle section; you’ll do a little more walking but you’ll also be spending less time cooped up in your car.
Desert Hill Premium Outlets
48400 Seminole Dr
Cabazon, CA 92230
Just past the outlets is Hadley Fruit Orchards, a California landmark that has been in business for six decades. Step inside the brightly colored old wooden building and you are immediately transported back to the ’60s. At Hadley Fruit Orchards you’re sure to pick up plenty of organic fruits, nuts, cereals and preserves as well as baked goods, dried and candied fruit and, of course, their legendary Date Shakes. Boasting the largest selection of dates you’ll ever find, Hadley’s offerings range from the sweet dates you find in the creamy shakes to date cakes and even dates stuffed with walnuts. Oh hello, healthy new you!
Founder Paul Hadley Sr.’s healthy yet energizing mix of dried fruit, nuts and seeds was initially for hikers of the nearby San Jacinto Mountains but soon Hadley’s trail mix became its own popular snack.
Grab some dates for a snack and head next door to the World’s Biggest Dinosaurs. The two dinosaurs were the brainchildren of Claude Bell, a former Knott’s Berry Farm sculptor, who started construction on the first one (Dinny the Apatosaurus) in 1964. Dinny ultimately took 11 years and over $250, 000 to complete. Standing at 150-feet long, and 45-feet high, Dinny is towered over by his younger sibling, a Tyrannosaurus rex aptly named Rex, who stands at 65-feet high. There’s a gift shop inside Dinny, and stairs that lead up Rex’s neck to a viewing area behind the dinosaur’s teeth. The iconic dinosaurs have made appearances in a few movies, most notably Pee Wee’s Big Adventure. Self-guided tours are available every day from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and cost $8.95 for adults and $7.95 for children.
According to a 1970 interview with The Register-Guard, Claude Bell originally planned to give Dinny the dinosaur glowing eyes and fire breath. “It’ll scare the dickens out of a lot of people driving up over the pass, ” Bell said.
Hadley Fruit Orchards
48980 Seminole Dr
Cabazon, CA 92230
World’s Biggest Dinosaurs
50800 Seminole Dr
Cabazon, CA 92230
The Whole Package
Once you’ve taken that obligatory dino selfie, you’re off to the Morongo Casino Resort & Spa. One of the largest casinos in California, the resort has 310 rooms and sits on 44 acres. In addition to the hotel and casino, the property offers golf, shopping, bowling, plenty of restaurants and the Oasis Pool and Sage Spa. Furthermore, Morongo’s entertainment and nightlife scene draw plenty of out-of-towners who come from all over SoCal to try their luck in the new exclusive room for high rollers. Dance at Vibe Night Club, dine at the resort’s signature steakhouse, Cielo, or slide a few chips at the roulette table and let Lady Luck decide how long you’re staying.
Each month at Morongo you’ll find different packages available that offer exclusive rates on rooms with views, spa deals, casino credits, tee times and more. Book in advance!
Morongo Casino Resort & Spa
49500 Seminole Dr
Cabazon, CA 92230
Gotta Stay High
Whether you win or lose, you have to leave the slots at some point. As you’re heading east on the 10, veer off onto Highway 111 and continue until you see the Palms Springs Aerial Tramway signs. Follow those up the mountain, and you’ll arrive at the Valley Station where you can catch a rotating tramcar to an elevation of 8, 500 feet up the sheer cliffs of Chino Canyon. At the top, enjoy panoramic views of Palm Springs and the entire Coachella Valley. Grab a snack from Pines Café before you explore over 54 miles of hiking trails of the Mt. San Jacinto State Park. Fares are $24.95 for adults and $16.95 for children, and the experience is sure to get some of that are-we-there-yet-I’m-tired-of-sitting-in-the-car energy out.
The trails are known to get some snow, so be sure to bring a jacket. It gets cold up there … and yes, even in the summertime!
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
1 Tram Way
Palm Springs, CA 92262
Alas, it’s time for the final stretch. Back on the 10 past Palm Springs and Palm Desert you’ll reach La Quinta, a resort city and one of the leading golf destinations in the US. While the town is full of sprawling ritzy resorts, The Chateau at Lake La Quinta sticks out among its bigger competition. A quaint 24-room boutique hotel located on the lagoon, The Chateau has the inviting feel of home mixed with class and luxury plus multiple amenities to make your stay even better—we’re talking 400-thread-count sheets and BVLGARI bath products. The gourmet restaurant Mélange features an outdoor area where patrons can actually dock their boats for a fine dining experience worth the trip across the lagoon. Outdoor fire pits combined with an expansive wine collection mean you’ll definitely want to cozy up the rest of the night in one of the lakeside bungalows. Your weekend road trip is officially over. Until tomorrow, that is, when you have to drive back … unless you can figure out a way to stay here all week. “Hi boss, I’ll be at the pool. At the Chateau.” Click.
In addition to signature cocktails and an impressive wine list, Mélange’s sommelier offers eight different varieties of wine available by self-dispense.
The Chateau at Lake La Quinta
78-120 Caleo Bay
La Quinta, CA 92253
O N /// The Road Again. A Trip Through the Coachella Valley Desert, One Stop at a Time.
When Sendak’s Wild Things dream, they voyage to Lindsay’s life. Since earning her degree in San Diego, Lindsay has become a regular fixture in far-away places, whether at the world’s largest Redhead Festival in the Netherlands or at a sheikh’s palace in Abu Dhabi, eating pheasants. Holding it down physically in Long Beach and digitally via well-trafficked blogs, she is first and foremost a journalist—always watching with a keen eye. www.iLikeLindsay.com