Here’s Everything to Experience in This Enclave of the Desert
Snugly nestled between Palm Desert and Indio on Highway 111 lies Indian Wells—a desert escape made famous by the stars of Hollywood’s Golden Age, tennis tournaments and golf pros. While still known for its luxurious hotels, lush golf courses and the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament, this desert city has become a beautiful destination for couples, friends and families to get away and experience total rest and relaxation.
Anyone heading into the Greater Palm Springs area and skipping over this desert gem is absolutely missing out. Here is our complete itinerary for the ideal weekend getaway in Indian Wells, including the best places to stay, the most exciting eateries to grab a bite and, of course, some can’t-miss activities that’ll make your trip one to remember.
Formerly known as the Miramonte Indian Wells Resort & Spa, this hotel is opening its doors as the Tommy Bahama Miramonte Resort & Spa in November 2023. With this partnership comes completely revamped spaces featuring the signature Tommy Bahama design aesthetic, along with reimagined public spaces, boutiques, dining areas and bar programs. While every inch will get the full-brand treatment, there are a few things that’ll remain the same, including the property’s beautiful pools and cabanas. Plus, close access to Indian Wells’ pro-level tennis and golf destinations remains untouched. In a nutshell, we’re looking forward to the same level of luxury that the Miramonte provided—now with a charming island aesthetic.
If you’re looking for a weekend getaway that has family fun written all over it, we recommend booking a stay at the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells. The property offers something for everyone, including impressive pools and the HyTides Plunge Waterpark, evening Glow Golf, a luxurious destination spa and delicious dining options. The Hyatt Regency Indian Wells will be transformed into the Grand Hyatt in Summer 2024, meaning that the property will be getting a few upgrades. There are fewer Grand Hyatt locations worldwide, making for a more exclusive experience. The architecture and design will be more extravagant, and guests can expect a greater incorporation of local life and fare.
Since 1989, this hotel has been a must-visit destination for guests of all ages—and it’s easy to see why. With activities for the whole family, frequent deals and stunning accommodations, Renaissance Esmeralda has become an Indian Wells staple. While the sandy beach pool and serene spa are well-known fixtures of the hotel, the Desert Glow Entertainment Zone is a true stand-out feature, inviting kids to enjoy classic and virtual reality arcade games, a boutique bowling alley and an exciting escape room. You can also book one of the Renaissance Esmeralda’s specialty experiences, such as the famous Red Jeep Tour, a Sushi and Sake Pairing or a Charcuterie Board and Wine Pairing.
Next to the Sands Hotel and Spa’s dreamy pool resides The Pink Cabana—yes, it’s as cute as it sounds. With pink and emerald accents and a midcentury racquet club vibe, The Pink Cabana features whimsical pops of color and beautiful design elements that encapsulate the spirit of Indian Wells. Not only is this restaurant a treat for the eyes, but the Mediterranean-Moroccan menu will have your mouth watering by the time you’re ready to place your order. While dinners here are ultra-romantic, we also love heading over for brunch. The brioche French toast is what dreams are made of, and the bar program consists of drinks that you won’t find anywhere else.
If you’re in Indian Wells and craving Mexican food, locals will point you in one direction: Don Diego’s. Since 1981, Don Diego’s has been serving the Indian Wells area with excellent service, authentic flavors and famously delicious margaritas. Don’t miss out on the house or Cadillac margarita, and make sure to order Don Diego’s guacamole, the mouthwatering fajitas, the vegetarian enchiladas and fried ice cream. Fill up with a tasty lunch or dinner, or stop by for Fiesta Hour, daily from 3-5 p.m. Don Diego’s also has a dog-friendly patio, so feel free to bring your furry friends along!
An Indian Wells staple in nightlife, live music and delectable dining since 1989, Vicky’s of Santa Fe is the perfect place for an upbeat and entertaining night out. Find a seat in the Lounge Room, where you’ll enjoy fantastic musical performances, including Broadway-style dinner shows, called the Show Supper Club Series. For food, we recommend the bacon-wrapped dates, the rack of lamb and the dreamy mac and cheese. Vicky’s of Santa Fe is open mid-September through the end of June, and the fall of 2023 marks the restaurant’s 35th season. If you’re in town for the weekend, keep in mind that Vicky’s of Santa Fe is closed every Sunday and Monday.
Now open to the public year-round, Nobu Indian Wells, located inside Stadium Two of the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, offers a truly inspiring experience—no matter if you’re there to watch a match or enjoy an impeccable meal. Prior to February 2023, Nobu’s doors were only open during annual tournament dates, so this transition to year-round dining is exciting for both visitors and locals. Known for exceptional Japanese cuisine with a South American twist, Nobu’s most famous menu items include the yellowtail jalapeño, tiradito and black cod with miso.
With its farm-to-table American fare and immaculate views of the Santa Rosa Mountains, Cava is the perfect place to rest and rejuvenate after a day playing in the desert sunshine. Set poolside on the beautiful grounds of the Renaissance Esmeralda, Cava offers menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but you absolutely can’t miss the daily happy hour from 4:30-6 p.m. We recommend ordering the three-course happy hour experience, which comes with your choice of soup or salad, entrée and panna cotta for dessert—all for $30 per person! This meal is best paired with a house cocktail—and the desert sunset and good company are free!
Ready to make a splash at Greater Palm Springs’ largest and most impressive water feature? Head over to the HyTides Plunge Waterpark, a fun and exciting aqua adventure located at the center of the Hyatt Regency Indian Wells. It features a kid-friendly splash pad, two dueling 30-foot water slides and a 450-foot lazy river. The hotel also offers other pools, including whirlpools, wading pools and an adults-only pool, along with poolside food and beverage service from Roadrunner Cafe and Oasis Pool Bar. Open year-round, HyTides makes for the perfect addition to a day full of pickleball or tennis matches, or you can enjoy a thrill before simply relaxing at the Agua Serena Spa.
Perfect for golf fanatics and hobbyists alike, Indian Wells Golf Resort is the ideal place to escape the desert landscape and spend a day on the green. Since the 1980s, Indian Wells Golf Resort has attracted famous and familiar names, and it’s easy to see why. The resort offers two beautiful courses to choose from: the Celebrity Course, which re-opened in 2006, and its sister green, the Players Course, which re-opened in 2007. The par-72 Celebrity Course features rolling fairways and majestic water features. The Players Course boasts unparalleled views of the surrounding mountains and a classic American design. No matter which course you book for tee time, we’re sure you’ll love its beauty as much as its playability.
If you thought taking in the sights while driving along Highway 111 was good, just wait until you get a bird’s-eye view from above. With Fantasy Balloon Flights, all you need to do is dress comfortably, show up at your designated location and partake in some bubbly and amazing views as you lift off with your experienced pilot. Whether you’re crossing a hot-air balloon ride off your bucket list, celebrating a momentous occasion or simply want to see Indian Wells from a different point of view, Fantasy Balloon Flights is sure to make your air-bound adventure one you’ll never forget. The season for hot-air balloon rides is September through May, so plan accordingly!
Indian Wells Tennis Garden may be one of the best-known tennis courts in the country, thanks to its annual hosting of the BNP Paribas Open, and now’s your chance to practice serves and strokes like a pro during the Masters tournament. Since opening in 2000, the Indian Wells Tennis Garden has offered a plethora of memberships for singles, couples, families and seasonal players, as well as different programs, lessons, clinics and packages to fit each of its members’ goals.
In the past, unwinding at Tommy Bahama looked like ordering a cocktail while waiting for their famous bread and spiced butter to arrive at your table, but now that the brand has partnered with Miramonte Indian Wells, it’s about to take on a whole new meaning—especially at Spa Rosa. Inspired by the Indian Wells landscape and the Santa Rosa Mountains, Spa Rosa uses its serene and tranquil environment to take guests on a physical, mental and spiritual journey. The spa menu includes skincare, massage and body treatments, along with enhancements to customize each. Special packages include the Occasions Package and the Spa Luxe Package—perfect for anyone who wants to go all-in on a spa day experience.
Born and raised near the Pacific Coast, Jordan Nishkian is a California girl through and through. She graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a BA in Creative Writing and a BA in Anthropology, and her favorite place to be is curled up in a comfy chair with a book in her hand and a pen in her hair.