CVIndependent

Wed05222019

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

On the surface, this “Best Of” package may seem pretty simple: It’s a list of winners and finalists in more than 115 categories, as voted on by Coachella Valley Independent readers, along with a handful of staff picks and photos—with a feature on the Best Local Band thrown in for good measure.

But if you look a little deeper, you’ll see these results paint a fairly interesting picture of the Coachella Valley as it stands today. For example: The fact that such varied and diverse local bands, musicians and DJs were chosen by our readers as winners and finalists points to an increasingly varied and diverse local music scene. If you peruse the places selected as winners and finalists in the various food and restaurant categories, you’ll discover the vast majority of them are locally owned places—pointing to an increasingly good local food scene.

On the flip side, you can find hints of deficiencies in the valley as well. For example: Because there are only three finalists in the Best Indian food category, one can guess there aren’t all that many Indian-food joints in the Coachella Valley. (In fact, you can guess there are probably three, give or take.) And a chain won in the Best Chinese category. ’Nuff said.

I could go on and on, but I won’t; I’ll simply leave you to the results instead.

Oh, one more thing (maybe two): Thank you to all of the many, many readers who voted—and congratulations to all of the winners and finalists. And mark your calendars: The Best of Coachella Valley 2015-2016 Awards Party will be on Tuesday, Dec. 15. Details coming soon.

Welcome to the Best of Coachella Valley 2015-2016!

—Jimmy Boegle, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Arts

 

Best Art Gallery

Coachella Valley Art Scene

 

Runners up:

2. Heather James Gallery

3. CODA Gallery

4. Archangel Gallery

5. Hohmann Fine Art

 

Best Indoor Venue

McCallum Theatre

 

Runners up:

2. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

3. The Hood Bar and Pizza

4. The Show at Agua Caliente

5. Fantasy Springs Special Event Center

 

Best Local Arts Group/Organization

Coachella Valley Art Scene

 

Runners up:

2. McCallum Theatre

3. Palm Springs Art Museum

4. La Quinta Arts Foundation

5. Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre

 

Best Local Band

The Flusters

 

Runners up:

2. IIIZ (formerly The Yip Yops)

3. War Drum

4. Thr3 Strykes

5. R. Buckle Road

 

Best Local DJ

Alf Alpha

 

Runners up:

2. DJ Day

3. Alex Harrington

4. House Whores

5. One4All/Tommy Locust

 

Best Local Musician (Individual)

Jesika Von Rabbit

 

Runners up:

2. EeVaan Tre

3. John Robbins

4. Steve Madaio

5. Kal David

 

Best Local Visual Artist

Sofia Enriquez

 

Runners up:

2. Michael Murphy

3. Elena Bulatova

4. Ryan “Motel” Campbell

5. Michael Weems

 

Best Movie Theater

Century Theatres at The River

 

Runners up:

2. Cinemas Palme d’Or

3. UltraStar Mary Pickford Stadium 14

4. Camelot Theatres

5. Regal Rancho Mirage Stadium 16

 

Best Museum

Palm Springs Art Museum

 

Runners up:

2. Children’s Discovery Museum

3. La Quinta Museum

4. Coachella Valley History Museum

5. Agua Caliente Cultural Museum

 

Best Outdoor Venue

The Living Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

3. Empire Polo Club

4. Fantasy Springs Rock Yard

5. La Quinta Civic Center

 

Best Theater Company

McCallum Theatre

 

Runners up:

2. Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre

3. Desert Rose Playhouse

4. Coyote Stageworks

5. Dezart Performs


Life in the Valley

 

Best Alternative Health Center

Palm Springs Healing Center

 

Runners up:

2. Desert Hot Springs Health and Wellness Center

3. Neuro Vitality Center (formerly the Stroke Recovery Center)

 

Best Farmers’ Market

Old Town La Quinta Certified Farmers’ Market

 

Runners up:

2. College of the Desert Street Fair

3. Palm Springs Certified Farmers’ Market (Saturday)

4. Palm Desert Certified Farmers’ Market (Wednesday)

5. Palm Springs VillageFest

 

Best Local Activist/Advocacy Group/Charity

Palm Springs Animal Shelter

 

Runners up:

2. Desert AIDS Project

3. Coachella Valley Rescue Mission

4. LGBT Community Center of the Desert

5. Mizell Senior Center

 

Best Gym

World Gym Palm Desert

 

Runners up:

2. In-Shape Cathedral City

3. EOS Fitness Palm Springs

4. Palm Springs Fitness

5. World Gym Palm Springs

 

Best Public Servant

Congressman Raul Ruiz

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Mayor Linda Evans

3. Palm Springs City Council Member Ginny Foat

4. Palm Springs City Council Member Paul Lewin

5. La Quinta City Council Member Robert Radi

 

Best Yoga Studio

Bikram Yoga University Village

 

Runners up:

2. Coachella Valley Art Scene

3. Urban Yoga

 

Best Bowling Alley

Fantasy Springs Bowling Center

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Springs Lanes

3. Canyon Lanes Bowling at Morongo

 

Best Auto Repair

Desert Classic Cars

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Andy’s Auto Repair

Palms to Pines Automotive

4. European Auto Service

5. OMAG Automotive Machine

 

Best Car Wash

Elephant Car Wash/Rancho Super Car Wash

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Car Wash

3. TIE

Airport Car Wash

Desert 100% Hand Car Wash

5. Red Carpet Car Wash

 

Best Plant Nursery

The Living Desert’s Palo Verde Garden Center

 

Runners up:

2. Moller’s Garden Center

3. Moorten Botanical Garden

4. Bob Williams Nursery

 

Best Pet Supplies

PetSmart

 

Runners up:

2. Cold Nose Warm Heart

3. Petco

4. Bones ‘n’ Scones

5. Pet Oasis

 

Best Annual Charity Event

La Quinta Arts Festival

 

Runners up:

2. Paint El Paso Pink (Desert Cancer Foundation)

3. Evening Under the Stars (AIDS Assistance Program)

4. Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards Gala (Desert AIDS Project)

5. McCallum Theatre Annual Gala

 

Best Place to Gamble

Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa

 

Runners up:

2. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino

3. Morongo Casino Resort Spa

4. Spa Resort Casino

5. Spotlight 29

 

Best Local TV News

KESQ News Channel 3

 

Runners up:

2. KMIR Channel 6

3. CBS Local 2

 

Best Local TV News Personality

Bianca Rae, KESQ News Channel 3

 

Runners up:

2. Ginger Jeffries, KMIR Channel 6

3. Patrick Evans, CBS Local 2

4. Jenifer Daniels, CBS Local 2

5. Gino LaMont, KMIR Channel 6

 

Best Radio Station

KCRW 89.3 FM

 

Runners up:

2. Q102.3 Classic Rock

3. Mix 100.5

4. The Bull 98.5

5. K-News 94.3

 

Best Local Radio Personality

Jim "Fitz" Fitzgerald, 103.9 FM The Breeze

 

Runners up:

2. Jeff Michaels, Big 106 (KPLM)

3. Bill Feingold, K-News 94.3

4. Dan McGrath, 103.1 Sunny FM

5. Joey English, K-News 94.3

 

Best Bookstore

Barnes and Noble

 

Runners up:

2. Crystal Fantasy

3. The Book Rack

4. Just Fabulous

5. Revivals

 

Best Retail Music/Video Store

Record Alley

 

Runners up:

2. Best Buy

3. Barnes and Noble

 

Best Comics/Games Shop

Desert Oasis Comics

 

Runners up:

2. Barnes and Noble

3. JB Sports and Varsity Jackets

 

Best Hotel Pool

Ace Hotel and Swim Club

 

Runners up:

2. Riviera Palm Springs

3. Renaissance Indian Wells Resort and Spa

4. La Quinta Resort

5. The Saguaro

 

Best Sex Toy Shop

Skitzo Kitty

 

Runners up:

2. Not So Innocent

3. Red Panties Boutique


Fashion and Style

 

Best Clothing Store (Locally Owned)

Bobby G’s

 

Runners up:

2. Grayse El Paseo

3. Wil Stiles

4. R&R Men’s Wear

5. Glossy

 

Best Resale/Vintage Clothing

TIE

Angel View

Revivals

 

Runners up:

3. Gypsyland

4. Resale Therapy

5. The Fine Art of Design

 

Best Furniture Store

Mathis Brothers

 

Runners up:

2. Revivals

3. Misty’s Consignments

4. Mor Furniture for Less

5. Scandinavian Designs (formerly Plummers)

 

Best Antiques/Collectibles Store

The Estate Sale Co.

 

Runners up:

2. Misty’s Consignments

3. Antique Galleries of Palm Springs

4. Victoria’s Attic Antiques

5. The POP Shop

 

Best Jeweler/Jewelry Store

Leeds and Son

 

Runners up:

2. El Paseo Jewelers

3. The Jewelry Bar

4. Hephaestus

5. B. Alsohns Jewelers

 

Best Hair Salon

J. Russell! The Salon

 

Runners up:

2. Dishwater Blonde

3. Brien O’Brien Salon

4. Razors

5. Revive Salon Spa

 

Best Spa

JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort and Spa

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Resort

3. Two Bunch Palms Resort and Spa

4. Studio M

5. Miracle Springs

 

Best Florist

My Little Flower Shop

 

Runners up:

2. Rancho Mirage Florist

3. Palm Springs Florist

4. The Flower Company

5. Vaso Bello Celebrations

 

Best Tattoo Parlor

The Tattoo Gallery

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Adornment Piercing and Private Tattoo

Strata Tattoo Lab

4. Art and Ink Tattoo Studio and Design

5. Contrast Tattoo Studios

 

Best Eyeglass/Optical Retailer

Costco

 

Runners up:

2. Desert Vision Optometry

3. Ooh La-La de Paris

4. Desert Eyecare Center

5. Old Town Optometry


Outside!

 

Best Urban Landscaping

Sunnylands

 

Runners up:

2. El Paseo

3. Palm Springs (downtown)

4. Rancho Mirage (general)

5. Palm Springs International Airport

 

Best Public Garden

The Living Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Sunnylands

3. El Paseo

4. Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden at the PS Art Museum Palm Desert

5. Palm Desert Community Gardens

 

Best Place for Bicycling

Palm Springs (general)

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta (general)

3. Frank Sinatra Drive

 

Best Recreation Area

Joshua Tree

 

Runners up:

2. Idyllwild

3. Indian Canyons

4. Whitewater Preserve

5. Tahquitz Canyon

 

Best Hike

Indian Canyons

 

Runners up:

2. Bump and Grind Trail

3. Painted Canyon

4. Palm Springs Art Museum Trail

5. South Lykken Trail

 

Best Park

Palm Desert Civic Center Park

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Civic Center Park

3. Ruth Hardy Park

4. Demuth Park

5. Francis Stevens Park

 

Best Outdoor/Camping Gear Store

Dick’s Sporting Goods

 

Runners up:

2. Big 5

3. Yellow Mart

 

Best Bike Shop

Palm Springs Cyclery

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Desert Cyclery

3. Tri.A.Bike

4. Mike’s Bike Truck

 

Best Sporting Goods

Dick’s Sporting Goods

 

Runners up:

2. Big 5

3. The Sports Authority

 

Best Public Golf Course

Indian Wells Golf Resort

 

Runners up:

2. Desert Willow Golf Resort

3. Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort

4. SilverRock Resort

5. The Lights at Indio GC


For the Kids

 

Best Playground

Palm Desert Civic Center Park

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Civic Center Park

3. Ruth Hardy Park

4. Demuth Park

5. Cathedral City Town Square

 

Best Place to Buy Toys

Toys “R” Us

 

Runners up:

2. Target

3. Mr G’s For Kids

4. Big Lots

 

Best Kids’ Clothing Store

Old Navy

 

Runners up:

2. Revivals

3. Crazy 8

 

Best Restaurant for Kids

Chuck E. Cheese’s

 

Runners up:

2. Red Robin

3. Islands

4. Ruby’s

5. Burgers and Beer

 

Best Place for Family Fun

The Living Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Wet ’n’ Wild

3. Children’s Discovery Museum

4. Boomers

5. Chuck E. Cheese’s

 

Best Place for a Birthday Party

The Living Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Children’s Discovery Museum

3. TIE

Boomers

Chuck E. Cheese’s

5. Peaks Restaurant (Top of the Tram)


Food and Restaurants

 

Best Casual Eats

Eureka!

 

Runners up:

2. Lulu California Bistro

3. Stuft Pizza

4. Bill’s Pizza

5. Pho 533

 

Best Caterer

Lulu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. Lavender Bistro

3. Dash and a Handful

4. Desert Cities Catering

5. Lynn Hammond

 

Best Diner

Keedy’s Fountain Grill

 

Runners up:

2. Elmer’s

3. King’s Highway at the Ace

4. John’s

5. Bit of Country

 

Best Organic Food Store

Whole Foods

 

Runners up:

2. Sprouts Farmers Market

3. Clark’s Nutrition and Natural Foods

4. Nature’s Health Food and Café

5. Harvest Health Foods

 

Best Delicatessen

Sherman’s

 

Runners up:

2. Manhattan in the Desert

3. Clementine Gourmet Marketplace and Cafe

4. Real Italian Deli

5. It’s a Deli

 

Best Custom Cakes

Over the Rainbow

 

Runners up:

2. Sherman’s

3. Manhattan in the Desert

4. Pastry Swan Bakery

5. Exquisite Desserts

 

Best Desserts

Manhattan in the Desert

 

Runners up:

2. Sherman’s

3. French Corner Cafe and Bakery

4. Over the Rainbow

5. Pastry Swan Bakery/Fix a Dessert House

 

Best Ice Cream/Shakes

Great Shakes

 

Runners up:

2. Cold Stone Creamery

3. Ben and Jerry’s

4. Keedy’s Fountain Grill

5. Lappert’s Ice Cream

 

Best Date Shake

Shields Date Garden

 

Runners up:

2. Great Shakes

3. Palm Greens Cafe

 

Best Frozen Yogurt

Beach House

 

Runners up:

2. Tutti Frutti

3. Yogurt Island

4. Jus Chillin

5. Eddie’s Frozen Yogurt

 

Best Bakery

Aspen Mills

 

Runners up:

2. Nothing Bundt Cakes

3. French Corner Cafe and Bakery

4. Over the Rainbow

5. Frankie’s Old World Italian Bakery

 

Best Barbecue

Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace

3. Jackalope Ranch

4. Smoke Tree BBQ Bar and Grill

5. CV BBQ

 

Best Burger

Eureka!

 

Runners up:

2. Grill-A-Burger

3. Woody’s Burgers

4. Burgers and Beer

5. Smokin’ Burgers

 

Best Veggie Burger

Native Foods Café

 

Runners up:

2. Eureka!

3. Grill-A-Burger

4. Lulu California Bistro

5. Woody’s Burgers

 

Best Sandwich

Sherman’s

 

Runners up:

2. The Sandwich Spot

3. TKB Bakery and Deli

4. Manhattan in the Desert

5. Aspen Mills

 

Best Pizza

Stuft Pizza

 

Runners up:

2. Bill’s Pizza

3. Piero’s PizzaVino

4. Matchbox

5. Giuseppe’s

 

Best Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings

 

Runners up:

2. Upper Crust Pizza

3. TIE

Bar

The Village Pub

5. Lulu California Bistro

 

Best Bagels

Einstein Bros. Bagels

 

Runners up:

2. New York Bagel and Deli

3. Townie Bagels Bakery Cafe

4. Manhattan in the Desert

5. Sherman’s

 

Best Smoothies

Fresh Juice Bar

 

Runners up:

2. Jamba Juice

3. Juice It Up!

4. Koffi

5. Nature’s Health Food and Café

 

Best Buffet

Grand Palms Buffet at Agua Caliente

 

Runners up:

2. Emperor Buffet

3. Fresh Grill Buffet at Fantasy Springs

4. Oasis Buffet at Spa Resort Casino

5. Potrero Canyon Buffet at Morongo

 

Best Coffee Shop for Coffee

Koffi

 

Runners up:

2. Starbucks

3. Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

4. Ernest Coffee

5. Ristretto

 

Best Coffee Shop for Hanging Out

Koffi

 

Runners up:

2. Old Town Coffee Company

3. Starbucks

4. Ernest Coffee

5. Ristretto

 

Best Tea

Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf

 

Runners up:

2. Teavana

3. Koffi

4. Starbucks

5. Ristretto

 

Best Breakfast

Wilma and Frieda’s Cafe

 

Runners up:

2. Elmer’s

3. John’s

4. TIE

Lulu California Bistro

Spencer’s Restaurant

 

Best California Cuisine

Lulu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. TIE

Trio

Zin American Bistro

4. Tropicale

5. Copley’s on Palm Canyon

 

Best Brunch

Spencer’s Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Lulu California Bistro

3. Escena Lounge and Grill

4. Vue Grille and Bar

5. Tropicale

 

Best Chinese

P.F. Chang’s

 

Runners up:

2. City Wok

3. Wang’s in the Desert

4. China 8

5. New Fortune

 

Best Greek

Greek Islands Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Koutouki Greek Estiatorio

3. TIE

Miro’s Restaurant

Nina’s Greek Cuisine

5. Santorini Gyro Hamburger/Greek Food and Grill

 

Best French

Le Vallauris

 

Runners up:

2. La Brasserie

3. Pomme Frite

4. Cuistot

5. Chez Pierre

 

Best Indian

India Oven

 

Runners up:

2. Monsoon Indian Cuisine

3. Naan House

 

Best Japanese

Kobe Japanese Steakhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise

3. Okura Robata Grill and Sushi Bar

4. Shabu Shabu Zen

5. Sushi Domo

 

Best Italian

Ristorante Mamma Gina

 

Runners up:

2. La Bella Cucina

3. Mario’s Italian Cafe

4. Giuseppe’s Pizza and Pasta

5. Trilussa

 

Best Sushi

Okura Robata Grill and Sushi Bar

 

Runners up:

2. Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise

3. The Venue

4. No Da Te

5. Sushi Domo

 

Best Seafood

Fisherman’s Market and Grill

 

Runners up:

2. Pacifica Seafood Restaurant

3. Ruben and Ozzy’s

4. Mitch’s on El Paseo

5.Oceans Seafood Restaurant

 

Best Steaks/Steakhouse

LG’s Prime Steakhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Sullivan’s Steakhouse

3. The Steakhouse at Spa Resort Casino

4. Outback Steakhouse

5. Chop House

 

Best Thai

Thai Smile Palm Springs

 

Runners up:

2. Thai Smile of Rancho Mirage (now in Palm Desert)

3. Blue Orchid

4. Pepper’s Thai Cuisine

5. Le Basil

 

Best Vietnamese

Pho Vu

 

Runners up:

2. Rooster and the Pig

3. Pho 533

4. Pho of the Desert

5. Le Basil

 

Best Vegetarian/Vegan

Native Foods Café

 

Runners up:

2. Palm Greens Café

3. Nature’s Health Food and Café

 

Best Upscale Restaurant

Spencer’s Restaurant

 

Runners up:

2. Wally’s Desert Turtle

3. Lavender Bistro

4. Jillian’s

5. Tropicale

 

Best Outdoor Seating

Jackalope Ranch

 

Runners up:

2. Lavender Bistro

3. Spencer’s Restaurant

4. Le Vallauris

5. Tropicale

 

Best Late-Night Restaurant

Lulu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. King’s Highway at the Ace

3. Smokin’ Burgers

4. Alicante

5. Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise

 

Best Mexican

Las Casuelas Terraza

 

Runners up:

2. El Mirasol

3. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

4. Pueblo Viejo Grill

5. La Tablita

 

Best Salsa

Las Casuelas Terraza

 

Runners up:

2. Pueblo Viejo Grill

3. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

4. Loco Charlie’s Mexican Grill

5. Los Pepes Mexican Grill and Bar

 

Best Burrito

Chipotle

 

Runners up:

2. El Ranchito Taco Shop

3. El Gallito

4. Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

5. La Tablita


Spirits and Nightlife

 

Best Beer Selection

Yard House

 

Runners up:

2. Eureka!

3. Bart Lounge

4. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

5. Gyoro Gyoro Izakaya Japonaise

 

Best Local Brewery

Coachella Valley Brewing Co.

 

Runners up:

2. La Quinta Brewing Co.

3. Babe’s Bar-B-Que and Brewhouse

 

Best Place to Play Pool/Billiards

The Beer Hunter

 

Runners up:

2. Bart Lounge

3. Hunters

4. Neil’s Lounge

5. Palm Springs Lanes

 

Best Cocktail Menu

Lulu California Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. Eureka!

3. Bar

4. Zin American Bistro

5. Tropicale

 

Best Gay/Lesbian Bar/Club

Toucan’s

 

Runners up:

2. Hunters

3. Chill

4. Tool Shed

5. Streetbar

 

Best Happy Hour

La Quinta Cliffhouse Grill and Bar

 

Runners up:

2. Lulu California Bistro

3. Wang’s in the Desert

4. Hunters

5. Tropicale

 

Best Dive Bar

The Hood Bar and Pizza

 

Runners up:

2. Red Barn

3. Neil’s Lounge

4. Score

5. Toucan’s

 

Best Margarita

Las Casuelas Terraza

 

Runners up:

2. Armando’s Dakota Bar and Grill

3. El Mirasol

4. TIE

Los Pepes Mexican Bar and Grill

Rio Azul Mexican Bar and Grill

 

Best Martini

Mastro’s Steakhouse

 

Runners up:

2. Melvyn’s

3. The Falls (no longer in business)

4. Zin American Bistro

5. Tropicale

 

Best Nightclub

Bart Lounge

 

Runners up:

2. Copa

3. Chill

4. Hunters

5. Bardot Nightclub

 

Best Sports Bar

Yard House

 

Runners up:

2. The Beer Hunter

3. Burgers and Beer

4. Playoffs Sports Bar and Lounge

5. Score

 

Best Wine Bar

Zin American Bistro

 

Runners up:

2. La Rue Wine Bar

3. Sullivan’s Steak House

4. La Brasserie

5. 12th Floor Cocktail Lounge and Wine Bar at Fantasy Springs

 

Best Wine/Liquor Store

Total Wine and More

 

Runners up:

2. BevMo!

3. LQ Wine

4. Desert Wines and Spirits in the Go Deli Market

5. Fame Lounge

 

Best Bar Ambiance

Bart Lounge

 

Runners up:

2. Bar

3. Melvyn’s

4. Tropicale

5. Chill


Best of Coachella Valley 2015-2016: Staff Picks

Best of Coachella Valley 2015-2016: Best Local Band: The Flusters

Best of Coachella Valley 2014-2015

Published in Readers' Picks

Film

MOVIES IN THE PARK: THE CROODS

Bring chairs, kick back and enjoy the start of summer! The movie will begin the second the sun goes behind our mountains. 6 p.m., Friday, May 9. Free. Mecca Community Park, 65250 Coahuila St., Mecca; apm.activecommunities.com/desertrecdistrict.

SHORTFEST ‘SHOOTING STARS’

In preparation for June’s ShortFest 2014, the Camelot will host a program of the best of the “Shooting Stars” programming, featuring major Hollywood names appearing on screen or behind the camera. 7:30 p.m., Thursday, May 15. Free. Camelot Theatres, 2300 E. Baristo Road, Palm Springs. 760-322-2930; www.psfilmfest.org.

Music

BEST OF COACHELLA VALLEY SYMPHONY

In Coachella Valley Symphony’s season finale, local physician and soprano Dr. Lisa Lindley headlines this gala event with selections from both the opera and pop worlds. This special evening will include a grand VIP reception and auction following the concert for those patrons who purchase a $125 ticket. All proceeds from the auction will go toward youth education programs. 7 p.m., Friday, May 9. $25 to $125. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert. 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

MARIACHI EXTRAVAGANZA

Don't miss the dynamic sounds, the rich colorful costumes and the cultural celebration of the Mariachi Extravaganza. Embajadores Del Mariachi, Mariachi Sol De Mexico, led by Jose Hernandez, is a Grammy-nominated and platinum-selling group that has performed to sold-out audiences around the world for more than 30 years. Las Primeras Damas De Mariachi Reyna De Los Angeles is the first female mariachi ensemble in the United States. 7:30 p.m., Saturday, May 24. $20 to $40. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella. 800-585-3737; startickets.com/venues/item/spotlight-29-casino.

MARIACHI VARGAS DE TECALITLAN

Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan has been in existence for 100 years and has been credited with revolutionizing the style of music. They've recorded albums, starred in more than 200 movies, and performed all over the world. 4 p.m., Sunday, May 11. $40 to $100. McCallum Theatre, 73000 Fred Waring Drive, Palm Desert. 760-340-2787; www.mccallumtheatre.com.

PEPE AGUILAR

Five-time-Grammy winning artist Pepe Aguilar is an impressive master of fusion with an undisputed capacity to inspire audiences. 8 p.m., Friday, May 2. $39 to $79. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio. 800-827-2946; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

ROCK YARD AT FANTASY SPRINGS

The Rock Yard at Fantasy Springs brings music fans free, live rock shows. At 7:30 p.m., the full-throttle rock music fires up with cover band Rok of Ages and gets audience members out of their seats. At 9 p.m., the tribute band takes over and plays audience favorites. At 10:30 p.m., the cover band comes back out and continues the live music until midnight. Friday, May 2: Pat Benatar. Saturday, May 3: Tribute to U2. More shows to be announced; check the website for more information. Free; 18 and older. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino, 84245 Indio Springs Parkway, Indio. 800-827-2946; www.fantasyspringsresort.com.

STAYIN’ ALIVE: A CELEBRATION OF THE BEE GEES

Stayin' Alive offers the songs and sights of a full Bee Gees concert, singing blockbusters such as “Night Fever,” “Jive Talkin,” “How Deep Is Your Love,” “You Should Be Dancing,” “Nights on Broadway” and “Stayin’ Alive,” along with video clips, photos and dazzling imagery. 8 p.m., Saturday, May 10. $20. Spotlight 29 Casino, 46200 Harrison Place, Coachella. 800-585-3737; startickets.com/venues/item/spotlight-29-casino.

Performing Arts

THE FABULOUS PALM SPRINGS FOLLIES’ FINAL SEASON

The Follies’ final edition, entitled “The Last Hurrah,” will conclude on Sunday, May 18. The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies has been seen by nearly 3 million patrons, and celebrates the music and dance of mid-century America with a cast ranging in age from 55 to 83 years young. Various dates and times through Sunday, May 18. $29 to $95. Palm Springs Follies at the Historic Plaza Theatre, 128 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 760-327-0225; www.psfollies.com.

Special Events

BIRDS OF JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK

The deceptively barren Mojave Desert landscape is home to and resting grounds for numerous endemic and migratory bird species; more than 240 species of birds have been recorded in Joshua Tree National Park. Kurt Leuschner, professor at College of the Desert, will guide this three-day field class through the Mojave and Colorado deserts to identify common and rare birds. Leuschner’s focus will be on identifying individual species and separating summer and winter residents from true migrants. 6 to 8 p.m., Friday, May 2; 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday, May 3; 7 a.m. to noon, Sunday, May 4. $125 to $135. Black Rock Visitor Center, 9800 Black Rock Canyon Road, Yucca Valley. 760-367-5525; www.joshuatree.org/desert-institute/field-classes/birds-of-joshua-tree-national-park.

BREW AT THE ZOO

“Save wildlife one beer at a time.” Enjoy a sampling of handcrafted beers, food and live entertainment, with participation by more than 50 local breweries and restaurants. Proceeds help The Living Desert. 6:30 p.m. Saturday, May 3. $35 to $125. The Living Desert, 47900 Portola Ave., Palm Desert. 760-346-5694; www.livingdesert.org.

AN EVENING AT THE PUEBLO

Join Cabot’s Pueblo Museum for a fabulous cocktail and dinner celebrating the placement on the National Register of Historic Places and the preservation of the integrity of Cabot Yerxa’s history, pueblo and collection of artifacts. 6 p.m., Saturday, May 17. $150. Cabot’s Pueblo Museum, 67616 E. Desert View Ave., Desert Hot Springs. 760-329-7610; www.cabotsmuseum.org.

EVENING UNDER THE STARS’ 2014 GALA: FIRST LADIES OF DISCO

The 21st annual Evening Under the Stars gala to benefit the AIDS Assistance Program (AAP) will feature a star-studded performance by fabulous female pioneers of the ’70s disco scene. Scheduled to appear are Linda Clifford, France Joli, Evelyn “Champagne” King, Maxine Nightingale, Pamala Stanley, Anita Ward, Martha Wash and the ladies formerly of Chic: Alfa Anderson, Luci Martin and Norma Jean. The event includes cocktails, dinner, dancing, and silent and live auctions, one-of-a-kind collectibles, marvelous merchandise and more. 5:30 p.m., Saturday, May 3. $395 and up. O'Donnell Golf Club, 301 N. Belardo Road, Palm Springs. 760-325-8481; aidsassistance.org.

Visual Arts

ART AT SUNNYLANDS

Sculpture Taking Place: Cast, Carve, Combine allows families to wander Sunnylands Gardens and view local sculptors at work in this thematic family day; from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunday, May 18. Plein Air in the Gardens admits artists for extended hours to paint, sketch or sculpt in the gardens. Pre-registration is required; from 7:30 p.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday, May 21. Free. Sunnylands Center and Gardens, 37977 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage, CA 92270. 760-202-2222; sunnylands.org.

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN': THIRTY YEARS OF COLLECTING

The exhibit includes art works purchased by the Palm Springs Art Museum with funds provided by the Contemporary Art Council and other contributors since 1984. The acquisitions were created by contemporary artists who worked in California or were influenced by spending some time in California during their artistic careers. This is the first time these artworks have been on exhibition together. The exhibit is a celebration of the commitment of the Contemporary Art Council to growing the museum's collection of significant contemporary artists, and is a survey of art in California since the 1980s. On display through Thursday, July 31. Included with museum admission (free to $12.50). Palm Springs Art Museum, 101 Museum Drive, Palm Springs. 760-322-4800; www.psmuseum.org.

PALM SPRINGS PHOTO FESTIVAL

Connect 2014 offers the opportunity for professional, emerging professional and serious advanced amateur photographers to study with legendary photographers, show portfolios in the celebrated Portfolio Review Program, and attend cutting-edge seminars. The program is intended to inspire, educate and instill or reignite passion for the art and commerce of photography. Various times Monday, April 28, through Friday; May 2. Prices vary. Hyatt Palm Springs, 285 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs. 310-289-5030; 2014.palmspringsphotofestival.com.

Published in Local Fun

The city of Palm Springs may be a hotbed of midcentury modern architecture—but the valley’s most exciting example of modernism may be found in Rancho Mirage: Sunnylands, the former desert home of Walter and Leonore Annenberg.

“Palm Springs Modernism Week in February is a real celebration of modernism architecture,” said Mary Perry, deputy director of communications and public affairs at Sunnylands. “(Sunnylands) is a very good example of midcentury modernism. It has a lot of the inside/outside feel.”

Formerly known as the Annenberg Estate, Sunnylands has hosted eight U.S. presidents—and it will host Barack Obama yet again on Feb. 14, when the president meets with King Abdullah II of Jordan at Sunnylands. (Yes, the president is crashing Modernism Week, in a sense.) It was the spot of a state dinner between President George H.W. Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu in 1990—the first state dinner ever held outside of the White House. Richard Nixon wrote his final State of the Union Address at Sunnylands, and returned to Sunnylands several months later to wind down following his resignation.

During the Islamic Revolution in the late 1970s, family members of the shah of Iran were offered refuge within the walls of Sunnylands. Queen Elizabeth II (pictured) had a lunch date with the Annenbergs there. The estate hosted a New Year’s Eve party in the house’s atrium that Ronald and Nancy Reagan attended every year for 18 years.

The estate was commissioned by the Annenbergs in 1963 and completed in 1966, after they chose A. Quincy Jones and Frederick Emmons to design the house. Jones, a modernist architect, was truly an innovator and a man ahead of his time; his designs were sustainable and environmentally friendly, and many were compatible with surrounding wildlife and agriculture. In fact, the Annenbergs believed their home in Rancho Mirage was “bringing the outside in.”

Both Walter and Leonore Annenberg were devoted philanthropists. After Walter Annenberg sold TV Guide to Rupert Murdoch in 1988 for $3 billion, he would go on to give away $2 billion to causes ranging from the public-education system and the United Negro College Fund to art museums. His collection of art, estimated to be worth $1 billion, was given to the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art upon his death.

The final thing he donated through the Annenberg Foundation Trust was Sunnylands itself. He left $300 million for upkeep and to maintain it as a retreat for leaders seeking to address serious issues facing the nation and the world. It was opened to the public on a limited basis in 2012.

With Modernism Week approaching, Sunnylands recently granted the Independent a tour of Sunnylands.


After driving through the gates and going down a winding road featuring cacti and gorgeous landscaping, visitors start at the visitors’ center, which sits on 15 acres of the 200-acre property.

When the center opened for limited tours in March 2012, they quickly sold out, yet people still wanted to know what was behind the pink security walls—hence the visitors’ center, which is open to everyone, for free, Thursdays through Sundays.

On the day of our tour, a women’s yoga class was slated to take place outside in the courtyard. The garden there includes various cacti and other desert plants; there’s also a meditative labyrinth through which guests can walk.

The visitors’ center includes interactive multimedia stations with information on various aspects of the estate; there’s also an impressive 3-D presentation (no glasses required) that shows the construction of the home. I highly recommend checking it out before you hop in the shuttle for your tour.

As the shuttle passed through part of the golf course to get to the estate, the guide explained the story behind the pink walls: Leonore Annenberg favored the color pink—especially pink oleanders. In the early ’90s, pink oleanders were starting to die off worldwide; meanwhile, added security was needed for a visit by former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher—so when the needed wall was built, it was pink.

The wall is not the only pink element of Sunnylands: The pink pyramid-style roof was inspired by the Mayan pyramids, according to our tour guide.

When the shuttle pulls into the cul-de-sac in front of the estate, and the doors open, the view is breathtaking. Digitalized replicas of the original artwork that used to belong to Walter Annenberg are on the walls in the same locations as the originals. (The replicas were made by the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art.) Original furniture and sculptures are spread out through the atrium. A giant sculpture, complete with a fountain and pink flowers, sits in the middle of the atrium under the skylight.

The Room of Memories is a study-like room, with a sprawl of photos of everyone from Bob Hope to various presidents sitting on the shelves. While visitors are given time to inspect the various photos and objects, it’s nowhere enough time to take in all of the details—like the Chinese-influenced art underneath the glass top of a coffee table, for example.

The master bedroom suite has a spectacular view of a cactus garden and the grounds. When asked why the master bedroom does not offer mountain views, the tour guide explained that those views were reserved for guests—one of many hospitable acts by the Annenbergs. The guide also said that Walter loved birds so much that he had a microphone placed on a birdfeeder—with the sound sent into his dressing area, so he could hear it every morning as he started his day.

The vast majority of the furniture throughout the estate does not have modernist appeal; instead, much of it is what the tour guide called “Hollywood Victorian.” Walter Annenberg served as ambassador to the Court of St. James, which led to the Annenbergs living in London from 1969 to 1974—and when they returned to Rancho Mirage, they added a royal-themed sitting room to the estate and replaced most of their furniture with pieces inspired by Victorian furnishings. However, they did keep many of their beloved Qing Dynasty-inspired artifacts.

In the Yellow Room—a guest room in which the Reagans, Henry Kissinger and Bob Hope stayed—the yellow décor is overwhelming. The guide explained that the Annenbergs almost always had weekend visitors—and only weekend visitors. One of the embroidered pillows on the sofa in this room lightheartedly stresses that the guests will be leaving on Sunday—a personal rule that Walter Annenberg had for visitors to the estate.

As the tour ends, visitors are led around the estate’s nine-hole golf course where Walter Annenberg played golf with Ronald Reagan and Charles, Prince of Wales. Leonore Annenberg also enjoyed the course, holding a ladies’ only golf day that included Dinah Shore.


There’s no doubt the Annenbergs lived an elegant, expensive lifestyle. It’s hard to imagine what living there must have been like.

Today, Sunnylands remains a retreat for world leaders, including a meeting last year between President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping. However, it’s not just world leaders who come to Sunnylands; it is also the site of other types of retreats, high-level conferences and seminars—all related to world affairs and issues involving education. The Sunnylands estate does not charge for these retreats and seminars.

“We partner with the Palm Springs International Film Festival, and we held a two-day retreat here,” Perry said, offering an example of a recent event at the estate. “We hold this retreat for emerging filmmakers from all around the world who come to talk about how film can change the world. So, certainly, their topic fits in with our retreat. We’ve had medical; we’ve had education; and we’ve had some health-care retreats focused on HIV and the research that has just come out.”

Of course, Sunnylands is a modernist’s dream come true: On 200 acres, the 25,000-square-feet midcentury modern house, with many original art pieces still in the home, is a marvelous spectacle. It’s also a place that’s in demand: Tours require advance booking—and, alas, all of the Modernism Week tours are sold out. (During February, tickets for some March tours will go on sale.)

“The reason you have to buy them way in advance is because we always have to be ready for retreats,” Perry said. “… We need to be able to cancel tours if we have to—although we don’t like to cancel tours.” It's likely, in fact, that Obama's Feb. 14 visit will result in some tour cancellations.

If you do get a coveted tour spot, dress comfortably, and wear comfortable shoes—you’ll be standing for 45 minutes to an hour as you walk through the house. There is no photography inside the home due to what’s explained as national security reasons, but visitors are free to photograph at the visitors’ center.

The entrance to Sunnylands is located at 37977 Bob Hope Drive, in Rancho Mirage. The Sunnylands Center and Gardens is open for free from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday through Sunday. Tickets for tours of the house and grounds are released in half-month blocks, and cost $35. For more information, visit sunnylands.org.

Published in Features