Every month a different club or disco is the hot spot in the Springs, and the best way to tap into the trend is by consulting the Desert Guide, the Bottom Line, or one of the many other free newsletters available from area hotels and merchants. VillageFest turns Palm Canyon Drive into an outdoor party every Thursday night. Below, I've described a couple of the enduring arts and entertainment attractions around the desert resorts.
The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies, at the Plaza Theatre, 128 S. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs (tel. 760/327-0225; www.psfollies.com), a vaudeville-style show filled with highly polished and lavishly costumed production numbers reminiscent of the Ziegfeld days, is a long-running hit in the historic Plaza Theatre in the heart of town. With a cast of retired showgirls, singers, dancers, and comedians, the revue is hugely popular. In addition, there are guest stars such as Susan Anton, The Crystals, and Leslie Gore and the Four Preps. The season runs November through May; call for exact schedule. Tickets range from $50 to $95. Matinees are at 1:30pm, evening shows at 7pm.
The McCallum Theatre for the Performing Arts, 73000 Fred Waring Dr., Palm Desert (tel. 866/889-2787 or 760/340-2787), offers the only cultural high road around. Frequent symphony performances feature visiting virtuosos such as conductor Seiji Ozawa or violinist Itzhak Perlman. Other recent offerings have included musicals such as Hairspray and Chicago; comedy by Norm Crosby, Tim Conway, and Kathy Griffin; and musical shows such as A Tribute to Glenn Miller, with the Tex Beneke Orchestra, and Sinatra Sings, featuring Frank Jr. Call for upcoming events.
Native American gaming has been part of desert life for years now, but recently the industry seems to have joined the major leagues, with a professionalism and polish that have given rise to a "virtual Vegas."
The best-known and most centrally located casino is the Spa Resort Casino in the heart of Palm Springs. Gaming rooms that were once an afterthought now share the spotlight with the hot springs. Attendees at the hotel's conference center on business can often be found playing hooky at one or both.
You can't help but be impressed by the brilliant neon fireballs of the Agua Caliente Casino, northeast of Palm Springs at 32-250 Bob Hope Dr., Rancho Mirage (tel. 888/999-1995 or 760/321-2000; www.hotwatercasino.com), down the street from the Westin Mission Hills. The new hotel has 340 rooms, a 10,000-square-foot spa, three restaurants, and a 2,000-seat showroom; call tel. 866/923-7244 for reservations.
The former Trump 29, now run by the owning Indian tribe, is called Spotlight 29, 46-200 Harrison Place, Coachella (tel. 866/377-6829 or 760/775-5566; www.spotlight.com), about a half-hour from Palm Springs. Although the land is tribal owned, this sophisticated complex is Vegas all the way, from its big-name shows and high-roller players club to its 24-hour fine dining and all-you-can-eat prime-rib buffets.
Other tribal casino/resorts flank the valley, with the Morongo Casino, Resort and Spa to the northwest, at 49500 Seminole Dr., Cabazon, CA 92230 (tel. 888/MORONGO [667-6646]; www.morongocasinoresort.com), with 310 rooms, 32 suites, and six casitas by the pool. Four restaurants, food court, and full-service salon and spa augment the three nightclubs, not to mention the tables.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.