Experiencing Coachella can be a lot to process. Learn where to escape and find your zen during the festival. (Photo: Getty Images)
There’s not a lot to dislike about the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California. A music festival in the middle of the desert, where beautiful fans outnumber the A-list acts on-stage — does it get any better than this?
At the same time, there’s no good thing in the world you can’t have too much of, and Coachella is no exception to this rule. Whether you rest your eardrums by partaking in visual art, commune with nature without the company of thousands of strangers, or simply have cocktails by the pool, here are the most satisfying ways to escape Coachella.
Cathedral City’s Art Galleries
The Coachella Valley is pretty, and while Lady Gaga singing in front of a backdrop of palm trees is arguably a work of art, sometimes you want to take in visuals without the auditory overload. One great place to do this is in Cathedral City, just a half-hour drive from the festival.
Rebecca Fine Art Gallery, for example, showcases painting, photography and sculpture from more than three dozen contemporary artists, while the Agnes Pelton Society operates within the home of Agnes Pelton, a celebrated local painter who worked in the early 20th century.
The Joshua Tree (The Actual One)
When you hear the phrase “Joshua Tree” in the context of Coachella, you probably assume Bono and Co. have been added to the roster at the last minute. A visit to Joshua Tree National Park, however, is transcendental — with or without U2.
The park served as inspiration for the Irish band’s breakthrough album and is defined by harsh desert landscapes (including, yes, Joshua trees). The park is just a 45-minute drive from the festival, which means you can go in the morning and be back in time to catch an ironic cover of “Where the Streets Have No Name.”
Café Culture, Desert Style
It’s not uncommon for temperatures at Coachella to soar into the 90s (or even higher), weather that would make it difficult for even the most ardent sunseeker to crave coffee. The good news is that many of the cute cafés in Palm Desert, about 25 minutes northwest of Coachella, neither begin nor end with hot coffee.
Stop in at Iw Coffee and enjoy a blended local legend known as “The Rod.” For something more substantial, hit Bouchee Café & Deli, which serves gourmet items like wild lavender honey and fig compote alongside its selection of brunch items.
Palm Springs’ Other Airport
If you fly to Coachella from outside of California, the most convenient place to arrive is not LAX; it’s Palm Springs International Airport (PSP). The Palm Springs Air Museum is located on the grounds of the airport, but it is a far cry from the 737s and Embraer region jets that zoom across the runways of PSP.
Of course, most of the WWII-era aircraft won’t be doing any zooming — they’re no longer airworthy — but it’s nonetheless a majestic place that honors that past with a level of sophistication that Coachella, love it or not, can’t really touch.
Pool Time at the Courtyard
It’s no secret that Palm Springs is a top pool destination, and the city is definitely not short on them. A few things make the Courtyard by Marriott Palm Springs stand out, however, namely its towering palm trees, which are sure to make your selfies pop. Even better? The hotel is a great value, which means that spending a night away from your Coachella tend doesn’t need to break the bank.