Palm Desert, California

Best Places to Retire in California


Palm Desert (population 43,000 permanent residents, plus 32,000 winter residents) is located in the southern part of the state in the Coachella Valley – known as the Desert Resorts Region. It is between Joshua Tree National Monument to the north, and the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument at the southern end of the Valley. Palm Desert is a two-hour drive southwest from Los Angeles, and two hours northwest from San Diego. It is in a striking setting, framed by the rugged mountain ranges and nearly constant blue skies.  The Coachella Valley area is known for its world-class resorts and amenities, championship golf courses and annual sponsorship of professional tournaments, tennis facilities and many attractions. Clustered nearby Palm Desert are the communities of Palm Springs, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Rancho Mirage, Cathedral City, Indio, and Coachella. The total population of the Valley is 352,000.

The temperate climate invites year-round outdoor recreation and activities. You can go hiking, cycling, horseback riding, play tennis, enjoy a round of golf, go swimming, or venture into the desert on a Jeep Tour. Other facilities include sand volleyball courts, skate parks, and ball fields. If you are looking for a place to dine, there are more than 150 restaurants in Palm Desert alone – everything from a casual family spot to fine dining with live music. There is outstanding shopping, with over 1,000 retail establishments, including plenty of upscale shops, boutiques and art galleries. The Gardens on El Paseo, a 200,000 square foot shopping complex, is referred to as the “Rodeo Drive of the Desert.”

The city sponsors a good number of events throughout the year, including summer concerts, movies in the park, SpringFest, and a big Fourth of July celebration. Civic Center Park is the venue for most community events and it also has many amenities, including volleyball and basketball courts, tennis courts, ball fields and an outstanding skate park. McCallum Theatre, the major venue for entertainment and cultural events, offers a wide variety of world-class productions – from Broadway to jazz, dance or opera. Nearby Palm Springs offers many additional choices for entertainment and nightlife.

The city also benefits from excellent medical care with three large hospitals in the area. The Eisenhower Medical Center is just 5 miles away in Rancho Mirage. Palm Desert is also among the safest cites in southern California. 

Arts & Culture

The McCallum Theatre, located in the heart of the city, opened in 1988. It is a state-of-the-art performing arts center that offers world-class artists and productions year round. It hosts Broadway touring productions, international stars of dance and opera, concert artists, jazz, country, rock, as well as a variety of family and children’s programming. It also offers an extensive outreach program involving over 40 local schools.

The Living Desert, located in Palm Desert, is a 1,200-acre interpretive center. There are mountain lions, wolves, javelina, bobcats, golden eagles and more in a natural setting at the foot of the Santa Rosa Mountains. 

There is a very rich cultural life in Palm Springs, with many festivals, theater, dance, symphony concerts, special performances world-class musicians and entertainers. The following web site provides current listings.

Palm Springs Air Museum’s mission is to educate and eternalize the role of World War II combat aircraft and pilots. 

Palm Springs Art Galleries – 

Palm Springs Desert Museum – 

Annenberg Theater is a state-of-the-art 433-seat theater on the lower level of the Palm Springs Desert Museum.

The Fabulous Palm Springs Follies is a year-round Vaudeville production that features the music and dance of the 30s and 40s, and it stars show girls over 55, some of whom are in their 80s. It is said to have “redefined what growing old in America is all about.” 

Children’s Discovery Museum promotes intellectual curiosity and self-expression.

The Agua Caliente Cultural Museum in downtown Palm Springs interprets the history and culture of the Cahuilla Indians. 

The Indian Wells Arts Festival is held annually in April – 

The Southwest Arts Festival at Indio is held annually in January.

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Indio –

The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens is a zoo, conservation center for endangered species, botanical gardens, natural history museum, wilderness park, nature preserve and education center. 

Palm Desert Public Library –


“A Paradise for Golfers,” Palm Desert boasts over 30 golf courses and there are more than 75 courses within easy reach in Coachella Valley. Palm Desert is home to the Bob Hope Classic, and the Frank Sinatra Celebrity Invitational. 

There are over 150 tennis courts in the city. In addition, nearby Indian Wells hosts one of the world’s largest tournaments at Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

The city of Indian Wells hosts the Pacific Life Open tennis tournament, one of the top six tournaments in the world at Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

Palm Springs Aerial Tram consists of two 80-passenger enclosed cars that take you on a spectacular 15-minute ride from the valley floor to the mountain station at 8,516 feet. There is view and you can also dine at the top. 

Joshua Tree National Park is a 45-minute drive. Two large deserts come together at the park. The Colorado Desert encompasses the eastern part and features natural gardens of creosote bush, ocotillo, and cholla cactus. The higher, more moist and slightly cooler Mojave Desert constitutes the western part of the park with Joshua tree forests and interesting geologic displays. Five fan palm oases also dot the park. 

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, with over 600,000 acres, is the largest desert state park in the contiguous United States. It has 500 miles of dirt roads, two huge wilderness areas and 110 miles of riding and hiking trails. The park features washes, wildflowers, palm groves, cacti and sweeping vistas. Visitors have a chance to see roadrunners, golden eagles, foxes, mule deer, bighorn sheep, iguanas, chuckwallas and four species of rattlesnake. It is located on the eastern side of San Diego County and extends into Imperial and Riverside County. It is about a two-hour drive from Palm Springs.


College of The Desert is a community-owned 2-year college with an enrollment of over 8,000 students. It offers associate degrees and certificate programs in over 70 areas of study. 

Senior Programs

A new campus of California State University recently opened in Palm Desert with the construction of its first three buildings. Senior Programs The Desert’s listing of Senior Centers.

Joslyn Senior Center in Palm Desert provides activities, classes, seminars, and special events for seniors.


Eisenhower Medical Center, Rancho Mirage (5 miles) is a full service 261-bed facility. 

John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital, Indio (10 miles) is a 162-bed acute care hospital with 24-hour emergency services. 

Desert Regional Medical Center is a 371-bed acute care regional hospital. 


Palm Springs International Airport is a 25-minute ride. It is served by 12 airlines with up to 60 daily departures. 

Ontario International Airport is located about 35 miles east of downtown Los Angeles. It is a medium-hub, full-service airport with jet service to major U.S. cities. It is 1 hour and 15 minutes from Palm Desert.

Bermuda Dunes Aviation Airport, Palm Springs – 

Desert Resorts Regional Airport in nearby Thermal accommodates private aircraft.


Palm Desert enjoys 350 days of sunshine annually and receives 3.38 inches of rain. Its average temperatures for January are a high of 70 degrees, and low of 41 degrees. For July, the averages are a high of 107 degrees, and low of 74 degrees. The average humidity is a low 27 percent. 


The Desert Sun –

Property Taxes

Riverside County tax office. 

State Taxes 

Chamber of Commerce 

State Aging Agency


Rancho Mirage – 3.2 miles
Indian Wells – 4.3 miles
Hemet – 42 miles
San Bernardino -70 miles
Riverside – 72 miles
Los Angeles – 123 miles
San Diego – 156 miles
Phoenix – 258 miles
Palm Springs – 14 miles
Cathedral City – 7.5 miles
La Quinta – 8.5 miles

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