This month, what’s been billed as the biggest rock concert ever will draw hundreds of thousands of people to Southern California’s Coachella Valley, adding more human diversity to a region already bursting out of its Rat Pack retiree past.
Running this weekend and Oct. 14-16, the Desert Trip music festival will feature classic rock pairings of the Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney and Neil Young, and Roger Waters and the Who on rotating nights.
The music should be memorable, but the downtime between sets could be, too. Here are a few recommendations for exploring the Coachella Valley’s non-musical offerings:
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The region’s cuisine has been rising creatively, and much of it is conveniently centered in and around downtown Palm Springs, amid the souvenir shops and date shake stands.
A standby is Lulu California Bistro (200 S. Palm Canyon Drive, 760-327-5858), a glass palace of misters and ambient music where the menu includes oysters, curry chicken salad and eggplant parmigiana.
Farther outside the city center is a hot spot of the fashionably coiffed set, the Ace Hotel (701 E. Palm Canyon Drive, 760-325-9900), an oasis of mushroom tacos and poolside naps.
Closer to the festival site at the Empire Polo Club, there’s TKB Bakery & Deli in Indio (44911 Golf Center Parkway, 760-775-8330), ranked as one of the best bakeries and sandwich spots in the nation on Yelp.
A time-tested escape from the desert heat lifts off with the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway (1 Tram Way, 888-515-8726), spiriting visitors nearly 11,000 feet above sea level to the peak of Mount San Jacinto. Once you step off the cable car, the valley stretches out to the Salton Sea and sprawling Joshua Tree National Park. Temperatures can drop by 20 or more degrees during the short 10-minute ride. Hiking trails loop near and far at the top of the mountain, and snow often covers the peak in the winter months.
The Coachella Valley, and Palm Springs in particular, prides itself on a celebrated design aesthetic all its own with clean, dramatic roof lines and plenty of glass.
The most epic example is the former home of Bob and Dolores Hope (2466 Southridge Drive, Palm Springs), which overlooks Palm Springs like some mammoth beetle poised to take wing. Other examples include Frank Sinatra’s “Twin Palms” home (1148 E. Alejo Road, Palm Springs) and the old Coachella Valley Savings & Loans Building (499 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs).
Visitors can take several mid-century modern architecture tours. The elegant, angled building housing the Palm Springs Art Museum (101 Museum Drive, 760-322-4800) offers a stunning 21st-century interpretation on the theme.
Pixar in person
What: This hands-on exhibition showcases the science and technology behind beloved Pixar animated characters such as Buzz Lightyear from the “Toy Story” series and Dory from “Finding Nemo” and “Finding Dory.”
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. beginning Saturday, Oct. 15 and running through Dec. 30
Where: California Science Center, 700 Exposition Park Drive
Cost: Tickets for adults are $14.95; $9.95 for children and seniors; $11.95 for youths ages 13 to 17.
Wildlife open house
What: Meet a peregrine falcon and other winged and feathered critters at the Fresno Wildlife Rehabilitation Service’s open house. Guests can participate in a silent auction and raffles while enjoying light refreshments.
When: 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 14
Where: Fresno Wildlife Rehabilitation Service office, 80 W. Bullard St.
Cost: Free admission
What: Sip craft beer and watch chefs compete for the honor of the best burrito on the Central Coast. Prizes also will go to people who show up with their dogs in matching costumes.
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 15
Where: Santa Cruz County fairgrounds, 2601 E. Lake Ave.
Cost: $5 admission; free parking