Beyond Coachella. See more of the California desert

Known for its celebrity sightings, bohemian fashion and A-list musical line-up, the Coachella Music and Arts festival has been luring music lovers and travellers to the California desert since 1999.

Each year, thousands of festival-goers flock to Coachella Valley to attend the two-weekend event in April. So what is there to do when the music dies down and the party is over?

Allianz Travel Insurance has put together a list of the top things to see, do and eat around Palm Springs and Coachella Valley.


Experience the outdoors

The state of California is geographically diverse, making it the perfect location to get out and explore the outdoors. From barren deserts to canyons, the region offers a range of open air experiences.

Joshua Tree National Park is an oasis in the middle of the desert and caters to a variety of active traveller needs.  Within Joshua Tree National Park, visitors can:

  • Hike to the Cholla Cactus Garden (a favourite amongst Instagrammers, especially at sunset). A gorgeous cluster of Cholla Cactus adorns the desert floor and is a rare sight to behold.
  • Keys View lookout is located on the crest of the Little San Bernardino Mountains. The lookout offers great views of the Coachella Valley and is well worth the twenty-minute drive. For the more daring travellers, the Keys View lookout can also be accessed by hiking. Just remember to bring water to avoid dehydration – you are in a desert after all.
  • Travellers after something more adventurous should consider desert Jeep adventures. The open-air Jeep tours drive to the San Andreas Fault, Palm Springs Indian Canyons and the Mecca Hills Wilderness area.
  • The Indian Canyons are a nature lover’s dream, featuring more than 160 kilometres of hiking and horse trails, panoramic views and a huge 18-metre waterfall. Plus, the canyons are only a 30-minute drive from the Coachella Valley.


Be inspired by history

Salvation Mountain is a man-made mountain covered in gallons of paint. The folk-art masterpiece has been growing over the last 28 years. Be warned, it’s in the middle of nowhere so make sure you have plenty of food and the car’s fuel tank is full.

Fulfil childhood dreams by visiting gigantic dinosaurs. Located approximately 40 minutes from Coachella Valley, visitors come face to face with Dinny the Dinosaur and Mr. Rex. The fake 150-ton Brontosaurus and 100-ton Tyrannosaurus Rex are iconic landmarks of the Californian roadside culture.

Visit the Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway on Palm Springs, the location that Elvis and Priscilla Presley spent their honeymoon. For travellers hoping to visit ‘heart break hotel’ (see what we did there), book a tour in advance or attend one of the specially organised events to celebrate the honeymoon, life and death of Elvis Presley.

For art lovers, there is no better place than Palm Springs Art Museum.  An eclectic mix of Native American collections, regional art and contemporary sculptures, this hidden gem also offers music, dance and theatre performances.


Shop and eat like a local

Attendees of the Coachella Music and Arts festival are known for their Woodstock-esque fashion, bohemian vibes and eccentric outfits. Embrace the Coachella vibe by visiting some of the favourite local hot-spots for op-shop finds.

Gypsyland is every op-shoppers dream. Filled to the brim with vintage treasures and unique one-off pieces, festival-goers will be sure to find their Coachella outfit at Gypsyland.

Every Thursday night the Palm Springs Village Festival street fair is held on Palm Canyon Drive. Three city blocks are filled with street entertainment, art, food and shopping.

For true American food visit King’s Highway Diner. Described as ‘refined diner fare with a desert flare’, experience local delights such as corn fritters, black lentil soup and a delicious key lime pie.


Festival reminders

  • Camping – It’s popular to camp onsite. If you’re going to camp, remember not to leave valuable items in the tent. Carry important items such as passports, phones and cameras on you at all times.
  • Essentials – The festival is located in the desert so remember to pack lots of water and any other essential items that may be needed such as sunscreen, earplugs, tissues (the toilet paper always runs out at festivals) and camping gear.
  • Insurance – With Coachella Music and Arts festival just around the corner, don’t forget to invest in comprehensive travel insurance before embarking on a trip. It is also advised that travellers take a copy or two of their insurance policy details and ensure emergency contact numbers are accessible throughout the trip – just in case you need it!

Kate Webster is a travel journalist – writer and photographer who travels the globe in search of vivid imagery and compelling stories that capture the essence of the places she visits. Born out of a life-long love of travel and fascination with the world around her, is Kate’s inspiration behind her writing and photography.