In Cali Desert, Looking for a Hot Date...Shake

Just one of the other-worldly views of Desert Hot Springs, Calif. (Kim O'Donnel)

I’ll keep this brief, as Mister MA and I are on a brief hiatus from the rat race, chillaxing in the dry heat of Desert Hot Springs, Calif.

About 110 miles east of Los Angeles (and maybe 10 miles east of Palm Springs), Desert Hot Springs is a sleepy little community at the foot of the awe-inspiring San Jacinto Mountains. (The Little San Bernandino Mountains, which ain’t so little, are pretty spectacular, too.) But honestly, we came here for what lies beneath the earth -- the ancient hot mineral springs that wash away all your troubles.

To that end, we are shacked up at a groovy little spot called Miracle Manor, an eight-room “spa motel” that has one of the best mineral pools ever. Pruney fingers be damned, this pool is the panacea I’ve been waiting for. That stiff upper back from cross-country air travel has magically melted away, and Mister MA is so blissed out he can no longer cross the street without supervision.

Other than the nonstop bathing in the mineral waters, there’s a lot of nothing on the agenda, but I am determined to try a date shake, a vanilla milkshake sweetened with local dates. After all, this is palm date country. I’m still looking for tips on where to find the best, so if you’ve been here or come from these parts, holler with your tips. Better still, know where I can find some local dried dates?

By Kim ODonnel |  April 24, 2009; 8:20 AM ET Travel
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You'll have to look at a map to see how far Tecopa is, but can't be too far.

China Ranch Date Farm is a great place to get a date shake, wander the date palms, and buy very good dates.

We were there in March and loved the oasis in the desert.

Posted by: ElmiraOregon | April 24, 2009 11:57 AM

Why dried dates? The fresh will keep for a year in the fridge.

Posted by: ElmiraOregon | April 24, 2009 11:58 AM

As residents of Desert Hot Springs for the past 5½ years, and residents of the Coachella Valle for the past 15 years, we think we have the best answers for you. Everyone here will tell you to drive to Indio to Shields Dates for the date shake. Nope! Shields uses date crystals in their date shakes and average vanilla ice cream. Go to Windmill Market in North Palm Springs at the corner of Indian Canyon Drive and Dillon Road...just West of DHS. Windmill Market, run by Lee Cohen (originally from Utica, NY) uses real fresh dates in their date shakes and the very excellent Thrifty vanilla ice cream! Best date shake we've ever had. Windmill Market also has some local dates, but if they don't suffice, then trek out to Shields for that. And to try some other Thrifty ice cream, go to the Rite-Aid drugstore in DHS and they'll scoop some up for you. We like Medieval Madness and Cookies and Cream. Lee & Chris

Posted by: cnltotten | April 24, 2009 4:11 PM

If you don’t mind a bit of a trek, about 35 miles east of Desert Hot Springs off of I-10 is the Flying Disc Ranch in Thermal, CA. Though I’ve never been there, I have bought their dates at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco. The many varieties and their very different tastes were a revelation to me. Flying Disc practices eco safe biodynamics.

We want a report please on your date excursion(s)!

Posted by: fltolson | April 24, 2009 9:27 PM

Welcome to the desert! There's a roadside stand in Indio that has awesome date shakes, but one place that I can remember is in Cabazon (about 30 minutes west of Palm Springs) off the 10 freeway. It's called Hadley's and it is really a market that also sells date shakes. You can also buy dates to take home. Hadley's has been around for years. The roadside stand is no longer owned by the same family that grows the dates. You can also check out the date gardens near Indio. They're amazing.

Posted by: jsruby | April 25, 2009 11:45 AM

More options for dates:

google map any of the nearby towns (Indio, Thermal, Coachella) and in the pop up for "Search nearby", type dates. You'll be rewarded with many options, enough to keep you busy for an afternoon or more.

For next year's calendar--there's an annual Date Festival in Feb, a possible escape from Seattle's dreary drizzle?!

Posted by: fltolson | April 25, 2009 12:11 PM

I second the Flying Disc Ranch recommendation. You can order from their web site. I bought their dates by the bucketful at the Berkeley Farmers Market before I moved to the East Coast. The Barhi & Deglet Noor dates are revelations, while the more familiar Medjool's are wonderful.

Posted by: rxr00 | April 29, 2009 8:56 AM

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