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Tennis in the desert (BNP Paribas Open) and some other desert-y stuff

Indian Wells, CA, United States
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We went for a quick 4 day trip to the desert to watch some tennis and warm up.As soon as we landed in Palm Spring Airport (which is a really cool, partially open air, airport), even though we were tired, we went straight to the Living Desert zoo. We saw many animals we have never seen in zoos before (like a badger) and got to watch them hand feed cheetahs (no one was harmed). To top it off, almost no one was at the zoo on a Tuesday afternoon. That night we ate at Rick's Desert Cafe - this I do not recommend. It looks like a diner but has a lot of cuban-inspired food. We should've read the menu closer before going in.We stayed at the Riviera Palm Springs - great property, pretty good location in Palm Springs, the rooms are spacious but need a lot of work. We had to have our air conditioning repaired during the stay. The room safe also had to be fixed. The tile when you stepped into the shower was loose. We could go on, but suffice it to say, I wouldn't stay there again.On Day 2, we headed out into the desert to the integratron and took a sound bath. This was neat, but also odd. We're not meditators so . . .maybe we just weren't ready to receive what the integratron offers.Days 3 and 4 were spent at the BNP Paribas Open. We had a wonderful time although the signage on the grounds could be improved. Outer courts really fill up so it's important to look at the schedule and squat at the right court. Also, there are water filling stations everywhere and you are allowed to bring your own water bottle (and food) into the venue. The water filling stations are super crowded outside, but if you go into the stadiums, there were no lines at all.
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Points of interest

Joshua Tree National Park
We didn't have a long time to spend here, but we drove through and did one short hike out to a body of water. It was OK. It's interesting but not nearly as good as other national parks (IMO).
We tried to drive through this at night - horrible idea. There are no lights at all.
Lucerne Valley
Lucerne Valley
This is Giant Rock - they used to hold festivals out here in the desert to wait for UFOs. For real. 2 miles from the Integratron. You have to drive up a dirt road.
Take a sound bath in this weird building that Howard Hughes paid for (same builder as the Spruce Goose). Probably good if you are into meditation. Crystal bowls sound like dying cows. VERY LOUD.
The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens
The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens
Interesting animals that you don't see at most zoos. Hand feeding of cheetahs! Amazing model train display.


Kaiser Grille Palm Springs
Great greek salad and really good ice tea too. Excellent service. In the heart of downtown Palm Springs.
Lulu California Bistro
Great food, great service, fantastic ice tea! We would eat there regularly if we lived in Palm Springs.
Rick's Desert Grill
Cuban-inspired menu. Kind of odd. Many better places to eat in Palm Springs (Lulu's or Kaiser).


Tennis Gardens
Amazing facility. Loved going to Day 1 and 2 of the tournament. Outer courts got very filled up. Pick your court early and camp out!

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