In my world weekends are reserved for day trips and adventures. We wake up, grab coffee, pick a place to go, and road trip it there. California is perfect for day trippers and weekenders. We have mountains, desert, beaches, and big cities to visit, all within driving distance. One of my favorite things to do is stop at kitschy, classic American roadside attractions. One of my other favorite things to do is buy local food from the cities we visit. We got in the car and drove out to Indio, a desert city about 23 miles east of Palm Springs, and home of the date.
Even though I’d driven past this place tons of times, I’d never been in. Shields Date Gardens is the place to be! You’ll know you’ve arrived by the amazing knight in shining armor sign that stands virtually the same as it did in the 50s.
When you first walk in you’ll see ALL OF THE DATES. Boxes and boxes of dates. Date candy, date shakes, medjool dates, blonde dates, brunette dates, date mix, date sugar….I’m starting to sound like Bubba from Forrest Gump BUT IT’S TRUE.
Grab a date shake and head in to the theater to watch “The Romance and Sex Life of a Date”, an interesting 15 minute lecture about the cultivation of a date. It features vintage slides, footage, and a soundtrack recorded by Mr. Shields himself.
After that you can tour the gardens by walking along the guided path. It’s beautiful and there are lovely flowers and fruit trees along the way. It’s really Jesus-y, which was unexpected, as the entire path walks you through the life of Jesus. But it’s a great walk that everyone can enjoy with nice views and you get a close glimpse of where the delicious dates come from.
On your way out you can hit the cafe or hit up the gift shop. I took home a 5lb box of fancy medjool dates. Look how excited I am.
I can’t let all of these dates go to waste so this week I’ll be posting my favorite date recipes.