Coachella Countdown - Where to Stay & Play

By: Adam Goldberg

Coachella Music and Arts festival is one of the most innovative and largest music festivals in the US, and although it's generally considered a straight event it definitely has a queer following (and not just because there's tons of eye candy around). Cochalla takes place east of gay hotspot Palm Springs so it brings in visitors from all over. It contains several stages, art installations from Burning Man, and a landscape of dramatic mountains and tall palm trees that sway to the nonstop treble and bass. Previous performers have ranged from Paul McCartney, Red Hot Chill Peppers, and even Madonna.

This year's headliners include Radiohead, The Black Keys, and Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg with names like David Guetta, M83, Kaskade, Florence + the Machine and more. They'll perform over the weekends of April 13-15 and repeat on April 20-22. Coachella's 2012 schedule is on the event Facebook page:


1491 S. Via Soledad
Palm Springs, CA 92264

One great place to stay on the south end of Palm Springs on route to Coachella, is La Dolce Vita. It allows you easy access to the event, and a quiet escape when you want to get away.

On a recent trip, my friend and I were greeted by the gracious host, Pieter, who helped us check in and get to our Amalfi Room. It was small, but charming and cozy. The suite and entire resort has had recent upgrades, which include high definition flat screen television, RFID (radio frequency identification devices) technology for guest room door locks, new bathroom fixtures and furniture, fresh paint, air conditioning/heating systems that are environmentally friendly and energy efficient.

After settling in we attended the resort's happy hour, which was hosted by Chuck, who quickly got us relaxed and laughing. Chuck and Pieter offered up great restaurant and area activity suggestions; it's always good to get a local's perspective when visiting a city to get new ideas. That brought us to Manhattan in the Desert Restaurant (2665 E. Palm Canyon, Palm Springs, CA 92262, 760-322-3354) a deli-style eatery where we feasted on pastrami, pickles, mushroom and barley soup, and restaurant's famous cheesecake!

The next morning, we awoke to a sunny, mild day and a delightful continental breakfast that comes with the price of your stay La Dolce Vita. From coffee, hard boiled eggs, cereal, muffins and more, we were set to relax the day away.

La Dolce Vita is quite spacious and contains two pools, two hot tubs, an outdoor open gym, spa, steam room, and well-maintained grounds with beautiful flowers. There's a relaxed and friendly clothing-optional environment, and I always felt at ease with the other resort patrons, being able to enjoy a relaxing day at the pool or dipping in the hot tub.

If you have extra time outside of Coachella, take in some of the amazing desert sights.

The Salton Sea is an abandoned town east of Palm Springs that was once being built to become a new resort area. The area now contains abandoned buildings, strange, wandering people, and thousands of dead fish that couldn't live inside the sea's rising salt levels. We were in photography heaven, capturing shots of this all.

Slab City— a hippie-style commune city with no rules, electricity, toilets... you get the idea—can be found by first driving through a tiny town called Niland. This place has one supermarket, more abandoned buildings, and cool retro signs. Grab some sandwiches, then turn left directly past the supermarket on a street that leads you into Slab City and its first sight, Salvation Mountain.

Salvation Mountain is a spectacular sight, covered with bright, acrylic paints and religious quotes, like "God is Love," "Love is Universal," "Repent," and "Let Go 2012." While we were there we climbed on top of the mountain and snapped pictures of the magnificent structure and surrounding desert.

If you walk to the right of the immediate mountain structure, you will find what appears to be abandoned graffiti-covered concrete structures surrounded by garbage. On our visit we climbed one structure and found a few chickens wandering around. On the way back to the car, we met three naked hippies who told us they were there just for the winter and asked if we liked hallucinogenics. We passed, but they hugged us and then we went on our way over to East Jesus, which you find by driving right past Salvation Mountain and then making a left at the end of the dirt road.

East Jesus is an experimental, habitable work-in-progress. It is the creation and legacy of Charles Russel, who began building his desert home and Zen center out of empty space and refuse in 2006. The East Jesus Sculpture Garden is home to many ambitious large scale artworks that employ the use of donated and found reused materials. It is open 7 days a week, sunrise to sunset, and features works by Russsell, Royce Carlson, Joe Holliday, BenWolf, and Heidi Tullmann, Flip Cassidy, Frank Redford, and others.

Check out some of the pictures from our trip below. (Slide show photos by Adam Goldberg.)