La Quinta: What Makes It the Gem?

By: Andrea Carter

After having the privilege of being part of the City of La Quinta’s marketing team over the past 14 years – and more importantly, a blissful resident – I’ve seen so many strides in this extraordinary community. And yet, the charm that existed when I first moved to La Quinta in 2000 has been preserved even through waves of development and the recession. La Quinta is known as the Gem of the Desert, but you may say, “What does that mean?” I am going to share with you why I think La Quinta shines on as the Gem.

While I do not want this to become a historical retrospect of La Quinta, it’s La Quinta’s rich history that makes it special. The City’s entire vision has been centered on maintaining the quaintness that attracted the first homesteaders in the early 1900s.

By the time Walter Morgan arrived in 1921, the wealthy San Francisco aristocrat saw an opportunity to create an escape that was soon known as one of the finest winter resorts in the country – the La Quinta Hotel, which opened in 1927. Morgan built Spanish-style haciendas with private enclosed patios on lush grounds that were especially unexpected and treasured in the middle of a desert.

Today, the hotel has grown into an exclusive luxury resort with 796 casitas and suites, 535 fireplaces, 41 pools, 53 hot tubs, 23 tennis courts, 7 restaurants and 5 golf courses. The Resort’s slogan is “Life is different here.” And it is. In La Quinta, there is a pace and an aura that makes you feel like you are on vacation every single day – even when you live here.

The genesis of the La Quinta Hotel has set the tone for the entire vibe in La Quinta. Commercial structures and other buildings throughout the city have been inspired by Mission-style Spanish-Pueblo architecture that combines elements from Spanish and Indian cultures. In fact, Old Town La Quinta – a restaurant and retail hub located in the La Quinta Village – was built in 2002 but was designed to look as if it was built back in the 1920s when La Quinta first began emerging as a destination.

One of the things that makes La Quinta unique is its position along the base of the Santa Rosa Mountains. Other Coachella Valley cities are bordered by mountains, but none of them are literally tucked alongside the mountains the way La Quinta is – allowing mountain access that you can’t find anywhere else in the Valley. La Quinta is known for its scenic hiking and biking trails, and for some of the most spectacular views from restaurant patios and parks.

Then there’s the City’s commitment to arts and culture. In 1983, the La Quinta Arts Festival was born, as was the La Quinta Arts Foundation – which organizes the festival each year. It is now ranked the Number 1 Arts Festival in the Nation. Every March, more than 230 juried artists gather at the stunning La Quinta Civic Center Campus – which is situated around a lake with babbling brooks, public art, a gazebo and walking paths. Thousands of art lovers from around the country attend the Festival, which includes live entertainment, food and wine.

The City also showcases art throughout the community with its Art in Public Places program. Wherever you go in La Quinta, you’re bound to see a striking piece of art that will make you smile.

Amidst the art, natural beauty and breathtaking golf courses in La Quinta, you’ll find unique boutiques and incredible dining venues. And you’ll always see people enjoying the outdoors in La Quinta. Bikers, hikers, walkers and runners can’t get enough of the scenery in La Quinta. It’s a great place to stay active and soak up the sun and amazing weather we are so blessed with here in the desert.

So, the way I see it, all these delightful things – La Quinta’s past, and its present – have carved a gem that makes La Quinta worthy of its moniker. There’s just so much to love in La Quinta.

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