Road Trip: The Palm Springs Riviera and Hadley’s Date Shakes

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How far would you drive for a shake?  Not just any shake, but a California original… the Hadley’s Date Shake.  If you haven’t had one in a while, it may be time for a road trip.  And while you’re headed in that direction, might as well make a night of it at the legendary – and now renovated – retro chic Palm Springs Riviera Resort and Spa. We did it several months ago, though we had a fine excuse: my son Kellen was in a swim meet in Palm Springs, so we decided to make a weekend of it.

Swim team kids lounging at the Palm Springs Riviera.  Photo: Jennifer Evans Gardner

Swim team kids lounging at the Palm Springs Riviera. Photo: Jennifer Evans Gardner

We got on the road right after school let out, just in time to hit the kind of traffic your mother warned you about when you threatened to move to LA  What should have been a two hour drive wound up being a four hour drive. To be fair, it included a few bathroom breaks, but if I were you, I’d hit the road early if you plan to travel on a Friday when the rest of the city is making its exodus.

Whatever weariness we experienced from the drive dissolved as soon as we got a gander at the new Palm Springs Riviera.  This 1960’s landmark hotel (built in 1959), which had become tired and worn over the years, has undergone a serious $70 million renovation and is complete and total eye candy inside and out.  The decadent lobby glows orange and incandescent from the road as you pull your car up to the sophisticated valet.


Retro Arcade and Lounge in the Palm Springs Riviera. Photo: Courtesy: PSR

Once inside, the whimsical Alice in Wonderland-like design (they call it “Hollywood Regency”) acts as a hallucinogenic and along with the mod music, delights the senses… just walking through the lobby I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.  When was the last time a chandelier made you smile?  This place also has a serious celeb past… Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, Sony & Cher, Sammy Davis, Jr. and Frank Sinatra are just some of the players who cavorted by the Riviera pool.  Speaking of the pool, when the sun goes down, fires burn in pits all around, creating a magical, if not uber trendy, scene.

My son was ecstatic at our mid-century luxury suite, which incidentally, had it own patio and fire that would have burned all night if I hadn’t called and asked the staff to put it out (it was windy).  The only time we didn’t love the Riviera was at around 3 a.m., when the groovy music beat stopped being groovy and started being annoying.  Never mind.  The Palm Springs Riviera was good enough for Frank, and it was good enough for us.  We vowed to return, promising to find time to play some golf, do some go-carting and even take the Palm Springs Aerial Tram up to San Jacinto Peak.

Pool in
After the festivities of the swim meet, we headed back to the city, but not before stopping at the flagship Hadley’s along the highway for one of their famous date shakes.  After all, the shake was what I had secretly been looking forward to all weekend.  Having had one in college years ago, I couldn’t wait to introduce my family to this institution.

Kellen was apprehensive, but the friendly folks at Hadley’s were happy to give him a sample. One taste of the sweet shake and he was hooked.  Let’s just say that getting a child to eat or drink dates in any form is nothing short of a miracle and almost worth the drive in itself.  I got my shake with walnuts, and happily slurped it down as we shopped for other date-related items… Medjool dates stuffed with walnuts, Degle Noor chocolate covered dates, date loaf, Empress date granola and so on.  If you hate dates, no worries – there are plenty of non-date related items to eat, drink and purchase.  However, drinking the Hadley’s Date Shake is partaking in California history, akin to eating a Tommy’s Burger or a Pink’s hot dog in L.A.  Hadley’s has been open since 1931, and making their addictive sweet date shakes for decades. Is Hadley’s date shake alone worth the drive?  Maybe not.  But with so many other attractions in Palm Springs, it would be a shame to miss the experience.  And remember, it’s not just a fun road trip – it’s a history lesson.

Date shakes

Hadley's is the ultimate shake destination.

The Palm Springs Riviera is now celebrating its 50th Anniversary through December 31 with a celebration of  everything 1959 — fashion, fashion, dining and salon services, including a variety of very kitsch, very fun mid-century themed offers and events at some very good prices. Check out all the offers here.  Also, some great package offers. Palm Springs Riviera Resort & Spa 1600 N Indian Canyon Dr Palm Springs, CA 92262 (760) 327-8311.

Hadley Fruit Orchards 48980 Seminole Drive, Cabazon CA 92230
Phone: 951-849-5255
 Hadley Fruit Orchards

Jennifer Evans Gardner is a food and travel writer, cookbook author, and owner of the Little Feet in the Kitchen cooking school. Formerly Editor-in-Chief for, Jennifer has also written for, ePregnancy, Eating, Santa Barbara, and Kiwi, among other publications. Watch for ther upcoming articles on cakes and cocktails in the Los Angeles Times.

About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.