Palm Springs Gem: Thursday Night VillageFest

What it is about: Beautiful sunsets, easy strolling, and food purveyors galore.

Ron Niebrugge/wildnatureimages

BOOTH-LINED ROADS... and flower-filled stalls and outdoor grills lined with smoked meats and spots to buy crusty loaves of bread are typically associated with the morning hours. That's because most farmers markets tend to take place from just after dawn until somewhere near noon, when the aforementioned flowers start to look a bit heated and the bread loaves have completely sold out (it was all of those free samples). So finding a similar market in the evening hours is a pretty special thing, even if it isn't a traditional farmers market, per se. You'd probably want to look in a warmer place, a location that knows it stays more temperate after sunset than it does mid-morning. You'll also want to search in a snug town with a vibrant tourist and local scene, one with a lot of restaurants in a walkable area, and a place with perfect evening skies, skies of pink and blue and gold. Oh, we wouldn't be talking about Palm Springs, would we? We most certainly would, and, indeed, the next two words we're about to type are these: VillageFest.

THURSDAY NIGHT FAVORITE: It's all year long -- hi, desert-nice not-too-rainy-nor-damp weather -- though it starts an hour later in the summer months (7 p.m. vs. 6 p.m.). It has everything, or a good chunk of everything: "fresh fruit and veggies, flowers, jewelry, snacks, and sweets," not to mention art, bags, windchimes, funky patio stuff (the Springs is very big on its patio decor, of course). It's on Palm Canyon Drive, as you might expect, it attracts a lot of visitors, as there are hotels within walking distance, as you might expect, but you'll see locals out with their dogs, too. (Palm Springs is just about the dog-friendliest town in the Golden State; we measure that statement by all the bowls of water the shopkeepers put out for visiting pups.)

NO... we wouldn't want traditional farmers markets to switch to evening hours, but the market takes on a happy hour feel in Palm Springs. Once a week, nice to people in town for a day or two, and you can pick up some fancy olive oil or a quick foot massage? VillageFest will surely be around as long as there are pink evening skies over the city, or just about.

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