Stagecoach Festival, which took place over the last weekend of April at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California, is a showcase of the best of the country music. The lineup included headliners Keith Urban, Garth Brooks, and the Florida Georgia Line.
In addition to the big names were several smaller acts that offered a wide and inclusive sampling of all types of country music; plenty that I was excited to see, like Jason Isbell and Kacey Musgraves. We kissed our pooch on the head as we dropped him off with his sitter, tossed our bags into the back of our Chevy Colorado, and drove off into the desert.
The two hour drive to Palm Springs from Los Angeles is not always the open highway roadtrip you imagine. Instead, we found ourselves in bumper to bumper traffic on the 10 as the sunset splashed its red light across the mountains to the north. Luckily, we had prepped an epic Stagecoach playlist to set the mood, which we played on the truck’s Appleplay. Thank goodness we did, too, because the Apple Map integration is the only reason we didn’t miss our turn onto the dark and windy highway that leads into town.
#1: Don’t skimp on the lodging
As we pulled into the Ace Hotel and Swim Club in Palm Springs, smooth music played in the dining room (an old, restored Denny’s turned hip and healthy diner). We strolled through the pool area, where stylish families snacked with their kids and relaxed couples floated with mixed drinks across the pool. We found our room in the funky, redone vintage motel, and unfolded the festival schedule across our laps as we prepped for the next day’s events.
#2: Palm Springs Knows Breakfast
Never skip breakfast when in Palm Springs. My personal favorite is the avocado, bacon, egg, and cheese by the pool at the Colony Palms. However, we found the Ace Hotel’s breakfast selection to be exactly what we needed to gear up for our big day. And with Stumptown Roasters coffee on-site, what more can you ask for?
#3: Drive A Pick-Up to the Festival
You won’t be the only one, I promise. If you want to fit in, you need a Chevy. If you don’t want to fry in the California desert sun when you get in, you’ll also want to make sure it has air-conditioned seats. We put that epic playlist back on and headed out. The 40-minute drive flew by (especially without the LA traffic), and we got in early and parked close.
#4: Plan your Schedule (and Wear a Hat)
We underestimated the heat—I know, it’s the desert—but we were not quite ready for that baking sun. Luckily, the festival grounds offered plenty of misting stations, shady seating, and cool refreshments. After we explored the grounds, satisfied our Instagram followers with some selfies, and had a lemonade, we made our way to concert after concert. By the end of the day, we were exhausted, sunburned, and rocked out.
#5: Make Time For Some Other Sight-Seeing
Despite the draw of the festival, we found a gap in our schedule and decided to take advantage. I’d always wanted to try out the Palm Springs Tramway. On the hottest morning of the trip, we hopped on and took the 10-minute trip to the top of the Santa Jacinto mountains, where the temperature dropped a full 35 degrees from the bottom. We explored a bit and took photos of the incredible views before heading back down and out to the festival once more.
#6: Take Time to People Watch
Each of the concerts was entertaining: Garth Brooks pulled out his classics, charming his fans and taking them back in time; the 11-year-old Mason Ramsey, who skyrocketed to fame earlier this year with his rendition of a Hank Williams song performed at a Walmart in Illinois wowed the crowd with his singing talent. But as we left, I mentioned that I still thought the most entertaining part of the weekend was the crowd: Stars-and-stripes speedos, American flags trimmed into chest hair, ornate cowboy hats, and plenty of instagram influencers posing in front of the sunset.
As we said goodbye to the desert and headed back to the city, I left my cowboy boots on. I wasn’t ready to let go just yet.