Coachella, California

- Coachella, California - Horses, palm trees and sun -

Show jumping and polo are the two main horse related objectives when visiting Coachella. Palm Springs is only 30 minutes down the road and people love that place. You will not run out of things to do. It is a trip worth taking.

What to expect

Not surprisingly you can expect sun, palm trees and horses. The Empire Polo Club is 10 minutes down the road from HITS and many hunter/jumpers board there through the nine-week season. 

Palm tree grove in Coachella, CaliforniaThere are several huge Palm Tree groves between the Empire Polo Club and HITS. You might think you are driving past Palm Tree farms but you are actually driving past date farms. These Palms grow different varieties of dates such as the Deglet Noor and several different variations of the Medjool date. For more information about the date farms click hereSand storm in Coachella, California - sand blowing across the street and palm trees straining in the wind

From time to time you may also encounter a wee bit o’ wind, but generally the sun is shinning.

Best time to go

There is no bad time to go to Palm Springs, but if it is horses you want to see then it’s best to go between January and April. 

Eldorado Polo Club: First Sunday of January – first Sunday in April – link to Eldorado Polo Club

Empire Polo Club: December 31- April 1 – Link to EPC

HITS Coachella: January 15 – March 17, 2019 – Link to HITS Coachella

There is an endless supply of things to do in this region. Art and music festivals, national parks or you can shop for antiques. This is a short list of ideas of things you could do.

Indio Festivals: At the risk of appearing lazy, I am going to leave a link to all the festivals happening right here

Cathedral City: Another town full of things to do. Here is a link to learn more.

Faye Sarkowsky Sculpture Garden: You will find this sculpture garden in Palm Desert. More info here.

Golf: There are a lot of golf courses in the area. Check them out here.

Hiking: There is also a lot of hiking in the area. Check here for the best places to hike. 

Joshua Tree National Park: Hiking, camping, rock climbing and more.

Palm Desert City: Here is a link to all the activities happening in the area.

Palm Springs Dog Show: Held in early January at the Empire Polo Club. Click here to learn more.

Pioneertown: An old west town movie set that is an actual town for visitors to see. Click here for more info. 

Yucca Valley antique shops: If you love antique shopping then you will love the town of Yucca Valley.

A little about each venue

Empire Polo Club & Eldorado Polo Club

A polo pony and groom stand overlooking the vast polo field at the Eldorado Polo Club in Coachella, California

The Empire Polo Club uses the Santa Rosa Mountains as a stunning backdrop, which suites the palm trees and walls of bougainvillea. Amid the views lay a picturesque lake, a vibrant rose garden and the excitement of polo. EPC is also home to substantial artwork pieces that were featured during some of the major music festivals that are held there, such as the Coachella Music Festival. This is definitely a place you want to visit.

A woman leads 5 polo ponies in the morning at Empire Polo Club
Mornings at EPC

Please note that you will spend hours in all these places as they are that amazing. Bring your camera and some water and enjoy your time. 

Polo

A polo player on a grey polo pony swings for the ball

You can make a day of watching a few polo games. Expansive grass fields, white peaked tents, palm trees and the Santa Rosa Mountains all create fabulous scenery to watch fast horses and brave riders play a game of polo. Great for anybody of any age whether you like horse sports or not. An absolutely fabulous day awaits you. You can dress up complete with a fancy hat, or you can wear a Tilley hat and shorts. Either way you will fit right in. 

Seemingly attached to the Empire Polo Club is the Eldorado Polo Club. Having both clubs close together means there are games Saturday, Sunday and certain Friday nights. 

Have questions about the game of polo? Click here for HSD’s Quick Guides – polo edition

Sunday games 

12 p.m. and 2p.m.

General admission is free that allows for seating on the bleachers or tailgating

Food and drink is available for purchase

Parking is $20 

VIP is $30, including parking, and gives you covered table seating.  

Friday night games

Select dates only

5:30 p.m. in February – 6:30 p.m. March

Free admission

Outside food and drink is allowed

Drink purchases on site

No VIP

Bring your own chairs or you can tailgate

Click here for more information on all of the above

Saturday games

12 p.m. at Cantina Patio

Sunday games

10 a.m. at Cantina Patio

12 p.m. and 2 p.m. at the Eldorado Club House

Arrive early if you plan on tailgating, gates open at 10 a.m.

General admission is free

Parking is $10

For $10 you can sit in the club house, out of the sun, and have a meal while you watch. 

Click here for more info.

Wait, there's more at EPC

Medjhool Lake 

A horse statue in the light with a black background
Medjhool Lake at EPC

Medjhool Lake is a park covering 10 acres and you won’t be sure if you are in California, Hawaii or Fiji. There are dozens of statues all around, some are easy to spot while others are more hidden. You will not see them all your first walk through.

A white gazebo with a line of white arches leading up to it with palm trees on either side
Medjhool Lake at EPC

There are also arching footbridges, decorative gazebos, ornate benches and stunning flowers. The lake itself houses coy fish, fountains and beautiful lily pads. Never mind the swans, duck and geese that can be seen. The Medjhool Lake backs onto the main polo field and is adjacent to the three Olympic Peak tents that covers 24,000 square-feet. Within the tented area you will find more statues, some that are enormous. 

A three acre rose garden with a very large lion statue
The Rose Garden at EPC

The Rose Garden

This isn’t just a rose garden, it is a three acres spread with 8,000 rose bushes. There are more statues, an extremely large fountain and a few gazebos all with a fantastic view of the main polo field. Whether you like roses or not this shouldn’t be over looked.

A huge statue and fountain over looking the main polo field at the Empire Polo Club
The Rose Garden at EPC

Restaurants

Just outside the rose garden is the Tack Room Tavern, a great place with fantastic food and full of items that you might find in a polo player’s tack room. On what looks to be the patio of the Tack Room Tavern is the Polo Pizza Co. The open air Polo Pizza Co. offers pizza, craft beer and a variety of other cocktails. For something completely different how about The Date Shed? Friday and Saturday nights during the winter season The Date Shed (so named presumably after the date palms) houses live music. To learn more about all three click here.

HITS Coachella

HITS Coachella, or Thermal or Indio or whatever you want to call it these days, is a laid-back horse show with lots to see. There are eight weeks of competition (one week off) with $3 million in prize money. HITS Coachella is home to top rated hunters as well as 5* and 6* jumpers. The two main classes are the Longines FEI World Cup™ in February and the AIG $1 million Grand Prix held the last Sunday of the Coachella season. 

A rider jumps a large jump in the Grand Prix ring at HITS Coachella
Grand Prix ring at HITS Coachella

The show grounds are well laid out and it is easy to find where you need to be. There are Palm trees and sand for days, looking very Californian indeed. Bleachers are placed by each ring, some with a roof, which makes watching comfortable. There is a row of vendors selling the usual tack and apparel that all us riders love to look at and buy. 

All food and beverages are under one roof making it easy to decide what to eat and a chance to get out of the sun for a minute. 

A grey horse jumps a large oxer in the warm up ring at HITS Coachella
Richard Spooner (USA) and Quirado RC

Big named riders can be seen around HITS, as you might expect. 2018, saw Éric Navet, Karl Cook and Richard Spooner to name but a few. 

Admission

Wednesdays to Saturdays – free

Sundays will set you back a 5 spot, while children under 12 can waltz in free.

AIG $1 million Grand Prix is $10, children under 12 still get in free.

Tickets can be purchased at the gate.

There is an off week in the middle of the tournament so best to check you don’t plan that week to attend. Check here for dates. 

Link to a handy map of the show grounds

*** This post was written because these are great places to visit. I have in no way been compensated for my kindness ***

All photographs are the work of Horse Sport Destinations

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