The Coachella Valley lies in eastern Riverside County and has a population of about 500,000.
For thousands of years, the valley has been home to the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. Today, there are nine cities on the desert floor, anchored mostly by the city of Palm Springs. Although Palm Springs was incorporated in 1938, it has been a destination for many since the teens and ‘20s thanks to warm dry weather, scenic beauty and a community focused on hospitality.
The valley’s attraction as a vacation destination – including sports and recreation, events, fine dining, conventions, casinos, and concerts – causes the population to fluctuate. During the winter months, permanent residents are joined by an influx of “snowbirds” and other part-time residents increasing the population by over 50% to about 800,000. In 2018, over 13 million additional tourists visited the area and spent $5.5 billion.
The area has a diversity that reflects its history. The demographics vary by city, but of the 48,000 permanent residents within the city of Palm Springs, 60% are White, 28% are Latinos/Hispanics, African Americans comprise 4%, Native Americans are less than 1% and all others make up 8%.
A distinctive feature of Palm Springs is the impact of the LGBTQ community on life, business, the economy, arts and entertainment, events and other areas. It is estimated over 50% of Palm Springs residents over 55 years of age identify as LGBTQ. As a result, one may encounter the Gay Pride Parade, the ANA Inspiration golf tournament and associated Dinah Shore celebration, the White Party, and many gay and gay-friendly resorts.
Taken together, it’s easy to see why so many people are attracted to Palm Springs: Glorious weather, recreation, entertainment and the freedom to be who you are.