Postcard From Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival

April 19, 2013

Filed Under: California
Photography by Getty Images
Indio, California

Jimmy Im is a contributor to Travel Channel and freelance writer for many outlets, including BBC, Fodor's, Out and BlackBook. He lives in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter: @dieselmad

I went here to: Attend the first weekend of Coachella 2013, the premiere music festival in North America.

I traveled here with: Three friends, one of whom was celebrating his birthday (best birthday present ever!).

The best way to travel here is: Carpool from Los Angeles. Coachella takes place just 30 minutes outside of Palm Springs, so you can fly into Palm Springs International Airport. Either way, you'll need a car (and a designated driver). 

I stayed at: Desert Princess Country Club, one of the finest in Palm Springs. Most visitors to Coachella book hotels, motels, guest houses and everything in between months in advance, so we were lucky to even get a room here. It's right off the highway, and a quick 30 minutes to Indio, where Coachella is held. What I loved about Desert Princess was the full kitchen so we could cook our own meals, the private patio and the outdoor pool and Jacuzzi just steps away!

When it comes to packing, be sure to bring: Sunscreen, and lots of it. You're in the desert. Also, don't forget to bring your ID, camera and a light sweater at night. Coachella provides a great app to download to see the concert line-up, get news and more. Be prepared to know what performer you really want to see and familiarize yourself with those you haven’t heard yet -- music apps like Spotify help. There are hundreds of great bands playing at the same time at several stages. For instance, I had to sacrifice Phoenix to see New Order. 

The best thing I ate was: I don't remember eating! I was fueled by the excitement and energy of being there. That said, there are tons of food tents serving everything from pizza to gyros to chicken. If you go to the beer garden by the main stage, the popular Hudson and Churchill restaurants from Los Angeles were serving some of their signature dishes like housemade meatball sandwiches and fried chicken sliders. Clover, the best juice company in LA, was also serving fresh juices. That's what everyone was eating/drinking and I would have done the same.

Don't miss: Yeah Yeah Yeahs at the main stage. They were the most memorable show. Also, New Order, Violent Femmes, Franz Ferdinand, La Roux and Paul Oakenfold. These were the highlights of my trip. I also recommend going to the Do Lab stage for Lucent Dossier. They're the buzzing act of the moment for wild, interactive performances. It's definitely one for the books. 

Next time I will definitely: Go both weekends!

My favorite part of the festival was: Being part of this culture with like-minded people and supporting the music and arts scene in a way that I'll remember for the rest of my life. Coachella has come a long way (20 years!) and is now a household name in the music industry. 

My advice would be: Pace yourself. It's going to be a long weekend with tens of thousands of people sprawled throughout the valley. If you're going with friends, make sure you designate meeting points if you pair off to see different concerts. You will not be able to find each other otherwise. And know where you're parking. My car was towed on the second night. We wandered for hours, only to find out from security that we parked in a "pick up/drop off" area. We didn't get home until 3 a.m.!!!

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