Coachella Rocks California: Guide to Art, Music and Events

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival draws more than 180,000 music fans to Coachella Valley each year for two weekends in April. The event is so popular it generates more than $700M in overall economic activity for the area and features some of the biggest music acts around the world. In addition, mass appeal helps Coachella rank as the fifth-largest music festival of its kind according to Forbes, and tickets sell out in record time. For those lucky enough to score passes, here’s a quick guide to help plan a Coachella adventure.

Vacation Guide to Coachella: Guide to the Basics

coachella music festival vacation

How to Get to Coachella

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is located in Indio, California, roughly 10 miles from La Quinta and 25 miles from Palm Springs. Visitors have several transportation options that provide easy access in and out of the area. Shuttles are available from Valley Music Travel and one-way from LAX Airport. Guests can also take Sunline Transit Agency and Amtrak, with stations located throughout Palm Desert.

Other options include discounts from area car rental companies as well as Uber, taxis and limousine services. Groups of four or more who drive their own vehicle should participate in Carpoolchella, a program that encourages carpooling and enters guests in a contest for festival-themed prizes, such as VIP passes for life.

Where to Park

Day parking is free from 9:00 a.m. to 2 a.m. on show days, and overnight parking is not allowed unless camping on site. Due to the volume of vehicles at the event, carpooling is recommended. Other parking options include a specific lot for motorcycles and those who need ADA accessibility.

What to Bring to Coachella

With a focus on visitor safety, Coachella has several items listed that are allowed and prohibited. Permitted items include a medium backpack no bigger than 20 inches tall and 15 inches wide, parasols, non-aerosol personal hygiene items, purses, water bottles and non-professional cameras.

Items not permitted at the festival include blankets, chairs, noise-making devices, posters, drones, action and GO PRO cameras, glass or metal water containers, and umbrellas. Before packing, double-check the full list of what to bring to Coachella.

coachella guide festival vacation

Photo: Malcolm Murdoch

Where to Eat and Drink

When it’s time to refuel, check out more than 100 vendors serving everything from beer and burgers to ice cream and street-style tacos. Visitors enjoy expansive menu items, including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options.

With a pass and additional pricing, Coachella attendees can try an upscale outdoor dining experience in a shaded setting. The Outstanding in the Field dinner option offers a four-course meal prepared by master chefs complete with cocktails, wines and beer.

For something more laid-back, stop by Craft Beer Barn, which features several craft brewers and local food vendors. Guests have access to a large selection of craft beers on tap and limited releases throughout the festival’s duration. This is also a popular spot for meeting professional brewers.

Other Things to Do at Coachella

In addition to top performers, bands, local food and brews, the festival also showcases several large-scale art installations. Each year’s collection is curated from both established and new artists with a focus on interactivity.

Those vacationing in the Palm Desert or LaQuinta areas also have proximity to outdoor adventures, golf, shopping, dining and other fun things to do. Stay the full week and experience the best activities and attractions. Visitors will find a top-rated living zoo, hiking trails, art museums and action-packed road tours.

Check out these Palm Springs tours and learn about the La Quinta art scene.