Driving from Palm Springs through the nearby small desert towns with cacti and scrub brush on both sides and the heat of summer pressing down on you, a cold treat awaits: the famous date shake at Oasis Date Gardens. This 175-acre date ranch and its accompanying store are situated at the epicenter of California’s vast date production area. This spot features a small gift shop, an educational theater that plays a movie on the history of dates in California, a window through which date processing can be observed and a luncheonette counter that serves food incorporating the region’s fresh dates.
This industry in California makes up 95 percent of the entire U.S. output of the crop. The majority of California’s dates are grown in the Coachella Valley, which produces more dates annually than almost any other region in the world; farmers produce more than 35 million pounds of the date fruit every year. Oasis Date Gardens’ medjool dates have been certified organic since 2000, and the business has been in operation for over 100 years.
Oasis Date Gardens is located in Thermal, Calif., about 45 minutes from Palm Springs. Free date samples are offered to all visitors, and the famous date shake is free with a purchase of at least $5. Educational talks are offered daily at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. The shop has been known to close during normal operating hours; it’s always a good idea to call and confirm ahead.