You’ll feel like an Indio veteran with these tips.
With IRL festivals coming back in full swing this year, no festival is more highly anticipated than Coachella. It’s two weekends packed full of music, parties, activations, and more, making it a favorite for both music festival pros and novices alike. But with a festival so big, it can be difficult to plan your weekend, especially if you’re not from the area. So, here’s a Coachella 2022 guide to experience the festival like a veteran — from how to get there and where to stay, to how to save money and what to eat, both in and out of the festival.
Coachella is always so exciting because it’s not only a music festival, but also a full experience. Some of the biggest brands in the world — from Sephora and American Express, to Revolve and Adidas — host pop-ups and parties throughout both weekends, so there’s plenty to do in between watching your favorite acts. Plus, if you love getting dressed up and matching the Coachella vibes, there are tons of opportunities to be adventurous with your wardrobe and beauty looks.
If you’re headed out to the desert this year, take a peek at this quick list of all the things you need to think about while planning your dream Coachella experience.
How To Get To Coachella
If you’re flying in for the festival, you have a couple options: You can either fly into one of LA’s many airports and drive to Indio (where the festival takes place), or take connecting flights into the Palm Springs airport, which is significantly closer to Coachella.
Flights into LA most commonly land at LAX. It’s the city’s biggest and busiest airport, which means you’ll have plenty of options for flights on your airline of choice. There are also smaller airports in the area, including Burbank, Santa Ana, and Ontario, but less flights and airlines fly in and out of them, so they usually require a connection. These smaller airports are much calmer and less busy, and in many locals’ opinions, a better flying experience.
From any of those airports, you have a few options for getting out to the desert. Renting a car gives you a lot of flexibility, and each of the airports mentioned above offer car rental services. You can take a rideshare or book a car from LA to the festival (Gateway Executive Transportation is a limo service that many LA-based influencers prefer), so it’s up to your preference and whether or not you’d like to drive. Valley Music Travel also offers one-way shuttle service to and from LAX and Indio (each direction is sold separately), so that’s an option if you don’t want to drive but also don’t want to worry about booking a car.
If you’d like to cut out the need for a car or shuttle and just stick to ridesharing, your best bet is to fly into the Palm Springs airport, which is a smaller regional airport similar to Burbank, Santa Ana, and Ontario. However, flights to Palm Springs tend to get very expensive around Coachella season to account for the high volume of tourists coming in. Like the smaller LA airports, you’ll likely need a connecting flight to get to Palm Springs. For a truly bougie experience, Blade offers semi-private chartered jets to fly into Palm Springs from an LA-area airport; just propose a flight through their booking system and it will be confirmed when six people book. Once you’re in Palm Springs, rideshares are readily available to get you to your lodging and the festival.
Where To Stay During Coachella: Hotels & Airbnbs
While the Coachella Valley is an actual place, there actually aren’t many places to stay in the area. You’ll find more options in the surrounding towns, including La Quinta, Palm Desert, and Palm Springs, which are about 20 minutes, 25 minutes, and 35 minutes from the festival site, respectively. (Keep in mind that traffic during the festival can get pretty crazy, so those estimated driving times could potentially double.) These towns have plenty of options for hotels near Coachella, or if you have a big group traveling together, you’ll also likely be able to find house rentals that may be more economical than booking individual hotel rooms.
Palm Springs hotels are known for their luxurious approach to wellness, coupled with the city’s love of mid-century decor and stunning desert and mountain views. The Ace Hotel & Swim Club is a frequent favorite, especially for young festival-goers. The retro interiors and giant pool make it a fun place to hang out — even when you’re not attending the festival. For a more upscale, relaxing experience away from the energy of the festival, the Moroccan getaway-inspired Korakia Pensione will make for a beautiful retreat while you recuperate from your festival activities.
If you’re up for a longer drive and want to get out of the central Coachella Valley area, opt to stay in Joshua Tree or its surrounding towns instead. Central Joshua Tree (including Pioneertown) is about an hour’s drive away from Coachella, while neighboring town Twentynine Palms clocks in at about an hour and a half. If you want a full desert experience and want to enjoy a vacation outside of the festival, the Joshua Tree area offers an escape that Angelenos frequently take advantage of. rideshares might be a little harder to call in this area, so this is a better option if you’re planning on renting a car.
Joshua Tree and its neighboring towns are well-known for their wide selection of beautifully-curated Airbnbs, so you’ll have no shortage of options for accommodations. For a larger group, book the Nabu Villa in Joshua Tree for a Coachella Airbnb: not only is it impeccably decorated in a boho wabi-sabi aesthetic, but it also comes complete with a full kitchen so you can meal prep your festival snacks and a washer and dryer so you don’t have to take the festival dust home with you. It can house up to eight people, so your group will have plenty of space to spread out and relax. For a more private retreat for up to four people, book your stay at Arro Dunes in Twentynine Palms. It’s a peaceful getaway that truly feels like you’re in the middle of nowhere — perfect for unplugging after a long day of dancing and walking around the festival.
Getting To & From The Festival
There are a few different avenues you can take for getting to and from Coachella. If you are renting a car, it’s pretty easy to drive from your accommodations to the festival. The traffic can be quite heavy, especially as you get closer to the festival site, but it’s a great option if you like the flexibility of having your own mode of transportation. All festival passes include access to the general parking lot, or you can buy preferred parking access for the whole weekend if you’d like to park closer to the entrance. If you choose to drive, please remember to enjoy the festival responsibly.
Ridesharing is very readily available, especially if you’re staying in one of the festival’s surrounding towns. Getting to Coachella is fairly easy (there’s a designated drop-off zone), and getting home is actually pretty seamless as well. All of the drivers line up in a big waiting area and passengers get in line and call a car; your rideshare app will then give you a code. Once you get to the front of the line and are assigned a car, you give the driver your code and your destination gets put into their app — this way, you don’t have to worry about searching for the right car.
Valley Music Travel also offers Any Shuttle passes, which stop at various local hotels in the area and run frequently throughout the day and night to get attendees to and from the festival. Even if your hotel is not on their stop list, the shuttles will get you much closer so you can walk or rideshare back to your accommodations.
Where To Eat At Coachella
Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to bring in any outside food or drink, so keep that in mind when you’re grocery shopping for the weekend. You are, however, allowed to bring in a refillable water bottle, provided that it’s empty upon your arrival (it just has to be 40 ounces or less and can’t be made of metal or glass). Not being able to bring in your own food just means that you get to enjoy the plethora of food vendor options available at the festival — and there are plenty.
There are, of course, stands and trucks scattered throughout the festival grounds so you can grab a quick bite on-the-go in between acts, but if you want to sit down for a second, stop by the Indio Central Market, which is a huge tent featuring 15 different restaurants from around the country. (The best part is, you get to sit in the shade while you eat.)
For a more luxe experience, book a seat at Outstanding In The Field, a VIP sunset dinner complete with full service and four family-style courses. Plus, a ticket to the dinner grants you VIP access to the private Rose Garden all weekend. If you’re camping at the festival (or don’t have a car and just want to take advantage of it), there’s a supermarket shuttle that runs from the campgrounds to a nearby grocery store so you can pick up the essentials.
How To Save Money During Coachella
Between festival tickets, flights, lodging, and food and drink, the expenses of going to Coachella can really start to add up.
A great way to save money during the festival is to go grocery shopping at the beginning of your weekend so you can make breakfast (and maybe even lunch) at home. Most days of the festival don’t start till around noon, so you can enjoy your food from the comfort of your accommodations then head to the festival for the rest of the afternoon and evening. Even if you have to buy food at the festival, at least it was only for one meal. (Pro tip: also keep some leftovers in the fridge for when you get home — you’ll be grateful you did.) While drinking at the festival can be fun (if you’re of legal drinking age, of course), alcohol tends to be seriously upcharged and can put a huge dent in your budget. Save the money that you’d be spending on a couple cocktails and put it toward merch from your favorite artist.
You should also remember that rideshare platforms activate surge charging for the entire weekend and taking cars everywhere will probably be one of your bigger expenses. If you’re up for driving, renting a car can be the more economical option, especially if you’re in a group and can split the cost. However, gas is always more expensive in California (especially these days), so don’t be shocked when your cost to fill up your tank is significantly higher than you’re used to at home. For that reason, you should opt for a smaller, more fuel-efficient car.
For accommodations, Airbnbs and hotels will probably run you around the same price because everyone inflates their prices for the festival weekend. But the plus side of Airbnbs is that you usually have access to a kitchen, and some even have private pools. If you’re going in a group and want to bunk together, renting out a house can help save you money in the long run, and provide you with more space than you’d get at a hotel.
Now that you’re armed with the basics, it’ll be easy for you to get to and around Coachella. All you need to do is throw on some fringe and glittery eyeshadow, and you’re ready to dance the weekend away.