If you’re familiar with the names Khadrawi, Deglet Noor, Halawi, and Medjool, you’ve probably eaten these little sugar bombs known as dates. If those words are not so well known to you, stop at Shields Date Garden in Indio, California and watch “The Romance and Sex Life of the Date.” This free 15-minute continuously running film will not only acquaint you with the Floyd and Bess Shields who started their date farm here in 1924, but you’ll get quite the education about how dates are grown, harvested, and enjoyed. As you’ll learn, Floyd was a true pioneer in the date business, breeding his own exclusive varieties. His “Blonde” and “Brunette” dates are grown nowhere else in the world.
In addition to free samples of a variety of dates, a famous favorite treat here that you can buy is a date shake made with Date Crystal, a blend of dates turned into a dry product used in cooking and that was invented by Mr. Shields. Date Crystals do not need refrigeration and when kept in a moisture-proof container will last for many years— without preservatives. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, a date shake will satisfy your craving! The retail store is also filled with specialty foods, quirky and humorous retro gifts, J.R Watkins products, and Shields own grapefruit and oranges (generally available from December until June). If you’re passing through at mealtime, the Cafe at Shields Date Garden offers breakfast and lunch on their lovely outdoor patio.
Behind the large retail store is the Garden part of the business (admission charged). The manicured garden path is back dropped by mountain views and winds through 17 acres of elegant date palms. Pretty water features and biblical statues create a tranquil setting to tell the story of the life of Jesus Christ. These 23 statues were relocated here a couple of years ago from a biblical garden in Vancouver, Canada that had closed.
The main reason to stop at Shields Date Garden is to sample and purchase their preservative-free dates, which are grown without chemical fertilizers or pesticides. But if you’re hungry, like to shop, or want to stretch your legs, you can do that here, too.
IF YOU GO:
Shields Date Garden
80-225 U.S. Highway 111
Indio, California 92201
Phone: (760) 347-0996
Open daily 9:00 am – 5:00 pm
In addition to writing about her travels, Denise Seith is also a treasure hunter and loves a good latté. She and her husband own an online gold prospecting and metal detecting equipment store found at GoldRushTradingPost.com