Our next stop on our little desert road trip took us to Indio. One place that Neek, Sar and I were really curious to visit was Shields Date Garden. I had never been to this place before even though I love dates; as a child my parents took me to another place that sells dates in Cabazon, Hadley Fruit Orchards (more on that in a later episode). But I had seen the place before on a Huell Howser TV show on public television, so I was very excited to experience the place!
Approaching the driveway, the Shields Date Garden sign from 1953 with a knight in shining armor pointing toward the main entrance is a standout sight. The history of the company actually goes back earlier than 1953. Shields Date Garden was founded in 1924 by Floyd and Bess Shields. Floyd was a pioneering date farmer who bred the hybrid dates “Brunette” and “Blonde” still grown exclusively at Shields.
After taking plenty of pictures outside, we walked inside, sauntering past a curious sign about a movie being shown inside titled Romance and Sex Life of the Date. We found that slightly risque title to be very intriguing! Our next sight was a sight from the 1950s: a milkshake machine that they use to make their signature date shakes. We found out that Floyd Shields invented date sugar and date crystals. Date sugar adds flavor to recipes and date crystals are a unique, dry blend of dates for use in cooking, on cold cereals and in date milkshakes.
We decided we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to try one! And one was definitely enough for all three of us. Their date shake was very thick and rich! I really enjoyed the flavor as we sat in one of the booths there.
It was a lot of fun walking around the store, checking out the many varieties of dates they had for sale, as well as various clothing, postcards and other gift items. They also had samples of dates at the front counter. I really have to compliment Shields Date Garden on their generosity; these were not just slivers of dates for samples, but an entire date! While everything we tried tasted great, I think Neek, Sar and I both thought the soft Medjool date to be the best. Hard to believe it’s not candy!
Walking toward the end of the store, we found the entrance to the little movie theater showing Romance and Sex Life of the Date. While the title sounds like something that requires parental guidance, we thought the movie was like the date itself: very sweet!
We walked outside to take a look at the date garden adjoining the store. Unfortunately, it was after hours and we couldn’t walk through the garden. But Neek and I were able to see through the locked gate. We could definitely see the beauty growing around and it’s to their credit to grow the bulk of their merchandise on the grounds there! If you’re in Indio, Shields Date Garden is a must-see!