The date shake is a Southern California original, having been said to have been invented in the Coachella Valley in the 1920s. The date shake became such a big deal in the area it has frequently been referred to as the unofficial drink of the Coachella Valley. They are almost everywhere in the region.
Russell Charles Nicoll opened the Valerie Jean Date Shop on California 86 (originally part of Highway 99) near Thermal in 1928. It is there where Nicoll is said to have invented the date shake. Nicoll reportedly learned through his study of dates that some Arabs existed solely on dates and goat milk. That inspired him to experiment with a date-based beverage and eventually led him to the date shake.
But, while the Coachella Valley is the birthplace of the date shake, you can find them nowadays throughout the American Southwest.
When traveling through the desert regions of Southern California and Arizona, we would constantly see signs advertising date shakes. Eventually, we got curious and decided to try one. We were hooked. Stopping for date shakes has since become a regular part of our trips.
After trying a number of date shakes throughout our travels, here are our picks for the seven best places to get a date shake.
Shields Date Garden
Probably the best-known date shop around, Shields Date Garden in Indio was opened by Floyd and Bess Shields in 1924, and sometime later, they began selling date shakes.
The date shakes at Shields used date crystals to make their shakes, a method that is said to have originated here. The crystals are mixed with water to create a paste then blended with ice cream. The crystals Shields uses are really fine, making the shakes pretty smooth.
In addition to the shakes, at Shields you can find a 17-acre date grove and botanical garden that showcases 23 hand-crafted statues that depict the life of Christ.
Shields Date Garden is located at 80225 CA-111, Indio, CA 92201.
Our only non-California entry on the list, the Dateland Travel Center, has been an oasis for travelers through the Arizona desert between Yuma and Phoenix since the 1940s. Though, date shakes have been served in Dateland much longer than that, having been a staple at the original Dateland Restaurant that was built in the 1920s.
Being one of the few stops through the desert in this area, you’ll see billboards for miles advertising Dateland’s “world-famous” date shakes. Once you pull off the road, you’ll find a gas station and a small store at the travel center. The date shakes are located in the food court next to the Pizza Hut.
The shakes at Dateland only use fresh Medjool dates. No date crystals or date sugars are used. In these shakes you actually get small pieces of dates.
Dateland is undoubtedly a worthy stop if you find yourself traveling down Interstate 8 in that part of Arizona.
Dateland Travel Center is located at 1737 Ave 64 E, Dateland, AZ 85333.
Having opened in 2013, Great Shakes is one of the newest entries on our list, but with the number of options available here, there was no way we could leave it off.
Great Shakes uses all fresh ingredients and premium ice cream. They do not use date crystals. Their date shakes come with walnuts, though, which is different from everywhere else on our list.
In addition to date shakes, there are a ton of other options available. My recommendations are the buttered pecan and s’more shakes.
Great Shakes is located at 160 S Palm Canyon Dr. A, Palm Springs, CA 92262.
Westmorland Date Shakes
Like a lot of the other date shake places on this list, Westmorland Date Shakes uses only Medjool dates in their shakes. They crush the dates into a paste, then add ice cream and milk to create the shake. No ice is added.
All of the dates here are grown locally and are said to be 100% organic. If you find yourself heading through the area on Highway 78 or 86, this is a great stop.
Westmorland Date Shakes is located at 101 W Main St, Westmorland, CA 92281.
The Cima Mining Company is located on the last exit on Interstate 15 before you reach Nevada (or the first exit in California if coming from Nevada). It is really in the middle of nowhere, but it is a great roadside attraction.
Located in a building that once was a Stuckeys, the Cima Mining Company has animatronic miners out in front and a waterfall to pee into in the men’s bathroom (I don’t know what’s in the women’s restroom!).
The date shakes here are very good and are quite refreshing after traveling through the desert or exploring the nearby Mojave National Preserve. The Cima Mining Company is an actual oasis in the desert.
The Cima Mining Company and Shell Station are located at 65845 Cima Rd, Nipton, CA 92364.
Located in North Palm Springs, Windmill Market is a very popular stop in the area. The date shakes and malts are amazing, and there is a nice garden to sit in while you enjoy your treats.
In addition to the date shakes, you can also buy full meals at Windmill Market. The pot roast is delicious.
Windmill Market is located at 17080 N Indian Canyon Dr, North Palm Springs, CA 92258.
Hadley Fruit Orchards
Hadley Fruit Orchards originally opened in Banning in 1931, and it is claimed this is where trail mix was invented. The current location is in Cabazon, near the giant dinosaurs (you can’t miss them).
Hadley’s sells several different date shake options, but all are made with Hadley Deglet Noor Dates. In addition to the original date shake, you can get a banana date shake and a vegan date shake as well.
At Hadley’s, you can also get mix-ins for your shake. As of the writing of this article, they offered chocolate, honey roasted peanut butter, coffee, strawberry, malt, and extra dates.
Hadley Fruit Orchards is located at 47993 Morongo Trail, Cabazon, CA 92230.