Destination Palm Springs
In the golden age of Hollywood, Palm Springs, California was the weekend escape for celebrities such as Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe They were lured by its proximity to LA, laid back vibe and endless sunshine. The dry desert heat makes it possible to be in your bikini just about all day long, but there’s more to do than just lounge by a pool. Rock your best festival look at Coachella or get back to nature at Joshua Tree National Park. Architecture fans can try to time their visit to Modernism Week. Here’s a look at what to see and do in Palm Springs.
The Avalon Hotel is made for Instagram. The design of the hotel mixes Hollywood Regency with a playful vibe. Relax at a crisp black and white poolside cabana or unwind with a yoga session. The Estrella spa offers everything from Vichy showers to reflexology massages. Fuel up in the morning with (what else?) avocado toast at the hotel’s Chi Chi restaurant.
Reservations are essential to tour Annenberg Estate at Sunnylands, once the home of former ambassador and media magnate Walter Annenberg and his wife Leonore. The 25,000 square foot home is a midcentury masterpiece, with interior design by Billy Haines. The home’s décor is gloriously over the top and color coordinated down to the candy bowls.
Taking the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to the top of Mt San Jacinto State Park is a must. The rotating cars offer 360-degree mountain views, and the 2.5-mile ride takes about 10 minutes. Dress warmly as there could be snow on the summit. Go for a hike or just soak up the scenery from the cocktail bar at the Lookout Lounge.
The permanent collection at the Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center features works by prominent architects Richard Neutra and Frank Gehry, as well as contemporary pieces from Dale Chihuly and Edward Ruscha. The museum is also home to a high-end store, selling locally made jewelry and homewares.
To get a closer look at the midcentury modern homes here, sign up for The Modern Tour, the official tour of the Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Museum. Guests get a peek inside private homes as well as the 700 square-foot home of architect Albert Frey. Not doing a tour? Be sure to drive past this Insta-famous pink door on your drive.
Pack your swimsuit and unwind at the celeb favorite Two Bunch Palms Spas. Purchase a day pass to soak in the mineral springs–fed “grotto,” which is heated to a toasty 99 degrees. Although it’s tempting to soak all day, you will want to get a massage here at the spa.
Fuel up with a big breakfast at the King’s Highway, which was formerly a Denny’s. Start off with the smoothie of the day and chilaquiles, which is scrambled eggs, mushroom, chorizo, tortilla chips, citrus crema and pico de gallo. Trying a date shake in Palm Springs is a must- Coachella Valley is the date capital of the world. Order one at Great Shakes if you need a quick pick me up. A perfect lunch spot downtown is Kaiser Grille. Go for a burger or the Ahi tuna tartare.
Toast the spirit of Frank Sinatra at Melvyn’s with a dirty martini. Sinatra was a regular here and the bar has a lost in time quality - waiters wear dark suits and ties. Sinatra’s face is printed on the bar napkins and they also make a great souvenir.
For dinner, try Mister Parker’s which is dark and sophisticated. The bartenders will happily create any cocktail you’d like, and the dinner menu ranges from grilled octopus to steak au poivre.
For housewares with a unique Palm Springs style and humor, stop by Michael Weems. This former designer for Gucci and Tiffany now creates coasters emblazoned with slogans such as “Betty Ford Was Here” and trays printed with sketches of modern buildings. Browse the colorful, perfect for Palm Springs prints at Trina Turk’s boutique – she’s a Palm Springs resident. Pop into The Frippery for a well curated mix of vintage clothing and accessories inspired by resort lifestyle. Wil Stiles is the place to go for brightly colored clothing for men and women; Stiles has his own line of button down shirts for men.
Images are Courtesy Greater Palm Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau