Palm Springs’ desert attraction is everlasting. The city houses an iconic collection of mid-century modern architecture mixed with Spanish colonial period Buildings – all in front of and sometimes on top of an exquisite group of mountain ranges. That Celebrity Loved Place Not only does it offer breathtaking views and a rich history, but it’s also dotted with a terrific dining scene and impeccable shopping.
I’ve recently had the great pleasure of experiencing much of what Palm Springs has to offer, thanks Visit Greater Palm Springsduring one of the best travel times: Modernity Week, which takes place twice a year with a signature ceremony in February and a mini version in October. (And you bet I’ve visited every one don’t worry darling location that I could.) With just a few days to wrap up a big tour, I amassed tons of records. I also asked designers and locals about their favorite places to shop, eat, drink, explore and hang out in the city that you’ll definitely want to include in your own itinerary. Treat yourself to even just a few of these offers and you are sure to have an unforgettable affair.
Where to sleep
“This historic mansion-turned-boutique inn is a throwback to the old-school Hollywood era that originally put the desert on the map of star-studded destinations,” says Los Angeles-based designer Jeff Andrews . “I love the celebrity-themed rooms – often named after the celebrities who once stayed in these rooms.”
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Residents of Palm Springs, designers Howard Hawkes and Kevin Kemper are from H3K Home + Design didn’t have many options to stay in local accommodation. But the opportunity arose last April. “Kevin and I were able to book the entire Limón Hotel and invite friends from out of town to stay with us,” says Hawkes. He explains: “It was the perfect setting to connect with everyone but still have private retreats. The hotel features six guest rooms surrounding a pool and fantastic gourmet cuisine. All rooms are decorated with colorful wallpaper and furniture inspired by 1960s Latin America.”
Look no further than The Saguaro Palm Springs for accommodations that burst with color inside and out. The exterior features a rainbow of paint colors that catch the eye as you drive by. All interiors feature decorative neon accents. Near the pool, loungers and cabanas await in bright yellow and pink fabrics. Not to mention, from Taco Tuesday to weekend yoga, there are always events going on.
Where to shop
Christopher Anthony Ltd. offers everything from seating and lighting to accessories such as fireplace screens and ceramics, and has a special selection of household items. “When we were recently furnishing our own home, we wanted to buy some vintage and custom pieces that we could find at Christopher Anthony and the Shops at 1345,” say Hawkes and Kemper.
The Shops at 1345 is a design collective in a historic building that Harold Hicks, a real estate developer, had architect E. Stewart Williams design in 1955,” say Hawkes and Kemper. “They are constantly updating their inventory and you can often meet the owners in the different rooms.”
“Charles Pearson and Thomas Sharkey have the swankiest collection of deals in the desert,” says Andrews of the owners who run the business hedge, a shop and gallery in the Perez Road Art and Design District just off Palm Springs in Cathedral City. “From mid-century goodness to original Bali paintings and vintage ceramics galore, I usually plan my weekend visit around a bit of shopping in Hedge.”
Andrews is a longtime customer of local Rich Pedine who runs a boutique PR agency in the home decor industry and also loves Hedge, adding that “they curate the best selection of quality vintages in the entire Coachella Valley.”
A few houses down from Hedge is object culture, which Andrews says is just as chic as Hedge. Owned by Barry Bryant and Johnny McLendon, the 3,000-square-foot gallery is home to exclusive new art, furniture, décor items and more. “Your collection of vintage abstract paintings will blow your mind,” says the designer.
“I picked up paintings for my new home [Object Culture and Hedge]’ adds Pedine. “It’s such a dream to go there just to browse and even better when you’re going home with a new sweetheart.”
“Well, of course we have to say that no trip to Palm Springs is complete without stopping by H3K Home and Design,” say owners Hawkes and Kemper of their store. The designers aim to provide a fun shopping experience. “There are great mid-century inspired indoor and outdoor furniture pieces, as well as unique gifts and beautiful artwork by local artists.”
“For gifts and fun fashion, you have to visit Peepa’s — which is just off Main Street in downtown Palm Springs,” says Pedine. “Owner Jeff Witthuhn has given Palm Springs retail a tremendous boost with his unique offerings, in-store DJs on special weekends, and exclusive art and fashion offerings.”
Where to eat and drink
at Spencer’s restaurantfind a fresh approach to classic American cuisine. “I love the kitschy Palm Springs vibe of this restaurant at the base of Mt. San Jacinto in downtown Palm Springs,” says Andrews. “Come on for a classic martini and enjoy the piano player.”
“When you go out to eat, it’s difficult to choose a great place because there are so many,” say Hawkes and Kemper. “One of our favorites is 1501 Uptown Gastropub, which has wonderful outdoor seating surrounding a really cool building that was probably a coffee shop at one point. It has a wide range of food, a bar and a huge selection of craft beers.”
A meal at The Paloma Resort Sol Y Sombra Restaurant is worth the short drive to Cathedral City. The tapas-style menu celebrates the Coachella Valley’s agricultural roots and features Spanish-inspired dishes featuring citrus, dates, chilies and other locally grown ingredients. Pro tip: arrive hungry so you can try as many dishes as possible because there’s a good chance you’ll want one (or more) of everything!
The H3K Home + Design team’s favorite restaurant is Jake’s, which is located in the Palm Springs Design District, a short drive from where they live. “We always enjoy sitting in the courtyard, whether it’s for a quiet dinner or to catch up with friends,” they say. “They have delicious food, great (big) cocktails and a wonderful staff!”
“For the best martini, wedge salad, and chicken wings in town, check out Hole-in-the-Wall.” Paul Bar‘ says Pedine. “It’s in a mall with a nondescript sign that says “Bar/Food”. Inside you’ll find waiters in white and a brass and wood bar that you can’t find anywhere else in the area.”
where to explore
Jerry and Tracy Turco recently opened Museum of Modernity in Palm Springs, and it’s definitely worth the $10 ticket that visitors can buy at the door, old-school style. The immersive experience is exactly what Tracy – a designer, artist, hotelier and more – thought the city was missing: a fun place for all ages. “I’ve been a vintage collector since high school and have many items to share with visitors,” she says.
The museum includes her personal 1969 Jaguar and a 1956 vintage Wellcraft boat, a western room of the Palm Springs rodeo and riders with rare photos from Slim Aaron’s Getty archives, and treasures from Magda Gabor’s extravagant Palm Springs estate. Her favorite place in the museum is the disco roller coaster dance floor (which I also really like) and the free skeeball. Not only is the experience enlightening and fun, but each room is an Instagram photo gold mine.
That Indian gorges are a great place to explore, especially if you’re only in town for a few days. “It’s what I like to call a no-strings-attached adventure because it’s so close to town,” says Hawkes. “It’s a hiking area where you can spend just about an hour and really feel like you’ve seen a far away, totally different part of Palm Springs. It is not always open and there is a small fee as it is Indian country.”
“Of course the Palm Springs aerial tramway is world famous and never disappoints,” says the H3K Home + Design team. “We’ve been there many times and it’s amazing to go at any time of the year – especially in the summer when you want some fresh air.”
After riding rotating Ride the tram to the top and you’ll find observation decks, two restaurants, a cocktail lounge, a small natural history museum, two theaters showing videos about the state park and tram construction, a gift shop, and more than 50 miles of hiking trails .
The Palm Springs Art Museum was initially founded in 1938 as a museum housing Cahuilla natural science exhibits and artifacts, and now focuses on the visual and performing arts. It was originally called the Palm Springs Desert Museum at La Plaza in downtown Palm Springs. In 1974, architect E. Stewart Williams was commissioned to design the main building the museum. It also hosts parties and lectures, making it a must-see for visitors and locals alike.
Each biannual celebration of Modernism Week is jam-packed with events—including celebrity tours (like the House of Tomorrow, aka Elvis’ honeymoon retreat), bus tours, lectures, flea markets, and car shows—for everyone to snag tickets to. If you are excited by the idea of diving into the mid-century modern world, tickets for the February 2023 celebrations will go on sale November 1, 2022.
Self Guided Tour
Want to see the best buildings the area has to offer? Grab your car (or bike!) and take a self-guided tour of the many iconic mid-century buildings (like the Kaufmann Desert House pictured above). There are several options, like this 10-stop tour from GPSMyCity.
Notable mentions in and around the area: The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, Studio Hoevel‘s shoemaking courses, super bloomand Desert X art exhibitions.
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