Literally a desert oasis, Palm Springs has always beckoned with its own brand of charisma.
In the 1940s, innovative architects broke nearly every rule, blueprinting midcentury modern design here. In the ’60s, Hollywood glitterati flocked here to pool-hop and party. And recently, a fledgling music festival has been luring nearly 200,000 revelers to the Coachella Valley every year.
Is it any wonder Palm Springs cast its spell on us too? We chose it as one of the locations for our 2016 photoshoot … and we were thrilled to see our outdoor furniture against the backdrop of its dazzling midcentury homes and towering mountains.
We’d definitely recommend you put Palm Springs on your bucket list. And to get you started, here are a few ‘musts’ to squeeze into the itinerary.
Start at Ernest Coffee (1101 N. Palm Canyon Drive). Formerly known as the Don the Beachcomber Restaurant in the ’50s, this coffee bar has tiki torches outside and a view of the mountains from the outdoor patio. By day, it serves fresh baked pastries and all manner of caffeine. Consider coming back in the evening when the alcohol is uncorked. You must be 21 or over to walk in.
The best way to immerse yourself in the midcentury and modern architecture this town is famous for is through Palm Springs Modern Tours. Be sure to reserve your place online, because there’s a limit of six guests per tour.
You’ll start at the Palm Springs Visitor Center (2901 N. Palm Canyon Drive), an Albert Frey-designed gas station with a spectacular, soaring roofline. Three hours later you’ll have seen dozens of masterworks by the most visionary architects of the 20th century; heard quirky, inside stories about the Hollywood royalty who lived in them; and vicariously experienced a little of the party lifestyle of the ’40s, ’50s and ’60s.
If a three-hour tour is not for you, but you still want to hit Palm Springs’ architectural highlights, get the Palm Springs Modern app and take a self-guided tour. You can center your sightseeing in a single neighborhood or several. We highly recommend Twin Palms (Frank Sinatra’s residence) and the Kaufmann Desert House.
After gazing on this city’s most opulent homes, it might be nice to come back down to earth for lunch at Jake’s (664 N. Palm Canyon Drive). Dogs are welcome to dine with their owners, and in fact Jake himself is the owner’s West Highland Terrier. It’s a relaxed and easy environment serving hit-the-spot salads, sandwiches, and a Bloody Mary made with horseradish-infused vodka.
Did we say come back down to earth? Well, it’s time for liftoff again. Hop on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway for an unforgettable view of Mount San Jacinto and Chino Canyon. Board the tram at the Valley Station, and try not to hold your breath for the 10-minute, 8,516-foot ascent. The views of this pristine wilderness are magnificent, especially from the tramway’s rotating cars.
A daily occurrence here between 4 and 6 p.m., Bootlegger Tiki (1101 N. Palm Canyon Drive) puts on a novel and kitschy happy hour. Featuring rum-based drinks like Mai Tais, Daiquiris and Blue Hawaiians, this bar has the same owners as neighboring Ernest Coffee, where we started our day.
Finish this jam-packed 10 hours with a leisurely dinner at Workshop Kitchen + Bar (800 N. Palm Canyon Drive). Start with the shaved Brussels Sprouts. Then linger over a 22-ounce Iron House Ranch ribeye for two, or a cacao-dusted elk chop. Talented chef Michael Beckman changes up the menu per the season with delicious results. Workshop is the perfect end to a day spent exploring Palm Springs, the coolest spot in the California desert.
Want to bring the Palm Springs look home? Get inspiration from our Pinterest board!