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The desert allure of Palm Springs is everlasting. The city hosts an iconic collection of midcentury modern architecture mixed with Spanish colonial buildings—all set against, and sometimes on, an exquisite group of mountain ranges. The celebrity-loved location not only offers breathtaking views and a storied past, but it’s dotted with a stellar food scene and impeccable shopping.

I had the immense pleasure of experiencing much of what Palm Springs has to offer thanks to Visit Greater Palm Springs during one of the best times to visit: Modernism Week, which takes place twice a year with a signature celebration in February and a mini version in October. (And you bet I visited every Don’t Worry Darling filming location that I could.) With only a few days to pack in a grand tour, I gathered tons of recs. I tapped designers and locals for their favorite places to shop, eat, drink, explore, and stay in the city that you’ll definitely want to tack onto your own itinerary. Indulge in even a few of these offerings, and you’re sure to have an unforgettable time.


Where to Stay

palm springs hotel

Courtesy of The Willows

“This historic villa 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 for the celebrities who once stayed in those actual rooms.”

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As Palm Springs residents, designers Howard Hawkes and Kevin Kemper of H3K Home + Design haven’t had many opportunities to stay in local accommodations. But the chance arose in April 2022. “Kevin and I were able to book the entire the Limón Hotel and invite friends from out of town to join us,” Hawkes says. He explains: “It was the perfect setting to catch up with everyone but still have private spaces to retreat to. The hotel has six guest rooms surrounding a pool and an amazing gourmet kitchen. All the spaces are decorated with bursts of color with wallpapers and furniture inspired by 1960s Latin America.”

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Look no further than The Saguaro Palm Springs for accommodations that are bursting with color inside and out. The exterior features a rainbow of paint colors that instantly catch your eye as you drive by. All of the interiors are outfitted with neon decorative accents. Near the pool, daybeds and cabanas drenched in bright yellow and pink fabric await—not to mention there are always events going on, from taco Tuesday to weekend yoga.

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Where to Shop

Offering everything from seating and lighting to accessories like fireplace screens and ceramics, Christopher Anthony Ltd. has a special selection of home essentials. “When recently furnishing our own home, we were looking to buy a few vintage and custom pieces that we were able to find at Christopher Anthony and the Shops at 1345,” Hawkes and Kemper say.

The Shops at 1345 is a design collective located in a historic building that Harold Hicks, a real estate developer, commissioned architect E. Stewart Williams to design in 1955. “We love that the Shops at 1345 feature so many local artists and locally owned businesses,” Hawkes and Kemper say. “They are always refreshing their inventory, and you can often meet the owners in the various spaces.”

hedge store

Hedge

“Charles Pearson and Thomas Sharkey have the chicest collection of offerings in the desert,” Andrews says of the owners who run Hedge, a store and gallery located in the Perez Road Art and Design District right near Palm Springs in Cathedral City. “From midcentury goodness to original paintings from Bali and vintage ceramics galore, I usually plan my weekend visit around a shopping trip to Hedge.”

Andrews is a longtime client of local Rich Pedine, who runs a boutique PR agency in the home-decor industry and also adores Hedge. Pedine adds that “they curate the best selection of high-quality vintage in the entire Coachella Valley.”

A few doors down from Hedge is Object Culture, which Andrews says is equally as chic as Hedge. Owned by Barry Bryant and Johnny McLendon, the 3,000-square-foot gallery is home to exclusive new art, furniture, decorative objects, and more. “Their collection of vintage abstract paintings will blow your mind,” the designer says.

“I’ve picked up paintings for my new home from [Object Culture and Hedge],” Pedine adds. “It’s such a dream to go there just to browse and even better when you go home with a new treasure.”

“Well, of course, we would have to say that no trip to Palm Springs is complete without stopping at H3K Home and Design,” owners Hawkes and Kemper say of their shop. The designers aim to offer a fun shopping experience. “There are great midcentury-inspired pieces of furniture for the indoors and out as well as unique gifts and beautiful art by local artists.”

“For gifts and fun fashion, you have to visit Peepa’s—which is right on the main drag in downtown Palm Springs,” Pedine says. “Owner Jeff Witthuhn has given Palm Springs retail a huge boost with his unique offerings, in-store DJs on special weekends, and exclusive art and fashion.”


Where to Eat & Drink

At Spencer’s Restaurant, you’ll find a fresh approach to classic American cuisine. “I love the kitschy Palm Springs vibe of this restaurant nestled at the base of Mt. San Jacinto in downtown Palm Springs,” Andrews says. “Come for a classic martini and enjoy the piano player.”

“When going out to eat, it’s difficult to choose which great place to go to because there are so many,” Hawkes and Kemper say. “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 in time. It has a great variety of food, a bar, and a huge selection of craft beer.”

food from sol y sambra in palm springs

Sol Y Sombra

A meal at The Paloma resort’s Sol Y Sombra restaurant is worth the quick drive over to Cathedral City. The tapas-style menu celebrates the Coachella Valley’s agricultural roots and features Spanish-inspired dishes with citrus, dates, chilies, and other locally grown ingredients. Pro tip: Arrive hungry so you can try as many dishes as you can because there’s a good chance you’ll want one (or a few) of everything!

The H3K Home + Design team’s go-to restaurant is Jake’s, which is located in the Palm Springs design district a short ride from where they live. “We always love sitting in the center courtyard, whether it be for a quiet dinner or to join 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, you have to check out hole-in-the-wall Paul Bar,” Pedine says. “It’s located in a strip mall with an unassuming sign that says ‘Bar/Food,’ and inside you’ll find waiters in whites and a brass and wood bar that you can’t find anywhere else in the area.”

selling sunset l to r amanza smith, bre tiesi, chelsea lazkani, alexandra hall, mary fitzgerald in season 6 of selling sunset cr courtesy of netflix © 2023

Courtesy of Netflix

The Pink Cabana is seen on season six of Selling Sunset.

While technically located in Indian Wells, The Pink Cabana at the Sands Hotel & Spa was designed by Martyn Lawrence Bullard as a fresh take on the Palm Springs tennis and racquet clubs that were popular in the ’50s and ’60s. Plus, it’s one of the restaurants where Selling Sunset stars dined while on a Palm Springs girls’ trip during the Netflix show’s sixth season. The restaurant serves Mediterranean cuisine with a Moroccan influence, set underneath a pink ceiling with dreamy white globe pendants. A gallery wall on a leafy wallcovering features vintage Palm Springs prints. The restaurant also specializes in elevated libations, including seasonal cocktails that are influenced by various spices.

Bonus suggestions: The other eatery the Selling Sunset stars visited on their trip was The Colony Club, which is located at The Colony Palms Hotel & Bungalows in Palm Springs. (They also stayed at The Emerson Estate, which is about a 40-minute drive from Palm Springs.)


Where to Explore

modernism museum palm springs

Kelly Allen

Jerry and Tracy Turco recently opened the Modernism Museum in Palm Springs, and it’s definitely worth the $10 entry ticket that visitors can purchase old-school-style at the door. The immersive experience is exactly what Tracy—a designer, artist, hotelier, and more—thought the city was missing: a fun place for all ages to enjoy. “I’ve been a vintage collector since high school and have a lot of items to share with visitors,” she says.

The museum includes her personal 1969 Jaguar and 1956 Wellcraft vintage 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-rink dance floor (which I am also quite partial to) and free Skee-Ball. Not only is the experience insightful and fun, but every room is an Instagram photo-op.

The Indian Canyons are a great place to explore, especially if you’re in town only for a few days. “It’s what I like to call a low-commitment adventure as it is close to town,” Hawkes says. “It is a hiking area you can just spend an hour or so at and really feel like you’ve seen a far away, completely different part of Palm Springs.” There is a small admissions fee, and you should check the hours before you go because it’s not always open.

“Of course, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is world famous and never disappoints,” the H3K Home + Design team says. “We have been many times, and it is amazing to go any time of year—especially in the summer when you want some refreshing air.”

After riding the rotating tramcar up to the top, you’ll be met with observation decks, two restaurants, a cocktail lounge, a small natural history museum, two theaters that showcase State Park and tram construction videos, a gift shop, and more than 50 miles of hiking trails.

First founded in 1938 as a museum with natural science exhibits and Cahuilla artifacts, the Palm Springs Art Museum now emphasizes 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 of the museum. It also hosts parties and lectures, making it a must-see for visitors and locals alike.

house of tomorrow elvis house

Kelly Allen

The House of Tomorrow was available to tour during Modernism Week in October 2022.

Each Modernism Week biannual celebration is packed with events—including iconic house tours (like the House of Tomorrow, aka Elvis’s honeymoon hideaway), bus tours, lectures, flea markets, and car shows—that anyone can secure tickets to. If you’re enamored with the idea of immersing yourself in the midcentury modern world, you can check out information on future events.

Self-Guided Tour

Looking to take in the best buildings the area has to offer? Grab your car (or a bike!) and take a self-guided tour of the area’s many iconic midcentury buildings (like the Kaufmann Desert House, shown at top). There are several options, like this 10-stop trip by GPSMyCity.

Notable mentions in and around the area: The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, Studio Hovel’s shoe-making classes, Superbloom, and Desert X art exhibitions.


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