Palm Springs is a little Crayola-colored oasis in the desert that allows you to time-warp back to 1960, when the area was at its peak of popularity.
Modern architects started using the empty land and unique environment to build visionary projects that eventually became a movement; desert modernism. With 350 days a year of sunshine, and is just a short 2-hour drive from Los Angeles, Palm Springs soon became a popular movie filming destination, and place for the Hollywood stars to have a second home.
Today, these mid-century architectural marvels still stand, and the city has clung to its’ vibrant and stylized past. Every corner is colorful and expertly designed, making it near impossible to put your lens cap on while you’re out exploring. Just so you don’t miss a thing – here are the best spots to seek out for every color of the rainbow!
For your fifties fix, look no further than Ruby’s on South Palm Canyon Drive. Maraschino cherry-red booths sparkle against white walls and a retro-style countertop where you can sip your shake and devour a gooey, grilled cheese like you’re in Grease. Vintage Coca Cola signs and red beach cruisers with white-wall tires add to the kitsch decor.
Look closely and you’ll notice the walls are covered with black and white photos of Palm Springs life in the fifties and sixties, telling the story of the area. The waitresses will tell you stories about each one if you ask nicely.
For a true taste of Palm Springs history, look no further than Del Marcos, originally built in 1947 and designed by famous architect William F. Cody. This was originally a home and launched the solo career of Cody, who would go on to be one of the fathers of the movement.
Just off of Palm Canyon Drive, this hotel is on a corner in the Historic Tennis Club neighborhood. It’s built of native stone and redwood and boasts a pool bordered with thick cactus’ and bright orange patio furniture. It’s the perfect spot to have an iconic Palm Springs pool party.
The Avalon Hotel almost looks like it belongs in the Mediterranean with its’ crisp, white linen and Spanish-style villas.
A big grassy lawn has a gazebo with table tennis and three pools are on property: one for adults, one for kids, and one for families. But the must-see area is the entryway: a floor-to-ceiling yellow tile display that will brighten up your feed and you can swing by the pool for an alfresco lunch.
You’ll feel like your dining in Mad Men as you take in the emerald green and jet black, the geometric decor of Mr. Lyons Steakhouse. This place looks like a true relic of the past; you expect to see cigar-smoking men in power suits chatting business over t-bone lunches.
You can eat in the sun-filled salon or swanky lounge, or just hit the bar for a dirty martini. Design-lovers will drool over the original chairs, refurbished from the 1940s when the restaurant was a Lyon’s English Grille.
The Holiday House
From the moment your toes touch the charming doormat welcoming you to The Holiday House, you know you’re in for a visual treat. Originally opened in 1951, it has been re-imagined with mid-century meets whimsy decor. and a focus on a communal atmosphere.
Inside is a world of blues, prints, and patterns that will have you swooning from the cozy lobby to the alfresco bar, to the stripped couches and loungers by the pool. This is a time wrap updated with modern touches: think Jeff Koons and Roy Liechtenstein.
The Holiday House has a few outdoor tables where you can have lunch, or just sit by the pool playing shuffleboard and sipping a cocktail. Combine these interiors with a quiet location tucked behind the main drag, you might want to make this your holiday home away from home.
The Purple Palm at The Colony Hotel is a little bit Morocco meets Palm Springs. This restaurant will give you all the feels, and might be the best meal you have! The floor is entirely tiled for all your #ihavethisthingwithfloors needs, and the walls covered in whimsical paper with globe lighting. The restaurant was a 1930s speakeasy, hosting the infamous Purple Gang and some of Hollywood’s most elite stars.
You can enjoy a drink at the wrap-around bar, dine inside or take your meal alfresco by the pool. Just make sure you wear your best shoes, you’re going to be shooting down.
The Palm Springs Pink Door
Perhaps the most iconic place in Palm Springs is “That Pink Door,” a giant, chocolate-bar shaped doorway colored the perfect shade of bubblegum at 1100 East Sierra Way. It is a privately-owned home, and the owners have respectfully requested no more photos on their property, but you can still cruise by to see it.
The entire neighborhood is actually stunning; perfect mid-century homes line the open streets and tall palms tower above them. Renting a bicycle and enjoying a leisurely architectural tour through this beautiful neighborhood is a perfect way to spend a day here.
If you want every color in one shot, there’s no place is more rainbow-bright than The Saguaro, where you feel like Dorothy waking up in Munchkinland. The brightest shades of the rainbow cover the buildings, lawn chairs, and pool umbrellas.
A hammock hangout area is right behind the pool for anyone who wants to hang, and everywhere you look in a picture-perfect Instagram spot. You can buy a pool pass and hang all day even if you’re not staying at the hotel, or come dine at one of the three restaurants inside.
Whether you spend your time shopping for vintage finds, touring the midcentury marvels in Twin Palms, or lounging poolside with a martini in hand, Palm Springs is sure to bring some color in your life. These spots were some of my favorites from my week there, but don’t stop there!
Many of them I found by curious and opening doors that looked like nothing was behind them! If you really want a time warp, plan your trip to align with Modernism Week, an annual celebration of midcentury modern design, architecture, art, fashion and culture that takes the town by storm.
Unique events all over the city allow you to tour homes, see films, attend lectures, and even go to nightly parties. Just make sure to pack your best shift dresses and platforms!
Have you been to Palm Springs? If you have any additional tips for our readers or questions please leave these in the comments below.
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- The 6 Best AirBnBs in Palm Springs
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