Want Claire’s entire guide to Palm Springs? Check out her PDF!
WHAT’S IN MY PALM SPRINGS TOTE BAG
A bicycle: Ok, too large to fit in a tote bag I know, but you will definitely put your tote bag into the basket, so I guess it kind of works? Palm Springs is a small community, and everything is pretty close together, so in the early morning or evening when the temperatures dim and the sun is low in the sky, biking around town is a must. It’s also the best way to dart around all of the fabulous historical homes, which are all super close-by to each other.
Water bottle: It’s hot, and margaritas aren’t the most hydrating.
Spare sunglasses: Getting caught in the dessert with a broken or lost pair on sunglasses is high on my “pet peeve” list. Keep an extra pair stashed in case you need them.
Spray sunscreen: Rubbing lotion into your face while you’re on the go wil
Big sun hat: If you are a dainty flower who gets sunstroke easily (like myself), you will want to invest in a giant floppy hat to keep those rays out of your face.
Credit cards: The consignment stores are on the pricey side, so be prepared to whip your plastic out.
101 Museum Dr – (760) 322-4800
If California artists are an interest of yours, you will love this museum. Make sure to come on Thursdays from 4 to 8pm for free admission.
1 Tram Way. Just off of No. Palm Canyon Dr and east of W. San Rafael Dr
The tramway building is probably more famous than the tramway itself, with its giant swooping roofline, but this is a fun, if not slightly goofy, way to get the full picture of the desert valley. The tramway is essentially an enclosed ski-lift that takes you up to the mountain, and then back down. It’s not super exciting, but it’s a fun way to get your bearings and some fun photos.
This could be it’s own travel guide, and might be some day, but for now, Joshua Tree will be a footnote to traveling through Palm Springs. Imagine a Doctor Suess coral reef, drained. That’s basically Joshua Tree. It’s an amazing array of rock formations, desert vistas, and fuzzy muppet trees. You can camp, rock climb, hike, or just drive through the loop in an hour and a half. Only 45 minutes from Palm Springs, Joshua Tree is a must see if you’re spending time in the desert.
2477 Belfield Blvd – (760) 364-3126
Another hold over from the 60s is the Integraton, a one-of-a-kind 38-foot high, 55-foot diameter, all wood dome was designed to be an electrostatic generator for the purpose of rejuvenation and time travel. Time travel. I’ve never been to the Integraton, but friends of mine who’ve been swear by the Sound Baths, where you relax in a multi-wave sound chamber while a sequence of quartz crystal singing bowls are played. An hour in the sound chamber leaves you deeply relaxed leaving with a sense of calm. It sounds like a trip!
301 N Belardo Rd – (760) 325-2259
Built in the mid 1920s, the course never has been allowed to die, giving it the cushioned turf so greatly appreciated by local golfers. If you want to get your Bob Hope on, a round of golf on this tucked away 9-hole course is the perfect way to spend a cool morning before the afternoon heat sets in.
You can’t miss the dinosaurs. If you’ve driven down the 10, you’ve seen the T-Rex and Brontosaurus poking out on the north side of the highway. Pull over to check out the store inside the belly of “Dinny” and to take a too good photo-op.
Modernism week is a massive draw to Palms Springs every year, but if you miss it, fear not! The Palm Springs Modern Committee, in partnership with Palm Springs Life, wanted to offer a new way to experience the city’s historic Mid-Century Modern architecture. The “Palm Springs Modern: Mid-Century Architecture Tours” mobile app includes interactive self-guided tours with exclusive videos and photos, profiles of leading modernist architects, and audio narration by architectural historians. You can download it on your phone for $4.99.
The Kaufmann House – 470 Vista Chino, Palm Springs
This architectural darling is one of the most famous houses in the desert, and truly a work of art (Christie’s auctioned it off for $19.2 as a work of art in 2007). Built in 1946 and designed by master architect Richard Neutra, its handsome, abstract modern design drew attention when Pittsburgh department store titan Edgar J. Kaufmann used it as a vacation hot spot. But it was Grammy winner Barry Manilow who kept the house’s celebrity soaring when he purchased it as his first Palm Springs residence in the early ’70s.
Frank Sinatra – 1148 E. Alejo Road, Palm Springs
31 year old dreamed of a Georgian estate, “Away from it all, but not too far away” when he commissioned architect E. Stewart Williams, in 1947. Well, the Georgian estate part certainly didn’t happen, but he got an absolutely beautiful mid century modern home for his trouble. It has four bedrooms, the singer’s famous piano-shaped pool and even has Sinatra’s original sound and recording system still in place.
Liberace – 501 Belardo Road, Palm Springs
This Spanish-Mexican-colonial-style masterpiece seems petite to the naked eye, but this former boutique hotel is actually quite sprawling. The flamboyant Grammy winner turned the guest suites into theme rooms ranging from The Valentino Room which featured a sleigh bed, a Persian tent room, and even a master bedroom so large that you could probably fit a small house within it. And unsurprisingly, an ungodly amount of chandeliers.
Elvis’s Honeymoon Hideaway – 1350 Ladera Circle, Palm Springs – elvishoneymoon.com
The Alexander Estate originally dubbed “the house of tomorrow” was built by prolific Palm Springs developer Robert Alexander for his family. But then Elvis and Priscilla Presley had their honeymoon, Lisa Marie was born exactly nine months later, and the house was forever remembered as the Honeymoon Hideaway. For the Elvis fans out there, daily guided tours are available by appointment, and you have to take a photo in the main living room, right where Elvis and Priscilla sat.
Bob Hope House – 2466 Southridge Drive, Palm Springs
Imagine a mushroom, UFO, Volcano and Bond Villain lair all rolled into one. Well, John Lautner, the famed architect, did. The 22,000 square feet estate is perched atop Southridge with a 360 view overlooking the entire Coachella Valley, with luxurious amenities such as a pool, pond, tennis court, outdoor fireplace, 360 degree views and more. It was on the market for $50 million, but was recently chopped to the more reasonable $34 million. Any takers?