If you are traveling the long highways of the California desert you might be surprised at some point to glimpse a real oasis, full of palm trees, swimming pools and golf courses: you have arrived at Palm Springs.In the postwar years and the Rat Pack many Hollywood celebrities fell back on this oasis for the rich, building their palaces and villas in the desert here. Here you will see where Elvis spent the honeymoon, sleeping in the vacation home of Frank Sinatra and visit the homes of other great American personalities.
- A Palm Springs itinerary
- The homes of the stars of Palm Springs
- Where to fill the stomach?
- The museums of Palm Springs
- Life and social life in Palm Springs
- What to see in the surroundings
- How many days to stay?
- Some tips on where to sleep in Palm Springs
- How to get?
Palm Springs is a US city located at the foot of Mount San Jacinto, which gives a precious shadow to the whole town, tempering the desert climate of the area in the afternoon. The main feature of the city is the peculiar architecture that characterizes it, a singular mix between the Hispano-colonial and modernist style (based on the basic principles of Frank Lloyd Wright).
The most used material here is theadobe, a mixture of clay, sand and sun dried straw which, together with the abundant number of palm trees present, gives the houses in the area a very characteristic appearance.
A Palm Springs itinerary
Palm Springs is a nice little town in which walk (beyond the heat, which in summer does not forgive). Walking along the avenues dotted with palm trees and villas is a pleasant experience in itself, however there are some interesting things in the city that you may not notice.
Then go to the visitor center, a building converted from an old petrol station and transformed in the 60s into an example of modern architecture, with its strange hyperbolic paraboloid-shaped roof; get yourself a map and start the tour.
The homes of the stars of Palm Springs
As already mentioned, the town is full of villas and homes of important people, here are some of them:
Alexander Estate: it bears the name of a very important architect (Robert Alexander), but it was Elvis Presley who made it famous, who spent his honeymoon here after marrying Priscilla Beaulieu in Las Vegas.
Frank Sinatra House: it was built specifically for “The Voice”, with a bizarre swimming pool in the shape of a grand piano. It is not easy to see it well (at least if the gate is not open), however it is possible to rent the house and spend a minimum of 3 nights there.
Frey House II: one of the most incredible villas in the area, built by the great architect Albert Frey. Walls entirely in glass set on undulating roofs emerge from the rock of the canyon creating a unique spectacle; it is possible to book guided tours, you can check prices and timetables here.
Kaufmann Desert House: charming house built by Richard Neutra, an Austrian architect who collaborated with Wright. Unfortunately it is not open to the public.
Where to fill the stomach?
Among the historic restaurants, those of the era of Rat Pack, the Melvyn's. Frank Sinatra was one of the first customers of this club with an attached dance floor. If you spend there on Sunday afternoon you could attend some interesting jazz concerts.
On Palm Canyon Drive you can find a more informal place instead, Sherman’s Deli & Bakery, great place for a sandwich. Actually the sandwiches here are huge and this is perhaps the main reason for the popularity of this place.
The museums of Palm Springs
In the city you can also find some interesting museums, for example theAgua Caliente Cultural Museum, an institution that preserves the ancient spirit of the native peoples. Here you can find baskets, pottery and tools of various kinds produced by the Cahuilla tribe with bones, reeds or stones.
Another interesting museum is that of art (Palm Springs Art Museum), which houses fine collections of Native art, American nineteenth-century paintings, modern art and sculptures.
If, on the other hand, you are a lover of plants and vegetation, you can visit the Moorten Botanical Gardens, a botanical garden where you can admire species from the desert and other parts of the world.
Life and social life in Palm Springs
The center of Palm Springs stretches along Palm Canyon Drive, a beautiful street full of shops, clubs and shops inside Hispanic-colonial style buildings, and with a giant statue of Marylin Monroe. Among these is the Trina turk, a famous boutique that sells retro clothes in bright colors, in full Californian chic style.
Every Thursday evening from 18 to 22 pm (from June to September) the street is held on Villagefest, a party with stalls of each type and buskers truly remarkable. Among the various stalls there is also that of the Jewish rabbi, to whom you can ask for advice and maybe some advice on the bible (I'm not kidding… see the photo below).
What to see in the surroundings
Palm Springs is also a great base for trips and excursions in the surrounding area. About forty minutes away there is one of the most beautiful and evocative parks in all of California, the Joshua Tree National Park, while 5 km from the center, heading south-east, you will find the Indian Canyons, the original settlement of the Cahuilla Indians, where you can take beautiful walks admiring gorges dotted with palm trees.
How many days to stay?
Palm Springs is certainly not huge, in fact it can basically be seen in a day. However, the presence of natural beauty in the surrounding area such as Joshua Tree National Park and Indian Canyons may tempt you to extend your stay by one day (and it would be a good idea!).
Some tips on where to sleep in Palm Springs
Hotels in Palm Springs are quite expensive but if you go there in the summer you will see that the prices will drop a lot (the very hot weather inevitably affects). To relive the 50s atmosphere of the Rat Pack you can choose between the Marcos Hotel (they do not accept families with small children) andHorizon Resort.
I strongly advise against the Regency Hyatt, not so much for the quality of the stay or the rooms, but because, at least with us, they tried to get smart trying to charge us extra that we had never used. The only American hotel where I have encountered this type of problem.
Here is a resource to see all available hotels in Palm Springs, consult the prices and book.
How to get?
Getting to Palm Springs is simple: from Los Angeles, just take I-10 east and follow Highway 111 south. From Las Vegas you should instead take I-15 and then I-215 southbound. Arriving you will notice an infinite expanse of wind turbines, which at sunset offers a truly suggestive view, here it is below!
And you? Have you ever been to Palm Springs?