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Lifestyle

City Guide: Palm Springs

An insider’s guide of where to stay, eat, shop and unwind in the modernist architectural mecca.

Palm Springs

The city of Palm Springs has seen more comebacks than the Hollywood stars that made the city famous. During the 30s, 40s and 50s, the relatively small desert enclave began building its reputation by luring bold-faced names fixated on having privacy, humidity-free heat, arid vistas and lavish parties. Yet Palm Springs—with all of its golden age charm—is not an archive.

Over the past two decades, the city has refashioned itself as a magnet for art lovers, design devotees and cuisine enthusiasts. Here are some desert hot spots. An insider’s guide of where to stay, eat, shop and unwind in the modernist architectural mecca.

Stay

Frank Sinatra, who often flew into Palm Springs on his Learjet 23 aircraft, called the Colony Palms Hotel his home away from home for good reason. He and stars such as Clark Gable and Marlene Dietrich would often take refuge in the Spanish-style palace for weeks, enjoying its well-appointed leafy grounds and quiet nooks. Although it has gone through a few iterations since, the property has kept its majesty intact. Its restaurant—the Purple Palm, helmed by acclaimed chef Nick Tall—remains one of the best places to eat in the city, boasting a menu that includes Osaka-style crab fritters and pinot noir floats. Unlike many of the frenetic boutique hotels nearby, the Colony Palms Hotel’s 57 rooms remain the epicenter of calm. Aside from offering guests a remarkable poolside view of the San Jacinto mountains, the hotel’s soothing Moroccan-inspired decor scheme is something to note. And the interiors of its spacious Casitas feel like the perfect fusion of SoCal and Marrakech.

Dine

The chic, minimalist cement decor and cocktail menu at Workshop Kitchen + Bar should be enough incentive to visit the justifiably hailed restaurant. Signature drinks such as the Ancho Libre (made with ancho chile liqueur, angostura bitters and orange oils) and the California Dreamin’ (vodka mixed with grand poppy liqueur and lemon juice) continue to bring in mixology fans by the mile. For the discerning foodies who book tables at this James Beard-awarded haunt, however, the main draw is the cuisine: small plates ranging from octopus carpaccio to house-cured gravlax tartine and main dishes such as duck leg confit and wood-grilled hanger steak.

Dining in Palm Springs

Shop

No other boutique in town combines the old and new worlds of Palm Springs quite like Trina Turk and Mr Turk. Housed in a 1960s era, glass-walled building designed by architect Albert Frey, this fashion designer’s headquarters, which contains men’s and women’s collections that are wildly informed by Pucci and kaleidoscopic motifs, is worth the window-shop alone. For a more subdued palette, Elizabeth & Prince—also located on North Palm Canyon Drive—is the best bet for those who prefer clean lines over bold patterns (the shop carries top notch minimal designs from Heidi Merrick and Thaddeus O’Neil).

Shop in Palm Springs

Do

A quick trip to the Palm Springs Art Museum will give you the angle you need to truly appreciate the desert city’s designs. The museum’s impressive permanent collection houses an archive of legendary architect Albert Frey—a must since his photographs give visitors a much-needed “then and now” view of Palm Springs. Some of the gallery spaces rival a few metropolitan museums, as they include groundbreaking works from artists ranging from Picasso to Warhol. Time your visit for Modernism Week, held in February, when you can also tour one of Frey’s most stunning residences.

Art museum in Palm Springs

Unplug

A surprising wellness secret in the area is the Integratron—a massive structure designed in the shape of a cupola, located in the heart of the Mojave Desert. This striking 38-foot-high, 55-foot-wide dome, which boasts an acoustically superior interior, has visitors booking months in advance so they can benefit from the hypnotic and regenerative sound baths held here. Travelers who are willing to make the trek outside city limits are treated to a 60-minute sonic spa, in which an aural practitioner plays a sequence of quartz crystal bowls in the multiwave sound chamber.

Intergratron

Traveling to California? A Mobile Response Team vehicle is stationed in Van Nuys, California, providing resolution of AOG/unscheduled maintenance events for Bombardier business aircraft, operating 24/7 +1 866 538 1247.

Discover our city guides for Geneva, Switzerland and Amman, Jordan.

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