In 2012 I went to 3 cities with very distinct attitudes toward architecture. Las Vegas, where buildings are torn down, rebuilt, & full of facades. Savannah, where the buildings are hundreds of years old & the historical society is strong. And then there is Palm Springs. “Old” in Palm Springs means the 1920s & the modern architecture is preserved by individuals. I was swooning everywhere. It helps that I’m a sucker for one-story houses & mid-century design.
While there are many celebrity home tours & a few tours for modern architecture, they all cost $80 a head. We had the whole family in tow for Christmas vacation so that cost was out of the question. (Plus most don’t even have access to the interiors unless it’s Modernism Week.) The concierge at the hotel gave us a list of locations from Palm Springs Life magazine and off we went down Palm Canyon Drive!
The list we followed included a few of the boutique hotels. The Orbit Inn was my favorite, & the Christmas decorations at the Del Marcos Hotel was so cute, little silver ornaments on all the short spikey cacti. We added a few of the larger hotels on our own.
I couldn’t find the exact list online, so I made a map:
- The Alexander Tract Homes. Each one is cuter than the last. Check out any real estate fliers you find in the neighborhood too; like another favorite thing of mine, they’re bigger on the inside.
- The street before the Bono Estate. Beautiful gardens all around. Go soon though! I have no idea why many of the neighbors are selling their homes.
- The other houses in Marilyn’s neighborhood. There are some gems both new and old.
- Bob Hope’s house on the hill, designed by John Lautner. You’ll have to see it from the road since it’s in one of the many gated communities. Look for the “pancake that fell on a form”, as my mom described it.
- Rancho Mirage Library. It’s new construction & just lovely.
- Most of the downtown Palm Springs part of the tour would also have been do-able by renting a bike.
- Frank Sinatra’s house. You can’t see anything past the front gate. At least the wreath was nice… (Full disclosure, you can only see the gate of the Bono Estate too.)
Of course you don’t have to make it all about architecture & design. There are mountains, deserts, & Albert Frey’s tramway running between the two. We had a white Christmas at the top! There are great consignment shops, an outlet mall, & fancy stores as well. (I couldn’t resist the allure of Trina Turk.) Be sure to have a date shake. They’re delicious.