This Palm Springs Guide is for you if you saw the “City Guide: A Great Day in Palm Springs” video featured on the Jumprope app:
And here’s a quick overview of what we’re going to look at in a little more depth. Feel free to jump directly to a particular tour stop that piques your fancy.
- Getting There: Our favorite parking—and it’s free!
- Fountains of PS: Including a certain Mr. Bono….
- Eye Peeled for Architecture: MidMod Visual Candy
- The Architecture Design Center
- Shopping: The Sublime and Ridiculous
- Where We Eat: One of MANY excellent options
- Palm Springs Art Museum: A western US treasure trove
- The DIY MidMod Walking Tour: The free alternative
Palm Springs Guide for a Day Trip: Step 1, Getting There
A few years back, I came to Palm Springs to visit a friend. While he was working, I decided to see what I could reasonably get out of the city in a day.
It’s wonderfully walkable, so the first thing you want to do is park. Fortunately, that’s free. Just go to 235 South Indian Canyon Dr.
Palm Springs Guide for a Day Trip: Step 2, Fountains!!
Once you’ve parked and emerged into the sunlight, and pretty much as soon as you start walking, you’ll see a number of very lovely fountains. You are, after all, in a desert.
And bless my stars, who is that right here on South Canyon? Why, it’s Mr. Sonny Bono, one-time mayor, one-time Cher husband, and now SO ready for a selfie with you, my friend.
Palm Springs Guide for a Day Trip: Step 3, MidMod and Classic California Details
Continue to stroll, keeping your eyes peeled not just for the many cool fountains—there are more in the video above—but for many, many lovely MidMod/Classic California details.
Chase Bank, at 499 S Palm Canyon Dr., is frequented by a certain Miss Judy Jetson. Ok, not really, but…if she were real, she would totally bank here.
Or palm trees with hula skirts….
When you keep your eyes open, you find little visual amuses bouches all over the place. Alas, I didn’t note where this is. Do you know? Please leave a comment!
Palm Springs Guide for a Day Trip: Step 4, P.S. Museum Architecture and Design Center
First off, the Palm Springs Museum Architecture and Design Center is housed in a super cool building, straight out of the Mad Men L.A. sequences. The docent explained that the building had been a bank, restored to truly dazzling midmod glory. At the time of my visit, the main exhibit featured reusing materials—saris, in the case of these works by artist Christina Kim.
I loved the details in Kim’s work.
Naturally, the museum has an awesome gift shop.
Palm Springs Guide for a Day Trip: Step 5, Shopping High and Low
Palm Springs is, of course, all about shopping. I was pretty enamored of the H3K Design store across from the museum…..
Then again, how can you dispute the glorious kitsch for sale at Just Fabulous Palm Springs?
Palm Springs Guide for a Day Trip: Step 6, Refuel
There is no lack of great food in Palm Springs. I went, on my friend’s reco, with Peppers Thai, which bills itself as “authentic Thai home cooking,” and is very tasty. Still, if that’s doesn’t tickle your fancy, rest assured you will eat well and as healthy or un- or in-between as you want in P.S.
Palm Springs Guide for a Day Trip: Step 7, the Palm Springs Art Museum
The big highlight for any contemporary art lover is the Palm Springs Art Museum. (If you go to the Architecture Design Center, the $5 you pay to get in there is deducted from your ticket here.) It’s massive…
…and a genuine treasure inside. First stop was the downstairs gallery, which featured some pretty swell contemporary work for sale, including this painted tansu from artist Georg James, apparently a Japanese version of a credenza.
Titled “The Fox and Persimmon Tansu.” Mr. James has created some of the most amazing trompe l’oeil I’ve seen. I mean, those aren’t drawers. That’s a painted flat surface.
The gallery is flanked by two separate sculpture gardens. My favorite, the Elrod, could charm the most manic Type A into a puddle of bliss.
At the time of my visit (late 2018), the current main floor exhibit was “Unsettled: Art on the New Frontier.” Dealing with colonialization, displacement of indigenous people, and American mythology as relating to both, it included this piece, “Erasing the Border.” By Mexican artist Ana Teresa Fernández, it was a joy to behold, big and powerful, and accompanied by a film where a woman dressed like the one in the picture paints over a fence.
On the second floor, you may, like me, stop in my tracks.
I’m not a Chihuly fan. I just don’t feel all that yellow. But seeing this piece in a midmod setting—be still, my heart.
If all Chihuly pieces were displayed singly and against this type of architecture, I’d be a big old fan.
It’s also a delight to see a work from Azerbaijani artist Faig Ahmed. I’d seen one of his works at ArtPrize in Grand Rapids.
He creates a carpet design, manipulates it in Photoshop so that it looks like it’s melting, then has weavers reproduce the new version.
It’s like a waterfall of color, and such a fresh way to visualize this ancient art form getting poured into the 21st century.
Palm Springs Guide for a Day Trip: Step 8, the DIY MidMod Walking Tour
It’s finally time to pick up your car and head to a residential neighborhood and just walk and take pictures. My friend lives in the Vista Norte Victoria Park area, and it’s a great one for a quiet, insanely photogenic stroll under blue skies that look Photoshopped. But nope. They’re just that blue.
House after house is a variation on the themes of straight lines and color pops…
My friend lives in the same neighborhood as the house Sammy Davis Junior had built for himself. It’s an easy walk from the Racquet Ball Club, one Mr. Davis could stumble down when drunk off his butt. (That, btw, is not gossip but an actual directive from Mr. Davis to his builders.)
Palm Springs Guide for a Day Trip: Conclusion
Appreciate Palm Springs at a saunter; it’s not for the power sightseer. Just suck up that bone dry, crisp blue air, feast your eyes on the surreality of it, and realize that sometimes, staying on the surface is the best way to swim. Especially when the surface shimmers like this one.
Thanks for reading!
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