One of the original modernist getaways, Palm Springs has been a retreat for lovers of design, Hollywood icons and desert heat for decades. And while much of it has been revitalized in the last few years—including luxury shopping, fine dining and relaxing resorts—there’s still a vibrant midcentury vibe to the city. If traveling to the MCM mecca is your dream, then continue reading for the best spots to add to your to-do list!
WHERE TO SHOP
The Shag Store
If you love midcentury style, you know Shag the artist! If you’re anything like us, the colorful, funkadelic style of Shag’s art gets you into that groovy mood. Whether you have a Shag collection, dream of owning your own piece or just want to take a gander at his latest work, swing by his official store (one of only two, we should mention) and browse the bold colors and wacky scenes on the walls!
a La MOD
The vintage shopping in Palm Springs is perhaps unrivaled in quality and inventory, and a La MOD might just be one of the best shops in town. Explore their incredible retro finds, including everything from living room sets and club chairs to floor lamps and ceramic folk art. Whether you’re Googie, modernist, tiki or anything in between, you’re bound to find a piece worthy of your stylish pad!
If you’re strolling down Palm Canyon Drive, you can’t miss this colorful shop full of fun midcentury-inspired designs, small souvenirs and home décor staples. From vidid tabletop pieces and serveware to unique Palm Springs-branded apparel, shopping at Destination PSP is a rite of passage for any desert newcomer who loves everything midcentury.
WHERE TO EAT
After a long day of shopping on Palm Canyon Drive, there’s no better place to relax with a cocktail and a meal than Birba. This new-wave Italian restaurant has some of the best food in town and is quickly becoming a local favorite. Explore their unique list of cocktails and enjoy some seasonal fare. An if you’re feeling charitable, order “Piece of the Pie,” a special changing menu item whose proceeds benefit select local charities.
LULU California Bistro
Anyone who lives in Palm Springs will tell you that dinner at LULUs is a must when you visit. With a huge menu that can easily accommodate any appetite, craving or dietary restriction, this Palm Springs staple is always a good choice. The spacious, two-story dining area is colorful and funky, the perfect space for a modernist dinner in the desert.
It may have a pretty unassuming name, but trust us, if you’re ready for some hip nightlife, Bar is the place to be. Don’t let the simple exterior fool you: This bar-slash-restaurant has amazing Chicago-style pizza, even better craft cocktails and a wide range of whiskeys and local brews on tap. Enjoy the cozy bar atmosphere and dance floor every night, or take the party outside on their expansive patio for live music and bocce ball Thursday through Saturday.
One of Palm Spring’s defining attractions is the tramway that goes up the side of Mt. San Jacinto (more on that in the next section), and one of the best restaurants in the city happens to sit right on top. The aptly named Peaks Restaurant has some of the best food and views in Palm Springs. While the idea of a restaurant at a park may seem like a rip-off, locals say this place with a relaxing vibe and fresh local fare is a great joint for lunch and dinner.
WHAT TO DO
Palm Springs Tramway
The best view of the city of Palm Springs (and the neighboring towns in the Coachella Valley) are from the top of Mt. San Jacinto. And the best way to get up there is to take the scenic and historic Palm Springs Tramway. The 10-minute ride each way is in a rotating tramcar, so you can maximize your views of the beautiful area. Once you’re at the top, dine at Peaks Restaurant, Pines Café or take a guided nature walk.
Architecture and Design Tours
When a city is a pocket of midcentury architecture and history, it follows that there will be tours of such landmarks. And, boy, does Palm Springs have tours. If you want to see the famous sights around town, like the Visitor Center and the Savings & Loan building, book yourself on the Mod Squad Essential Palm Springs Tour. If you want to get up close and personal with the midcentury architects that put their mark on the desert, hitch a ride on a PS Architecture Tour. For a dose of that star power Palm Springs is known for, tour the Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway, a 1966 Alexander home known for being the honeymoon home for, that’s right, newlyweds Elvis and Priscilla Presley! If any of those tours still don’t do it for you, there are many more bus, bike and walking tours available on the Palm Springs tourism site.
WHERE TO STAY
It’s no surprise that the Modernist mecca has more than a few midcentury hotels you can choose from, but we know two that you’ll absolutely love! For more on these two desert modernist havens (and to find out why you need to stay there), pick up a copy of our summer issue, on stands now!