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Palm Springs, a guide to its ins and outs

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Like Frank Sinatra, Palm Springs has fallen in and out of fashion, but never out of style. Given its desert and mountain scenery, historic architecture and bountiful shopping options, it's hard to top as a winter weekend getaway. But if you need another excuse to visit, why not plan a trip around the annual Palm Springs International Film Festival, when the town gets an infusion of Hollywood buzz and glitz, sans the attitude? Running Jan. 3 to 14, the festival will showcase more than 230 films from 65 countries, including many Oscar front-runners, as well as bestow awards on mega-stars Daniel Day-Lewis and Halle Berry (pictured).

Shop

DISCOUNT DESIGNER DUDS

In search of a premiere-worthy outfit? Stop by the Desert Hills Premium Outlets (premium) on your way into town. But wear comfortable shoes, as there are about 130 shops -- including Barneys New York, Prada and YSL -- to trawl.

BLASTS FROM THE PAST

The racks at Celebrity Seconds (333 N. Palm Canyon Drive, [760] 416-2072) are dripping with sequined and bugle-beaded finery worn by Ann-Margret, Ginger Rogers and other glamour gals. The Frippery (2005 N. Palm Canyon Drive, B1; [760] 864-9390) in the 111 Antique Mall has vintage duds at vintage prices, while the recently opened Retrospect (666 N. Palm Canyon Drive, [760] 416-1766) carries antique jewelry and accessories from the 1920s to '70s.

NOURISHMENT ON THE GO

A great spot to refuel between epic shopping excursions and epic movie screenings is the brand-new gourmet deli Jake's Ready-to-Eat (664 N. Palm Canyon Drive, [760] 327-4400), which serves comfort food with a twist. Try the pork tenderloin sandwich topped with wine-poached pears and Gorgonzola on ciabatta bread. For dessert, walk a few blocks to the old-fashioned candy store in the Village Green Heritage Center (221-223 S. Palm Canyon Drive) and order a frosty date shake.

See

THOROUGHLY MODERNIST MILLING

Palm Springs has some of the world's finest examples of mid-20th century Modernist architecture, such as John Lautner's Elrod house (pictured below). PS Modern's 2 1/2 -hour narrated jaunt is highly recommended ($55; [760] 318-6118), but if you prefer to check out the numerous groovy pads designed by masters Lautner, Richard Neutra and Albert Frey on your own, pick up a copy of the Palm Springs Modern Committee's map and driving guide at the Palm Springs Visitor Information Center -- which is itself located in an iconic building, Frey's Tramway gas station (2901 N. Palm Canyon Drive, palm-springs.org).

HERE, YOU CAN LOOK DOWN AT THE WORLD

You can also buy tickets at the visitor center for a ride to the top of nearby Mt. San Jacinto on Palm Springs' Aerial Tramway (pictured above). Don't forget a jacket, as the temperature can drop by up to 40 degrees en route. The 10-minute trip from the desert floor to the 10,834-foot peak via cable car is at times terrifying, but the views are worth it. ($21.95, adults; $14.95, kids; pstramway.com) Soothe your nerves with a stiff drink at the Lookout Lounge, one of three dining establishments at the top.

Stay

A NEW DESERT HIDEAWAY

The whimsical Jonathan Adler-designed Parker Hotel is still a hot property, but the new Colony Palms (572 N. Indian Canyon Drive, colony) has stepped into the limelight after receiving a $16-million revamp by Martyn Lawrence Bullard. Originally a mobster's speak-easy, brothel and gambling establishment, the 56-room boutique hotel features French tiles, Uzbekistani textiles and vintage photos. Like many hotels, it's offering discounted rates for film festival attendees.

BUNK DOWN IN A BUNGALOW

Still, why book a mere room when you can get an entire house? For several years, über-Mod design store Room Service (625 N. Palm Canyon Drive, roomservicestore.com) has been buying classic midcentury bungalows and turning them into vacation rentals. Among the properties available for $500 a night is a three-bedroom/two-bathroom house designed by architect Donald Wexler.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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