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In the Sonoran desert, some 100 miles from Los Angeles, Palm Springs may seem like an unlikely destination for the hipster set, but the town is booming. Yes, it’s one of the most popular places to retire in the USA, but it’s also home to the Coachella festival, iconic mid-century architecture, cool bars and restaurants and lashing of Hollywood history, and for a weekend getaway with an extra helping of vintage glamour, it can’t be beaten.
Palm Springs was first put on the map as a desirable destination in the 1930s when movie stars who favored the town as a weekend getaway. At the time, the studio contracts of Hollywood greats such as Cary Grant and Kirk Douglas had a clause known as the “Two Hour Rule” which meant they could be called on set with just two hours’ notice, which made Palm Springs just close enough to make sense. Many stars, including Grant and Douglas, as well as Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and more, purchased or commissioned homes in the town, helping it to grow both in size and reputation.
Since 1999, the Empire Polo Club in Indio transforms once a year from a genteel sports ground to a weekend-long party for the Coachella Music and Arts Festival. Founded by concert promoters Paul Tollett and Rick Van Santen, the festival has grown from a low-key one-day event to a three-day fiesta held over two consecutive weekends in April, featuring some of the biggest names in music today. Headliners in recent years have included Drake, Florence and the Machine, and Pharrell.
The festival draws a crowd of trendy twenty- and thirtysomethings who come to make merry and watch great music under a desert sunset. Tickets sell out well in advance, so if you’re planning a trip to Palm Springs to coincide with the event make sure you book well in advance. If you’re looking for accommodation, our Indio vacation rentals are conveniently located for the festival site, and make a great choice.
If you prefer to take your vacation at a more stately pace, you’ll love exploring the classic Mid-Century Modern architecture dotted all over Palm Springs. The city is like one big open-air museum of 20th-century architecture, with clean lines, dramatic roof lines and great expanses of glass at every turn. The style came into being in the USA in the post-war years and was strongly influenced by the Bauhaus and International architecture movements in Europe. The goal was to produce housing that married form and function - so no unnecessary ornamentation - and was easy to reproduce on a mass scale for not too high a cost.
A great place to start on your modern pilgrimage is Palm Springs Art Museum’s Architecture and Design Center in downtown Palm Springs. The center has a host of information about the different architects that worked in the town and is housed in a Mid-Century structure, designed by E. Stewart Williams (who also designed Frank Sinatra’s former home, Twin Palms). The town even hosts Modernism Week, an annual celebration of all things Mid-Century, in February.
Of course, your exploration of Mid-Century architecture doesn’t have to end there. Luxury Retreats has a whole host of extremely well-preserved architectural gems that you can stay in for a week or two.
Aside from music festivals and architecture, Palm Springs has another major draw - golf. Thousands of keen golfers flock here every year to try their hand at the challenging courses in the area - more than 100 in all, including a few PGA Championship courses designed by the likes of Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus.
One of the most popular is the Championship course at Cathedral Canyon, designed by David Rainville and hall of fame golfer Billy Casper. With a backdrop of the San Jacinto mountains and tree-lined fairways, you might find it hard to keep your mind on the game instead of on the scenery. The club also has a grass driving range, putting green and instructors ready to hone your skills.
Another favorite is Desert Willow, which has two courses, one suited to more advanced players and the other to novices. The difficult Firecliff course is known as one of the most challenging in the region, with tricky water features and sand beds which are sure to tax even the most experienced golfer.
With spectacular desert surroundings, swimming pools and wall-to-wall sunshine, if you’re looking for a dose of warm weather at any time of the year, Palm Springs is perfect. Our homes in the area reflect the town’s history as a mecca of Mid-Century architecture, but with the added bonus of modern amenities and comfortable beds. From bijou two-bedroom homes to spacious 11-bedroom estates, complete with stables, tennis court and helicopter landing pad, whatever type of trip you have in mind, we’ve got the property to match in Palm Springs.
If your idea of the ideal vacation is having plenty of space around you, you’ll love our properties in Palm Desert. Just down the highway from Palm Springs proper, Palm Desert is an upscale community with excellent boutiques and art galleries, a clutch of golf courses and a genteel vibe. If you’re traveling with children they’ll love the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, where you can see a host of desert-dwelling creatures including camels, cheetahs, and giraffes. Our vacation rentals in Palm Desert all have pools and shaded terraces to help you beat the heat, as well as gas grills so you can enjoy an al-fresco dinner under the stars with your friends and family.
If you’re heading to the region for a golfing vacation, our La Quinta villas make an excellent base. Some of our properties in the area are located right on the fairways of the Greg Norman Resort Course at PGA West. At these properties access to the course is included with your rental. Remember, your Luxury Retreats concierge can help you with booking tee times in Palm Springs and surrounding areas.