PHOTOGRAPH BY JAIME KOWAL
Palm Springs Art Museum
Go to a museum.
Whether you’re interested in viewing replica King Tut treasures (Museum of Ancient Wonders in Cathedral City), iconic architectural heirlooms (Architecture and Design Center in Palm Springs), or the eccentric home and trappings of one of the area’s earliest settlers (Cabot’s Pueblo Museum in Desert Hot Springs), you’ll find plenty of museums to fill your day.
PHOTOGRAPH BY DANIELA STALLINGER
Cabot's Pueblo Museum
Palm Springs Art Museum is the Coachella Valley’s largest with notable collections spanning from the indigenous Cahuilla tribes and early desert painters to cutting-edge contemporary art. This summer, you’ll see geometric abstraction by Leon Polk Smith, conceptual works by Gonzalo Lebrija, and drawings and textiles by Jacqueline Groag.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JAIME KOWAL
Coachella Valley History Museum
Discover local history.
From the dawn of the indigenous Cahuilla population to railroad and agricultural development to the influx of Hollywood luminaries beginning in the early 20th century, Greater Palm Springs has a fascinating history. Dig in at La Quinta Museum, where permanent displays include a diorama of a Cahuilla village and a timeline of the historic La Quinta Hotel. Coachella Valley History Museum in Indio exhibits tools used during the pioneering railroad times as well as information about one of the area’s most important crops, the date. If you’re curious about the latter, you can catch a cheeky yet informative documentary at Shields Date Garden, also in Indio, called The Romance & Sex Life of the Date, a film that has played on repeat in the theater since 1953. For a taste of the old Hollywood era and the midcentury modernism boom, schedule a ride with Five-Star Adventure Tours. (The private tour company also offers wine-tasting excursions to Temecula with same-day roundtrip transportation from the desert.) Looking ahead to the fall, one of the most anticipated unveilings is the Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza in Palm Springs, which will feature a museum of highly significant ancient Cahuilla artifacts dating back thousands of years — all the more reason to plan a repeat visit.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY MELISSA MORGAN FINE ART
Melissa Morgan Fine Art Sculpture Garden
Visit a gallery.
Discover a variety of artistic styles from local and renowned international artists, and find a new conversation piece for your home. Many galleries are clustered on El Paseo in Palm Desert. The contemporary-focused CODA Gallery has something to speak to everyone. Down the street, Dawson Cole Fine Art curates contemporary and modern sculpture as well as drawings, prints, and works on paper by masters such as Matisse and Picasso. Meanwhile, the summer exhibition at Melissa Morgan Fine Art, which also operates an outdoor sculpture garden on El Paseo, includes the eye-popping light sculptures of Anthony James and undulating AbEx paintings of Andy Moses.
Watch a live performance.
The air conditioning is on and the curtain is drawn at community theaters including Desert Rose Playhouse and Palm Canyon Theatre in Palm Springs and Desert Theatreworks in Indio. For a supper club experience with Broadway-inspired entertainment, try IW Live at Indian Wells Resort Hotel, the property founded by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.
Take a self-guided mural tour.
On the east end of the valley, Coachella Walls celebrates our diverse communities and the vibrant Mexican culture of the city of Coachella. On the west end, begin your tour at The Block Palm Springs, at the heart of downtown. For a map showcasing all of the murals in Greater Palm Springs, visit muralsgps.com.
ask an expert
Art in Greater Palm Springs
The Coachella Valley and surrounding areas have long called to artists, eccentrics, dreamers, and creatives. What makes the desert a haven — and a good canvas — for artists?
“The seemingly endless expanse of the desert and its visible horizon line present an open, clean slate for focused thought. Equal parts of beauty and brutality inspire inward recalibration — a process where we question our existence, our life choices, our priorities, our connection to the Earth. For creatives, and really all humans, the desert provides a space where questions are answered, and a realigned, confident path can be set out clearly in front of you. For those of us artists who live here year-round, this is a daily, sometimes unconscious, process that permeates your studio, your work, and your life. To some, that process can be as intense as the desert itself. But if you hold true and remain in the space of the desert long enough, beauty always presents itself.”
— Phillip K. Smith III, contemporary artist and Coachella Valley native known for such works as Portals (Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival, 2016) and Lucid Stead (Desert X, 2017).
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF JOSH AGLE
Josh Agle, aka Shag
A Day With Shag
Artist Josh Agle, better known as Shag, shares his picks for a getaway in Greater Palm Springs. Check out his work in downtown Palm Springs at The Shag Store. shagstore.com
“Sherman’s Deli. But we won’t have traditional breakfast food — we’ll choose desserts from the bakery counter. I’ll recommend a slice of Mount San Jacinto cake: a tall stack of chocolate layer cake, New York cheesecake, and chocolate ganache.”
“We will take a journey on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. The architecture of both the lower and upper stations is magnificent, and the 20- degree temperature change from the bottom of the tram to the top makes it perfect for a hot summer day. Since we had a heavy breakfast, we’ll skip lunch and have cocktails in the Lookout Lounge at the top.”
“We’ll put on fancy evening wear and head to Seymour’s, the speakeasy bar at Mr. Lyons, for pre-dinner drinks, then walk over to PS Air and embark on their ‘In-Flight’ dinner, an experience that replicates a Pan Am flight complete with airline seating and vintage flight attendants. We’ll finish off the night at the bar at Caliente Tropics resort because it’s within walking distance of my home, and you can stagger out of the bar and into bed at will.”