Greater Palm Springs’ proximity to Hollywood led to its rapid development as a getaway locale equally adored by silent movie stars, former presidents, and architectural pioneers. Contemporary visitors can still experience that old-school atmosphere, forever frozen in time thanks to mindful property renovations, keen service, and carefully curated antique shops.
Indian Wells Resort Hotel
In 1957, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz founded the Indian Wells Hotel, an elegant, private retreat on the 11th fairway of the Indian Wells Country Club. Let the soft, jazzy voice of Frank DiSalvo transport you to the bygone era of Lucy and Desi, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., and Ol’ Blue Eyes at Frank’s Place, the restaurant adjacent to the lobby.
La Quinta Resort & Club
Known as the La Quinta Hotel when it opened in 1926, this luxurious Waldorf-Astoria resort with charming Spanish-style casitas was once a retreat for stars looking to escape the bright lights of Hollywood. Frank Capra purportedly wrote It Happened One Night while staying here in the 1930s (he called it his “Shangri-La for scriptwriting”), and Ginger Rogers married French actor Jacques Bergerac in front of the resort’s waterfall.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY LA QUINTA RESORT & CLUB
Bocxce ball at La Quinta Resort & Club.
This 24-room boutique hotel was built in the 1940s as an apartment/timeshare complex and in 1999 transformed into the cheery, orange-trimmed mini resort that stands today. Much of the staff has been on board for more than 16 years, and they welcome guests into the Mojave “family” immediately upon check-in. Guest rooms and citrus trees circle the pool, beside which you can enjoy your deluxe complimentary breakfast. At the on-site spa, indulge in esoteric treatments ranging from reiki to dream interpretation.
PHOTOGRAPH BY ANNA KULA
King’s Highway at Ace Hotel & Swim Club
Welcome to the California roadside diner of your dreams, reminiscent of an early ’70s coffee shop — one Diane Keaton would have dined at in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall. “La-di-da!” You’ll find classics like buttermilk pancakes and huevos rancheros alongside millennial favorites like avocado toast and the Bae Breakfast — three brown-sugar-glazed bacon slabs and three eggs your way.
Keedy’s Fountain & Grill
Established in 1957, Keedy’s is a brunch mainstay in the desert. Open seven days a week, 5:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., this old-school diner is decked in photos of past clientele: locals, old Hollywood stars, and sports figures. The expansive menu features everything from country ham and eggs with hashbrowns to hot meatloaf sandwiches. There’s an old-fashioned soda fountain, too, serving malts, floats, and date shakes.
Melvyn’s Restaurant at Ingleside Inn
On the premises of Ingleside Inn, an estate built in 1925 by the Humphrey Birge family and transformed into a hotel in the ’30s by Ruth Hardy, this restaurant and its property bask in a storied past that includes visits by Salvador Dalí and Howard Hughes, among others. Mel Haber bought the place in 1975 and revamped it, establishing his namesake restaurant, where Frank Sinatra is said to have had a special booth (it remains for you to enjoy).
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY GREATER PALM SPRINGS CVB
Melvyn's Restaurant at Ingleside Inn
Under new management after Haber’s death, the property has been restored to its golden-age glory. The sounds of yesteryear set a nostalgic mood in the lounge, while tableside cooking captivates and cultivates conversation as servers prepare Sinatra’s favorites, like steak Diane and steak au poivre.
McCormick’s Classic Cars
Calling all gearheads! Ever dreamed of owning a classic? That’s the goal McCormick’s specializes in fulfilling. Although best known for its two massive annual auctions (held in February and November), the family-owned showroom in downtown Palm Springs is open daily and maintains a regular rotation of gorgeously restored vehicles ready for purchase … or ogling.
PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID A. LEE
McCormick's Classic Cars
PHOTOGRAPH BY LIZ MARTIN
Five Star Adventures Tours
If Liberace, Elvis, and Sammy Davis Jr. walked into a bar … chances are it would have been in Palm Springs. Five Star Adventure Tours will give you an idea of the locales these celebrities and their ilk would have traversed. The luxury vans and charter buses will also guide you up the side of San Jacinto, down the Walk of Stars, or deep into mystic canyons where ancient people once lived.
Victoria’s Attic Antiques
Put aside a solid chunk of time to peruse this 15,000-square-foot wonderland of vintage treasures. Equal parts gift emporium and curio museum, the antique mall houses a collection of storied tchotchkes, midcentury furniture, funky jewelry and apparel, and an array of artwork.
This vintage mecca offers an excellent range of midcentury furniture, home goods, and playful fashion that is delightfully heavy on prints. Expect an unusual selection of accessories and apparel with plenty of gift options and the friendliest staff you’ll ever meet — including Pucci the Poodle (a mannequin with a fluffy pink poodle head who’s a bit of an Instagram celebrity in her own right).
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY GYPSYLAND
5 MIDCENTURY LANDMARKS
The former Tramway Gas Station, realized in 1965, is the work of Albert Frey and Robson C. Chambers. Here you can pick up a map of other midcentury sites. Open daily.
PHOTOGRAPH BY JAY JORGENSON
Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway
Sunnylands Center & Gardens, Rancho Mirage
Walter and Leonore Annenberg commissioned A. Quincy Jones to design this estate in the early ’60s. Guests included presidents and other luminaries. Tours are offered during season.
The Shops at 1345, Palm Springs
This building, designed in 1955 by E. Stewart Williams, now houses a cluster of ultra-hip boutiques. And it’s pink!
Dinah Shore Estate, Palm Springs
Designed by Donald Wexler in 1964 for sports star turned variety-show host Dinah Shore, the home is now owned by Leonardo DiCaprio ... and you can rent it.
Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway, Palm Springs
Robert Alexander built the hideaway in 1960 for his family. It was leased to Elvis in 1966, and it’s where the singer took Priscilla for their honeymoon. Guided tours happen daily.