Popularized by Hollywood stars who came here to take a break from the studio lots, Palm Springs retains the glamour they brought with them. This desert oasis was the playground of Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and Bob Hope, and with the help of midcentury architecture and Polynesian tiki influences, it feels like it still is. Major events are also a draw: In February, Palm Springs hosts the hugely popular Modernism Week (a misnomer since the festival takes place over 11 days); Indian Wells presents professional tennis with the fan-favorite BNP Paribas Open in March; and in April, Indio sees an influx of hipsters swarming to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. It would be easy to fill weeks in Palm Springs, but if we just had just one day, this is how we’d spend it.
Wake up early at the new Hermann Bungalows, a hotel within a hotel at the L’Horizon Resort and Spa, which was designed by William F. Cody in 1952. Call in-room dining and have breakfast delivered to your private patio or poolside. We particularly liked the avocado toast with pickled onion, cucumber and tomato. Alternatively, drive to Spencer’s Restaurant (701 W. Baristo Rd.) at the historic Palm Springs Tennis Club. Join the see-and-be-seen crowd on the canopied patio.
Now that you’re fortified, it’s time to take an architectural tour of Palm Springs. Enjoy the wind in your hair during an exhilarating and informative three-hour bike tour with the Palm Springs Historical Society. Depending on the day, you can tour North Palm Springs (highlight: the William Krisel-designed Elvis honeymoon house) or South Palm Springs (highlight: the home William Holden shared with Stephanie Powers) and learn about the exterior features of these modernist structures. Alternatively (or additionally on another morning), go on the 90-minute Mod Squad “Interior Tour” with Kurt Cyr, a local designer and expert on midcentury-modern style. Outside of Modernism Week, this tour is one of the only ways to see the interiors of these architecturally significant residences.