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Courtesy of Elvis Presley Estate

Mid-Century Modern Design

Mid-Century Modern Design
Swing into Sinatra cool in Palm Springs

Filled with distinctive post-World War II buildings designed by leading architects of the time, Palm Springs is America’s Mid-century Modern mecca. From the moment you arrive in town via State Highway 111, the soaring roofline of the Tramway Gas Station (designed in 1965 by Mid-century master Albert Frey and now the Palm Springs Visitors Center), it’s clear that mod dominates the local landscape. Even Palm Springs City Hall, all sharp angles, bold cut-outs, and circles, has distinctive Mid-century Modern styling.

At the visitor center, pick up a Map of Modern Palm Springs; it points out worthwhile architectural sites, including structures designed by influential architects John Lautner and Richard Neutra. For a one-stop destination, visit the Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center, housed in a 1961 bank building designed by E. Stewart

"Imagine women in pinched-waist dresses reclining on pink sunloungers, watching the desert sunset over very dry martinis."

Williams. Sometimes it helps to have an expert lead the way, and both Palm Springs Modern Tours and The Modern Tour offer guided tours. Also open for touring is Sunnylands, the classic Rancho Mirage estate designed by A. Quincy Jones for publishing magnate Walter Annenberg and his wife Leonore. It’s a Mad-Men-fan’s delight, where you can imagine women in pinched-waist dresses reclining on pink sunloungers, watching the desert sunset over very dry martinis.

If you catch the modern bug, the Backstreet Art District is the place to find vintage treasures at numerous design stores. Or immerse yourself in the retro world during Palm Springs annual Modernism Week, which offers architectural tours and sales featuring leading decorative and fine arts dealers. And to really live the mod life, stay in the Saguaro, the Ace, or other restored Mid-century hotels and motels with period furnishings and swanky pools. Or splurge on an overnight stay at Sinatra’s legendary Twin Palms estate, complete with piano-shaped pool.

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Kodiak Greenwood

Discover the Deserts

The thwack of a golf club, the hum of the wind buffeting towering sand dunes, the splash of a dive into a perfect pool—the desert region is a sensory feast.

Following winter rains, springtime wildflowers paint the desert with colour.

Death Valley National Park holds the record for hottest temperature ever recorded (129°F/54°C in 1913), while the deserts of Joshua Tree National Park have giant boulders and alien-like yucca plants. At Anza-Borrego, California’s largest state park, discover amazing springtime wildflowers. The oasis-like Palm Springs region (2 hours east of L.A. and 3 hours northeast of San Diego) has golf resorts, midcentury modern architecture, and every spring, the epic Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.

SPECIAL FEATURE
Find beauty, wildlife, and solitude in three of America’s newest national preserves

You could call it a monumental achievement: In February 2016, three new national monuments were created, protecting a combined total of 1.8 million acres of California desert. The names of the...

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Ann Marie Brown
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In 1867, the U.S. Army established Fort Piute (listed on the National Register of Historic Places) along the Old Spanish Trail that crossed the Mojave Desert from the Colorado River to San Bernardino, California.
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Janell Shirtcliff/Courtesy of Best Coast

Best Coast Celebrates Pappy & Harriet’s

The Los Angeles rock duo loves performing at this unique desert venue

Anyone who has ever attended a concert at Pappy & Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, or scarfed down a plate of its celebrated macaroni and cheese...

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At 282 ft. below sea level, Badwater in Death Valley National Park is the lowest point in the contiguous United States.
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Harriot Manley/ Sunset Publishing

Spotlight: Greater Palm Springs

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Hipster cool in the desert. Das Ledderhosen!

Fed by underground springs, the desert comes alive here, not only with signature palms, but also with a string of resort communities—Palm Desert,...

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Lucas Himovitz

Luxury Resorts in the Desert

Relax at spoil-yourself spas under the desert sun

Pampering just comes with the territory in the California desert. Maybe in the old days, desert visitors had to pack in supplies and sleep on the...

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Trip 3-4 days 10 stops

Route 66 - Mother Road

Legendary Highway, California Dream
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Start your trip in this idyllic oceanfront city, bounded by a 3.5-mi/5.6-km-long beach, and feeling more like a weekend getaway spot than a city just a few minutes west of downtown Los Angeles. Car-free options, including a shuttle to Los Angeles International Airport (8 miles/13 km south) make...

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On your way to this park, you’ll pass through the little community of Borrego Springs. Stop in at the town’s visitor center to get driving maps to an astounding collection of enormous prehistoric animals—metal sculptures made by artist Ricardo Breceda—that dot the surrounding desert landscape....

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Alex Farnum

Spotlight: Joshua Tree National Park

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Rugged mountains, vibrant sunsets & uncountable stars

Boulders and buttresses, rugged mountains, gold mining ruins, desert plains dotted with the oddball trees—this is one weird place. Joshua Tree,...

This is the sense of the desert hills, that there is room enough and time enough.
Mary Austin
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Laura Flippen

Desert Shopping

From boutiques to bargains, vintage to boho-chic, you’ll find it here

In-the-know visitors make sure to come to the Palm Springs area with room in their suitcases. Bargain hunters make a beeline for the town of...

SPECIAL FEATURE
Where to release your inner fashionista

Shopping is an art form in California. Whether you're in search of the perfect cocktail dress or an authentic Mexican piñata, you'll find it here. Want to sample fresh produce? Try our farmers...

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Kodiak Greenwood

Golf & tennis

Swing clubs and racquets where the pros do in the Coachella Valley

With world-class golf courses set against dramatic desert landscapes and top-quality tennis courts beneath towering palms, two sports get classy...

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The lowest golf course in the world is Furnace Creek in Death Valley, at 214 feet below sea level.
SPECIAL FEATURE
From edgy rock n’ roll to haute couture fashion, there’s a festival for you in the desert

For all of the desert’s natural splendour and outdoor destinations, creativity comes with the territory, too. Throughout the year, the region finds ways to celebrate art, design, music, and film...

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Lucas Himovitz
SPECIAL FEATURE
Vast landscapes, spectacular desert vistas

Both vast and intimate, the California desert is a region that ranges from arid, barren expanses to oasis-like canyons with hidden waterfalls. Towering sand dunes rise above the desert floor,...

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Alex Farnum
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Courtesy of Bureau of Land Management

Amboy Crater

Hike into a 6,000-year-old volcanic remnant

Designated a National Natural Landmark in 1973 and located just off historic Route 66, Amboy Crater is an example of geology creating geometry—it’...

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Greater Southwestern Exploration Company/Flickr

Fossil Falls

Rushing river, sculpted black lava

The truth is that the name Fossil Falls is a bit of a misnomer. After all, there are neither fossils nor a waterfall here. But a walk through...