There has been a lot of cross-pollination between Palm Springs and Hollywood over the years. The desert’s stark beauty made it a location both for early westerns (Gene Autry lived here) and for the beautiful Tahquitz Canyon waterfall scene in the 1937 classic Lost Horizon.
But the city’s signature mid-century modern architecture has received the most cameos. Notably, Frank Sinatra allowed his home on East Alejo Road, known as Twin Palms, to be used as the setting for the 1950 Joan Crawford noir, The Damned Don’t Cry. Today, Twin Palms is frequently listed on city tours (especially during February’s Modernism Week) and you can even rent the place for a few thousand clams a night.
You can more easily access another local film site: the Riviera Palm Springs, on the north side of town, which provided the hotel setting for 1963’s Palm Springs Weekend, an early spring-break feature starring then-emerging stars Stefanie Powers, Connie Stevens, Robert Conrad, and Troy Donahue. The retro-chic Riviera has been updated over the years, but the original Irwin Schuman–designed footprint is still discernible, including the zigzag angle of the guest room balconies.
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.
For all of the desert’s natural splendor and outdoor destinations, creativity comes with the territory, too. Throughout the year, the region finds ways to celebrate art, design, music, and film...