Palm Springs, a desert town 170 kilometres east of Los Angeles, is known as a getaway for the rich and famous. Shaded to the west by Mt. San Jacinto, the city maintains perfect winter weather with temperatures between16 and 25 degrees Celsius.
Modernism Week, being held Feb. 12 to 22 in Palm Springs, celebrates the essence of modern design in architecture, art and furnishings. Palm Springs possesses the finest collection of mid-century modern homes in the United States. Double-decker buses offer tours of these lovely homes where you will see Frank Sinatra’s house, Dinah Shore’s estate and many other celebrity residences.
Temple Isaiah, a mid-century modern building, has unusual architecture for a Jewish temple. Designed by E. Stewart Williams, it is open for touring during Modernism Week. Frank Sinatra was a major supporter of the temple, and there are pictures of him displayed in the foyer and a marble stand honouring him. Elizabeth Taylor is known to have worshipped at Temple Isaiah.
Sunnylands, the 25,000-square-foot estate of Walter and Leonore Annenberg, is known as the largest mid-century modern home in the United States. A 30-minute drive from Palm Springs to Rancho Mirage, the Annenberg estate rests in perfectly manicured gardens dotted with ponds, a pool and a private golf course. Designed by A. Quincy Jones in 1966, the home is opened to the public on a limited basis, and reservations need to be made far in advance.
The Great Room is resplendent with Impressionist art, priceless antiques and a spectacular view of Mt. San Jacinto. The Annenbergs lived in their majestic home in the desert five months out of the year.
Presidents and diplomats from around the world have met here. President Barack Obama recently met with King Abdullah II of Jordan at Sunnylands, and this is where Richard Nixon stayed after abdicating the presidency. There is a feeling of seclusion and serenity at Sunnylands, and the historic value of the remarkable estate is astounding.
In the 1900s, Palm Springs was best known as a health resort. Stars of silent films arrived and glamorous hotels and fine restaurants were built. To this day, stars continue to build magnificent homes in the desert away from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles.
A shopper’s paradise, Palm Springs boasts beautiful boutiques, fine home furnishings that specialize in mid-century modern furniture and accessories, and gift shops. Fantastic restaurants dot Palm Canyon Drive. Just Fabulous, a book store, carries many gift items from the Museum of Modern Art. Koffi, an organic coffee shop, offers sandwiches and pastries at the Courridor at Palm Canyon and Alejo streets.
Ideally situated in downtown Palm Springs on Palm Canyon Drive, the Hyatt Palm Springs is an all-suite hotel. Each suite offers beautifully furnished, spacious, comfortable rooms with balconies and views of the San Jacinto mountains.
The Hyatt is only a five-minute walk to the Palm Springs Art Museum and two blocks from the Spa Resort Casino.
The Palm Springs Art Museum features contemporary and western art, culture and natural history. On display now until March 29 are a series of photographs by artist Jennifer Karady that relate the experiences of U.S. veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Living Desert, a Wildlife Adventure through the Deserts of the World, is much more than a zoo – it is a nature preserve that stretches over 1,080 acres of the Sonoran Desert. There are a series of nature trails to accommodate a casual stroll or a serious hike. The domestic livestock of Africa provide a petting zoo featuring Ankole cattle, dwarf donkeys and Nubian goats. An unforgettable experience is a camel ride across the desert sands. Be sure to see the wonderful train display. Some exhibits and rides are offered seasonally – check in advance for arrangements.
From fall through spring there are seemingly endless activities to enjoy in Palm Springs. Relaxing poolside is also a good option while you enjoy the delightful weather.
If you go:
• Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism: -visitpalmsprings.com, 760-778-8415
• Sunnylands: sunnylands.org,
• Living Desert (zoo): livingdesert.org, 760-346-5694
• Hyatt Indian Wells: hyatt.com,
• Palm Springs Art Museum: psmuseum.org, 760-322-4828
• Temple Isaiah, templeisaiahps.com, 760-325-2281
• Modernism Week: modernismweek.com, 760-799-9477