Everything old becomes new again, and so it is with Palm Springs, California. The one-time “Pompeii of the California desert,” as the New York Times called it, has been rediscovered by warm weather seekers as far east as Montauk. With its balmy temperatures and desert vibe, this Hollywood outpost, made popular with the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Cary Grant and Frank Sinatra, has been rediscovered by a younger crowd (including new resident Leonardo Di Caprio), and winter is the ideal time to experience it.
You’ll find amazing mid-century architecture, vintage furniture shops, cafes serving Stumptown coffee, yoga studios populated with starlets, and restaurants with James Beard Award-winning chefs. More, the recent migration of East Coast artists to the area has given rise to a serious local art scene. After touring the downtown galleries, you can take in the town’s natural beauty by cable car. Traversing the rugged Chino Canyon on the north edge of town, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway ascends 8,516 feet above sea level and offers top-of-the-world views, as well entry into the San Jacinto Mountains and its access to miles of high-country hiking trails. Of course, Palm Springs has always been known for its love affair with golf – 125 courses at last count. President Obama plays here regularly, often at billionaire Larry Ellison’s Porcupine Creek estate, in nearby Rancho Mirage.
WHERE TO EAT
Workshop Kitchen and Bar
James Beard awarded farm to table cuisine in a rustic-contemporary space. Notable menu items include a shaved Brussel sprout salad and diver scallops. Locals come here for the foie gras French toast after a day on the world-class golf links.
Iron Chef Jose Garces serves up inventive tapas at this Basque restaurant modeled on the small plates bars of northern Spain. Try the marinated white anchovies, pickled vegetables, and pine nuts washed down with a glass of dry sherry.
WHERE TO STAY
Parker Palm Springs
Indulge yourself at this upscale retro resort, set on a 13-acre property with chic Jonathon Adler designed rooms. Features a full-service spa offering Thai massages and cutting-edge skincare treatments. Big spenders should request the Gene Autry suite, former residence of the legendary singing cowboy.
Ace Hotel and Swim Club
Housed in a former Westward Ho, the ultra-hip Ace Hotel and Swim Club–part of the Ace Hotel empire–has rooms with fireplaces, funky retro decor, and minibars stocked with caramel corn. If you’re feeling silly, check out the vintage photo booth. And if you’re lonely, head to the Amigo Room Bar for a convivial round of bingo followed by late-night karaoke.
WHAT TO DO
Palm Springs International Film Festival
Now entering its 27th year, the Palm Springs International Film Festival is one of the largest and most well respected film festivals in North America. Its culturally diverse program of 200 stellar films from more than 60 countries represents the best in international cinema. January 1-11, 2016.
BNP Paribas Open
This internationally acclaimed tennis tournament located in Indian Wells features the top professionals in the world. Attracting over 300,000 fans every year, the main stadium holds up to 18,000 people with great center court views. There’s also the Tennis Garden that is beautifully landscaped and has fine dining options including the Japanese favorite, Nobu. March 7-20, 2016.