Frommer'sFrommer's

    Day Itinerary

    5 Activities
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    Day 3

    33 mi

    The Palm Springs Lifestyle

    Learn how Palm Springs became the getaway of choice for America's elite, and meet the locals as you visit some of the most alluring enclaves.
    Photo credit: Tim Street-Porter
    1.9 mi10 min
    Palm Springs Historical Society
    09:203 hrs

    Palm Springs Historical Society

    Sights
    Open Details
    Every day at 9:30 a.m., the Palm Springs Historical Society offers a walking tour of some of the town’s most fascinating homes and landmarks. The topic varies each day of the week, but tours always focus on the area's distinctive architecture and the glory days of Hollywood stars such as Frank Sinatra, who called Palm Springs home. It’s wisest to book tours in advance via pshistoricalsociety.org. If you don’t wind up on a tour, visit the McCallum Adobe, the hand-built 1884 hut that was the home of the first European American family to settle here. Inside, you’ll learn about those pioneers as well as the Indigenous people who have inhabited the valley for many centuries. You'll also see the modest Cornelia White House, which is barely a shack and yet functioned as the first hotel in the area. Both heritage buildings are located amid Palm Springs’ primary shopping-and-dining drag, Palm Canyon Drive, so you’ll be able to dip into some boutiques.
    0.5 mi5 min
    Spencer’s Restaurant
    12:301 hr

    Spencer’s Restaurant

    American Restaurant
    Open Details
    Spencer’s delivers the epitome of country club–style Palm Springs living. Under mature trees in a conservatory setting by the courts of the Palm Springs Tennis Club, the restaurant serves classic American lunch fare such as sandwiches, salads, and grilled dishes. Formed in 1937, the club has hosted the city’s see-and-be-seen set ever since. Past members include Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra, and ventriloquist Edgar Bergen. Pearl McManus, whose parents once lived in the McCallum Adobe, developed the club as a rival to the Racquet Club, which was founded by actors Charles Farrell and Ralph Bellamy. That hangout burned down in 2014, and now Pearl, who died in 1966 though her club still flourishes, is considered one of the city’s founding mothers. The Palm Springs Tennis Club also rents hotel-style rooms in the mid-century building next door, along the base of the mountain.
    11.1 mi25 min
    Sunnylands
    14:002 hrs

    Sunnylands

    Garden
    Open Details
    In the 1960s, billionaire media baron Walter Annenberg and his wife, Leonore, constructed a mid-century-modern Shangri-la for power on 200 acres in the town of Rancho Mirage, east of Palm Springs. From the Annenbergs' meticulously designed home, set amid their own private golf course, the couple used their fortune to gain unprecedented political influence. The Annenbergs are gone, but the home, Sunnylands, still serves as an exclusive retreat for high-stakes global dealmaking. Presidents, prime ministers, Queen Elizabeth II, and other celebrities have all come here to meet and play away from prying eyes. When Richard Nixon resigned his presidency, this is where he came to lick his wounds. Everything has been preserved, down to the high-design furniture by former silent film star William Haines and the Christmas cards from the Queen Mum on the office wall. You can tour the house, the gardens, or both (advance booking is advised).
    13.7 mi25 min
    Morgan’s in the Desert
    16:452 hrs

    Morgan’s in the Desert

    Restaurant
    Open Details
    Dating to 1926, when the Coachella Valley was off the map for most people, La Quinta opened as a few private casitas that soon were favored for getaways by international names like Katharine Hepburn, Clark Gable, and the Eisenhowers. Frank Capra wrote “It Happened One Night” in one of the casitas, and when that movie became a blockbuster, he made sure to return to write most of his future work. Ginger Rogers married actor Jacques Bergerac by the garden waterfall, and Greta Garbo had her own house here. La Quinta is now a 45-acre, lushly maintained resort with more than 41 swimming pools and 23 tennis courts. Morgan’s in the Desert, located in one of the oldest surviving buildings, is the resort's splashy restaurant destination, focusing on contemporary American cooking made with locally sourced ingredients and accompanied by an impeccable wine list. A gourmet meal here isn’t just a fine excuse to explore these history-rich grounds. It’s also a fitting cap to a day that has been devoted to sampling the high life that the Palm Springs region has become famous for.
    6.2 mi15 min
    19:3011 hrs

    Sands Hotel & Spa

    Lodging
    Open Details
    If your budget allows, by all means, book a private casita at the famous La Quinta Resort—many units come with private plunge pools. A more economical option is this magnetic boutique resort with a modern Moroccan bent. You’ll be welcomed with chilled mint tea, and the poolside restaurant is a gracious spot to take your breakfast in the morning desert light. The spa is head and shoulders above many others in the area. The hotel doesn't accept kids (hence the groovy adult vibe popular with lovebirds), but dogs are welcome. If you have kids with you, look at the nearby Renaissance Esmeralda Resort & Spa, which has more amenities to amuse youngsters.
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