10 Best Reasons to Visit Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley (Besides Coachella)
|Courtesy Revival Stores|
|The Alveo chaise lounge and footrest at Revivals Gallery in Palm Springs|
In the age of eBay, it's easy to forget how thrilling it can be to find something you weren't exactly expecting to buy. Fortunately, the desert's huge population of wealthy retirees has guaranteed a steady supply of vintage furniture, knickknacks, designer clothing and collectibles, all located in good, old-fashioned brick-and-mortar. But navigating the desert's bevy of estate sales, consignment shops, antique spots and thrift marts can get a little overwhelming. Some of our favorites include Gypsyland in Desert Hot Springs, a family-owned Hoarders episode come to life. Benefiting the Desert AIDS Project, Revival Stores have several shops in the desert, with a gallery adjacent to the Palm Springs store. Angel View Thrift Mart has locations in Cathedral City, Desert Hot Springs, Rancho Mirage and more, all raising funds for the Crippled Children's Foundation. Then there's the Estate Sale Company, "Palm Springs' Original Consignment Store," and Collectors' Corner in Rancho Mirage, benefiting the Eisenhower Medical Center Auxiliary. Wherever you wind up going, be sure to have a plan of attack before stocking up on second-hand (and third-hand, and fourth-hand) goods. Otherwise, you might be stuck with a giant, gaudy ashtray, even though you don't smoke.
4. Many, many film fests
Wikipedia George Clooney is the recipient of this year's Chairman's Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival
Since it first launched in 1989, the annual Palm Springs International Film Festival in January has come to be known for presenting the foreign-language Oscar nominees. In 2011, it screened 193 films from 68 countries, including 59 premieres. This year, it honored George Clooney. PSIFF is hosted by the Palm Springs International Film Society, who also puts on the Palm Springs International Festival of Short Films (aka ShortFest) in June. There's also the Arthur Lyons Film Noir Festival, Cinema Diverse and the Festival of Native Film & Culture. With the desert's fervent focus on film, who needs Hollywood?
3. Mad Men-tality
Brendan A. Murray A modernist home in Palm Springs
With 11 days' worth of midcentury marvels, Palm Springs Modernism Week is on its way to becoming Modernism Month. The extended celebration of architecture, design and fashion appeals to both experts and fans of modernism -- a design aesthetic defined by an elegant simplicity that's tastefully complemented by exotic cocktails, poolside parties and a free-spirited ideology, all giving the movement its singularly Californian twist. From Feb. 16-26, Modernism Week rolled out nonstop lectures, symposiums, double-decker bus tours and film screenings. But you don't have to go during Modernism Week to appreciate 20th-century Palm Springs history. Architectural historian Robert Imber of PS Modern Tours gives guided tours year-round, while the burgeoning Uptown Design District features a range of hip and eclectic boutiques, offering everything from funky home furnishings to vintage couture -- all from the Mad Men era and beyond.
2. Awesome art
Brendan A. Murray Palm Springs Art Museum
It may look like a mini mall, but the Backstreet Art District in Palm Springs is actually a pretty sweet little enclave of local galleries exhibiting desert-inspired art. The first Wednesday of every month, the collective is open late for a salon-style stroll full of snacks and wine. It's not the Downtown Art Walk, but it's still worth seeing.
Meanwhile, over in Rancho Mirage, the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands is the former winter home of Walter Annenberg and his wife, Leonore. Now promoted as the "Camp David of the West Coast," Sunnylands is a historic house museum with items from the Annenbergs' massive art collection, including pieces by Giacometti and Rodin. Walter bequeathed much of his collection to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, so after he died, his widow commissioned grade-A reproductions to keep the walls from being too bare. (Sunnylands is also the couple's final resting place.)
Then there's the upcoming debut of the Palm Springs Fine Art Fair, which specializes in postwar and contemporary art. The inaugural edition features The Big Picture, Paintings From Southern California,1960-1980, an exhibition curated by Peter Frank, as well as Material Girl, an exhibition of works by Judy Chicago, who's also receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award from the fair.
Finally, Pacific Standard Time isn't just about Los Angeles -- it covers midcentury art in all of Southern California, and that includes the Coachella Valley. Beginning Jan. 21, the Palm Springs Art Museum is exhibiting Backyard Oasis: The Swimming Pool in Southern California Photography, 1945-1982, featuring 140 works of archival photography by David Hockney, Herb Ritts, Ed Ruscha, Julius Shulman and more. But the museum is worth visiting outside of the Pacific Standard Time zone, if for no other reason than its small but pricy collection of modern art, which includes a $10 million spider by Louise Bourgeois and a 1964 "Brillo Box Dress" by Andy Warhol.
Courtesy Spa Resort Casino The Spa Resort Casino, where hungry one-armed bandits wait to eat your cash
There's no need to go all the way to Las Vegas to lose money, because thanks to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, gambling is legal right here. The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians owns and operates two casinos in the Coachella Valley: Spa Resort Casino in Palm Springs and Agua Caliente Resort & Casino in Rancho Mirage. Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Palm Springs is owned by the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, the first Native American tribe in the country to have gaming on its reservation, and the Morongo Band of Mission Indians owns Morongo Casino Resort & Spa in Cabazon, one of the largest casinos in California. For a complete guide to California casinos, check out Wiki's handy list of local gaming destinations, but remember, you're better off spending your money at the outlet malls. Just saying.