Perhaps it is the inevitable Coachella burnout but I get the sense that Palm Springs is underrated in the sense of cultural resources, art, and architecture. The desert town is not just flamingo floats and alcoholic beverages, although there is plenty of that, but I am so excited to share the rest of the best of Palm Springs.
No trip is complete without a trip on the aerial tramway. My initial reaction to the upwards transportation happened while Jamie and I were driving to the tram station. It blew our minds when we passed the signage to turn off the air conditioning. It did not feel as though our rental was working especially hard (especially in comparison to our days prior spent in the West Hollywood hills) but Jamie corrected me in that he felt our midsize SUV breaking a sweat.
The aerial tram holds about sixty people per car. Don’t load into one side, y’all, because the car rotates. Also there are five towers, each of which transfer the cars that run on the tracks. If you are afraid of heights, it can be uncomfortable to transfer because the car rocks back and forth. Cut to me holding onto the rail in the middle of the car.
We enjoyed our visit to the Palm Springs Art Museum and the Art and Architecture Design Center. 10/10 recommend stopping at both. They are the ideal respite from the afternoon heat.
The built environment of Palm Springs is vastly underrated. Sure, people just looooooove midcentury modern architecture, but how many of those actually care enough to examine beyond the surface of what can be seen from the street?
I recommend taking at least one modern architecture tour. We ended up taking two: the Palm Springs Mod Squad Tour and the MidMod Design Tour. Both had their merits and as someone who has her Master’s degree in Historic Preservation, these tours were necessary. Kurt and Lyle were both authorities on the topic. Two approaches to one topic with little overlap made for exceptional learning experiences.
There is only one hotel to stay at when in Palm Springs and that would be the Monkey Tree Hotel. It was designed by the father of desert modernism and one of the pioneers in midcentury modern architecture, Albert Frey. The owners of the hotel Kathy and Gary, pivoted from careers in architecture and finance respectively, to hospitality.
Amenities of the Monkey Tree Hotel include house made breakfast (vegan, gluten-free, and paleo options are available), sangria happy hour, all day snacks and soft drinks, parking, green charging stations for electric cars, salt water pool, tethered lap pool, hot tub, sauna, and Scandinavian spa. Kathy also has a comprehensive guide to activities, architecture, and tested restaurants that was beyond helpful in planning our trip.
Right now is the ideal time to book a trip at the Monkey Tree Hotel. There are several specials running from June until September for both weekends and weeknights.