The Rat Pack is back, baby, or at least its hangout is. In the 1950s and ‘60s, Palm Springs, some 100 miles east of LA, was the swinging getaway of Sinatra, Elvis and dozens of other stars, partying the night away in fancy estate homes. Once the Rat Pack packed it in, though, the 300-sq-mile Coachella Valley surrendered to retirees in golf clothing. That is, until the mid-1990s, when a new generation fell in love with the city’s retro-chic charms: steel-and-glass bungalows designed by famous modernist architects, boutique hotels with vintage decor and kidney-shaped pools, and hushed piano bars serving the perfect martini. In today’s Palm Springs, retirees mix comfortably with hipsters and a significant gay and lesbian contingent.
Palm Springs is the principal city of the Coachella Valley, a string of desert towns ranging from ho-hum Cathedral City to glamtastic Palm Desert and America’s date capital of Indio, all linked by Hwy 111. North of Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs is garnering its share of visitors thanks to a slew of new chic boutique hotels built on top of those soothing springs.
The valley is a delightful playground for body and mind. Relax by the pool, hike in a palm-oasis canyon and snowshoe in the mountains all in the same day. Hunt down Mid-Century Modern architecture or tour a windmill farm. See where Elvis lived or straddle an earthquake fault line. Play golf, tennis or shop. Boredom, here, is an alien concept.