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 other Hollywood stars. Once the Rat Pack packed it in, though, Palm Springs surrendered to golfing retirees. However, in the mid-1990s, new generations discovered the city’s retro-chic vibe and elegant mid-Century Modern structures built by famous architects. Today, retirees and snowbirds mix comfortably with hipsters, hikers and a sizeable LGBT community, on getaways from LA or from across the globe.
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 Coachella, home of the star-studded music festival, all linked by Hwy 111. North of Palm Springs, scruffy Desert Hot Springs draws visitors with chic boutique hotels built on top of soothing springs.