Kitschy Travel: Take a Vintage Palm Springs Retreat

When you think of kitsch, you might visualize pleasingly distasteful roadside attractions or tacky-yet-charming souvenirs. But Palm Springs, California, is different—it's cool kitschy; vintage; retro-chic.  Whether you head there for a girls' getaway or a romantic weekend with the beau, Palm Springs is the coolest little town west of the Rio Grande. With Hollywood glamor and 1950s nostalgia, this desert retreat offers a getaway that welcomes Rita Hayworth glamsuits  paired with aviator sunglasses.

Desert Modernism Architecture

Typical of mid-century modern architecture, Palm Springs features clean lines, natural (and manufactured) resources, large glass windows and indoor and outdoor spaces that open to panoramic desert landscapes peppered with palm trees, man-made lakes and boutique hotels. By embracing the desert environment, architects and developers of the era captured an elegant yet informal lifestyle that enabled people to live the Hollywood starlet lifestyle right along with the entertainers themselves.

Ace Hotel & Swim Club

Within walking distance of downtown, the Ace Hotel & Swim Club is on the grounds of a renovated mid-century modern hotel. Stay here on your getaway to immerse yourself in a world that defines bohemian cool. Rooms offer various retro amenities like cheesy popcorn in the minibar, record players and accompanying vinyl (spin some Sinatra, anyone?). Hip music by classic and emerging artists fill the open spaces of the lobby and pool area. Expect to hear an eclectic mix of blues, indie rock, African funk and classic country (Hank Williams Jr., Johnny Cash). At Ace, bring your pup, meet up with friends and lounge in a hammock by the pool.

Alternate accommodations: Try Ruby Montana's Coral Sands Inn for an authentic 1950s' experience. The six-unit motel houses Ruby's western furniture, folk art and, you guessed it, kitschy collectibles. Some rooms have kitchenettes for in-hotel meals, snacks and blenders for the mandatory pool-side cocktail. This little gem is among the L.A. art scene's well-kept secrets. 

Palm Springs Aerial Tramway

Once you get into town, you'll notice large rotating tramcars ascending the treetops (in fact, they are the world's largest). Take the 10-minute journey up the cliffs of Chino Canyon to see spectacular views of the desert wilderness.

Palm Canyon Drive

In the heart of the city, stroll along the gently shaded streets that house shops, galleries, restaurants and attractions. Don't miss:

  • Forever Marilyn: Inspired by the famous Bernard of Hollywood photo from the film "The Seven Year Itch" (you know the one: white dress and a gust of wind), this larger than life statue stands on the corner of Main and Main.
  • Shag Gallery​: Vintage art at its best. Visit the store to buy art, handbags, books, home decor, tiki lamps and other little doodads. 
  • Bon Vivant: This shop in the Palm Canyon Galleria offers decorative and collectible home accessories and furnishings, retro style. 


With farm to table cuisine, Cheeky's is a popular breakfast destination. Unique offerings like a bacon flight and custard eggs keeps this hidden little gem hoppin'. However, it's not so hidden anymore as you can expect a wait to get in... well worth it. 

Circa 59

The Riviera Palm Spring's signature restaurant is the ultrachic Circa 59, a sultry, intimate place that offers a traditional menu with a contemporary twist. Chefs mix up the menu with locally grown produce, eco-friendly seafood and boutique farm meats. Circa 59 is the winner of several Wine Spectator awards along with Open Table's Best Diner's Choice Winner for Outdoor Dining 2011.  Yes, it's hot in the summer, but that just means you get to wear one of the swanky dresses you've been saving for a special occasion.



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