Palm Springs Eternal

Palm Spings has always known its past; its present and future have proven trickier. The place was once a weekend getaway for Hollywood stars and studio execs. (Name-dropping is a local pastime: Bing Crosby golfed here, Frank Sinatra drank there…) A number of newly refurbished boutique hotels celebrate that era, all of them smart redesigns of historic properties. Still. Frank may have lived here, but Sonny Bono was mayor. For every hip-again hotel, there’s a tacky souvenir shop—one sells hypercolour merchandise exclusively—and a vacant patch of sand. Last year’s real-estate meltdown dashed the city’s revitalization hopes, slowing or killing developments that would have given the downtown core a boost. It’s just as well. That odd mishmash of cool and tacky, old and new, is precisely the appeal of the city of 43,000 (75,000 in winter). There’s also the weather. Two hours after takeoff from YVR you’re immersed in dependable sunshine under endless blue sky. Question to ponder while sipping: how do weather forecasters make a living here?


The Essentials


The Drink

The Book

The Souvenir

The Arnold Palmer One part lemonade, one part American (unsweetened) iced tea. (The alcoholic version calls for an ounce of vodka.) Recommended after 18 holes.

Julius Shulman: Palm Springs by Michael Stern and Alan Hess (Rizzoli, 2008). Celebrated photographer Julius Shulman (he’s got a star on the local walk of fame alongside stuntmen and plastic surgeons) captures the city’s finest desert-modernism architecture. Just Fabulous, 515 N. Palm Canyon Dr., 760-864-1300;


Retro Holiday Foldouts Vintage photos on one side, a history of Palm Springs on the other. $4. Palm Springs Visitors’ Center. 2901 N. Palm Canyon Dr., 760-778-8418;