Between Valentine’s Day and the long Presidents Day weekend, February is the perfect month to scoot out to Palm Springs for some fun in the desert sun.
The Modernism Week festival, which this year runs Feb. 15-25, is the centerpiece of the month’s events. “Modernism Week is the largest gathering of midcentury modern architecture and design enthusiasts in the US,” says Lisa Vossler-Smith, its CEO.
Highlights of its 19th year include tours of The Shag House, which brings to life the midcentury-inspired drawings of artist Josh Agle, better known as Shag; Wexler ’54, a post-and-beam home that represents one of the first collaborations between master architects Donald Wexler and Richard Harrison; and the city’s famous Villa Sierra “That Pink Door” house located near where the movie Don’t Worry Darling filmed. (The four-bedroom, 5,300-square foot Villa Sierra can be booked for stays through Natural Retreats, with some dates available for around $1,770 a night.)
The celebration of all things midcentury isn’t the only game in town. The February calendar also includes the Intersect Palm Springs Art and Design Fair (Feb. 8-11) and the High Desert Art Fair (Feb. 24-25), while the Palm Springs Art Museum (PSAM) showcases the exhibition Contemporary African Art. “Go see the beautiful work by Amoako Boafo [who’s featured in the exhibit] before the show closes this month,” says L.A.-based art adviser Sophia Penske. “Additionally in March, Desert X is having a weekend [March 8-10] of programming happening in collaboration with the PSAM which will include artist talks, workshops, screenings and a visit to high desert BoxoProjects and HDTS [High Desert Test Sites]. I recently joined the Desert X Collective to support their incredible program and installations of emerging artists during Desert X.”
Where To Eat and Drink
Liv’s Coming soon to the Palm Springs Art Museum is Liv’s, the arts institution’s reinvented restaurant, now headed by Gabriel Woo of Bar Cecil (Del Rey at Villa Royale, with its Spanish-inflected menu, is also under his direction). Named after his youngest daughter, Olivia, it spills out into the museum’s sculpture garden. Enjoy the shareable cinnamon buns alongside breathtaking views of the mountains.
Alice B. The latest creation from L.A’.s longtime OG chef partnership of Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, Alice B. is set in an art gallery that features local female and LGBTQ+ artists. Inspired by the life of writer Alice B. Toklas, the restaurant offers a seasonal Cal-Med menu.
Canopy Wine Lounge Longtime local and former U.S. ambassador to Argentina Noah Mamet is behind Canopy Wine Lounge, located in a modern space designed by Christopher Kennedy. Its menu features charcuterie boards, caviar, empanadas and bread with iberico ham, manchego cheese and fig jam.
Mister Parker’s Bring a jacket and collared shirt (required by the new dress code) if you’re hoping to linger at the updated Mister Parker’s restaurant at the Parker Palm Springs hotel (rooms available from around $540 a night through Kayak). Its old-school, elegant service includes cocktails in cut crystal glasses and a classic menu worthy of the Rat Pack.
Where to Stay
Life House Palm Springs New on the hotel front is midcentury-style Life House Palm Springs that describes itself as “inspired by starlets who fled from the extravagance of Old Hollywood for a more minimalist lifestyle.” Its plant-forward bar and restaurant Minerva’s Pool House includes an outdoor patio and a lounge with reservable cabanas and sunbeds. Rooms from $189 a night at lifehousehotels.com or through Booking.com.
Tommy Bahama Miramonte Resort & Spa The first hotel from the brand, Tommy Bahama Miramonte Resort & Spa in Indiana Wells weaves three saltwater swimming pools, two restaurants and a bar into its 11 acres of citrus groves, olive trees and flower gardens. Rooms from $300 a night at tommybahamamirmonte.com or through Booking.com.
Where to Shop
The latest store openings and retail happenings include a Palm Desert branch at the Gardens on El Paseo of Arhaus, for luxurious handcrafted furniture, and The Gilded Owl, which has relocated from West Hollywood to the Perez Arts District in Cathedral City. (Diane Keaton’s already been in.) Also, pop into Patrick Dragonette’s Palm Desert antiques shop to check out a collection of pieces by iconic designer Billy Haines from an estate in Bel-Air, which will also be featured at his booth at the Palm Springs Modernism Show and Sale. Haines aficionados also can check out the show, Variations to a Theme, he curated at Sunnylands historic estate in Rancho Mirage.
What to Do
If you prefer flexing your muscles, Art Flying Aerial is now open for drop-in classes. … Buff up your skating skills at Acrisure Arena’s Berger Foundation Iceplex, which offers daily public skating sessions. … Get in your steps with a walk around the Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza whose 48,000 square foot museum celebrates the heritage of Palm Springs original inhabitants. … Put your feet up at The Spa at Séc-he, a 73,000-square-foot spa complex with treatments that include private mineral baths, halotherapy salt caves, float pod suites, and a cryotherapy chamber. … And check out the new Co-Ed Wellness Lounge & Spa Experience at the J.W. Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa‘s 38,000-square-foot Spa at Desert Springs. The new lounge features high-tech offerings like the Mid-Sync Lounger, with sound wave therapy and zero gravity positioning. (Full/half day passes available, $125/$45 per person.)
Soccer fans, including those whose interest was piqued by Beckham, Netflix’s four-part deep documentary on the star’s life, might enjoy the Coachella Valley Invitational, which welcomes 12 of the biggest clubs in US soccer for a preseason exhibition tournament at Empire Polo Feb 7-18.
And if a weekend whets the appetite for more of the area’s charms, make time to go house hunting. Now that Palm Springs has put a limit on Airbnb rentals in neighborhoods, some prices are falling according to the L.A. Times as investors who bought during the pandemic — hoping to cash in on the short-term lease market — have put their homes up for sale.
A version of this story first appeared in the Feb. 7 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.