Palm Springs, an oasis in the California desert, had its heyday back in the fab fifties and swingin’ sixties, when celebs like Desi Arnaz, Frank Sinatra and Liberace frequented the town. These icons owned midcentury modern houses designed by famous architects and stayed in hip hotels filled with Space Race-era decor.
During the late 20th century, many of the dwellings in Palm Springs fell into disrepair, and those atomic artifacts made their way into storage units and antique stores. While other design styles took hold of the last few decades, the 2010s saw the midcentury modern aesthetic fall back into favor as a popular decor trend.
Diamond Resorts properties in the heart of Palm Springs, including Desert Isle of Palm Springs, Marquis Villas Resort and Palm Canyon Resort, make it easy to visit the area and explore the city’s midcentury antiquing scene for yourself.
A weekend in Palm Springs isn’t complete without visiting some of these time-capsule storefronts. Here’s how to spend a swingin’ day perusing Palm Springs and take home some lovely loot to boot.
Palm Springs Antiques: Where to Shop
Palm Springs, with its cool cat vibe, is a haven for hunters looking for midcentury housewares, art and furniture. Browsing Palm Springs’ antiques scene is like stepping back to a time when microwaves were high-tech appliances and men were walking on the moon.
For a full day of antiquing, you’ll want to fuel up first. Operating since 1960, Elmer’s Restaurant is a tried-and-true favorite serving classic diner breakfast foods. The Denver omelet is stuffed with cheddar cheese, ham, peppers and onion, pairing perfectly with a hot mug of coffee on a cool Palm Springs morning.
Start your search in the Sunny Dunes Antique District at Antique Galleries of Palm Springs, where you’ll find art, sculpture, furniture, decor, jewelry and home lighting at fair prices — assuming you’re not heading for that $1,000 genuine Eames leather lounger. The shop’s walls are lined with oodles of Viking glass vases, avocado-colored kitchen appliances, rotary phones and string art.
You’ll spend a fair amount of time here, especially if you’re searching for something special. The 12,000-square-foot warehouse is host to more than 40 independent vendors who scour Palm Springs and the surrounding area for a vast array of items. The gallery is open seven days a week, so you can fit in your finds anytime that suits you.
Stop off for lunch at nearby LULU California Bistro on Palm Canyon Drive. The place oozes retro-chic charm with divine pasta dishes, from spaghetti primavera to shrimp linguine, to provide the perfect energy boost you’ll need to continue your quest. Don’t miss the hand-spun cotton candy for dessert. You can always take it with you for a pick-me-up later.
Pop through a couple of Sunny Dunes’ smaller shops on a whirlwind tour of the best vintage stores on the strip. Stop by Little Shop of Treasures — a self-proclaimed “bric-a-brac bonanza” — which has been in business for 20 years and features three rooms full of finds from yesteryear.
If you appreciate the midcentury modern aesthetic of famous designers like Arne Jacobsen, Adrian Pearsall and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, you’ll want to head to Modernway on Palm Canyon Drive to ogle some of the most exclusive pieces on offer. These conversation starters are definitely for well-versed collectors, but it costs nothing to engage the owners for a quick chat about the history of a piece that catches your eye. This is where art, history and retail therapy meet.
Palm Springs is once again a hip place to stay and shop, attracting much more than just the Coachella set. Spend a few days searching for your next coffee table centerpiece, over-mantle artwork or a hallway statement chair. Shopping for Palm Springs antiques brings a piece of history into your home that’s oh-so-chic.
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Holly Kapherr has a contractual relationship with Diamond Resorts.