Here’s what I can tell you about Palm Springs Modernism Week. It’s called WEEK because you can’t do it in 1.5 days, which is what we tried to do. So, here are my top tips for squeezing in as much awesome design and architecture as you can if you’ve only got two or three days in Palm Springs (hopefully you will have more time than that because there is SO much good stuff to see!):
If you love mid-century, modern and desert-style homes, then Palm Springs is a must-see. There are two great options for seeing all the best homes.
Option 1: Go on an architectural bus tour
From the top of a double-decker bus, you’ll cruise around town and see all the iconic architecture of Palm Springs including the Kaufmann House, Frank Sinatra house and Saint Theresa Catholic Church and the iconic Tramway (former) gas station.
Pros: You can easily see the homes from the top of the bus, you get to see the best of the best, someone gives you the highlights and history of each building.
Cons: It’s $75 and you’re bound to their schedule.
Option 2: Do a self-guided tour
This is what we did. You can download the Palm Springs Modern: Mid-Century Architecture Tours app for iPhone or Android for just $5. It offers guided tours of 80+ mid-century landmarks in Palm Springs, which you can tour by location, architect, or create your own custom tour. We created our own tour and followed it along as it gave us directions from one site to the next. Each stop on the tour shared photos, information about the architect, and a little bit of history about the property including audio. It’s highly recommended.
Pros: Go at your own pace, it’s only $5.
Cons: It’s much harder to see some of the homes from street level as many are behind large hedges and walls (as you will see from my pics!)
There are also a lot of free options like this architectural tour, or check out Modernism Week’s scheduled events for free bike and walking tours. You can easily spend 2-3 days just wandering around looking at amazing homes.
The Palm Springs Modernism Show and Sale at the Palm Springs Convention Center is definitely not one to miss. With over 80 decorative arts and vintage decor/furniture dealers showing the best stuff they’ve got, it’s nearly impossible not to buy something (trust me – it was so hard, especially when I got to the jewelry and ceramics!). However, some of the pieces are so rare and expensive that it’s just nice to be able to look at them, let alone touch or sit in them… a great afternoon spent for the avid window shopper.
While at the Convention Center, we hit up the Palm Springs Fine Art Fair, which featured post-war and contemporary art from photography to sculpture and painting. With over 50 exhibiting galleries, there’s definitely something for everyone here. It was great to see some of my current favorite contemporary artists like Francesco Lo Castro and Bryce Hudson as well as discover new ones, such as Marc Sijan and Carole Feuerman.
I wish we had time to check out the Palm Springs Art Museum. I hear really good things about it and I recommend you take some time to visit.
The Modern Living Expo and Pre-Fab Showcase was a small outdoor venue full of local modern vendors from interior design to home tech to modern furnishings. It’s worth a peek, especially to tour a few pre-fab homes. Plus, this is where all the food trucks hang out, so if you’re hungry, this is a good place to have lunch. I wished this was bigger but I have a feeling it’s going to grow bigger every year.
This is what we were able to squeeze into 1.5 days but I can assure you that I wish I had more time. I could easily have spent twice as much time at each event and an entire day just touring neighborhoods and house-stalking.
Modernism Week offers a variety of ticketed events we were unable to get to, including a handful of house and neighborhood tours including their Showhouse. I think that next year, I’d like to spend two days house-stalking! Sounds like a lot of fun.