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Palm Springs: get your 60s on!

Palm Springs is a mecca for midcentury modern architecture, as I found out on my third visit there! Who knew?

I thought the reason you visited Palm Springs was to see Joshua Tree National Park with its spiky Dr Seuss trees and spend time warming up in the desert surrounded by 100 golf courses or attending the Coachella music festival. But no.

It was like driving through Darrin and Samantha’s neighbourhood… I half expected Tabitha to be playing on the lawn and Endora to suddenly appear making me startle as I walked up the path to the bright pink front door reaching all the way up to the low-line white roof.

midcentury modern house

A classic example of midcentury modern architecture in Palm Springs

Only those of a certain era will get that Bewitched reference, but the inner city streets of Palm Springs are a celebration of midcentury architecture and twice a year this city in the desert holds a festival of 1960s design that draws thousands from all over the region and even the world.

If you are “of a certain era” you will totally recognise the furniture design, the colour and fabrics, the flat rooflines – but what will impress you is the modern twist on these retro homes.

Palm Springs midcentury modern building

The Chase Bank of Palm Springs with its unique upswing pillars

During the signature Modernism Week each February you can get your voyeur fix on the double-decker bus tours designed especially for peering over the fences, but the highlight is getting tickets to step inside several of the best examples of these houses to drink in the 60s era like the homemade kahlua that my parents used to make.

I really didn’t think I was that into architecture until I had the chance to join a media group for the Fall Preview weekend (held each October and which runs to 4 days).

This is actually an event worth coming here for in itself. We got to ride the aforementioned double-decker and perv over the bougainvillea covered walls into gardens and see how the styly ones live. We also went into a fabulous example of not only midcentury modern architecture but also interior design with a contemporary spin.

If you’re going to go for this look, you have to go all in! And that’s what the people who love this stuff have done, and that’s what you get to see – and take ideas home you – at these two annual events.

The pics below are ones I took from the home of midcentury designers Jackie Thomas and DeeAnn McCoy whose company Thomboy is the inspiration behind many new refits.

Step inside the Thomboy home

This Thomboy designed house is one of the best examples of midcentury modern architecture in Palm Springs

Back garden Thomboy home

Views from the fully enclosed and private back garden

Midcentury designed kitchen

I love the use of crazy mismatched tiles in the kitchen here!

Orange and pink guest lounge

Popping colours in the guest lounge

Palm Springs midcentury modern bedroom

Midcentury, colour popping guest room

Palm Springs tiled floor

You can do wonders with tiles!

For more info about the February Modernism Week and the October Fall Preview, where tickets for the Feb event go on sale, jump onto

You can buy tickets to look around the original Rat Pack homes, Frank Sinatra’s neighbourhood, old Hollywood homes, the see the work of the best “star-chitects” around plus attend evening soirees and parties.


If you’re looking for more ideas of things to do in Palm Springs, you might like my post on 9 Things to Do in Palm Springs >>

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My visit to Palm Springs was arranged by the fabulous team of Visit Greater Palm Springs. Click here for more info on everything you need to know to plan your visit >>

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Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!