Discover a thriving arts and culture scene in a modern oasis that overflows with visual inspiration and rewarding experiences. An array of preeminent special events highlight the Greater Palm Springs cultural calendar. They include the Palm Springs International Film Festival (January), Southwest Arts Festival (January), Modernism Week (February and October), La Quinta Arts Festival (March), Indian Wells Arts Festival (April), Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival (April), Stagecoach Country Music Festival (April) and ShortFest (June). Moreover, live theatre and music options abound, from touring Broadway musicals and award-winning plays to eclectic regional performing arts and top-notch jazz series.
No matter what time of year, there’s always plenty to delight culture cravings in Greater Palm Springs. Here’s a 48-hour arts and culture tour that will take you throughout the Coachella Valley. Treat yourself to an extra day, or trade out a day, to head up to the Joshua Tree Gateway Communities, and check out its arts community and rocking music scene. Pick and choose from below for a leisurely paced visit, or buckle up for a two-day adventure that’ll spark your imagination and fill your artistic soul.
Day One – Get inspired!
Take a step back in time at the Hopi-inspired Cabot’s Pueblo Museum in Desert Hot Springs. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Pueblo is filled with fascinating Americana and Native American artifacts. From Desert Hot Springs, it’s a quick drive to the Sunnylands Center and Gardens in Rancho Mirage. Absorb the stunning view that hits you upon entering the midcentury modern designed Center. Inside are sculptures, exhibits, videos and other multi-media offerings that trace the cultural and historic significance of the Walter and Lenore Annenberg Estate. Meander along the paths of the exquisitely landscaped, desert-friendly garden that’s set against the spectacular backdrop of the San Jacinto Mountains. For a tour of the Annenberg Estate, be sure to make reservations in advance.
In Cathedral City’s Town Square, check out the Fountain of Life with its hand cut mosaic tiles and glass, as well as the life size sculptures of Hollywood cowboy George Montgomery and actor/jazz musician Charles “Buddy” Rogers.
Spend the afternoon and evening in Palm Springs enjoying the kaleidoscope of cultural and artistic options. Experience the Palm Springs Art Museum, Museum of Architecture & Design, Agua Caliente Cultural Museum, and tours showcasing the city’s vast collection of midcentury modern architecture. Be sure to stop by the artist-owned galleries in the Backstreet Art District, which hosts an evening open house the first Wednesday of every month.
Find your inner hipster at the Hard Rock Hotel, home to a variety of rock and roll memorabilia. Relax in the swanky lounge. If it’s Thursday night, venture out to the Palm Springs VillageFest in the heart of downtown Palm Springs, a colorful outdoor fair sure to entice you with its art vendors and food.
Day Two – Get outside!
Get to know the east valley cities of Coachella and Indio through their murals. In Coachella, Casa de Trabajador is a good place to start. The modest building has housed migrant farmer assistance since the 1960s. It has two murals, with the one on its north facing wall by the Date Farmers, a local artist collective that has gained attention in the national arts community. A public arts project featuring ten new murals is now underway. Indio is home to the Coachella Valley History Museum, a campus with a 1909 schoolhouse and the world’s only Date Museum. Before leaving Indio, refresh with a tasty date shake from the Oasis Date Garden or Shields Date Garden.
From Indio, head to the La Quinta Museum. On the way, see the more than 100 pieces of public art placed throughout the city. In Indian Wells, home of the acclaimed Desert Town Hall speaker series, several pieces of mostly original, museum-quality art grace the interiors of the Indian Wells Golf Resort’s clubhouse.
Satisfy your artistic curiosity outdoors at Palm Desert’s Civic Center Park, where the city’s Art in Public Places program has installed more than 20 pieces around the park. The city’s collection features more than 150 pieces of public art. Stop by the Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert to take in outstanding exhibitions and the tranquil sculpture garden. On weekends, head over to the College of the Desert Street Fair, a festive outdoor bazaar that features more than 300 vendors and a variety of arts and crafts for every taste and budget.
Wind down with a leisurely stroll along fashionable El Paseo, a shopping district where more than 20 world-class galleries host the popular El Paseo Art Walk on first Fridays from November to May.