Join us in the California desert for a cacti-filled photo tour of Palm Springs's minimalist beauty, shot by PS local Caroline Sleeper, an artist, graphic designer, and photographer who returned back to the Southern California desert after sojourns in Washington and Arizona. Here, we're sharing some Palm Springs snapshots from her favorite spots + daily observations, as well as her local picks for how to make the most of a trip to the area.
How long have you been in Palm Springs — can you share more about what draws you to living + working there?
I grew up in the Palm Springs area. As someone who grew up here I have a tendency to refer to the area as "The Desert," as do most locals. I now split my time between here and LA.
I love all the different types of nostalgia the desert holds for me: there's the childhood memories and the deep feeling of comfort and home. There is also the endearing 70s old Hollywood nostalgia that is so inescapable here. From the Mid-century influence to the colors of the desert, the heat, and the pace...it's all so inspiring and plays into my work often.
There are a lot of iconic Palm Springs haunts and visual themes...what are some of your favorite spots to photograph in the area?
I love Joshua Tree. I've been there so many times and every time I feel like I'm on Mars. I also love all of the hidden retro neighborhoods that instantly transport you to another time. I actually studied interior design in college and I think that's where my love for the quaint little Palm Springs neighborhoods really took off. The architecture is just so interesting and creative.
What are some of your favorite local spots —
for eating and drinking?
- Workshop is just an absolute must. Order the Brussels sprouts and any of the cocktails (especially the Matador).
- Just down the street from there is Birba, the outdoor patio is fantastic.
- Appetito Deli is also delicious, my go-to order is the eggplant parmigiana sliders.
- For brunch I recommend Cheeky's...you need to go if not for any other reason then the fact that they have a bacon flight for $5.
- If the Cheeky's line is too long, check out Jake's, only a few doors down. I highly suggest the Eggs Benedict or Turkey BLT, paired with a seat on the patio, and a horseradish Bloody Mary.
...for art, culture?
- All of the hotels out here are pretty cool. The vacation vibes are real, even for the locals. I also love the Palm Springs Art Museum. There are so many different events going on all the time.
- Moorten Botanical Garden is magical cacti wonderland. I wish it was my backyard. The original owner, Clark, has been in Palm Springs for over 50 years and he and his wife built the place from the ground up.
...for soaking up the surroundings?
Honestly, I think the architecture in PS is art in and of itself so just drive around and take it all in. If you have the time to drive up to Joshua Tree there is a place called Pappy & Harriet's in Pioneertown that's a must. I'm not going to even try to explain! You will just have to see it for yourself.
...for experiencing architecture or any other notable landmarks?
- One of my favorite places to take any desert visitors is a house on Sierra Way — a house that's so good, it has its own hashtag: #ThatPinkDoor.-
- The windmills are also quite a site. My favorite place to pull over and view them is on the side of the road on N. Indian Canyon Dr.
- The Palm Springs Welcome Center, which used to be the Tramway Gas Station, is also really cool.
Say we're planning a road trip through the California desert — what are some of our must-visit spots...especially anything more under the radar or new-to-you places?
If you're driving in from LA...first stop by the Cabezon Dinosaurs on your way into town. As you drive through Uptown Palm Springs on the way to the Ace Hotel, stop at Ernest Coffee (and get the dirty chai). Walk into a few furniture stores. When you get to Ace, look around (it's beautiful!) then take a drive through the neighborhood behind the hotel. Grab dinner at Workshop Kitchen+Bar, go to Bar and play some corn hole.
The next day, get up early, stop by Moorten Botanical Gardens (buy a baby cactus). Drive to Joshua Tree and be sure to stay until sunset. Afterward, have dinner at Pappy and Harriet's.
The next day, have brunch at Jake's, stop by the Parker Palm Springs, then drive toward the East Valley. Spend the afternoon at Salvation Mountain, check out the deserted landmark that is the Salton Sea...and if you have time drive out to the Imperial Sand Dunes!