California Desert

Palm Canyon Drive, Modernism Week Tour, Elvis House

California Desert Vacation

By Connie Young


Palm Springs still draws crowds to Palm Canyon Drive, the heart of the city where day and night life includes theatre, world class dining, seasonal festivals, quaint shops and close-by museums. A life-size bronze of former Mayor and Congressman Sony Bono sits at the edge of a fountain in one of the many plazas and the Palm Springs Walk of Stars pays tribute to the many Hollywood stars who lived and played in Palm Springs. There are also stars for presidents Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford. Both frequented the area.

Every Thursday evening except holidays, Palm Canyon Drive closes to traffic for its weekly VillageFest. Vendors display quality arts and crafts, tasty treats and you can buy fresh products from the certified farmers market. Live entertainment adds to the festive atmosphere.


Endless choices in both indoor and street front patio dining abound. Restaurants encourage patrons to enjoy their meal just a few feet from the busy sidewalks by providing misters that cool the dry warm air to a comfortable temperature. We were in search of lunch when we arrived and the first order of business was to find a parking place near the eateries on Palm Canyon Drive. Parking is at a premium even on weekdays. Most of it is free, however, and we were able to secure a spot just one block off of Palm Canyon Drive. We made our way to the Las Casuelas Terraza Mexican Restaurant, at 222 S. Palm Canyon. Inside the walls were covered in huge brightly painted desert and Mexican heritage themed murals. A large shaded outdoor dining area ran the length of the building. The mark of a popular restaurant can be found in the number of people dining midweek at noon. It appeared the clientele included many local business people on their lunch hour among the tourists like ourselves. Service was friendly and the food was very good.


Rested and refreshed, the next order of business was to check out the shops lining the boulevard. Our conclusion was they run the gamut from mom and pop trinket and souvenir huts to pricey designer boutiques. There were very few shops that teenagers would find interesting. Overall, I would say Palm Canyon Boulevard catered to a more mature crowd.


Case in point is the Palm Springs Follies at the Plaza Theatre. This spectacular brings vaudeville back to life in a Broadway-caliber celebration of the music, dance and comedy of the 30's and 40's. From ticket sellers and ushers to the entire cast of the production, they're all old enough to have enjoyed the tunes fresh from the songwriters' pens. The production is a hit with seniors and busloads arrive weekly from retirement villages statewide.

There is a lot of serious nightlife too, from gaming in nearby casinos to entertainment in the hotels and restaurants. Something for every pocketbook, mood and energy level.


We awoke to a bright sunny morning with a temperature that hovered in the low 70's. Our hotel served a continental breakfast by the pool and it looked as if some guests were going to make a morning of it as they sipped coffee and talked, dipped their toes in the water or just relaxed with a book. We had bigger plans.


Our first stop was the Palm Springs Art Museum & Annenberg Theater, just 2 blocks west of Palm Canyon Drive on Tahquitz Canyon Way. Open every day except Mondays and major holidays, the museum and sculpture gardens house an impressive permanent collection of paintings, sculptures and works on paper by well-known artists from the early modernists to the contemporary. In addition, visiting exhibits offer an impressive perspective on all mediums and historical periods. The museum charges different entrance fees based on age, but is free to everyone every Thursday from 4-8 p.m.

Part II  - Joshua Tree National Park

Subscribe to our newsletter!

More Info

Near Palm Springs