Winter is here, and with the cooler temps, many people will be making a beeline these months to Palm Springs, CA — one of the warmer, and photogenic sun spots in the USA.
I recently visited the Los Angeles area desert oasis for my Photowalks YouTube travel photography series, where I outline some of the best local photo opps, and thought I’d share some of my finds with the Photofocus audience. Please do me a favor and click the video above to watch the episode, and read on for my tips.
In a few words, Palm Springs is all about dreamy swimming pools, huge palm trees, colorful retro doors, desert scenery and such. Let’s run them down.
The biggest, baddest pools are at the Saguaro, Ace Hotel and Margaritaville, but my favorite are the smaller, 1950s specials that wrap around a host of hotel rooms at midcentury hotels like the Desert Hills and Orbit Inn.
This is an iconic shot, of the windmills in the sand, producing energy for the city and beyond. It’s also a really popular place for local wedding and engagement photographers to pose their couples in the sand, or just catch some sunset colors against the windmills.
In the past I would pull over to the side of a busy road to get my windmill shot, until I discovered the Amtrak waiting station on the outskirts of town. Woila, there’s even a parking lot!
See the map below for direction from downtown Palm Springs, where the destination is Palm Springs Station Road and Indian Canyon Drive, by the 10 freeway.
You can’t beat the sixth floor of the Rowan Kimpton Hotel (100 W Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs, CA) right in the center of town for a sweeping, overhead shot of the city, without having to fly a drone. Just visit the pool bar and prepare to focus your lens on the city side of the lounge. The windows looking to the mountains are very reflective and hard to shoot through. The other side is open air, and easier to handle. I parked my camera on the ledge, and shot an awesome time-lapse video from up there.
These are pretty much everywhere, but some especially tall beauties are at Indian Canyons, a nature preserve on the outskirts of town. Here’s where you’ll find great hikes, a waterfall in the winter, desolate desert scenery and those massive trees.
The controversial “Forever Marilyn” statue now adorns the front of the Palm Springs Art Museum, where patrons first sight when they leave the building is a huge peek at Marilyn Monroe’s upskirt and panties. It’s rass and tacky, but can’t be that bothersome for folks, as there’s been a crowd snapping selfies there every time I visited.
That Pink Door and more
The Indian Canyons residential neighborhood has many of the best midcentury homes, with bright colorful doors. Do a search for “that pink door” in Google, and you’ll see a house (668 N. Farrell) that spawned a popular Instagram hashtag with over 3,000 hits, to the point where the owners now ask people not to take photos of it anymore.
You can still get shots from the street, however, and explore the neighborhood, where you’ll find great old ranch homes with doors of blue, yellow, orange and such.
Finally, no visit to the city is complete with a selfie stop to the “Palm Springs,” sign, on the outskirts of town, by the entrance to the Aerial Tramway. If you can’t make it all the way there, the Hyatt, right in the center of downtown, has a mural with the same image you can pose in front of.
Have fun in Palm Springs! Any questions, please reach out on Twitter or Instagram, where I’m @jeffersongraham.