If you’re reading this, YAY! You made it to the other side of 2023, also known as 2024! Here’s a roundup of all the good things that happened in 2023:

Scientists discovered that hitting the snooze button on your alarm has positive benefits.

And that concludes our roundup of good things in 2023! 

There is, however, one thing that can soothe a beast of a year away, and that’s a visit to Palm Springs. That’s right, we’ve pretty much got the market cornered on sunshine, and we’re showcasing it 350 days out of 365. And not to brag or anything, but Palm Springs was named one of the top 10 most culturally vibrant cities in the U.S. in 2023. Take that other cities, we got all the culture right here. Don’t believe me? Line up, culture. Let’s go!

Culture roll call

Theatre? Yes ma’am! 

The Bent, Desert Ensemble Theatre, Dezart Performs, and Revolution Stage Company 

Music? Yes ma’am!

The Purple Room, PS Air, PS Underground, PS Cultural Center, Jazzville

Concerts? Yes ma’am!

Acrisure Arena, and the casinos

Museums? Yes ma’am!

Palm Springs Art Museum, PS Air Museum

Hiking? Yes ma’am!

Indian Canyons, Palm Springs Tramway

Art? Yes ma’am!

Desert Arts Center

Michelin Guide restaurants? Yes ma’am!

We even have two places with “Cultural Center” as part of their names, for crying out loud. 

Star power in Palm Springs

We’ve got other stuff, too — in fact we’ve got all the stuff and we’re not wasting any time rolling it out for you, because we’re starting off 2024 with an explosion of star power at the Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF). You can check out the entire schedule and more here. That’s Jan. 4-14, and there is a lot to do. Folks being honored? Well, there’s Colman Domingo, Cillian Murphy, Greta Gerwig, Billie Eilish, Emma Stone, and Carey Mulligan, just to name a few. You might see them out and about town too. 

I mentioned cultural centers a nano ago, and PSIFF actually got its start at the Palm Springs Cultural Center (formerly known as Camelot Theaters). Built in the mid-1960s, Camelot was the first cineplex in Palm Springs, and has morphed into a home for all sorts of cool stuff. It’s not only still home to PSIFF, but abounds with other film festivals throughout the year. And it’s home to two theater companies. Plus there’s live music at least five days a week; just last month, the PSCC was lousy with Broadway stars singing their little hearts out. Yes, you could have seen Megan Hilty had you booked a wee vacation to our little slice of paradise.

The other cultural center is brand new, and it’s pretty exciting. It’s the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum (okay, not center, but close enough), and it’s recently opened to rave reviews. Built on an ancient hot mineral spa that was the foundation of the tribe for years, there are indoor and outdoor permanent exhibitions as well as some that will be ever changing. It’s definitely worth your time. Plus, it’s right next to the Spa at Séc-he, an extravagant indulgence you won’t want to miss. Sometimes an experience is worth every single penny, and this is one of those. 

News and reminders

If you’re not into spas (what?), films, or movie people patting each other on the back, the long awaited Palm Springs Surf Club has opened! Catch a wave, or lunch, or just float down a lazy river — it’s a thrilling new addition to our little city that’s almost 10 years in the making.

We are also saying goodbye to Antigua restaurant, but are welcoming Alice B’s, Minerva’s, and Toucan’s — it’s now under the ownership of the same folks that brought us Chicken Ranch (yum!). A local newspaper tells me that Skylark Hotel is opening their own little eatery, but that’s all I can find. I’ll keep you updated on that as I know. 

Reminders: Modernism Week is in February, and if you haven’t booked anything yet, good luck to you. There may be a few things left to do, but some of the local theaters and venues are rising to the occasion with their own non-Modernism Week mid-mod activities. 

Don’t forget every weekend Crystal Fantasy has their psychic fair, so pop in and see what 2024 holds for you.

Just a reminder of how fun we are, there’s an entire new TV series set here. Palm Royale is an Apple production á la Slim Aarons with Kristin Wiig. She’s always a great anti-hero. The linked article talks about Palm Beach and Palm Springs, which confuses me, but I’m not worried — that’s fairly normal. 

Don’t forget that the first Sunday of every month is the Palm Springs Vintage Market, but if you miss that, we’ve got scads of places off Industrial for you to get your mid-mod fix on (Antique Galleries of Palm Springs, 505 Industrial Pl.; Sunny Dunes Antique Mall, 507 E. Sunny Dunes Rd.; Little Shop of Treasures, 616 E. Sunny Dunes Rd.; Aida’s Antiques, 401 Industrial Pl.).

And then there are the tours:

Desert Tasty Tours — Three hours of foodie fun with a little bit of history thrown in for good measure

Palm Springs Historical Society (and museum!) — Many options here

Red Jeep Tours

Cannabis Express Tours — Call 310-467-6677

Five Star Adventure Tours

The Best of the Best Tours

And just in case you weren’t aware, the folks here are so nice that you just might think we’re Canadian. But we’re not (well, some of us are) — we’re just happy you’re here so we can show off! We’re kinda proud of us, and want to share the love. Plus, it’s more fun when you’re here too. See you soon!

For the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, the opening of the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum in the heart of Palm Springs is a 30-year dream realized. 

The contents of the museum were revealed to the community during its grand opening on Nov. 4. During the dedication, Tribal Chairman Reid D. Milanovich said that every federally-recognized tribe in the United States “has a distinct culture that includes traditions, language, historical clothing, and housing styles, as well as historical food and medicine preparations. We want to share our culture with visitors through our authentic voice. This is our story, in our voice. We are here today just like we have been since time immemorial.”

A first look at the Agua Caliente Gathering Plaza 

The Oasis Path at the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum in Palm Springs, California, is illuminated at night

The Oasis Trail at night. Photo by Kathy Condon

When the fences came down around the finished complex, the 10,000-square-foot Agua Caliente Museum and the Agua Caliente Gathering Plaza were revealed. Outdoor spaces featuring desert native plants surround both, so you can sit and enjoy the serenity and beauty of the area at no cost. The Oasis Trail also winds through the plaza and is an interactive cultural experience in miniature of the nearby Indian Canyons and Tahquitz Canyon trails. The recreated rock formations add to the authenticity of the pathway.

JCJ Architecture out of Phoenix designed the project, and their guiding principles for the space were based on the tribe’s values and commitment to their story.

Entering the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum

A thatched hut replica inside the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum in Palm Springs, California

The museum’s exhibition space is filled with artifacts. Photo by Kathy Condon

The Agua Caliente Cultural Museum’s design is rooted in a tradition reminiscent of basket weaving, pottery, and elements of the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation. Inside the building, the designs incorporated into the floors, lights, and decor all have been meticulously selected to represent aspects of the Agua Caliente culture in five separate exhibition areas.

The journey through the building begins with a film. You are seated in a longhouse-style theatre with 360-degree viewing. The 12-minute film tells the story of the tribe’s creation.

When you exit the theatre, the building’s curved pathway leads to a permanent exhibition displaying the tribe’s history in Coachella Valley. Historical photographs line the wall, interspersed with timelines. Glass cases in the center of the room reveal the beauty of the collection of well-preserved baskets used by ancestors to gather berries and store and prepare food. The artistry involved will cause you to stop and observe the intricate details of the perfectly-shaped baskets.

The beaded clothing of both men and women is displayed with an explanation of the ceremonial occasions on which they were used. In a nearby area, cases show the artifacts discovered when digging began for the museum’s construction. The objects found revealed the Agua Caliente tribes were in Coachella Valley even earlier than was previously thought: 5,000 to approximately 8,000 years ago.

Photos offer a look at the past

A well-designed and perfectly lit gallery is a beautiful way to observe incredible photos of the tribe. Both current and historically valuable photos have captured ceremonies, individuals, and scenes that illustrate the tribe’s life.  Plan to spend some time here. The more you look at the photos, the more you notice. The museum is the perfect place to look deeper into the Agua Caliente culture, and there are knowledgeable people on hand ready to help you learn.

Stopping by the museum store 

A woman holds a piece of pottery inside the gift shop at the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum

One-of-a-kind treasures await in the museum gift shop. Photo by Kathy Condon

When you wander into the store, you will immediately observe that this is not an ordinary museum gift shop. There are no duplicate gadgets or kitschy items. A glass case holds handmade jewelry and one-of-a-kind rings, earrings, and bracelets are beautifully displayed.

The entire space has been carefully curated with art made by Indigenous people from throughout the United States. Weavings and paintings adorn the walls, while exquisite pottery is waiting to find a place in your home. You can visit the museum store without paying an admission fee.

Everything else you need to know about the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum

Admission to the museum is $10 for adults; $5 for seniors 65+, children 6+, and college students with ID; and free for kids under 6, military members and veterans, locals with government ID, and Native Americans with ID.

Educational opportunities are abundant, and signing up for the museum’s newsletter lets you keep tabs on lectures and classes offered during your stay. Presently, there are scheduled lectures about the artifacts found when digging the project; the design of the building; and basketry. 

If you have a car, there is plenty of free parking. The entire area is handicap accessible.

This incredible asset is within walking distance of many of our Palm Springs Preferred Small Hotels, and could be combined with a visit to the luxurious Spa at Séc-he. When you come to Palm Springs, plan to take a couple of hours to learn about the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, the first settlers of Palm Springs.