“There’s a photograph of me from the early 1970s. I’m in the pool of California’s first Holiday Inn, now the Parker Palm Springs, gripping a yellow float with a proud smile on my face. I was happy because I had taught myself how to swim so that I could join my brothers who never left the pool, while my mother and father read poolside. Dinners were always at dimly lit Rat Pack-style restaurants where my mother drank Manhattans (my mother never drank Manhattans except in Palm Springs) and, much to my embarrassment, my wingtip-wearing father dined in his slippers.

Decades later, not much has changed in Palm Springs, except that the sun-soaked city feels livelier these days. On a recent visit, for instance, the shops running along Palm Canyon Drive were bustling with tourists, snowbirds and Southern Californians like myself. While Long Beach artist Dustin Gimbel installed his ceramic sculptures inside the Trina Turk shop, fortune tellers read palms at the crystals shop and a disc jockey spun tunes while kids had their faces painted at the Palm Springs Art Museum. (The enormous statue of Marilyn Monroe outside the museum was popular with selfie-taking tourists too, but my family found it depressing and sexist. For more on that, read my Times colleague Christopher Knight’s take).

There are more shops to explore in nearby Rancho Mirage, Cathedral City and Palm Desert, but for this particular shopping roundup, I focused on independent boutiques in downtown Palm Springs, where parking is free and easy, and nearly all of the stores are within walking distance of one another. From one-of-a-kind handcrafted ceramic lamps at the Shops at 1345 to hand-knit mohair sweaters at Market Market, it’s not hard to find something truly special inside one of these desert shops…”

[Read the full article at latimes.com]