Famous Houses in Palm Springs Self Guided Tour (Self Guided), Palm Springs

Since the early 1930s, Palm Springs has been a favorite desert oasis for the Hollywood elite. With its excellent winter and springtime weather, fabulous shopping, and beautiful overall ambiance, it offered a convenient escape from clamoring photographers and newspaper gossips. Behind the private walls of homes, bungalows, or hotels – and even in the city's restaurants and nightclubs – stars could be more relaxed and uninhibited.

With time, prominent architects received important commissions to design sleek, modern, and rather extravagant homes where celebrities could live their real lives. Included in this self-guided tour are just a few iconic Palm Springs homes to inspire you. Buckle up!
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Famous Houses in Palm Springs Self Guided Tour Map

Guide Name: Famous Houses in Palm Springs Self Guided Tour
Guide Location: USA » Palm Springs (See other walking tours in Palm Springs)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.3 Km or 3.9 Miles
Author: Dee
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Kaufmann Desert House
  • Kennedy/Lawford Home
  • Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway
  • Marilyn Monroe House
  • Dean Martin's Home
  • Ann Miller's House
  • Liberace House
  • Las Palomas – Cary Grant Estate
  • Twin Palms Estate – Sinatra House
1
Kaufmann Desert House

1) Kaufmann Desert House

Owning the world's most famous house in the world – the Fallingwater – was not enough for department store magnate Edgar J. Kaufmann: he needed a winter residence and he needed it in Palm Springs. In 1946 he chose Richard Neutra – revered in his time as a pillar of American Modernism – to build a luxurious Desert House that would also function as an "efficient machine". The result was, arguably, Neutra's most famous design. Soon after its completion in 1949 for what was the then-astronomical sum of $300,000, its sleek forms and mechanical imagery became an emblem of high Modernist style in the US.

The 5-bedroom, 6-bathroom vacation house was designed to provide a seamless connection to the surrounding desert landscape while at the same time offering shelter from harsh climatic conditions. Large sliding glass walls bring the desert practically indoors, while the major outdoor rooms are enclosed by a row of movable vertical fins that offer flexible protection against sandstorms and intense heat. After Kaufmann died in 1955, the house had a series of owners, including singer Barry Manilow.

Today, many critics place the Kaufmann House among the most important houses of the 20th century in the United States, with the likes of Fallingwater, Robie House, Gropius House, and the Gamble House. Despite its location in Palm Springs, it was also included in an expert-reviewed list of all-time top 10 houses in Los Angeles.
2
Kennedy/Lawford Home

2) Kennedy/Lawford Home

No other house reflects Palm Springs’ famed heyday in the 1950s and '60s better than this one – the hideaway of screen star Peter Lawford and his wife, Pat Kennedy, sister of former president John F. Kennedy. A close friend and confidant of Marilyn Monroe, and as a brother-in-law to JFK, Lawford introduced the two in 1954, with rumors of an affair still holding their mystique.

Besides his successful career and being a socialite, Lawford was also part of the Rat Pack, with Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Joey Bishop and Sammy Davis Jr. When the Pack was not partying at Sinatra's mansion, it was often here with the stars and moguls of Hollywood's Golden Age.

If you've ever been interested in seeing how legends lived back in the day, you can rent this recently restored home on a per-night basis.

Address: 1295 N Via Monte Vista
3
Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway

3) Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway

Another exemplar of Modernist style, this is the house where Elvis and Priscilla Presley lived in luxury during the first year of their marriage (1966-67), throwing infamously lavish parties. With its Jetsons-style furniture and lava rock wall, it was considered at the time an innovative "home of the future" and even featured electronic controls for indoor climate, outside lights, and automatic rain. Located close to the San Jacinto Mountains and offering a wonderful view of the Coachella Valley and Santa Rosa Mountains, in the 1990s the home was carefully restored to its original splendor, and there is also a lush garden, a large in-ground pool, and a tennis court.

For a peek inside, a private one-hour guided tour (at 1pm or 3:30pm) can be arranged ahead of time. If you're an Elvis fan, you will feel special being able to sit on the same furniture he did, walk through the rooms (much of the layout, kitchen counters, appliances, etc., are original) and enjoy a personal connection to the King of Rock and Roll. The tour guide is very knowledgable and more than willing to take pictures for you – there are quite a few fantastic photo opportunities as well!
4
Marilyn Monroe House

4) Marilyn Monroe House

Ms. Monroe lived in 43 different homes during her lifetime – while some belonged to her lovers and her husbands, most were rented, as was this one, too. With its Spanish-tiled steps, black-and-white striped sunshades, abundant foliage, and gold-trimmed wrought-iron front gate, the charming bungalow-style dwelling just screams "fifties", having been described as "the most beautiful house on the block".

The shrubbery in front of the property has grown considerably in recent years, blocking quite a bit of the exterior from view, but the home is surprisingly stalker-friendly otherwise: very close to the street and with no gate or wall to block it off, either.
5
Dean Martin's Home

5) Dean Martin's Home

Legendary crooner, TV host and "Rat Pack" member, Dean Martin was among the last of the Hollywood elite to have moved to the desert, and also among the last to have acquired a mid-century modern marvel from the father-and-son architect team of George and Robert Alexander before they died in a plane crash. Martin, who was known for throwing lavish dinner parties, bought the house for $56,000 and luxuriated for a while there with his gorgeous second wife, Jeanne, back in the 1960s and '70s.

Like almost all other homes built for life in the desert, 'Dino's Den' lies low and blends with the surrounding topography. Due to being easily visible from the street, it has been a favorite on celebrity tours from the time the Martins moved in. The 3-bedroom, 3-bathroom dwelling features a pool, spa, ceiling-to-floor glass sliding walls, and fruit trees on the quarter-acre lot. The tan-and-white pattern, conjoined with several lush palms and rocks, augments the eye-catchy, modern design.

Address: 1123 Via Monte Vista
6
Ann Miller's House

6) Ann Miller's House

Sitting on one of Las Palmas neighborhood's biggest (and most expensive) lots, Ann Miller's house is what a great many people envision the exemplary Hollywood "dream home" to be – beautiful and bold, much like the acclaimed actress herself. Having decided against launching new construction, she chose to acquire a pre-existing 1928 property to which she added her own little touches of extravagance, now widely considered as timeless.

With exotic palm trees dispersed through the lawn, this home reeks of the ambiance of an archetypal oasis of paradise; a place where one can accomplish every dream.

Address: 457 Hermosa Place, Palm Springs
7
Liberace House

7) Liberace House

Although the flamboyant Grammy winner, Władziu Valentino Liberace owned four Palm Springs homes throughout his lifetime, this beautiful Mediterranean estate at the intersection of Alejo and Belardo roads is most widely known for representing his particularly eclectic vision.

Before becoming Liberace's, the estate was a boutique hotel with the five bedrooms already converted to guest suites, but the pianist – possibly the music world's ultimate showman – turned them into thematic units: the Valentino bedroom featured a sleigh bed and other furnishings, all originally from Valentino's home "Falcon's Lair", purchased at an auction; the perky Safari Room had a tiger painting, a lion tapestry, and a life-size horse sculpture; and even a Persian tent room was assigned to a side of the pool. When not frequenting these, Liberace was said to have prayed daily in a shrine he built to St. Anthony. He reportedly passed away here in February 1987.

While the property has lost some of the dazzles that Liberace gave it, the several L's strategically placed throughout the exterior – including on the garden fencing, on the garage doors (where the pianist was said to have taken to living at one point), and in mosaic tiles in the cement in front of the side door – remove any doubt as to whom it once belonged.
8
Las Palomas – Cary Grant Estate

8) Las Palomas – Cary Grant Estate

Originally built in 1927 by the commission of Palm Springs' very first pharmacist, Dr. Jacob John Kocher, the magnificent Andalusian-style "Las Palomas" (Spanish for "The Doves") was Cary Grant's desert home for nearly two decades (1954-72). During his ownership, the legendary actor made it a gathering spot for celebrities and the Old Hollywood elite, including, among others, Alfred Hitchcock, Clark Gable, Grace Kelly, Katharine Hepburn, Howard Hughes, Frank Sinatra, and Sophia Loren. A lifelong supporter of the US armed forces, Grant also made it a practice of hosting events for the troops stationed at the nearby 29 Palms – the largest Marine Corps base.

Successfully restored in 2009, the 6,000-sq-f house features such details as thick whitewashed walls, hand-painted tile, custom cabinetry, and wood-burning fireplaces. Sadly, not much of the ultra-private abode can be seen from the street, but the estate's mailbox, designed as a miniature replica of "Las Palomas", is still there!
9
Twin Palms Estate – Sinatra House

9) Twin Palms Estate – Sinatra House

Designed by then-unknown Midcentury Modern architect E. Stewart Williams after Frank Sinatra made his first million dollars, this long and low structure became the unofficial prototype for much of the construction that followed in the desert oasis of Palm Springs. Despite being Williams' first privately commissioned home, he knew exactly what worked in a desert environment. While, initially, Sinatra had his sights set on a Georgian-style mansion complete with several stories, the architect patiently guided him in the direction of something more daring and more appropriate to living in California's sometimes harsh climatic conditions.

With guest quarters at 4,500 sq feet and post-war Hollywood glamor at full throttle, the house soon became the scene of countless star-studded, cocktail-flowing parties. It is even rumored that the famous crooner would put a flag in front of the estate so that neighbors would know when to come by for a drink (how very neighborly!).

Although Sinatra occupied the property for no more than 10 years, remnants of his personality remain to this day – from the grand piano-shaped swimming pool to the well-represented train collection and the numerous celebrity portraits lining the walls (two of which are of Marilyn Monroe).

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